On what countries to visit
Deciding on Southern or East Africa
Both destinations offer fantastic experiences and deciding is not always easy. Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia) is more diverse offering modern cities, good infrastructure, good flight connectivity, safari, Victoria Falls, winelands, excellent cuisine, culture, history, marine experiences (whales, sharks, penguins), flowers, deserts, shopping, golf and beaches.
The game varieties and densities (especially in respect of Big 5) at southern Africa reserves is impressive as is the diversity of landscapes and superb accommodations.
East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda) is the iconic safari destination immortalized by the likes of Hemingway and several classic movies. It is the original home of safari and reserves like Masai Mara, Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater have long been considered essential to the classic safari. In East Africa, it is predominantly about safari, although the destination also offers authentic cultural experiences as well as excellent beach holidays.
Factors to consider when making your choice:
Southern Africa safari
- A great diversity of landscapes, from the Namib Desert in Namibia, to the Okavango Delta in Botswana
- With good accessibility in and around southern Africa, it is somewhat of an easier introduction to safari than East Africa
- Easily combined with a trip to one of the world’s most popular cities, Cape Town, or an Indian Island resort
- Visiting Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World
- High animal concentrations and low density of visitors means you encounter nothing but wildlife and wilderness
- Intimate safaris in private concession areas where animals can be followed into the bush allow for ‘up close’ game experiences
- Night game drives provide a different perspective and allows one to see the nocturnal creatures
- Open safari vehicles for easier game viewing
- Zambia and Zimbabwe in particular are renowned for walking safaris
- A wide range of accommodation from five star luxury to more rustic camps
- Unique variety of ways to view wildlife – from a mokoro (dug-out canoe), the back of an elephant or on horse-back
- Malaria-free safari destinations
East African safari
- The Greatest Show on Earth – the annual wildebeest migrations involving millions of animals
- Classic postcard African scenery of rolling savannahs and acacia trees
- Large numbers of game on the open plains
- The views of, or the chance to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain
- Easy to combine Kenya and Tanzania (and even tack on a beach visit to Zanzibar) in a single trip
- Cultures such as the Maasai who maintain a traditional way of life
- Many exciting new areas opening up in northern Kenya and southern Tanzania
- Gorillas and chimpanzees in the mountains and forest areas
- A beautiful coastline makes the region ideal for a bush and beach vacation
- Relatively short international flights into Nairobi in Kenya
Both destinations offer an exceptional holiday and your choice will depend on your personal interests, time available for the trip and travel dates.
You have selected southern Africa, but are unsure as to which destinations to include
If safari is high on your list of priorities, we would certainly recommend including visits to both Botswana and the Kruger region.
Botswana is a true pristine wilderness area – wild and unspoilt. With the lush and fertile Okavango Delta, the country features fabulous wide-open spaces, a variety of terrain – from permanent land areas, to seasonal wetlands and permanent water. This variety of terrain, besides offering wonderful scenery, attracts a diversity of wildlife from land predators, general game, crocodiles, hippo and superb birdlife.
Botswana’s wildlife area is immense and the tourist lodges and camps relatively few, so one encounters very few other vehicles whilst on safari. Botswana also boasts large herds of elephant and buffalo. An added attraction is the opportunity to visit the mysterious and compelling Kalahari Desert and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, the latter whose winter landscapes are like nothing on earth!
The private game reserves in the Sabi Sand (on the western boundary of the Kruger) and the handful of private concessions within the Kruger Park, have become world-renowned not only for their excellent Big 5 sighting, but also their very luxurious lodges. The density of predators in these reserves, and the ability to find these animals, is arguably the best in Africa. Never a guarantee, but the likelihood of seeing Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino during a 2-3 night stay, are very high.
There are no restricting fences between the Kruger Park and Sabi Sand Reserve allowing the wildlife roams freely between the two game reserves. Two perennial rivers, the Sabi and the Sand flow through the Sabi Sand Reserve, sustaining the diverse fauna and flora of the area.
Night drives and dining in the bush, which are generally not possible in Botswana, are a popular features in the Kruger reserves. Much of the accommodation in Botswana is tented (albeit very luxurious), whilst the Kruger offers mostly bricks & mortar lodges. These different types of accommodations also make these two game destinations very complementary.
In terms of the itinerary order, it does not make much difference whether one visits Botswana or Kruger first, but many of our trips include Botswana first, a 2-night break at Victoria Falls and end at a Kruger lodge. This works well, because, if, for example, you did not see a Leopard or Rhino in Botswana, the chances are excellent that you will find this in the Kruger.
One of our most popular trips for a first-time visitor is the following:
Cape Town (3 nights)
Winelands (2 nights)
Botswana (4-6 nights)
Victoria Falls (2 nights)
Kruger (3-4 nights)
Other popular inclusions are the luxury trains, Garden Route, Hermanus, Cederberg, KwaZulu-Natal, Johannesburg, Madikwe and Mozambique (or other Indian Ocean Island resorts).