Top 5 Differences Northern vs Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit

Tanzania is an amazing place to enjoy your Africa Safari Holiday. It does not matter whether it is your first time or if you have been there a number of times. Tanzania has a variety of game parks as well as national reserves that have an abundance of beautiful topographies, a diversity of wildlife plus world heritage sites. There are various sites that you have to see which makes its quite challenging to select which places to visit.

The safari circuit in Tanzania is divided into two including the Southern Tanzania Safari and the Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit. You can choose to go to either of the safari circuits basing on what you would like to see, when you want to visit and do during your safari. The northern and southern circuits each provide unique and distinct experiences however wherever you choose to go, you will have a memorable time.

Below we have made a comprehensive comparison to help you choose which safari circuit to explore on Safari in Tanzania.

  1. Safari Destinations on the North vs Southern Tanzania Circuit

The Northern Safari Circuit is very famous and is known internationally for the Great Wildebeest Migration that happens every single year in Serengeti National Park plus Masai Mara which is situated in Kenya. Apart from the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park which are both very popular safari destinations in Africa, the Northern Safari Circuit also comprises of Lake Manyara National Park, Mountain Kilimanjaro plus Tarangire National Park.

Southern Safari Selous
Elephants Selous Game Reserve

On the contrary, the Southern Safari Circuit in Tanzania comprises of remote and secluded destinations like Katavi National Park, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park as well as Mahale National Park. The parks here are not frequently visited as much as the ones in the Northern Circuit.

Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park are the most popular and commonly visited wildlife destinations on the Southern Circuit. The Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit is mainly visited by experienced safari goers with longer holiday time.

  1. The Tanzania Safaris Experience North vs South

Meeting the Big Five: The Northern Safari Circuit is a paradise popular for the ‘Big Five’ animals that include the lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and the African buffalo while the Southern Safari Circuit does not have all the popular ‘Big Five’. You will not come across any rhinos in southern Tanzania since there aren’t any in Ruaha or in the section in Selous Game Reserve that is open for photographic safaris. In case you are interested in observing all the members of the Big Five family, you should take a trip to the northern parks like of Serengeti or the Ngorongoro Crater.

Wildlife and other Tourist encounters: While on safari in northern Tanzania, you will enjoy views of more wild animals however you will also encounter a larger tourist crowd. On the other hand, in southern Tanzania because of the huge size of the wildlife parks and reserves you will have to drive longer distances to be able to see a considerable number of animals but nonetheless, you will hardly encounter vehicles while on your game drives and you will also have a very private African Safari experience. You may come across herds of wildebeest however you will not be able to see the Great Migration while you are in the Southern Safari Circuit

Type of Safari Vehicles: In the Southern Safari Circuit, open-sided vehicles are employed while closed vehicles are employed for safaris in the Northern Safari Circuits. The game drives that you take in open-sided vehicles will provide you with a more riveting experience of the wild with clearer views for you to take photos.

Demand on Accommodation: the challenge in the northern parks is that there is a high demand on accommodation especially during the peak tourist season, in the South however irrespective of the time of the year; you will enjoy accommodation at any of the exclusive safari camps that are never crowded with other guests.

  1. Things to do | Activities North vs South Tanzania Circuit

Generally speaking, the southern safari circuit offers more tourist activities than the northern circuit considering that the private reserves and game parks there are less restricted as it is in the north. On the Southern Safari Circuit, there are a variety of activities that you can take part in compared to the Northern Safari Circuit. The activities in the south include guided walking safaris that will provide you with a close-range view of the wildlife as well as the surrounding environment. Walking safaris are rare in the north and they are in restricted places in Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks. In the south, you can also enjoy a night game drive as well as boat safaris for observing the different wildlife on the rivers and lakes within the park. In Selous and Ruaha Game Reserves, fly camping is accepted at the mobile tented camp areas within the reserves.

