Last week I shared some thoughts on my recent trip to South Africa where I able to watch future safari guides in training under the watchful tutelage of an organization called EcoTraining. Earlier today, I posted a story on Gadling.com about my recent trip to Kruger National Park that takes a look at some of my safari experiences there and how they compared to the Serengeti, which I visited a few years back.
First off, as I note in that story it is impossible to recommend either Kruger or the Serengeti over one another. They are both fantastic settings, each with their own draw and plenty of wildlife to see. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at both places, and that's saying something, because the Serengeti is perhaps my favorite place I've ever visited.
That said, the two destinations offer a very different safari experience to say the least. The Serengeti is much more open, with grasslands stretching to the horizon and rolling landscapes that offer prime vantage points for spotting the wildlife. Kruger, on the other hand, has lush green forests, dense underbrush, and plenty of green foliage to block your views. The result is a much more challenging experience for not only spotting the animals but getting quality photos as well. The flora made it quite fun to go on bush walks however, something I never had the opportunity to do on the Serengeti.
In terms of wildlife, Kruger matches up well with the Serengeti for the most part, although there is a lot more of it on the plains between Kenya and Tanzania. I saw all the usual animals on my safari, although certain ones were in short supply. For instance, there were few giraffes in the region I was in, and wildebeests were small in number as well, which is a sharp contrast to the Serengeti where they number in the hundreds of thousands. Still, Kruger had plenty of buffalo, antelope, baboons, monkeys, and zebras to fill your needs. We spotted hippos within minutes of crossing into the park as well, and a chance encounter with a baby lion will remain one of my favorite moments from any of my journeys.
I did note a big distinction between the elephants of Kruger and those on the Serengeti. In Kruger they seemed more aggressive by a wide margin. On more than one occasion we came across a larger breeding herd, with plenty of little ones in tow, and the parents were definitely not afraid to show their displeasure with our presence so close to the family. Our vehicle was even charged twice, one of which was a very close call. On the Serengeti, the elephants barely even acknowledged our existence and never made a threatening move towards us at all. Kruger has an over abundance of elephants as well, and even in the dense foliage they are easy to find, but the Serengeti has large herds to match and probably overall larger numbers.
The bottom line is that I feel privileged to have gotten the opportunity to visit both places, and they are both beautiful and amazing. If you're headed to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, than do yourself a favor and tack on a safari for the end of you climb. You'll be happy you did. If, on the other hand, you want a more laid back experience, South Africa might be your destination of choice. It offers up a more cosmopolitan experience with plenty to see in do in the larger cities, a thriving wine country, and the chance to have a great safari experience as well. If you simply can't choose, then maybe you should do what I did, and visit both!
Next up on my Safari "Want List," Botswana's Okavango Delta. I would love, love, love to visit that place as well.
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