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By Wies 13 August 2020

Should you travel to Botswana’s Okavango Delta or Tanzania’s Serengeti for your safari?

Are you confused as to whether you should travel to the Okavango Delta or the Serengeti? Here, YZ expert Wies outlines the differences between the reserves, to help you decide which is better for your safari to Africa.

Without question, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Serengeti in Tanzania are two of the most spectacular wildlife habitats on Planet Earth. The debate of which is better, and which you should visit first, is often raised. Whilst the reality is that both are superb, there are often deciding factors that dictate where you should go. Below are five guiding points, which will hopefully help you pick the perfect destination!

1. What do you want to experience whilst on safari?

Everyone that goes on safari obviously wants to see wildlife and experience ‘true wilderness’. However, the question of what you want to experience goes much deeper than that!

The Serengeti, for example, plays host to the Great Migration. One of the greatest wildlife spectacles on Earth, the migration sees some 1.5 million wildebeest traverse the plains of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem in search of fresh pasture. If the Great Migration has your calling card then there should be no doubt that the Serengeti is the place to go!

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If, on the other hand, you’re keen to get completely off the beaten track, and experience one of the most pristine and exclusive wilderness areas, the Okavango Delta should be given strong consideration. With most of the Delta consisting of vast concessions, which are home to only a handful of safari camps, exclusivity is almost guaranteed… although this can come with a serious price tag, which leads perfectly into the next point!

2. How much do you want to spend on your safari?

The question of budget is always the elephant in the room when it comes to planning a safari. Everyone knows it’s there, but no one wants to talk about it! So the question of how much does a safari cost...

When it comes down to it, the Serengeti is the more affordable of the two destinations, with many camps in the Delta commanding some of the highest prices on the continent. During peak season (from July to October) in particular, a safari to the Delta can be out of reach for many.

Whilst there certainly are ways of circumnavigating the price issue in the Delta (staying in the Khwai Concession or Moremi Game Reserve, for example), I would argue that many camps in the Serengeti offer better value for money. The fact that certain parts of the Serengeti are considerably quieter than Khwai and Moremi during peak season makes it a fantastic proposition for those travelling on a bit more of a budget.

3. Do you want to be active whilst on safari?

Big game viewing is more than likely going to be the focus of any safari! Although game drives will make up most of your time on safari, certain areas offer a greater variety of activities.

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Dunia Camp game drive vehicle lookout HR Eliza Deacon

The Okavango Delta is one such area. Besides game drives, visitors can partake in boat safaris, dugout canoe (mokoro) excursions, walking safaris, and fly camping – making for a hugely varied safari experience! Here’s my blog on what activities you should try in the Delta!

Comparatively, the Serengeti offers much less variety primarily due to the fact that camps and lodges here have to adhere to national park regulations. A smattering of camps does offer walking safaris, but game drives dominate the safari experience on offer.

4. During what time of year are you looking to travel?

The Serengeti in particular is a superb year-round safari destination. Come rain or shine, game viewing will be epic here. This is in part thanks to the presence of the Great Migration, but also due to the ridiculous density of big cats across the Serengeti Mara ecosystem.

The Okavango Delta, in contrast, really comes into its own from July through to October, as wildlife moves in from areas outside the Delta to focus on the floodwater and fresh grazing that can be found in the Delta as a result. Needless to say, game viewing is especially outstanding during this time.

A special mention should be made for April, May, and November in the Delta. April and May generally see the floods arriving into the Delta, and whilst game viewing may not be quite as prolific it is an incredibly beautiful time to visit. November, on the other hand, still sees exceptional game viewing following the July–October peak. But what makes these three months really stand out is costs. Most camps in the Delta will be operating on low- or shoulder-season rates, which offer fantastic value for money!

5. Location, location. Location!

This final point deviates from the other four – in that it alludes to both the Serengeti and Okavango Delta, rather than one or the other! Location is absolutely key when visiting either area. Pick well, and you will have the safari of a lifetime. Pick poorly, and you can literally find yourself missing out on some of the greatest spectacles on the planet!

A lot of what the Serengeti has to offer revolves around the Great Migration, and each month brings with it something new in this respect. However, there are areas of the Serengeti that are superb regardless of whether the Great Migration is there, so it certainly doesn’t always have to be about the huge herds of wildebeest! Choosing where you stay in the Delta, on the other hand, will dictate what you can and can’t do. Quality of game viewing is also often dictated by where you stay. The key really is to pick an area (or areas) first, rather than a specific camp or lodge. In my opinion, the Delta truly comes into its own when visitors can see and experience all its facets – from ‘dry land’ safari activities, to those out on the water.

If you’re still unsure as to whether the Okavango Delta or the Serengeti is the better safari option for you, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts here. Alternatively, do take a look below for more inspiration: