Northern vs Southern Tanzania
What's the difference?

Tanzania is quite simply made for safari; wildlife of the epic variety, game-changing scenery and a multitude of camps and lodges to suit every style and budget, need and want. But with so much choice, where do you start?
And another question is, do you go north or south?
We’ve broken down the North vs South Tanzania to make your planning a little easier – and there’s even a couple of extra  information in there too:
Tanzania’s safari ‘routes’ are generally divided into two sections:
routes around the northern parks – Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire, Manyara being the most popular, and routes around the southern parks – Ruaha, Mikumi and Nyerere, and maybe a bit more the wild of Katavi and Gombe.

Although it’s possible to combine both the northern circuit and the southern circuit in one amazing safari, most people will stick to only circuit part. Have a closer look to our Destination part in our website.
The million-dollar question in the northern vs southern Tanzania debate!
Generally, when people imagine safari in Tanzania, they’re thinking of the northern circuit. These parks offer some of the most iconic experiences and landscapes on the continent, from the long-limbed Maasai traversing the Serengeti plains, to the greenery and towering peaks surrounding Ngorongoro.
The south is so much different! To steal a favourite cliché, Ruaha and Nyerere, previous Selous are the very definition of off-the-beaten-track. The parks are much less well known, and that simply adds to the feeling of being somewhere truly wild.


In terms of wildlife, northern vs southern Tanzania are similar in that both have good quantities of animals as well as lots of variation, but each has its own quirks and qualities.
The northern circuit is most famous for the Great Migration in the Serengeti, a stampede of tens of thousands of wildebeest as they search for water and grass. A spectacle it is, and one that’s certainly worthy of its bucket list.
Other highlights of the north include fabulous Big Five sightings in Ngorongoro, herds of elephants amid Tarangire’s baobabs, and in Manyara, clouds of pink flamingo.


In the south, Ruaha is home to almost 10% of the world’s lion population, and the other big cats are plentiful and beautiful. Enormous herds of elephant and buffalo are common in both Ruaha and Nyerere, but you won’t see cheetah or rhinos.

The northern circuit is the home of classic safari experiences, and early morning and afternoon game drives are the name of the game. Walking safaris are permitted in Tarangire and some parts of the Serengeti, as are night drives, but they are definitely less common.
In Ruaha and Nyerere, there’s an extravaganza of activities to enjoy; morning and afternoon game drives, walking safaris with expert guides and night drives are standard in both, and Nyerere specialities include boat trips down the mighty Rufiji River, and fly camping expedition.

In a northern vs southern Tanzania debate on price, northern Tanzania will always come out cheaper!

Simply put, it’s easier to access and there are more flights, meaning much cheaper prices. It’s also one of the easiest places on the continent for a driving safari; book a vehicle and a driver, and they will serve you an once-in-a-lifetime.
The southern circuit is generally more expensive, with less flights and further distances to cover. However, many of the camps offer excellent deals to combat this and a southern circuit safari doesn’t have to be expensive.

The popularity of the northern circuit has increased in recent years. Ease of access and a relatively low cost are huge drawcards, and the parks can seem crowded in certain areas, and at certain times. If there’s one thing the south isn’t, it’s crowded! But the wildlife down here is sometimes shy and can seem more spread out.

The gateway to the northern circuit is the quirly town of Arusha and the little brother Moshi and you may end up spending a night here either at the beginning or end of your safari.
Flights depart from Arusha airport and fly in a circular route around all the parks in the north, picking up and dropping off passengers in each.
For the southern circuit, your starting point is Dar es Salaam, from which charter flights depart and leave the airport for Ruaha and Nyerere.
Again, you’ll probably end up spending a night in the city at the beginning or end of your trip.

Truly, it’s impossible to pick a winner in the northern vs southern Tanzania adventure. It really comes down to what you’re looking for in a safari. If wide, open plains scattered with storybook animals, and hot air balloon flights at dawn float your boat, then the northern parks might be for you.

If you’re looking to escape the crowds and experience something unique and a little bit wild, the southern parks could be right up your choice.

We proudly present both circuits from our beautiful country. Please contact our travel designer team for your bespoke itinerary.

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