  1. Safari Costs North vs South Tanzania Circuit

Transport: Previously, the safari packages in the Northern Safari Circuit were generally less expensive than those in the Southern Safari Circuit which involved increased travel costs incurred in traveling to the distant remote southern parks which were typically accessed by flying. Currently, majority of the southern parks can be accessed using road transport and Tanzania Safari Supremacy organizes many overland southern Tanzania safaris.

Park entrance fees: The entry fees for the southern parks are also generally cheaper compared to those in the northern parks despite the fact that these may vary from one park to another.

Accommodation: When we look at the cost of accommodation, the north is more costly compared to the south. The majority of the accommodation facilities in the south provide the same levels of amenities as the northern area but at a cheaper price.

Nonetheless for a budget Tanzania Safari experience we recommend that you join a private group safari.

  1. Best time to go on safari in North vs South Tanzania Circuit

The best time to go on a wildlife Safari in Tanzania in either the north or south safari circuit is during June until October.

Best time for a North Tanzania Safari: Majority of the tourists visit northern Tanzania to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration and get the chance to see large numbers of zebras, wildebeest, gazelles as well as the other herbivores as they move every year while looking for fresh food and water. The best time to observe the Wildebeest Migration in the Northern Safari Circuit is during June as well as July particularly for the Mara and Grumeti River crossings. Nonetheless, will be able to see the Wildebeest Migration in various of places of the Serengeti National Park during different months especially from November to July since the animals move in a huge circular path.

Travel Tips: Tanzania Safari Supremacy recommends its clients to travel during the off-shoulder safari season and avoid the peak tourist season which is characterized by large tourist’s crowds and expensive accommodation. Nonetheless, if traveling during this time, then you could consider exploring the south rather than northern Tanzania.

Best time for a South Tanzania Safari: The most ideal time for wildlife viewing is the dry season during the months of June until October when there is little rainfall and the temperatures are lower and bearable. If you are trying to avoid the tourist crowds, you should visit at any time of the year apart from April and May when the south is experiencing the wet season. This is the perfect time to see wildlife as the animals gather around the rivers and the shrubs are almost dried out which makes viewing of the wildlife much clearer.

Ruaha Southern safari circuit
Ruaha – Tanzania’s Largest National Park

Travel Tips: Tanzania Safari Supremacy recommends its clients to avoid traveling in the south during the wet rainy season as many of the roads are difficult to navigate as a result of the mud in southern Tanzania. Because of this, most of the safari camps as well as the lodges do not open in the wet season of the off-season, particularly in the long rains that take place from March to May. Despite the humidity and heat during January until March, it is an excellent time for birding in Southern Tanzania.

In conclusion:

The dry season is the high season for tourists in Tanzania. The cost of different accommodation facilities including lodges increase as well as the cost of the safari. This is the time that most of the popular parks get overwhelmed with tourists. Therefore the upside of visiting southern Tanzania in the dry season is avoiding the throngs of tourists exploring the northern parks at the same time.

6 Top Reasons to go on a Southern Tanzania Safari circuit

  1. The South is not crowded

The Southern Safari Circuit does not have as many tourists as the Northern Circuit particularly Ngorongoro Crater plus the renowned Serengeti National Park. In the south, you will have a lot of space and privacy for yourself especially during the wildlife viewing expeditions. You will have a more private safari adventure interacting with way less people and vehicles within the parks. in fact, the more you move to the western part of Tanzania, the more secluded the reserves there are.

  1. Enjoy Primate Watching Tours

It is only in the south that you can have a primate watching tour. The hilly Udzungwa and Mahale parks in the Southern Safari Circuit are a home to a variety of primates. You can also go for Chimpanzee Trekking Tours in the Mahale Mountains.

  1. The south is wild, large and pristine

The Southern Safari Circuit experiences offered in Tanzania are popular for their virgin landscapes encounters as well as opportunities to explore the authentic rugged beauty of Africa. Tanzania Safari Supremacy highly recommends the south for all daring tourists as well as holidaymakers that love the wild nature and look forward to enjoy this authentic, undisturbed part of Africa.

