What Does an Africa Safari Cost?
How to Get the Most
Value For Your Budget
African Safari Cost Considerations
When it comes to reviewing africa safari itineraries, it is not always easy to compare them “apples to apples,” understand the out-of-pocket totals and see the quality differentiations. However, this is an essential step for you to make an informed choice.
When tabulating your total safari cost for your Africa adventure, the factors below all contribute towards the cost of your trip.
Where you choose to go contributes greatly to African safari cost.
East Africa Safaris - Kenya & Tanzania
- Kenya – boasts over 30 total National Parks and Game Reserves. Most wildlife areas have good access from Nairobi. Kenya safaris offer the opportunity to view all of the Big 5 and offers a variety of accommodation options. The Masai Mara Game Reserve is a favorite of our travelers.
- Tanzania – has over 20 National Parks which offer amazing safaris – including the world-famous Serengeti National Park as well as Mahale National Park where you can experience chimpanzees in their natural habitat.
- East Africa – also offers an amazing wildlife experience you can add to traditional safaris – Gorilla Trekking. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda both offer this life-changing opportunity. You can easily add a detour and travel to visit chimps or gorillas on your safaris to Kenya or Tanzania.
When it comes to pricing in East Africa, it is pretty middle of the road for an African safari tour, however, adding on a gorilla trekking excursion will add significantly to the cost.
Southern Africa Safaris - South Africa, Botswana, Namibia
- South Africa provides unique safaris with easy travel access from Johannesburg. You can partake in an affordable African safari with many creature comforts. While you’ll still be able to see a variety of wildlife, it doesn’t have the same numbers of wildlife as you can see in East Africa’s Great Migration. Of all Southern Africa locations, South Africa offers your best chance at getting a budget safari package.
- Namibia offers a slightly different take for a safari trip. You can even enjoy a beach holiday in Swakopmund in addition to viewing the desert wildlife at many locations including Etosha National Park.
- Botswana is truly an amazing destination for a safari trip. The Okavango Delta fills with floodwater annually from rains in neighboring Angola. Wildlife concentrates here creating amazing viewing opportunities. Prices tend to be at the upper end in Botswana – especially in and around the Okavango Delta – making it an excellent choice for a luxury safari travel.
Your safari guide is probably the most important element to having a successful African safaris trip. You’ll want to make sure that your safari guide is knowledgeable and skilled – even if this adds to the overall price of your safari trip.
- Self Drive Safaris – Avoid self travel options. While a relatively inexpensive option, we don’t recommend you spend your African safari driving around in remote regions of foreign countries with large, dangerous animals around your vehicle. There are much safer ways to travel the African continent. Skip the self drive safari and get a guide. Guides know the best viewing places for animals. They also understand and can properly deal with animal behaviors, and know how to get help if needed.
- Closed Vehicle – these safaris may feature an older vehicle with more passengers that don’t allow for the best game viewing.
- Open / Specialized Vehicle – A higher-end safari may feature an open safari vehicle or a vehicle with a pop-top roof – both of which allow for great game viewing. There are even safari vehicles with platforms for photographers so they can capture that perfect wildlife moment.
- Private Vehicle – While it will significantly add to your overall safari cost for Africa, a private vehicle (usually part of a private safari) adds a tremendous level of freedom and flexibility to your African safari.
Private Safaris vs Group Safaris
A private safari in Africa is more costly than a group safari, but you’ll have much more control of your safari experience. You’ll get to decide when to wake up, where to go, and when to call it a day. You’ll also get much more control over meal choices.
Group safaris are much more regimented and doesn’t allow for the same level of flexibility as private safari tours. Going with a group on an African safari tour can definitely save you money.
Accommodations for Safaris
When working with a safari company in choosing your safari destination, you’ll learn that there are a wide variety of safari camp and lodge options to choose from in Africa.
Permanent Tented Camp – these are in a fixed location usually near great viewing and are commonly used as part of a luxury safari.
Seasonal Safari Camp – while comfortable, offer less luxury than a permanent tented camp and are usually positioned for excellent game viewing.
Mobile Safari Camp – these offer the most rustic safaris and are a great, comfortable option for a budget safari. In general, travel distances generally won’t be as far as these camps are positioned to be near great viewing opportunities.
Safari Lodge – these are fixed structures that vary greatly. While you can certainly stay at a luxury safari lodge (there are many), don’t assume that lodge = luxury lodge. In some cases, especially in South Africa, you can stay at a lodge as part of an affordable African safari.
Extra Travel Extensions
Getting to Africa can be a time-consuming process especially if you’re coming from North America. That’s why many safari-goers like to travel elsewhere on the continent after they leave their original Africa safari destination.
We oftentimes get travelers who will add on a beach holiday in Zanzibar (Tanzania), Mombassa (Kenya), or Mozambique after their initial African safari trip has concluded.
