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How much does a safari cost?
"A detailed breakdown & our honest advice"
The first option are safaris with a fixed departure date: these are pre-planned small group safaris that have a fixed start and end date (a package deal) - the big advantage of these safaris is that they also have a fixed price so that you can confidently answer the question "How much does this safari cost?" Perfect for travelers who want to keep things simple, know exactly what they're getting, and want to share the logistical costs with fellow like-minded travelers (especially popular with solo travelers). Click here if you want to see our selection.
The second option that we specialize in are “Tailored Safaris”, which we call “Safari Ideas” on our website. Here we ask a series of questions, either via Skype or via email, in order to tailor a safari exactly to your individual (or group) needs. We take into account your accommodation preferences, your travel style, your budget, your expectations, your previous trips, when you want to travel and your interests. This is where things get a little complicated when it comes to answering the question, “How much does a safari cost?
The following breakdown should help you understand how these factors affect the cost of a safari (scroll down if you want to jump straight to the comparison table). We have a number of 'Travel Ideas' that you can use as inspiration to start your own tailor-made safari trip with us.
Please also see our First Time to Africa page for more information if it's your first time and read our Price Guarantee here.
safariFRANK’s safari budget levels explained:
Our budget level categories are defined by what type of traveler you are. It is important to know where you fit in so that you can later consult our guide and know the expected cost of the particular safari.
- budget - Your main priority is to be on safari. You don't mind staying in very basic accommodations, you just want the adventure.
- Affordable - You want decent accommodation that doesn't cost too much. They also want to know that it is safe, clean, and of an acceptable standard.
- Middle class - You want a quality safari experience, but you don't need luxury. Think of authentic tented safari lodges or mobile safaris with high quality safari guides. Nothing unnecessarily fancy, but comfortable and the real deal.
- High end - You have a penchant for the finer things in life and want good food, fine wines, luxurious amenities, and excellent guides. They know you get what you pay for on safari.
- Top end- You want nothing less than the “best of the best”. Whether that is ultra-luxurious accommodation, world-class service, exclusivity or the absolute best game viewing possible. Money is not an issue.
3 important factors that influence the price:
When do you want to travel?
Possibly the most important question of all. The African continent is an exceptional year-round travel destination, but typical safari destinations are usually seasonal. Roughly speaking, there is one Rainy season (often called green season, low season, secret season, summer months), one dry season (often also called high season, winter months) and in certain travel destinations also one Low season (between rainy and dry season). There are many advantages and disadvantages to traveling in these different seasons, depending on the destination (read more about “When to go” here). But when it comes to the cost of the safari it can often be much cheaper to travel in the green / rainy or off-season if possible. In the case of Botswana, for example, which is considered the most expensive safari destination in Africa, it can almost be Cost half the price if you travel in the green season, compared to the high season, which means you can potentially stay longer or upgrade the experience while staying within the same budget parameters. It is also important to note that not all safari destinations can be visited all year round. In fact, there are areas with very heavy rains that make them inaccessible or at least seriously affect the experience during these months.
So if you tell us roughly when you want to travel and what your budget is, we will advise you at the time of the trip depending on the season. And that leads us to the next critical consideration.
Where would you like to travel?
There is no one standard price range that covers all safari destinations and lodges in Africa. In fact, the opposite is true! Each country and area within that country has its own price range. A safari in the large Kruger National Park has a completely different price than a safari in the Okavango Delta, in the Serengeti or in the Republic of the Congo. There are many factors that determine why prices vary so widely between destinations, such as remoteness (logistical costs for operation), the number of visitors per year or the competition between the safari lodges (or lack of them) . Every country differs from its neighbors on many levels and that can also be currency-related, the number of tourists or the tourism model. Taking Botswana again as an example, they have generally adopted a "high cost, low volume" tourism model to minimize the impact on the environment while still using the higher cost to fund wilderness conservation. So knowing where you want to go will determine the price of the safari. When you have a set destination in mind, it's often best to be flexible about when to travel - taking our advice into account.
