Going on safari is something many people have on their bucket list. And when thinking about where to go on safari, a trip to the iconic places in Tanzania or Kenya often comes to mind.
Most people have heard of the migration of the wildebeest that happens annually in the Masai Mara in Kenya and in the Serengeti in Tanzania. This vast wildlife area has a different name in the two countries, but it is essentially the same thing with an international border running in between. A border the wildebeest don’t know exists and without a worry about passports they make their clockwise migration every year and you can watch this spectacle either in Tanzania or in Kenya whilst on safari.
But what is ‘going on safari’ actually, what does it mean to book a trip to Tanzania or Kenya? The word safari means ‘journey’ or ‘to travel’ in Swahili, the local language in both Tanzania and Kenya. The online Oxford dictionary gives the definition of safari as: ‘An expedition to observe or hunt animals in their natural habitat, especially in East Africa.’
In the colonial days it was used to describe the big hunting trips, but nowadays ‘going on safari’ is more commonly used to describe a trip to a wildlife area and watching animals in their natural environment. Only the predators now do the hunting, although you could say that when you are on safari you ‘hunt’ for photographs.
The motto for safaris nowadays is
Going on safari means early morning drives (if you’re game), relaxing at the lodge before heading out again for a late afternoon game drive. Or you can take a picnic breakfast or lunch (or both!), and head out for a long day of spotting animals with scenic stops to enjoy your breakfast or lunch out of the car. At night there is usually a campfire to sit around and share your stories and gaze at the stars.
Going on safari also means booking a flight to one of the international airports of Kenya or Tanzania and then travelling on to a national park where you stay in a lodge, a tented camp or in a campground depending on your budget.
A popular extension of any safari is some relaxation on one of East Africa’s many pristine seasides, or lakeside, beaches. Giving you the opportunity to indulge in watersports, explore the underwater world, immerse yourself in the culture and history, or simply read a book and chill. But starting with the beaches is also becoming increasingly more popular, with many now opting to relax on the beach first and getting rid of any potential jetlag before chasing the Big 5 and other wildlife.
Most people going on safari book a flight to Nairobi in Kenya as this is a bigger hub and more international airlines fly there which means there are more options and cheaper flights available. From Nairobi, you can either book another flight to for example Arusha or Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania or fly directly to your destination in Kenya with a smaller domestic flight. Driving to your destination in the country of your choice is of course also an option and will help keep the safari cheaper if you are on a budget.
In Kenya the most popular national parks and wildlife areas are only a short flight away, for example:
- the Masai Mara
- the Aberdares
- and Mt Kenya
In Tanzania………(read more below)