From the fascinating wildlife, wildebeest migration, the big five, green savanna, and untamed culture, Africa is one of the best destinations for a safari. This article details the best ideas to enjoy your safari in the cradle of mankind without burning through your savings.
From the wildebeest migration, the big five, mountain gorillas, broad savanna, and the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa, is an iconic safari destination. Some of the attractions in the continent include modern luxurious accommodation, amazing game drive, an epic view of the animals in their natural habitat, and an opportunity to learn an exotic culture. However, the cost of an African safari might be a limitation to many potential tourists.
While the cost of a safari varies depending on the destination, the average cost can range between $150 to $1500 per night. If you factor the flight cost, cost of transfers, park tickets, and other petty expenses, it can make your African safari quite expensive. This article details some tips to make your safari more affordable.
- Explore during the offseason
When planning your safari, understand the climate in your destination and how it affects your safari cost. In most African safaris, the low season is the rainy season since most tourists avoid traveling during this time. Also, rainfall and wet conditions make visibility quite challenging, meaning most safari companies give a discount during this season. If you want to experience an East Africa safari, the low season is from April to May, and in some cases, the season starts in March.
While the low season might be affordable, it doesn’t necessarily imply a compromise on the quality of your experience. You will still enjoy the beautiful scenery, a host of wildlife, and green vegetation. Further, the rainy season coincides with the calving season when most animals, including the wildebeest, give birth. During this season, most parks’ traffic tends to slow, meaning you can enjoy a fantastic safari without dealing with crowds.
- Pick a group safari
Group safaris offer the best value for money. By pooling together with other travel enthusiasts and cost-sharing on travel, you get to enjoy your safari without burning through your budget. Most local operators offer the best deals for group safaris both in accommodation and travel. Also, group safaris offer you an opportunity to meet friends, business partners, and a life partner if you are lucky. For instance, a group safari in Masaai Mara in Kenya during the peak season can cost $450, while a private safari can cost $950.
The best way to make the most of a group safari is to book in advance; this way, you will have a clear road map for your safari. The downside of a group safari is the strict adherence to time, specific arrival and departure dates, and strict timelines. The strict timelines can work to your advantage since you will visit more places and make the most of your safari.
- Work with local providers
Whether it is a camp, operators, transport, or accommodation, the local providers offer affordable rates compared to international brands. As a local business, their main goal is to win clients’ trust and build their reputation as a credible tour company, hence the flexible prices. Affordable doesn’t necessarily imply a compromise in quality, especially if you choose owner-owned camps. With $500 per night, you can dine at the famous Masaai lodge, where Prince William proposed to current wife Kate Middleton during their 2010 Kenyan Safari. Further, most local providers, particularly local tour operators, have partnerships with other industry players; thus, they can get you the best transportation and accommodation deals.
- Your destination is critical
Kenya and Tanzania are popular destinations for a safari, but they can be more expensive than other regions like Uganda, Rwanda, and Botswana. While Kenya tends to be the most accessible destination in the region (you can get a direct flight from New York to Nairobi), it can be costly since it has attracted the most established tour companies globally.
South-Africa is a fair compromise, both in terms of the budget and getting a great safari experience. This is partly because of the exchange rate between the dollar and the South-African rand. Though the exchange rate fluctuates in response to changes
in the global economy, 1 South African rand roughly equals 0.006 dollars. Further, with famous attractions like Kruger national park, you can be sure to watch the sunset while viewing the big five. Additionally, South Africa has one of the most developed infrastructures in the continent, implying that you can drive around the city and the country easily.
While choosing a destination, consider the accommodation, flight tickets, transportation, and park fees. Most providers offer an inclusive package, like $1000 for three days in South Africa, covering accommodation, transport, park charges, and excluding the flight tickets. While this is a good deal, most operators don’t specify that the three days might include arrival and departure days, implying one day to explore the wild.
Concentrating on a single destination is a great way to cut expenses. Don’t try to explore the whole continent on a single trip; focus on one game reserve or two at most. If you want to watch the great migration, concentrate your safari on Kenya and Tanzania. If you want to enjoy mountain gorillas, concentrate on Uganda. Focusing on a single destination reduces flight costs, transfers, cross-border charges, and accommodation costs. Further, concentrating on a single destination gives you more time to enjoy the safari, which is your trip’s main objective.
- Opt- for a self-drive
Self-drive is not only a great way to cut your budget, but also the best way to have complete control over your safari. You can decide when to stop, take photos, buy souvenirs, have a quick snack by the road, and enjoy the thrill of driving in the wild. South Africa offers the best safari if you want a self-drive. Most parks, including Kruger national park and Kgalagadi park (shared by South Africa and Botswana), have graded roads, and the roads are regularly maintained. Thus, with a 2WD vehicle, you can easily navigate the parks and enjoy your African experience. In some game parks, particularly in the East African region, a 4WD vehicle might be necessary, mainly because such areas are not well developed.
Most car rental companies offer luxurious self-drive vehicles, including a fridge, cooking equipment, bedding, stove, camping tents, and camping chairs. Further, such rental companies can arrange your accommodation, freeing you to enjoy your trip. To cut your budget further, you can opt to buy some supplies at the supermarket, so that the only costs you will incur are the park fees and campsite.
Make your next African safari memorable without burning through your savings with these tips.