This is not a blog about which country is better for going on safari, Tanzania or Kenya. Although that is a very much a common question and one for which I for one have a duly predictable answer. This is a blog about why combining both countries in one trip is usually not a good idea.
I understand why people might think that going to Tanzania and Kenya together could work well. They are right next to each other on the map, making up the majority of East Africa. They share a language, Kiswahili. They share a border that runs right down the middle of one of the most famous places on the planet, the Serengeti - on the Tanzanian side, and the Maasai Mara on the Kenyan side. Not to mention West Kilimanjaro and Amboseli and, Mkomazi and Tsavo West. In fact they share a great many more things than that.
At the same time Tanzania and Kenya are also very different places. Culturally, historically, economically they are different. Perhaps not in every holiday makers mind when thinking about a safari. And although similarities can be drawn, like anywhere, the wild landscapes and wildlife are also different. Taking their most celebrated destinations; although they are ecologically the same place, the Maasai Mara is smaller and busier with a greater array of accommodation than the Serengeti. The Mara now has a number of community concessions on its borders, something of a rarity in Tanzania.
Beyond that, Tanzania and Kenya are distinct and incredible countries in their own rights, and they should be treated as such. As is a very Western habit, especially in reference to Africa (a mind bendingly diverse continent) we must be careful not to generalise when we travel. Moreover, each country has more than enough amazing places to go and spectacular things to see to keep one time safari goers and seasoned aficionados alike, more than happy.
Logistically, a Tanzania and Kenya safari is not as easy as you might think. You cannot drive across the Mara and Serengeti border. You have to drive out of the Mara, to an airstrip to clear customs, fly across to another airstrip in Tanzania to clear customs again, and then drive into the Serengeti. A day’s worth of travel to get somewhere you can probably see with some binoculars. Fear of missing out can often inspire us to have too many places on our tick list, but as I’ve described before, when it comes to safari, less is always more. No one wants to spend any more time (or money) than necessary of their precious vacation in airports, aeroplanes or driving in-between.
That said combining both countries is perfectly possible, if you have enough time, and budget. Two weeks at a minimum. Some wonderful contrasts are possible, the lesser travelled areas of both countries, Kenya’s dry and wild north and Tanzania’s vast and rugged south? There are some safaris where country hoping is much more straightforward, southern Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana for example. But generally I recommend going to more than one country only if there is something you just can’t get elsewhere. A good example would be a Tanzania safari combined with gorilla trekking in Rwanda. You might absolutely have to see Victoria Falls before you go, and that’s fine. We can organise it for you.