Northern Tanzania Vs. Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit : Top 5 Differences : Simply put, Tanzania was made for safaris. It has wildlife of the epic variety (and plenty of it), breathtaking scenery, and a wide variety of camps and lodges to suit every traveler’s taste, need, and desire. But where does one begin when faced with so many options? Do you travel north or south? More importantly, assistance is at hand. To make your planning a little easier, we’ve divided the North vs. South Tanzania debate into manageable chunks.

Tanzania has many game parks and national reserves, which are home to a wide range of wildlife species, stunning topographies, and world heritage sites. It can be difficult to decide which places to visit because there are so many sites that you must see. The Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit and the Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit make up the majority of Tanzania’s safari circuit. Depending on what you want to see, when you want to visit, and what you want to do during your Tanzania safari, you can choose to travel to either of the safari circuits. The northern and southern circuits each offer distinctive and special experiences, but no matter where you go, you’ll have a good time. Below, we have made a comprehensive comparison to help you choose which safari circuit to explore on Safari in Tanzania.

  1. Safari Destinations: the North vs. Southern Tanzania Circuit

The Great Wildebeest Migration, which takes place annually in Kenya’s Masai Mara and Serengeti National Parks, is one of the highlights of the Northern Safari Circuit’s fame and notoriety. The Northern Safari Circuit also includes Lake Manyara National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha National park, and Tarangire National Park, in addition to the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park, two of the most well-known safari destinations in Africa.

The Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park, and Mahale National Park are just a few of the remote and seclusion-filled locations that make up Tanzania’s Southern Safari Circuit. As opposed to the parks in the Northern Circuit, these ones don’t get as many visitors.

The two most popular and frequently visited wildlife destinations on the Southern Circuit are Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park. The majority of people who travel on safari regularly and have more free time visit the Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit.

  1. The Tanzania Safari Experience: the North vs. Southern Tanzania Circuit

Meeting the Big Five: The Northern Safari Circuit is a haven for the ‘Big Five’ animals, which are the lion, rhinoceros, elephant, leopard, and African buffalo. In contrast, the Southern Safari Circuit does not have all of the popular ‘Big Five. There are no rhinos in Ruaha or in the area of the Selous Game Reserve that is accessible to photographic safaris, so you won’t see any in southern Tanzania. If you want to see all five members of the Big Five, you should visit one of the northern parks, such as the Serengeti or the Ngorongoro Crater.

Wildlife and other Tourist Encounters: In northern Tanzania, going on safari will allow you to see more wild animals, but you’ll also run into more tourists. However, you will hardly come across vehicles while on your game drives, and you will also have a very private African Safari experience in southern Tanzania due to the vast size of the wildlife parks and reserves, where you will have to drive further in order to see a significant number of animals. While on the Southern Safari Circuit, you might come across herds of wildebeest, but you won’t be able to see the Great Migration.

Types of Safari Vehicles: Open-sided vehicles are used for safaris in the Southern Safari Circuit, while closed vehicles are used for safaris in the Northern Safari Circuit. The game drives you take in open-sided vehicles will give you a more exciting view of the wild and allow you to take better pictures.

 Demand for Accommodations: The northern parks face a challenge with a high demand for lodging, particularly during the busiest travel season. In the South, regardless of the season, you will enjoy lodging at any of the upscale safari camps that are never overrun with other travelers.

  1. Things to do/Activities: North vs. South Tanzania Circuit

Given that the private reserves and game parks in the south are less constrained than they are in the north, the southern safari circuit generally offers more tourist activities than the northern circuit. Compared to the Northern Safari Circuit, there are more activities available on the Southern Safari Circuit. You can experience guided walking safaris in the south, which will give you a close-up view of the local wildlife and environment. In the north, walking safaris are uncommon, and in Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks, they are only permitted in certain areas. In the south, you can also go on a night game drive and go on boat safaris to see the various animals that inhabit the park’s rivers and lakes. Fly camping is permitted at the mobile tented camp sites inside the Selous and Ruaha Game Reserves.

