Kenya or South Africa Safari; Masai Mara vs Kruger National Park

masai mara kenya

Kruger National Park Vs Masai Mara

Kenya’s Masai Mara together with South Africa’s Kruger National Park are some of Africa’s best wildlife safari destinations. Both parks boast of a variety of wildlife including the big five. Whereas wildlife is what makes them one, these two animal kingdoms are totally different; The Masai Mara is dominated by a Savannah grassland landscape with is notably best for wildlife viewing whereas Kruger on the other hand is highly dominated by a bush landscape known to hinder wildlife viewing which is why most Kruger safaris require an expert known as a tracker whose job is to look into the bushes during game drives to help with spotting wildlife.

It is guaranteed that you will easily see much more in terms of wildlife in the Masai Mara than you are likely to see in Kruger National Park. However, if you can afford the luxury of visiting both parks then that’s a chance not to be missed.

Best time to Visit

The best game viewing time in Kruger National Park is May to October, during the sunny, dry winter season when the grass has been grazed down. In the Masai Mara, July to September, a time the great wildebeest migration happens in the park is the best time to visit. But even with the migration out of sight, a visit to the Masai Mara will treat you to one of natures most gifted animal kingdoms

The Great Migration

The Masai Mara is well known for the magnificent wildebeest Migration (shared with Tanzania) of more than one million wildebeest and zebra in the Maasai Mara. In comparison to Kruger National Park, this migration contributes to a greater percentage of wildlife and safari action to be witnessed on a safari to the Masai Mara


Self-drive safaris suited to self-drive visitors on tight budgets with lots of time are a good way to save on safari costs. These safaris are popular and favorable in Kruger National Park, for a park with well a designated road and track network, unlike Kenya’s Masai Mara where self-drive is less welcome. Safaris to Masai Mara are commonly booked safaris through tour operators or lodge-operated safaris.

Lodge and Tour agency-operated safaris, where guests are driven from park to park, are generally less expensive in Masai Mara and Kenya at large than in Kruger or South Africa at large. Prices are even more attractive in Kenya’s low season (April, May, and November). Game viewing is still good in the low season due to the excellent visibility of the open plains of the Maasai Mara and other reserves.

Kenya Safari Vs South Africa Safari

It cannot go without saying that Kenya and South Africa are some of the prime destinations for African safaris, if you are considering a Safari to Africa but stuck choosing which destination to visit, here is a detailed comparison of two Safari destinations based on several criteria that will help you make your own final decision

Home to Safari

The word “safari” is Swahili for “journey,” and Kenya is where it all began. Hemingway immortalized the safari experience, although he was a sport and trophy hunter rather than a naturalist or photographer.  Joy Adamson was among the group of expatriates, in the 1960s and 1970s, whose endeavors to conserve African wildlife captured the world’s attention.

The writings of Karen Blixen, and the adaptation of her classic book Out of Africa into a motion picture starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, helped establish Kenya as a great safari destination in the modern era which could arguably make it a better safari destination based on this rich history.


First and probably the most important thing when comparing Kenya or South Africa in terms of safaris is the wildlife, in both countries you are able to see the big five; lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant but never the less there is more wildlife to see in Kenya in addition to an estimated 2 million herd wildlife to be encountered on The Great Migration as it happens in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park.


For bird lovers, South Africa offers outstanding birdlife throughout the country, with some 600 breeding species and close to 800 overall, including Eurasian migrants and seabirds. A good number of bird species are endemic (restricted) to South Africa, particularly in the Karoo, highveld grasslands, and Cape fynbos regions, making this a highly popular destination among international birdwatchers

Among the most conspicuous of Kruger’s birds are the raptors. Commonly encountered throughout the year are the tawny eagle, bateleur, brown snake eagle, and martial eagle, while the migratory Wahlberg’s eagle is present in large numbers between September and March. A hundred or more white-backed vultures commonly show up at carcasses of large mammals, with lappet-faced, white-headed and hooded vultures in smaller numbers.

Even without a prior interest in birds, you’ll soon become captivated by the abundant lilac-breasted rollers, yellow-billed hornbills, greater blue-eared starlings, long-tailed shrikes and fork-tailed drongos

Kenya on the other hand is an ornithologist’s paradise, with over 1,000 species of birds recorded within its borders. Greater and lesser flamingos migrate along the Rift Valley and prefer the alkaline lakes of Magadi, Elmenteita, Nakuru, Bogoria or Turkana. Lakes Naivasha and Baringo are freshwater lakes. Birdwatching is good year-round, but is perhaps best between September and March when many species of Eurasian migratory birds are present alongside the breeding residents.

