Top 5 Contrasts between Northern and Southern Tanzania Safari Circuits
5 Differences South vs Northern Tanzania Safari

Tanzania stands out as an exceptional destination for an unforgettable African Safari Holiday. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned explorer, Tanzania offers an array of game parks and national reserves with diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The challenge lies in selecting the right destinations, considering the multitude of options available.

Tanzania’s safari circuit is divided into two main regions: the Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit and the Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit. Choosing between them depends on your preferences for wildlife, timing, and activities. Each circuit offers unique experiences, ensuring a memorable safari adventure. Here, we provide a comprehensive comparison to guide your decision on which circuit to explore during your Tanzania safari.

  1. Safari Destinations: North vs. South

Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit:

5 Differences Northern Southern Tanzania CircuitsRenowned globally for the Great Wildebeest Migration in Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara (Kenya), the Northern Circuit also includes popular destinations like Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Tarangire National Park.

Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit:

Features remote and less-visited destinations, including Katavi National Park, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Nyerere National Park, Mikumi National Park, Ruaha National Park, and Mahale National Park. Nyerere and Ruaha are the most frequented wildlife destinations in the South.

  1. Tanzania Safaris Experience: North vs. South

Meeting the Big Five:

The Northern Circuit is famous for hosting the ‘Big Five’ – lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and buffalo. In contrast, the Southern Circuit lacks rhinos, and seeing all members of the ‘Big Five’ requires a trip to the northern parks.

Check out another article on Which is better between Northern Tanzania safari vs Southern Tanzania Safaris.

Wildlife and Tourist Encounters:

Northern Tanzania offers more abundant wildlife but attracts larger tourist crowds. With its vast parks, Southern Tanzania requires longer drives to spot animals, providing a more private safari experience.

Safari Vehicles:

The South utilizes open-sided vehicles, offering riveting wildlife views, while the North employs closed vehicles for safaris.

Accommodation Demand:

High demand for accommodation in the North, especially during peak tourist seasons, contrasts with the South, offering exclusive safari camps with fewer guests year-round.

  1. Activities: North vs. South Tanzania Circuit

Southern Circuit Activities:

More varied activities, including guided walking safaris, night game drives, boat safaris, and fly camping in Nyerere National park and Ruaha National Park.

Northern Circuit Activities:

Fewer diverse activities, with restrictions on walking safaris in some areas.

  1. Safari Costs: North vs. South Tanzania Circuit


Historically, Northern Circuit safaris were more affordable but improved access to Southern parks via road has made them more cost-effective. Overland southern Tanzania safaris are now common.

Park Entrance Fees:

Southern parks generally have lower entry fees compared to their northern counterparts.


Accommodation costs are generally higher in the North, making the South more budget-friendly.

  1. Best Time to Go on Safari: North vs. South Tanzania Circuit

Best Time for North Tanzania Safari:

June to October, with June and July ideal for witnessing the Great Wildebeest Migration in the Northern Circuit. Consider the off-shoulder season to avoid crowds.

Best Time for South Tanzania Safari:

Dry season from June to October, offering optimal wildlife viewing. Avoid April and May during the wet season.

 Top Reasons for Choosing Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit

Less Crowded: Experience more privacy and space, especially in the secluded reserves of Western Tanzania.

Primate Watching Tours: Unique opportunities for primate watching in Udzungwa and Mahale parks, including chimpanzee trekking.

Wild, Large, and Pristine: Explore Africa’s authentic, undisturbed beauty with vast wildlife habitats, including the massive Nyerere National Park; formerly Selous Game Reserve.

Southern Tanzania Circui rare animalsDiverse Wildlife: Convergence of eco-regions results in a captivating blend of birds and various predators.Rare sightings like The African Wild dog can be sighted here at Nyerere National Park, in the Southern Circuit.

Diverse Safari Activities: Enjoy unique activities such as hot air balloons, night game drives, walking safaris, fly camping, and boat rides for game viewing.

Cost-Effective Accommodation: Receive excellent amenities at a lower cost, with options like Siwandu Camp, Selous Safari Lodge, Beho Beho, Mwagusi Camp, and Lake Manze Camp.

6 Top Reasons for Choosing Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit

Easy Access: Conveniently reach national parks from Moshi, Kilimanjaro International Airport, and Arusha, with close proximity between key parks.

Abundance of Wildlife: Witness the ‘Big Five’ and other wildlife concentrations without extensive travel.

Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in Tanzania’s diverse cultures, including interactions with the Hadzabe and Maasai communities.

Wildebeest Migration: Observe the spectacular Great Migration in Serengeti National Park, a natural wonder.

Explore Mount Kilimanjaro: Experience Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, and engage in exhilarating climbing tours.

Budget-Friendly Safaris: Organize cost-effective safari packages, such as the 3-Day Serengeti Safari with affordable accommodation options like basic camping.

Why You Might Avoid the Southern Tanzania Safari Circuit

Smaller Wildlife Population: Encounter fewer wildlife due to expansive parks, necessitating longer drives.

No Big Five: Missing the complete ‘Big Five’ experience, as rhinos are absent in Southern Tanzania.

Poaching Concerns: Ongoing poaching issues in Southern reserves, along with potential threats like large-scale dam projects.

Higher Costs and Longer Travel Times: Secluded parks require longer journeys, increasing safari expenses.

Seasonal Challenges: The wet season results in closed lodges, challenging roads, and unfavorable conditions.

It’s crucial to note that our Tanzania safari and Zanzibar tour packages can combine Zanzibar beach holidays with either the Northern or Southern Tanzania safari circuits.

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