  1. Safari Costs: North vs. South Tanzania Circuit

Transport: In the past, safari packages in the Northern Safari Circuit were typically less expensive than those in the Southern Safari Circuit, which had higher travel costs due to the need to fly to the farther-flung, remoter southern parks. The majority of the southern parks are currently accessible by road, and Focus East Africa Tours offers numerous overland safaris throughout southern Tanzania.

 Park entry fee: Despite the fact that they may differ from one park to another, entry fees for southern parks are typically less expensive than those in northern parks.

Accommodations: When comparing the cost of lodging, the north is more expensive than the south. The majority of the lodging options in the south offer comparable amenities to those in the north, but at a lower cost. Nevertheless, we advise you to go on a private group safari if you want a low-cost Tanzania safari experience.

  1. The best time to go on safari: the North vs. South Tanzania Circuit

June through October is the ideal time to travel to Tanzania for a wildlife safari on either the north or south safari circuit.

 Best time for a North Tanzania Safari: The Great Wildebeest Migration, which takes place every year as herbivores move in search of new food and water, is when most tourists travel to northern Tanzania. During this time, they have the chance to see large numbers of zebras, wildebeest, gazelles, and other herbivores. The Northern Safari Circuit’s Wildebeest Migration is best viewed in June and July, especially at the Mara and Grumeti River crossings. However, because the animals travel in a vast circular path from November to July, you will be able to see the Wildebeest Migration in a number of locations throughout the Serengeti National Park.

Northern Tanzania Vs. Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit
Grumeti River

 Travel advice: Focus East Africa Tours advises its customers to travel during the off-shoulder safari season and steer clear of the peak tourist season, which is characterized by a high concentration of tourists and pricey lodging. However, if you are visiting during this time, you might want to think about visiting southern Tanzania as opposed to northern Tanzania.

Best time for a South Tanzania Safari: The dry season, which lasts from June through October, is the best time to see wildlife because there is little rain and the temperatures are more tolerable. With the exception of April and May, when the south is experiencing the wet season, you should visit at any time of the year if you want to avoid the tourist crowds. The wildlife is gathered around the rivers at this time of year, and the shrubs are almost completely dried out, making wildlife viewing much clearer.

Travel Tips: Focus East Africa Tours advises its clients to stay away from traveling in the south during the wet rainy season as many of the roads in southern Tanzania are difficult to navigate due to the mud. Due to this, the majority of safari camps and lodges are closed during the wet season of the off-season, especially during the prolonged rains that last from March to May. Southern Tanzania’s winter months, from January to March, are ideal for birding despite the humidity and heat.

 Generally: Tanzania’s peak travel season is during the dry season. Both the price of the safari and the price of various lodging options, such as lodges, are rising. At this time, the majority of the well-known parks are overrun with visitors. The benefit of traveling to southern Tanzania during the dry season is to avoid the crowds of tourists who are simultaneously exploring the northern parks.


 The South is not crowded: The Southern Safari Circuit does not receive as many visitors as the Northern Circuit, particularly to the famed Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. In the south, you’ll have plenty of room and privacy to yourself, especially when going on expeditions to see wildlife. You will interact with significantly fewer people and vehicles inside the parks, giving you a more private safari experience. In fact, the reserves become more remote the further west you travel in Tanzania.

Enjoy Primate Watching tours: You can only go on a primate watching tour in the south. Numerous primates call the hilly Udzungwa and Mahale parks in the Southern Safari Circuit home. In the Mahale Mountains, you can also go on chimpanzee trekking tours.

The south is wild, large, and pristine: Tanzania’s Southern Safari Circuit excursions are well-known for their opportunities to experience untamed landscapes and the raw, natural beauty of Africa. All adventuresome travelers and vacationers who adore the wild outdoors and are eager to experience this genuine, unspoiled region of Africa are highly encouraged to visit the south.