Level of development

South Africa is quite a bit more developed than Kenya which has its pros and cons; one of the big cons is that in South Africa you have much better roads leading up to the national parks unlike Kenya where you take on dusty Murram roads for like two hours to get to a national park. Another pro is that you have many more luxury options in South Africa if that’s what you’re looking for, there are also better facilities in the Safari lodges inside the parks; restaurants, restrooms and room service.

To note more, South Africa has more things inside the parks but there is one major downside and that is Kruger National Park which is South Africa’s most famous National Park, it  feels quite a bit like a sea since it’s basically all paved roads throughout the national park and you just see animals kind of left and right

Natural beauty

Masai Mara National Park In Kenya is absolutely stunning and alongside the Lakes like Lake Nakuru or Lake Naivasha you can do amazingly beautiful game drives then, of course, there’s Amboseli National Park with a stunning view of the Mountain Kilimanjaro. In South Africa, you may not find the parks as particularly attractive naturally as the Parks in Kenya.

However, In line with its numerous distinct geographic, altitudinal and climatic zones, South Africa supports a great diversity of wildlife and plants. In fact, well over 10% of all the world’s plants and flowers occur in South Africa. Virtually all of Africa’s great land mammals are to be found (mostly in the eastern lowlands), as well as whales, dolphins, and other marine species in the surrounding oceans.


If you are looking to visit Africa but have a feel of your home weather, South Africa offers three distinct climatic zones.. The entire central plateau and eastern parts (including the Lowveld) experience summer rainfall (October to March). It is warm to hot (depending upon altitude) in summer and cool to warm during winter (May to August).

Nights can be cold, even at lower altitudes, in mid-winter. The southwestern corner, including Cape Town, experiences dry, warm summers and cool, wet winters — a Mediterranean climate not unlike California or southern France. The region east of the southwestern Cape, extending along the coast to East London, experiences rainfall throughout the year, but is prone to drought conditions.

Unlike South Africa, Kenya offers just two distinct climatic seasons; the dry and wet seasons. The two dry seasons in Kenya lie within the months of July to September and December to March. This season is characterized by dry weather, the warmest temperatures in the day with little or no rain. This is also the best time to visit for a safari.

The two wet seasons in Kenya lie with in the months of April to early June and October to November. This season receives the highest rain levels in a year.

Masai Mara National Reserve: All You need to know

Accommodation lodges & Camps in Masai Mara National Reserve

That actual amount you will need for a Kenya Masai Mara safari holiday depends on where you stay while visiting ...
life tour

Activities in Masai Mara National Reserve

The Masai Mara is one of the most famous and popular safari destinations in Africa. Located in southwestern Kenya, it ...
Best Time to Visit Masai Mara Africa

Best Time to Visit Masai Mara Kenya

The Masai Mara in Kenya is home to a rich variety of wildlife, stunning landscapes, and cultural diversity. But when ...
masai mara lions

Booking a Safari Holiday to Masai Mara Kenya

How to book a Masai Mara Safari? The easiest way to book a Safari in Masai Mara Kenya is by ...

Hot air Balloon Masai Mara

A hot air balloon ride in Masai Mara is a spectacular way to explore the wilderness of The Masai Mara ...
flights to Masai Mara National Reserve

How to get to Maasai Mara National Reserve Kenya

Maasai Mara National Reserve is about 280 km from Nairobi, This journey to the park can be accessed by both ...
masai mara holidays

Kenya Birding Guide

Birds of Masai Mara, Amboseli and Naivasha- Kenya Kenya registers over 1,100 bird species which makes it second to Congo ...
masai mara lions

Lions in Masai Mara National Reserve

If you are a wildlife lover, you might have heard of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. It is ...
maasai tribe

Maasai Tribe

Masaai tribe consists of an indigenous group of people living mainly in Kenya and northern Tanzania. The Maasai migrated from ...
masai mara Horse riding safari

Masai Mara Horse Riding Safari

Masai Mara Horse safaris are highly recommended, but only for saddle-fit, relatively experienced riders. The journey includes customizable morning and ...
masai mara safari

Masai Mara Safari holiday Cost

The cost of a Safari holiday to Masai Mara varies with; the number of people traveling, the time of travel ...
The wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration

The Great Wildebeest Migration starts in the Serengeti plains , Tanzania as 1.3 million animals embark on the most epic ...
serengeti Safari Tour

The Masai Mara

Masai Mara National Reserve is one of the most popular and spectacular destinations in Kenya, offering an unparalleled safari experience ...

You may also like...