If you don't know where to go but you know your budget and when you are going to travel, we can advise you on where to best spend your money.
What level of accommodation are you looking for?
As you can imagine, the price of a small floor tent will be much cheaper than the presidential suite in a 5 star safari lodge. In the safari world, the accommodation options on the continent vary enormously. The basic categories to choose between: camping safaris (small tents that are put up temporarily), budget safari camps (you don't care where you stay), comfortable safari camps (decent accommodation), mid-range -Safari camps (good value), luxury safari camps, top end safari camps (best of the best). See our HUGE range of accommodation options here.
Other factors that affect the price:
The price varies significantly between a single traveler, a couple, a family, and a group of friends. In general, the more people there are, the cheaper the safari will be - as you share certain logistical costs, such as transfers, vehicle and driver / guide prices (applies particularly to vehicle-based safaris in East Africa). But your sleeping options also play a role. If there are four of you traveling and each one needs their own single room, expect to pay more than two couples (also four) who each have a room. Please take a look at our 'Who is traveling' page.
How do you want to get around?
There is a wide variety of ways to get from A to B on a safari. Let's look at the opposite ends of the spectrum: You can rent a small car from an international car rental company at the airport and drive to the lodges yourself - or you can take a helicopter flight between the lodges, including a champagne break halfway through. As you can imagine, there is potentially thousands of dollars of difference between the two! Here are a few common ways to get around: renting a simple vehicle, renting an equipped 4 × 4 (self-drive), private minibus transfers, guided game viewing transfers by vehicle, charter or scheduled flights, walking safaris (it is possible to go to certain locations from a camp to run to the next one!), boat trips, horseback riding, camel rides (awesome right?), helicopters and the list goes on.
Do you have certain hobbies / interests?
If that applies to you, then you've come to the right place! We're all about creating niche and tailor-made safaris around your particular hobbies or interests, be it fly fishing a specific species, specialized bird watching tours, multi-day walking safaris in pristine wilderness - the list goes on. But the moment your hobbies / interests drift away from the "typical" BIG 5 safari experience and become more special, the cost may rise as it becomes more of a niche or custom build. So it's worth keeping in mind that those particular interests or desires can affect the price. Find your interest or hobby in our "Adventure" section here.
The everyday logistical costs of a safari are often overlooked when comparing prices. Most of our safaris include items such as national park fees, community fees, nature conservation fees, regional flights, transfer costs, safari activities, etc. in full, unless otherwise stated. These costs can be quite substantial, depending on the destination - and there's not much you can do to avoid them.
In northern Tanzania (Serengeti, Ngorongoro etc.), for example, you can expect around US $ 250 per person per day for national park fees, entrance fees and logistics such as vehicle, driver and flights. That works out to around US $ 2,500 per person on a 10 day safari even before you book room and board! With decent, affordable accommodations starting at US $ 250 per person per night, you'll see how quickly a low-priced safari can get expensive due to the inevitable fixed logistical costs.
You may be wondering "How can it be so expensive ?!" especially when comparing offers from different companies. Here it is important to read the fine print and see what exactly is included in these “cheaper” safaris. Often times you will find many hidden costs that you will end up paying for once you are on safari (drinks, meals, park fees & activities). It may feel like you are saving by booking a US $ 2000 safari, but you will likely need that amount in cash (or more) while on safari to pay for the extras for the best to make of your stay.
Comments on the table above & some 'open' advice:
- Budget safaris - note that budget safaris in Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe say “NA”. That's because we believe that budget safaris in these countries are either impractical, unsafe, or just not good enough for us to book for you with a clear conscience. Honest advice is our number one concern, and the last thing we want is to send you on a safari that we would not consider safe or satisfactory. For the truly budget conscious traveler, please consider South Africa, Uganda, Botswana or Namibia as possible options.
- Zambia & Zimbabwe - You will find there is little difference between the high and low season prices. This is mainly due to the fact that the popular safari areas in these countries are very seasonal and in most cases are closed during the green season. Therefore, shoulder and peak seasons are the most viable options and differ only slightly in price. Although this is not taken into account in the table, this also applies to certain areas in other countries in Africa (e.g. in southern Tanzania).
