Few places can match the staggering beauty of the African plains of Kenya and Tanzania: brimming with wildlife, golden fields, and cultures so ancient and vibrant that immersing yourself in them is as unforgettable as the safari tours that these places are legendary for.
Is it a wonder, then, that an immense number of tourists descend upon these countries every year?
An ideal safari tour in Kenya or Tanzania (or, what the heck, both) is an amazing mix of wildlife sightings, outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and rubbing elbows with the lively locals. Here are some of our favourite ones, as well as a few tips and some vital information you’ll need before your trip.
Travel to: Kenya and Tanzania
When should you visit Kenya and Tanzania?
One amazing thing about Kenya and Tanzania is that both countries are year-round destinations, thanks to the weather. However, some months are better than others. The wettest months—typically from March through May—may not be the most ideal time for seeing wildlife, what with the thicker foliage giving coverage for the ones that remain, and some of the lodges closing. Still, most months are great for safari tours.
Best time to go on Safari in Kenya
In Kenya, the best months to visit the national parks are from June through October; the driest months, when the animals are gathered around the watering holes, the wildebeest are migrating, and there are fewer mosquitoes to contend with. Since there’s little to no rainfall, these are also the best months to take to the beaches.
January and February are also great months to visit, even if there might be bursts of afternoon and evening rains, as the landscapes are lusher and there are still many animals around.
Do remember, however, that these are also the peak months, so you’ll be paying premium rates and dealing with crowds.
Best time to go on Safari in Tanzania
The same is the case in Tanzania, whose best and busiest months are also from June through October. In January and February, you might witness adorable calves being born or exploring their new world in the southern part of the Serengeti.
July through March is the high season, so you’ll have to deal with crowds and high prices.
What to Expect During Your Visit
While the two destinations have very similar sights and experiences to offer, each country has unique things to offer travellers.
What to expect on a safari trip to Kenya
- The famous annual wildebeest migration in the Masai Mara National Park, which you can witness on the ground as well as from the sky on a hot air balloon.
- The jumping dance performance of the Masai people, which is spectacular to watch and a beautiful way to immerse yourself in their culture.
- Visiting the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi
- Exploring the Great Rift Valley, where flamingos flock and many fossils and relics of ancient humans and human ancestors were found
- Seeing Central Island National Park and its massive colony of Nile crocodiles.
- As far as wildlife, you will see giraffes, hippos, elephants, zebras, wildebeests, and the occasional lion, as well as the rare rhinos and African wild dogs.
What to expect on a safari trip in Tanzania
- With three epic safari circuits, including the legendary Serengeti, there’s zero doubt that most people who come to Tanzania travel there to see its abundance of wildlife.
- Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, one of the world’s Seven Summits, and lounging at the beach or Scuba diving in Zanzibar.
- Seeing the famous chimpanzees in Gombe Stream
- Meeting the Iraqw people and learning about their way of life
- Visiting the Oldepai Gorge, a paleoanthropological site
- Stopping in Stone Town, the birthplace of Freddie Mercury.
- A wildlife safari often includes sightings of lions, elephants, giraffes, buffalos, leopards, cheetahs, wildebeest, gazelles, zebras, and ostriches, as well as the occasional black rhino.
Kenya and Tanzania Safari Tour Operators
Kenya Wildlife Safari
- Length: 8 days
- Cost: From $991
- Accommodations: Typically a mix of campsites and bush camps
- What’s included: An expert guide, accommodations, meals (7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 6 dinners), transport
This eight-day safari trip around Kenya takes on a more off-the-beaten-path and affordable approach while still ticking off the best experiences the country has to offer.
During the trip, you’ll be visiting the smaller Lake Nakuru to see the Big Five, Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley to see the incredible hippos, and the requisite Masai Mara where you have the option to take to the skies on a hot air balloon at sunrise. It isn’t all wildlife viewing, however. You’ll also get a chance to stop by a local food market, immerse in the culture of the Masai people, and feast in authentic Kenyan cuisine – not to mention take a free day to spend as you please.
As this is more of an affordable safari experience, staying at a luxurious safari lodge isn’t an option unless you extend your trip on your own. Accommodations are more modest, though most have flush toilets and showers.
National Geographic Journeys’ Kenya Safari Experience
- Length: 8 days
- Cost: From $3,037
- Accommodations: A combination of hotels, tented camps, and a safari lodge
- What’s included: A Chief Experience Officer and a certified guide, accommodations, meals (7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners)
A National Geographic-level journey awaits those who have a little more to spend. The eight-day Kenya Safari Experience takes you all around Kenya, and sets you up in more comfortable accommodations.