The Southern Safari Circuit is characterized by a number of the biggest conserved wildlife habitats in Africa. Selous Game Reserve is the biggest in Africa – being bigger than Switzerland and about fourfold the size of the popular Serengeti National Park. Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s largest as well as the largest National Park in East Africa covering an area of 20,226 sq km.

  1. Huge diversity of wildlife

Because the eco-regions of southern Africa and East African converge in this part of Tanzania, the game parks and reserves on this circuit reward their guests with a unique and very captivating blend of different types of birds and wild animals including a variety of predators.

  1. Diverse range of Safari Activities

The national parks / game reserves in the south are not as controlled as the ones in the north and it’s for that reason that they will provide you with safari activities that other game reserves cannot including: hot air balloons, night game drives, walking safaris, fly camping and boat ride tours for game viewing.

  1. Cheaper Accommodation with great value for money

The majority of the accommodation facilities in the south provide the same levels of amenities as the northern area but at a cheaper price. While on a safari in southern Tanzania, be assured of paying less for very good accommodation and affiliated services and amenities. Some of the top accommodations include: Siwandu Camp, Selous Mapumziko Lodge, Beho Beho, Mwagusi Camp and Lake Manze Camp. Tanzania safari tours can be both mid range lodges tented camps or standard luxury.

6 Top Reasons to go on Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit

  1. Easy Access:

You can easily access the national parks from Moshi town; Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) as well as Arusha an in addition, The best national parks in Tanzania are not very far from each other.

  1. View large numbers of wildlife in smaller area

You will have some of the greatest game viewing opportunities in Africa right here including the big five without having to drive longer distances. in addition, you will see large concentrations of flamingos, a rich birdlife as well as a variety of other wildlife.

  1. Get a taste of Tanzania’s Culture

Enjoy the unique and impressive cultures of the people of Tanzania on the exciting Tanzania Cultural Safaris including the Hadzabe as well as the renowned Maasai.

  1. Witness the Wildebeest migration

You will get to observe one of the ‘Ten Wonders of the Natural World’, the Great Migration in Serengeti National Park that includes over 1 million wildebeests, 300,000 gazelles and about 250,000 zebras.

Wildebeests Migration Serengeti North
Herd of Wildebeests in Serengeti
  1. Explore the Rooftop of Africa

For holiday makers interested in hiking, you will get to see the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro standing at a height of 5,895 meter (19,341 feet). Tanzania Safari Supremacy organizes exciting Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Tours along the various route all the way to the Uhuru summit.

  1. Enjoy budget Tanzania Safaris

Unlike in the south, it is very possible to organize more budget friendly Tanzania safari packages in the northern Tanzania parks such as the 3 Day Serengeti Safari with cheaper accommodation like basic camping.

Why you should not visit the South Tanzania Safari Circuit

  1. The major drawback of the Southern Safari Circuit is the smaller population of wildlife that you will meet. Even though the southern parks have large numbers of wildlife, the parks are very expansive which causes the animals to spread out over a larger area; therefore you will not see many during your safari.
  2. No Big Five: in southern Tanzania you will not be able to see all the Big Five animals. You will probably come across leopards, lions, buffaloes plus elephants however you will not see any rhinos.
  3. Poaching remains a challenge: There is a serious issue of poaching in southern Tanzania reserves and game parks. Today the Selous is facing another serious risk of the large-scale hydroelectric dam project that is presently being constructed within its boundaries.
  4. Higher Costs with longer travel times: because some of the parks are very secluded, this involves long trips on rough roads or longer bush flights which increases the price of your safari. Some of the western parks unfortunately cannot be reached using a road such as Mahale National Park or Gombe Stream National Park that can only be accessed using a small plane or a boat.
  5. The south is highly affected by the seasons; in the wet season, majority of the safari lodges as well as the camps are closed. Most roads can not be navigated and the environment is generally not conducive.

It is important to note that our Tanzania safari and Zanzibar tours can include a combination of Zanzibar beach holiday with either Northern Tanzania safari circuit or the Southern Tanzania safari  packages.

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