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Best place for Safari in January, East or South Africa?

edited September 2010 in Africa
My partner and I have been invited to a wedding in Zambia early January 2011 and, considering the cost of flights, we would really like to 'make the most of it'. We would both love to go on safari but I am stumbling over where would be best to go. Ideally I would love to see 'the big 5' (typical!), but I would probably be equally ecstatic at seeing a single gazelle!

I would really like to know where we would be most likely to see a good range of animals and where the weather would be best then. We were thinking South Africa, but having read a bit more it looks as though Kenya/Tanzania might be a good option too.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated, particularly regarding where the wildlife is most likely to be at that time of year, ease/cost of travel to other countries within range of Zambia and any reputable tour operators!

Thank you in advance!


  • Dear Sir/Madam,

    Firstly, both Kenya and Tanzania are superb areas to go on safari. Both countries offer excellent game viewing and both have fantastic lodges in which to relax. One of the biggest wildlife spectacles on earth is the Wildebeest Migration and a trip to East Africa would not be the same if you were to miss this. During the months of December – April the Wildebeest Migration is usually in the Southern Serengeti in Tanzania. It is the short plains of the south around the Ndutu and Ngorongoro Crater Area that host the greatest concentrations of animals. I advise planning your fantastic wildlife safari in Tanzania and maximizing on this dramatic wildlife display.

    This is the period of the wildebeest calving season, with over 500,000 calves born, and with luck you may spot new born gnu calves stumbling to their feet within minutes of their birth. Throughout your Serengeti safari you will search for Wildebeest, Burchell’s Zebra, Giraffe, Buffalo, Warthog, Grant’s Gazelle, Elands, Topi, Impala, and Kongoni amongst other wildlife. The predators and big cats exist in large numbers. There exist Lion, with an estimated population of 3,000 in the Tanzanian side of the Serengeti ecosystem (probably the largest single population anywhere in Africa), Leopard and Cheetah (an estimated population of 600). Spotted Hyenas, Golden Jackals, Bat-eared Foxes, Black-backed Jackals are also common predators. You will have the chance to venture into the Moru Koppies in the far southeast to search for the park’s last resident herd of Black Rhinoceros.

    The 10,000km2 of short-grass plains merges with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the ancestral home of the Wildebeest. The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. It is a true Garden of Eden, an extraordinary natural sanctuary for some of Africa’s densest large mammal populations and the crater floor is said to support the densest concentrations of predators in Africa. Over 400 Spotted Hyenas exist in the crater, along with Lion, Leopard (spotted on occasions in the swampy areas), and Black-backed and Golden Jackals. Elephant (especially around the Gorigor Swamp area) and Buffalo are regularly seen. There also exist residential populations and large concentrations of Wildebeest (over 10,000 in number), Burchell’s Zebra (approximately 5,000), and Buffalo, Tsessebe, Thomson’s and Grant’s Gazelle in the open grasslands of the crater floor. The Ngorongoro Crater is perhaps the best place in Africa to see the endangered Black Rhino. At the Ngoitokitok Springs there is a permanent Hippo pool (a fantastic stop-off point for a picnic lunch) and Waterbuck, Bushbuck and Eland are best spotted around the Lerai Forest Area. The crater floor offers superb birding. Lake Magadi is home to a large flock of flamingos, Mandusi Swamp is great for spotting water birds and the grassland is where the savanna birds are found.

    You may also want to venture into Tarangire National Park. In direct contrast to the Serengeti, Tarangire comes into its own during the dry season (July – November) and although the dry season is the best time to visit the park as the large herds of migrant grazers, especially elephants, are attracted to the permanent waters of the Tarangire River, you can experience fantastic walking safaris amongst the Baobab and Acacia Tress as well as experiencing night drives all year round. In Tarangire National Park you can search for the large Elephant herds and the localised Fringe-eared Oryx and Gerenuk. The large predators, such as Lions and Leopard, do exist in the national park but can be a challenge to spot due to the dense vegetation and Cheetah is best spotted in the Southern Plains. By venturing deeper into Tarangire the best chance to see Bushbuck and Lesser Kudu is at Lake Burunge and large herds of Buffalo are known to graze around the Kitibong Hill area. Birding in Tarangire National Park is fantastic, with over 500 species so far recorded.

    At Lake Manyara National Park you can go in search of Elephant, Buffalo, Wildebeest, Giraffe, and Zebra as well as a whole host of smaller animals and the legendary Lake Manyara tree climbing lion. There exists troops of Olive Baboon and Blue monkey and its birdlife is fantastic. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded including White Pelicans, Rose-pink Flamingo, Bee-eaters, and Silvery-cheeked Hornbills. Northern Tanzania can be visited at any time of the year apart from March to May (inclusive) as this is traditionally the main rainy season. November to April, although slightly wet and hot, is a good time to safari. It is when the countryside is greenest, and it offers the best bird watching. Game viewing in the Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara national Park is not strongly affected by season.

    You can fly from Lusaka (Zambia) to Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) with Kenya Airways, with a change of plane in Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), a journey time, including the change of plane, of approximately 6hrs 40mins.

    A fantastic luxurious beach break at the end of your safari is also an idea. On Zanzibar you could stay in a fantastic luxury retreat where you settle into your rooms, on a full-board basis. Here you can relax on the beach, by the pool or at your hotel or you can take a day or two to explore more of Zanzibar. You could relax on some of the islands most intimate beaches and enjoy diving, snorkeling guided reef & village walks, dhow boat trips, kayaking, cycling as well as a range of excursions such as exploring Jozani Forest or visiting Stone Town and its world famous spice tours, and its narrow streets, shops and markets. Experience the colours, the sounds and the spices of the capital and visit the mosques, palaces, shops, and old historic houses. You can learn about its dark history as one of the slave-trading ports of East Africa.

    I hope this information is useful and if you have any questions or queries please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
  • Anyone confused about which African destination to pick would be wise to choose a holiday in Tanzania, a country offering a diversity of thrilling attractions from the continent’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, to the exotic offshore spice island of Zanzibar. When it comes to big game Tanzania can boast the best with its vast Serengeti Nationalmore Park where the annual migration of millions of animals is one of Africa’s greatest spectacles. contact SAFARI TEAM (T) LTD Mr Chande email :
  • edited 4:55PM
    Thanks so much for the info! Unfortunately we are now unable to go...but I hope in the future to visit this amazing continent! Thanks again for your help.
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