Tanzania is one of Africa’s top safari destinations; however as there are so many different areas to visit within the country it can sometime be hard to decide whether to head North or South…
Should you safari in the North or the South of Tanzania, and how long should you spend on safari? This is the most important decision you need to make. Fortunately, the northern safari parks are very different to those in the South and there are advantages and disadvantages to each:
Tanzania’s Northern safari circuit is the most celebrated safari area in Africa. Home to the world famous Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and the lesser known parks of Lake Manyara and Tarangire, the sheer concentration of Africa’s big game in this area is phenomenal.
Most itineraries to this region are designed around the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro with the Serengeti’s wildebeest Great Migration and immense predator concentrations as the main attraction. The area is also home to a huge number of different cultures including the Maasai and the Hadzabe, as well as being one of the most scenically striking and diverse parts of the continent. Much of Northern Tanzania is very busy, but with careful planning it is possible to escape the crowds.
In the South of Tanzania are two of Africa’s finest game parks – the Selous and Ruaha, where you are able to enjoy a true wild safari by open sided vehicle, on foot, from a boat as well as ‘fly-camping’. Both parks have huge amounts of game, especially elephant, buffalo and lion as well as being one of the last strong-holds for the African Wild Dog.
A safari to both the Selous and Ruaha is a great combination and the riverine landscape of Selous contrasts well with the burnt red earth and baobab studded countryside of Ruaha. With their sheer variety, expanse and remoteness, safaris to the South are often a less commercial safari experience than to the North. If you only have a few days for your safari then 3 or 4 nights in the Selous works very well, if you have longer then 3 to 4 nights in each is perfect. Both the Selous and Ruaha are ‘fly-in’ destinations meaning there are far fewer vehicles and tourists compared to the parks of the North of Tanzania.
The South of Tanzania offers a real range of safari activities such as boating safari, walking safari, fishing, fly camping and of course game driving in open sided vehicles. The parks generally are less strict to North so it’s also possible to drive off road which means you never miss an opportunity. In the North of Tanzania it is generally more restricted with rules and regulations with in some areas mandatory to drive in closed sided vehicles. The main attraction in the ‘great migration’ which is incredible but you often have to share this spectacle with many other vehicles. The game in the Ngorongoro Crater is some of the most dense in Africa but in peak season so is the number of vehicles!
So in summary, if you feel you want a real safari experience then the South of Tanzania offers remoteness and wilderness. Most of the lodges in the south are much smaller, independent, and more intimate than the slightly more commercial North Tanzania lodges. If you feel an urge to see the ‘great migration’ then you should head to the North but be prepared to spend more money if you want to have the same comforts as some of the Southern Lodges.