May 5

Southern Africa vs East Africa: Which Region Offers the Best Safari?

May 5, 2023

Greetings, adventurous souls and safari aficionados! We're thrilled to have you back in the ring for another ultimate safari showdown – Southern Africa vs East Africa! These two wildlife warriors are going head-to-head in the battle for Africa's best safari destination. So, get your binoculars ready and join us as we witness which region reigns supreme. Let the safari battle begin!

Southern Africa vs East Africa – who will reign supreme?

Safari Southpaw Southern Africa

Step right up, folks! In this corner, weighing in with the world's largest waterfall, unrivalled in diversity when it comes to topography, climate, wildlife and culture, a leader in inland deltas, and current champion of adrenaline activities – we give you, Southern Africa.

Southern Africa is a fierce opponent when it comes to ultimate safari destinations

Rumble in the Jungle East Africa

And in this corner, weighing in with enchanted forests straight out of a fairytale and adorable primates that'll steal your heart, undefeated when it comes to the world's largest animal migration, and currently holding the world heavyweight title of Africa's tallest mountain – here's East Africa!

East Africa offers certain experiences you won't find anywhere else

Southern Africa vs East Africa, Round 1 – Landscapes

Ding! It's round one, folks, and Southern Africa comes out swinging with a diverse range of landscapes, including dense bush and open veld, arid deserts, wetlands, grand rivers and waterfalls, as well as magnificent mountain ranges and curvaceous coastlines! Southern Africa's spirit is admirable, but will it withstand the blows from East Africa?

Aerial view of Victoria Falls

Incredible aerial view of Victoria Falls, the world's largest sheet of falling water

East Africa packs a punch potent with its vast savannah plains of the Serengeti National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve, the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, and the stunning Rift Valley. The region also boasts an incredibly dense forest and several GIGANTIC lakes, including Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa, and Lake Tanganyika, one of the deepest lakes in the world.

The Maasai Mara is undoubtedly Kenya’s most notable and revered reserve

This is going to be a tough match, folks! Southern Africa and East Africa are both fierce contenders with an impressive arsenal of contrasting countryside that could knock out any opponent. Which one will come out on top? Keep your eyes peeled! Only time will tell…

Walking with Meerkats in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Meerkats in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Image Credit: Camp Kalahari

Southern Africa vs East Africa, Round 2 – Wildlife

This round is NOT going to be cut and dry, folks! When it comes to wildlife, both Southern and East Africa offer epic, heavyweight game viewing. 

Southern Africa can't be beaten with the most bountiful Big 5 safari sightings in South Africa's world-famous Greater Kruger National Park. Here, you could easily spot elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalos and leopards – all on the same day! Then there's Botswana's Okavango Delta flaunting profuse greenery, meandering waterways and lagoons that are positively bursting with life!

Leopards of Kruger's Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Image Credit: Katharina Mandy

East Africa seems a bit taken aback by Southern Africa's barrage of buffalo blows, leopard strikes and heavy elephant-packed punches. However, East Africa retaliates with its signature move, the Great Wildebeest Migration! Wow! Traversing through Tanzania and Kenya, that annual stampede simply smothered Southern Africa's attack!

La Gran Migración es un asombroso escaparate de la vida salvaje en África

The Great Migration is an astonishing showcase of Africa's wildlife

Dazed, Southern Africa looks like it's in trouble – no, wait! This rebellious region retaliates! Summoning the world's biggest concentration of African elephants from Chobe National Park, Southern Africa has those wildebeest backtracking and fast! Will East Africa recover? 

Elephants at a waterhole

Chobe National Park is known for its thriving population of elephants

Do you hear that? That rumble in the jungle? It's coming from the dark, dense forests of Uganda and Rwanda. It seems that East Africa has mustered up a marvel of a move in the form of majestic mountain gorillas and charismatic chimpanzees! Amazing! What a manoeuvre! DING! That's the end of Round 2 – the judges are sure to be torn with this one...

Une famille de gorilles en voie de danger

Gorilla trekking in Africa is one of the most moving and exclusive experiences in the world, Image Credit: WWF

Southern Africa vs East Africa, Round 3 – Activities

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the third round of the epic showdown between Southern Africa and East Africa, with the topic being safari activities!

Both contenders have been trading blows, with game drives and walking safaris being a standard offering from both sides. The guides have been showcasing their expertise in the bush, identifying the flora and fauna while sharing their passion for the wild. And let's not forget the hot air ballooning, which has been a souring hit in specific areas!