- Lodge-based - the table above is only relevant for lodge-based safaris. This is the most common type of safari and should give a good indication of the cost of a general safari. There are many other types of safaris such as: self drive safaris, mobile safaris, houseboat safaris, camps, fly camping, hiking safaris, horse riding safaris etc.
You get what you pay for
This statement is particularly true in the safari industry. While it is possible to travel on a tight budget, we believe that a safari experience done properly has its price. It's also worth remembering that most safari lodges have their roots deep in conservation projects and initiatives to support local communities and the wildlife in the area. They also often work in remote areas with high logistical costs, high insurance premiums, expensive bed taxes, and need highly qualified and trained staff to enhance your experience. Often times, most of the cost of your safari falls on the aforementioned points.
However, there comes a point where you no longer pay for the logistics or the safari experience per se, but your extra money goes into things like: larger rooms, exclusivity, brass bathtubs, butler service, world-class chefs, and wine cellars. If these things are important to you then that's perfectly fine, we have a lot of such clients and there are a variety of luxury accommodations to choose from. You are likely in the top-end budget category.
BUT! Our specialty is for all travelers who want to spend their money on the best possible authentic safari experience. We're talking about intimate, owner-run camps, knowledgeable local guides (often legends), pristine wilderness areas / remote national parks, outstanding wildlife / photo opportunities, lots of activity options like hiking & mokoro, and incredible scenery. Finding these hidden gems and focusing on the entire safari experience (not the bathtub experience) is what we live and let live. This “fine line” is often in the middle to upper budget range (you get what you pay for).
Tidying up a myth
Many people believe that it is more expensive to book their vacation through an agent or tour operator than directly with the lodge / safari operator itself. This is not true at all, on the contrary, the agent / tour operator can due to his personal relationship with the safari company Negotiating better deals for you (the customer). The agents are also aware of all the specials and offers that are available at any given time, which can make a HUGE difference!
Not to mention the time and energy invested in researching and planning a safari yourself! There are thousands of safari lodges on the African continent, all with advantages and disadvantages and different prices. For the layman, it would take a few weeks to properly research, compare, and plan a well-designed safari - only to find that it is the same price (or more expensive) than what an Africa travel expert in a couple of days could have put together. Our expertise and honest advice is FREE for our guests, it is paid for by our trusted safari partners.
The final point to keep in mind is what is usually not included in a safari:
- International flights - Although we can include these for you if you wish, we have found that most of our customers prefer to book these themselves by taking advantage of their frequent flyer points or looking for special offers in their home country should these arise.
- Visa costs - these are usually paid in cash, in person, once at an entry port in the destination country - OR online before arrival for certain e-visas. We cannot do this on your behalf, but we can advise you on the cost to be expected.
- Vaccinations - Certain countries have regulations on mandatory vaccinations (we will advise you if this is the case) and your doctor can also recommend some optional vaccinations. Even in the new Corona era, PCR tests may be required when crossing the border.
- Tips - Tipping is common in Africa, but the amount of the tip is entirely at your discretion. A tip of 10% is normal in hotels, restaurants and taxis, depending on the service provided. Usually you will be asked to tip your host (or the lodge manager) on departure, which will then be distributed to all camp staff. Guides should be given a separate tip, and you are often asked to tip in person. Guideline values for tips are: Game Lodge or mobile guides: US $ 10 per guest per day.General Lodge Staff: US $ 5 per guest per day for all staff. Transfer driver: US $ 3 per guest.
- Travel insurance - Before confirming your booking, please take out comprehensive travel, health, cancellation, interruption and cancellation insurance for the duration of your trip. Because of the remote and wild safari areas, it is imperative that all guests are covered for emergencies and other unforeseen circumstances.
If the above information is too much and you feel overwhelmed or more confused than ever - please contact our team of experts so we can simplify the process and make your safari dreams come true!
Do you have further questions about safaris? Get in touch today!
Contact safariFRANK to plan the safari of a lifetime!
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