Cape Town (South Africa) is also a popular post-safari travel destination for its world-class beaches and wineries.
Obviously, African safari prices will increase when you enhance your africa safari experience by adding these on to your African adventure.
Other Price Considerations for Safaris
Watch Out for Hidden Fees
Make sure when you’re analyzing african prices for safaris from a safari company, that all relevant costs are included.
Park fees, mileage limitations, and other necessary travel expenses might be left out of a package in order to showcase a competitively-priced option. For this reason, it is entirely possible that a $300 per day quote for safaris will eventually cost more than a different quote at $550 per day.
Just like bargain travel flight fares that later charge for a personal item, you may discover that the safari price quote was discounted because it was missing critical elements. Quotes should include, or note when not included:
- Park Fess
- Game drives/activities
- Applicable rental fees
Incidental African Safari Costs not Included in Your Safari Quote
Beyond these major costs for safaris, other typical expenses to take into account include:
- Vaccinations and other health considerations
- Safari guide and staff tips
- Trip travel insurance
- Tourist visas
- Travel incidentals (on the way to Africa)
Don't Forget to Price in Your Packing List
You’ll also want to be properly equipped for safaris to Africa. Many choose to make the following purchases prior to travel:
- Camera equipment
- Reference books
- Clothes for safaris
Questions to Ask Your Safari Planner
The following questions should be helpful when evaluating a proposal from a safari company. Use these questions to not only gauge the knowledge of your planner but to make sure that you get the most out of your Africa Safari.
- What would you change if it was your trip?
- Are the camps in the right location for the season?
- What is the accommodation bed night capacity for your planned safaris?
- How do your safaris support local communities? Can you share reports?
- What is the maximum group size for safaris?
- What is the maximum number of guests to a vehicle?
- How far are the transfer travel distances on your safaris, and are they experiential?
- Are there unavoidable costs being left out of the quote, such as park fees?
- What are the vehicles like on the safaris you offer? Does the quote include fuel and unlimited driving distances?
- What is your repeat customer and referral rate?
- What is the experience level of the guide leading my safari? Is the person named and guaranteed?
How We Determine African Safari Prices
Since we specialize in custom safaris, the cost of safaris is highly dependent upon your personal choices. For most travelers, a safari is a significant investment, and that is why the planning process is critical. Our philosophy is to focus on the quality of guiding and locations. These are areas most important to have an exceptional safari, and cutting costs on them will compromise your experience.
One of the largest cost components where you have flexibility is your accommodation. In some areas (like Northern Tanzania), we have a wide range of choices to work with. In other countries, like Botswana, there are often no mobile, budget safari, or rustic options that meet our quality standards. We classify accommodation budget categories into three tiers:
- Classic Safari. Prices range from $500 to $600 per person per night. While not a true budget safari, this is our most affordable African Safari Option. If you’re looking for top locations and great guiding but are happy with classic, rustic safari accommodation, including en-suite tents with bucket showers, this may be for you. This category means you will consider low and shoulder seasons to get better value while still having great game viewing.
- Authentic Luxury Safari. This is our mid range option for safaris, and prices range from $600 to $800 per person per night. This traveler’s budget is somewhat flexible, and they care most about top-notch guiding and outstanding wildlife. Accommodation for these safaris is excellent with great service. The camps often have special small touches but maintain the authentic safari style rather than the high luxury focus. In most safari areas, this price point is possible even in peak season. However, in Botswana we target low or shoulder seasons to fit this price range.
- Peak Luxury Safari. Prices range from $800 to $2,000 per person per night for these safaris. This traveler wants luxury accommodation in peak season. Within this, $800 to $1,000 is possible in East Africa and parts of Southern Africa (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia). The higher end of this range is needed for high luxury in Botswana and South Africa.
We will always do our best to meet any budget with a high-quality itinerary. If we cannot provide a high level of quality, we will honestly inform you that we can’t make that budget.
As such, we will not beat high-volume, budget operators on price because the cost of guiding, unlimited mileage on game drives, and many other quality factors that we offer are not places where we can cut costs. We are not willing to compromise the experience for our clients or our reputation.
Your Safari Guide
Despite how incredibly important this role is, very few safari-goers have any idea who their guide will be until they arrive. Typically, a safari company is simply unable to commit a guide at the time of booking.
However, we keep a small team of outstanding guides in Tanzania and Kenya to ensure that each client has a spectacular safari. For itineraries featuring Tanzania’s northern circuit or Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve, we can tell you who your guide will be ahead of your safari.
We do provide excellent pricing and value within the bespoke top-quality safari market segment. We do our best to include deals and recommend low seasons or best value accommodation choices (more expensive is not always a better experience!), and other proven secrets to provide the best pricing for your dream safari.
Special opportunities often add large costs beyond our control. For example, each gorilla trek requires a $1,500 per person permit cost in Rwanda, or $700 per person permit cost in Uganda.