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Safari? What to experience and see. Where to go?

  11 April 2017       Tripindigo       5 min read

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
  • Amboseli
  • Tsavo
  • the Aberdares
  • Samburu
  • and Mt Kenya

In Tanzania.........(read more below)



In Tanzania some people use road transport if they visit the parks in the northern area of Tanzania, also called the northern circuit. But it is often a lot faster and more comfortable to catch a short flight directly to an airstrip close to your accommodation, avoiding bumpy roads, potentially crazy traffic and long hours in the car.

Parks of the northern circuit are:

  • the Serengeti
  • Lake Manyara
  • the Ngorongoro Crater
  • Lake Tangarire
  • Arusha NP
  • Mkomazi
  • and of course Kilimanjaro

Visiting the other national parks in Tanzania is best done on a flying safari as it would take a long time to drive to most of them from Arusha in the north or Dar es Salaam in the east. Parks that can be visited with a short flight from either Arusha, Kilimanjaro International or Dar es Salaam are for example:

  • Selous
  • Ruaha
  • Mikumi
  • Gombe
  • Mahale
  • Kitulo
  • and Katavi

So the most important thing for you is to work out which park or wildlife area you want to visit and where you want to relax before or after your wildlife safari. If you are a first-time safari goer you will most likely want to choose your destination based on the availability of the big 5 and how easy it is to see those animals. Excellent places to see the big 5 are for example the Masai Mara in Kenya and the Serengeti in Tanzania.

You can then add one or two more places to get a broader picture of the country or because you have a specific wish like:

  • climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
  • seeing the many elephants in Amboseli with the impressive Kilimanjaro as a backdrop
  • trekking with the chimpanzees in Gombe or Mahale
  • or relaxing on the beaches of Lamu (Kenya) or Zanzibar (Tanzania).

If you have already been on a safari before, if it is not as important to you to see the big 5, or if you like the remoteness and wilderness of the less visited parks, you can plan your trip to the other parks and wildlife areas. Many of those offers outstanding opportunities to see wildlife, but you might have to travel a bit further. However, for your effort, you get a totally different, deeply rewarding experience.

After deciding which national park or wildlife area you want to go to and booking your best option for the international flight and your onward domestic flights depending on your destination, you will need to also book your accommodation in line with your budget and then of course any experiences you might want to add to make it the perfect safari for you.

There are a lot of options to personalize your safari and it all depends on what you enjoy doing on your holiday. Think of things like:

  • A hot air balloon trip
  • A horse riding adventure
  • Some time on the beach before or after your safari for some relaxation time
  • Rafting
  • Scuba diving
  • Yoga retreat
  • Anything else Tripindigo offers (soon)

Accommodation wise there is so much choice, especially in the popular areas like the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, that deciding what is best for you often comes down to three things; your budget, the availability at the time of your trip and if you want to be in a specific location for example to witness the migration.

Once you know which park or wildlife areas you are going to visit you can narrow the search for accommodation down to that specific location. You can also check if a specific provider offers accommodation in all the areas you intend to visit, they might offer a better deal if you book more nights in several of their lodges.

Once you have booked your flights, your accommodation and your favourite experiences to personalise your safari, Tripindigo would like to wish you a ‘safari njema’, as we say here in East Africa. This is Swahili for wishing you a safe and good safari!

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