 A number of the largest wildlife habitats in Africa that have been preserved are found on the Southern Safari Circuit. The Selous Game Reserve, which is larger than Switzerland and roughly four times the size of the well-known Serengeti National Park, is the largest in all of Africa. With a total area of 20,226 sq km, Ruaha National Park is both one of the largest national park in Tanzania and all of East Africa.

Huge diversity of wildlife: The game parks and reserves on this circuit reward their visitors with a distinctive and enthralling blend of various bird species and wild animals, including a variety of predators, thanks to the convergence of the ecoregions of southern Africa and East Africa in this part of Tanzania.

Diverse range of Safari Activities: Because they are less tightly regulated than their northern counterparts, the national parks and game reserves in the south can offer you safari activities that other game reserves cannot, such as hot air balloon rides, night game drives, walking safaris, fly camping, and game-viewing boat tours.

Cheaper Accommodation with great value for money: The majority of the lodging options in the south offer comparable amenities to those in the north, but at a lower cost. You can rest easy knowing that you will pay less for excellent lodging and related services and amenities while on a safari in southern Tanzania. Siwandu Camp, Selous Mapumziko Lodge, Beho-Beho, Mwagusi Camp, and Lake Manze Camp are a few of the best places to stay. Tanzania safari tours can be done in either standard luxury or budget-friendly lodges and tented camps.


 Easy Access: The best national parks in Tanzania are not too far from one another, and they are all easily accessible from Moshi town, Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), and Arusha.

View large numbers of wildlife in a smaller area: Without having to travel further, you will have access to some of the best game viewing opportunities in all of Africa, including the Big 5. In addition, you will see a wide range of other wildlife as well as dense populations of flamingos and birds.

 Experience Tanzanian culture firsthand: Enjoy the distinctive and impressive cultures of the Tanzanian people, such as the Hadzabe and the renowned Maasai, on the exciting Tanzania Cultural Safaris.

Witness the Wildebeest migration: In Serengeti National Park, one of the “Ten Wonders of the Natural World,” the Great Migration, which features more than a million wildebeests, 300,000 gazelles, and roughly 250,000 zebras, will be on display for you to see.

Explore Africa’s Rooftops: Visitors who enjoy hiking will be able to see Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa, which rises to a height of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). Exciting Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Tours are organized by Focus East Africa Tours along a variety of routes all the way to the Uhuru summit.

 Enjoy affordable safaris in Tanzania: In contrast to the south, it is very feasible to plan more affordable Tanzania safari itineraries in the northern Tanzanian parks, such as the 3-Day Serengeti Safari, with less expensive lodging like basic tent camping.


The smaller population of wildlife you will encounter is the Southern Safari Circuit’s main disadvantage. You won’t see many animals during your safari, even though the southern parks have a lot of wildlife, because the parks are very large and the animals spread out over a larger area.

No Big Five: Not All five of the Big Five animals are present in southern Tanzania. Elephants, lions, buffaloes, and leopards are likely to be present, but rhinos are not.

Poaching is still a problem. In the game parks and reserves of southern Tanzania, poaching is a serious problem. As a result of the massive hydroelectric dam project that is currently being built within its boundaries, the Selous is currently exposed to yet another significant risk.

Higher Costs with longer travel times: Due to the remoteness of some of the parks, this necessitates lengthy drives on winding roads or longer bush flights, which drives up the cost of your Tanzania safari. Unfortunately, some of the western parks, like Mahale National Park and Gombe Stream National Park, can only be reached by small plane or boat and cannot be reached via road.

The seasons have a big impact on the south; during the rainy season, most safari lodges and camps are closed. The majority of roads are impassable, and the surroundings are typically unfriendly. The combination of a Zanzibar beach vacation with either the Northern Tanzania safari circuit or the Southern Tanzania safari packages is one of the options available on our Tanzania safari and Zanzibar tours.

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