Hot air balloon ride in Sossusvlei

Float over the ruby-red dunes of Namibia in a hot air balloon

But wait, what's this? Southern Africa is stepping up its game with some unique activities that might just tip the scales in its favour! With a morning mokoro ride, Southern Africa jabs East Africa in the jaw with a traditional dug-out canoe, then delivers a spontaneous motorboat trip that hits East Africa with a left hook. And the final blow, a spinning-backhand sunset boat cruise! What a display of skill from Southern Africa!

Mokoro boat ride

Mokoro safaris are a highlight on any Botswana safari, Image Credit: Linyanti Bush Camp

But East Africa isn't one to back down from a challenge! East Africa unleashes its secret weapon, the reverse-roundhouse-gorilla-trekking-kick! What a move! Is this even allowed? The crowd is going wild, and the judges don't seem to be perturbed – guess this boxing match has just turned into a full-on kickboxing fight! Things are about to get interesting...

Gorilla Trekking

You can only find wild gorillas in some protected national parks in East Africa

Southern vs East Africa, Round 4 – Accommodation

And here we go with Round 4, folks! It's Southern Africa vs East Africa in the accommodation showdown. East Africa starts off strong with a barrage of authentic tented camps that keep Southern Africa at bay. But hold on – Southern Africa seems unfazed and confident as it dodges East Africa's attacks and prepares to strike back.

Seu ninho na natureza

Both Southern and East Africa have stunning accommodation options, Image Credit: Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp

In the East corner, we have some of the most beautiful and secluded safari lodges on the continent, and many come in the canvas variety. That's right, folks, you're only a layer of fabric away from the wild, so you get to enjoy the sounds of the bush filtering through! It's a nature lover's paradise that offers the real deal immersive experience! You can be as adventurous as you'd like or opt for more bells and whistles if camping out is not your style.

Beautiful interior of the tented lounge area

Luxury tents give off a dreamy, close-to-nature quality, Image Credit: Singita Mara

In the Southern corner, we have a lineup of award-winning luxury safari lodges. These properties offer state-of-the-art facilities, sterling service, and exquisite five-star cuisine. The accommodation competition is fierce here, from Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park to South Africa's Phinda Private Game Reserve.

Determined to wipe out its opponent, Southern Africa is pulling out all the stops with luxury safari tents and sumptuous suites complete with private plunge pools and attentive personal butlers. It's been a close fight so far, but after Round 4, the competition could go either way. Who will come out on top in this thrilling bout?

Opulent bathroom

Southern Africa is a paradise of luxury lodges, Image Credit: Phinda

Southern Africa vs East Africa – The Final Round

It's the final round, folks! East Africa attacks with a slew of signature Wildebeest Migration and Gorilla Trekking uppercuts. Southern Africa bobs and weaves with winding oxbow waterways, then counters with a flurry of Big 5 roundhouse kicks...

The crowd is on their feet as East Africa throws a barrage of seclusion, but Southern Africa retaliates with a powerful luxury lodge left hook. DING DING DING!!!

Rhinos locking horns

Between Southern and East Africa, there simply is no loser

And there's the bell! What a fight! Deciding on the winner won't be easy, as both contenders offer unbeatable experiences. What do you think? Do you hunger for the ultimate Big 5 safari adventure or dream of witnessing the Great Migration in all its glory?  

How about a heart-pounding expedition deep into the jungle in search of elusive primates? Maybe a scenic sunset cruise along the roaring Zambezi River? You hold the power to crown the ultimate champion. So, what are you waiting for? You decide. Start planning your safari today!

After that brawl, you must be thirsty! Take a look at our Southern African Highlights Tour and Pristine East African Safari Tour to quench your curiosity about some tantalising itinerary ideas. See you in Africa – wherever you choose to go! 

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About the author 

Michelle Welvering

Growing up, Michelle always wanted to become a world-renowned artist, a kickboxing-champion and an eccentric explorer – aka a Kickboxing Exploring Artist! After pursuing an education in Fine Arts and opening her own Kickboxing gym in Pretoria, an unexpected twist led her to a six-year stint as a travel consultant in South African tourism. She believes that all things happen for a reason and, driven by adventure, she was eager to find a more “wild” and cultural space to call home. This led her to wander the Western Cape coastline, fall in love with the city of Cape Town and, of course, her workplace, Rhino Africa.

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