The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya are always on focus as far as an African safari is concerned in East Africa. This is because these locations serve as the spots for the world famous great wildebeest migration. It is an annual event that has been praised as one of the new seven wonders of the world because it is the only time, in present years, that wildlife moves at once in millions. Actually, this magical experience involves migration of over a million wildebeest, zebras and Thompson’s Gazelles.
Their long trek in search of pasture begins in the Tanzanian side, at Serengeti as the animals move southward from Loliondo through Ngorongoro Crater National Park into Serengeti before they cross into Masai Mara in Kenya. In actual sense, the biggest part of the migration takes place in Tanzania as the wildlife traverses looking for pasture.
In the Mara, the migration takes place between July and October when the herds migrate into and out of the country. This is the best time to go on a Masai Mara safari on the Kenyan side to view the wildebeests closely. This move also attracts carnivores like lions, hyenas, leopards and cheetahs waiting to pounce on animals after crossing the crocodile infested Mara River. In Tanzania, the animals migrate into the Serengeti from November to June.
Which is Better – The Mara or Serengeti?
There are different perspectives that can differentiate the two regions. Most tourists prefer visiting both countries for a complete safari experience because either side has something different to offer.
The major differences between the two places of interest are:-
1. Entrance Fees & Aircraft Rates
The Masai Mara charges USD80 for non residents per day while Serengeti charges USD50 per day. Tourists in Tanzania can fly into the National Park from Arusha and land at the Seronera or Kirawira airstrips. This attracts a cost of USD135 for every person.
However, a single landing at Masai Mara other parts of Kenya such as Samburu, Nanyuki or Mombasa attracts a cost of between USD 4-38 depending on the number of seats in the aircraft.
2. Game Drives
The rules differ in the two attraction sites. In Masai Mara, tourists can watch wildlife from a close distance as long as they follow the roads or trails. It can become a nuisance when there are many visitors each hoping to get as close as possible thereby ruining the photo moments.
This is unlike in the Serengeti where off road driving is not allowed and tourists have to contend with watching game from a distance. This is often discouraging especially when they have flown in for the game drive experience. However, driving through the Ngorongoro Crater provides the rare opportunity to mingle with wildlife.
3. Variety of Wildlife
Serengeti and Masai Mara boast of a wide range of species from the big five to other carnivores and herbivores. However, Serengeti has the largest bird population with over 500 documented species against Masai Mara’s about 470. This makes the Serengeti a great place for a bird watching experience for those on a Tanzania safari.
5. Size and Location
The Masai Mara is about ten times smaller than Serengeti. This provides wide scenery for tourists in Serengeti in Tanzania because they can travel to the Ngorongoro crater, Mount Kilimanjaro and other exciting places. It is advisable to travel to the Mara by air because of the taste of the road but for Serengeti, road transport is the most popular.
Masai Mara has more accommodation venues with dozens of affordable camping sites inside and around the region. Some luxury camps and lodges are located close to the entrance gates of the reserve.
They have different rates that suit different travel budgets with the cheapest below $200 such as Mara Nyumbu camp, Acacia camp and Mara Hippo safari lodge. Serengeti also has about five lodges and several camps.
Guest Author: Gerald
Photo Source: http://www.maragates.com