Choosing Between Eastern & Southern Africa SafarisBy Carolyn Tett
April 15, 2020
Safari veterans broadly divide Africa into two regions, eastern and southern. Because of the continent’s enormous size, if you can narrow down your interests, focusing on one region or another makes sense during a two-week stay. As you consider the distinctive qualities of each region, it is important to note that these are generalizations only, and exceptions abound. While Southern Africa generally features smaller camps on private reserves, for example, there are excellent small camps in private concessions in Eastern Africa, too, and both regions offer opportunities to see Africa’s Big Five, indulge in some beach time, or engage with a local community.
Advantages of Eastern Africa
Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda
THUNDERING HERDS, MOUNTAIN-DWELLING GORILLAS AND WIDE OPEN SPACES. You simply can’t beat Eastern Africa for seeing huge numbers of animals gathered on the plains and a glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro. Iconic images like acacia-studded grasslands and hundreds of wildebeests scrambling up a river bank during the annual great migration are classic Eastern Africa safari scenes, and have inspired many of our guests to visit this area. Traditional pastoral cultures like the Maasai and the Samburu live in close proximity to Kenya and Tanzania’s game parks, and there are opportunities to meet them in their villages, as well as accompany them on walking excursions. Africa’s great primates – mountain gorillas and chimpanzees – are found only in Eastern Africa. As far as activities go, because much of Eastern Africa’s game viewing takes place in national parks, daytime game drives in closed four-wheel drive, open top vehicles are the norm. Walking activities are offered on a limited basis in private conservancies only.
Advantages of Southern Africa
Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
AN AMAZING VARIETY OF ANIMALS IN SOME OF THE MOST DIVERSE LANDSCAPES. Southern Africa’s varied topography covers everything from woodlands to the Namib and Kalahari Deserts to the Okavango Delta and the massive Victoria Falls. The diverse landscapes and the region’s reliance on private reserves lend themselves to excursions on foot, by motor boat, canoe, or even mountain biking, as well as by day and by night. Here game drives are conducted in open vehicles, so there is nothing between you and the wildlife, and private reserves limit the number of vehicles that can observe an animal or group of animals at once. While you won’t see herds of game in the same numbers as Eastern Africa, Botswana boasts some huge elephant herds, and you will appreciate the smaller, more intimate wildlife encounters you observe. Opportunities for cultural encounters here are not as numerous as in Eastern Africa, but visits to schools can be arranged, and you can also combine your wilderness excursions with wine tasting and an urban experience in stunning Cape Town.
Best of Both Worlds
With careful consideration to camp selection and strategic flights, you can combine points of interest in Eastern and Southern Africa in a 14 day program. Take in the large herds of the Masai Mara and visit a nearby Maasai village, experience Victoria Falls and activities on the mighty Zambezi River, head to the Okavango Delta for exceptional predator viewing and a water safari experience, and conclude in sophisticated Cape Town for walking, shopping, fine dining and excursions to the nearby winelands or marine safaris.
The first version of this article was posted on 25 Aug 2017 at 11:24 AM.