Included in this trip are visits to the Masai Mara National Reserve to see the Big Five, Lake Nakuru National Park, and the Amboseli National Park, where you can enjoy wildlife sightings with Kili as your backdrop. Early morning safaris when the animals are most active are on hand, as well as late afternoon or evening ones when you’ll have sightings of the nocturnal ones. You’ll also get to learn about elephant conservation efforts from a researcher from the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Expect 3- to 4-star accommodations, whether it’s at a hotel, lodge, or safari camp.
Classic Tanzania Safari
- Length: 8 days
- Cost: From $3,775
- Accommodations: Safari lodges and permanent tented camps
- What’s included: Guide, accommodations, meals (7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners), 4WD transport
A classic safari tour of Tanzania must include all the must-see spots, and that’s exactly what this eight-day trip does – while also mixing in a bit of the offbeat attractions and securing very comfortable lodges and permanent camps.
Starting in the city of Arusha, which basically puts you right in the middle of all the stops, this classic trip takes you first to the smaller Lake Manyara to possibly spot the tree-climbing lions, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area to visit Olduvai Gorge where they have made many important archaeological discoveries, and the Tarangire National Park for more wildlife sightings and even spot a leopard. Of course, a two-day stop at the Serengeti is also on the itinerary to see wildebeest, zebras, gazelles, hippos, and cheetahs, as well as rub elbows with the Massai people.
One- to 3-star accommodations await you after each busy day, though the best ones might be the permanent tented camps.
Tanzania Camping Adventure
- Length: 6 days
- Cost: From $1,539
- Accommodations: Full-service camp
- What’s included: Chief Experience Officer, certified guide, camp cook, accommodations, meals (5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners), 4WD transport
If you happen to be itching for a rugged kind of trip, then a camping safari trip might just be what the doctor ordered. With this 6-day Tanzania Camping Adventure, you won’t just be going on safari drives, you’ll also be sleeping under the stars in your own camp.
Stops on this tour include the Mto wa Mbu village to meet the locals and feast on a homemade traditional Tanzanian lunch; Lake Manyara for wildlife viewing; Ngorongoro Conservation Area for a quick drive through the Serengeti to see the Big Five, among others; and then back to Ngorongoro to see more wildlife and take in the sweeping views of the Ngorongoro Crater. Whilst in the Serengeti, you will be given the option to do a balloon safari to experience its legendary wildlife.
You will be sleeping under the stars in a full-service campsite with your own camp cook. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the destination.
Kenya & Tanzania: The Safari Experience
- Length: 17 days
- Cost: From $7,064
- Accommodations: First-class hotels, lodges, and camps
- What’s included: Expert guide, accommodations, meals (Daily American breakfast, 13 lunches, 13 dinners), 4WD transport
This ultimate safari adventure takes you to both countries to experience the best each have to offer, from safari drives and authentic local meals to four- and five-star accommodations, and visits villages to experience a bit of local culture. With this Safari Experience guided tour, you’ll be spending 17 days living the dream!
The tour starts off in Nairobi and takes you around the country, visiting places like Masai Mara, Lake Nakuru, and Amboseli, not to mention the Samburu National Reserve where you won’t just see the Big Five but the Samburu “Special 5” as well. Other stops include the five-star Mount Kenya Safari Club, where you will be lunching; Ol Pejeta Conservancy to see the black rhinos taking refuge there; and the Chimp Sanctuary, made famous by Jane Goodall.
After taking Kenya by storm, you’ll cross the border over to Tanzania, where you’ll visit Lake Manyara to see baboons; the Ngorongoro Crater to see lions, hippos, and flamingos; and the Serengeti, where you might see the Great Migration if you come at the right time.
But wildlife sightings aren’t the only thing on the itinerary. Visits to sites such as Nyahururu Falls and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stone Town are also on the menu, as are activities like watching a traditional Masai dance performance, visiting a local village and a primary school, and celebrating your last night with a bush dinner.
Along the way, you’ll be staying at world-class accommodations, from five-star hotels to first class safari lodges and permanent tented camps so you’re slumbering in style.
If you’re planning on heading out on a once-in-a-lifetime safari trip, Kenya and Tanzania provide the best access to incredible animals, unique local experiences, and give you the best shot at a completely life-changing adventure. Whether you stick to one amazing country or explore both in one trip, your safari dreams are sure to come to life!
Have you been on safari in Kenya or Tanzania? Let us know in the comments!