You’re going to need to hold your breath and squint out of the corner of one eye for this, but here is our answer to the question: how much does it cost to go on safari?
Listed below are mid-luxury example itinerary prices for Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia of Abambo’s most well-loved mid-luxury safari itineraries, avoiding the highest price bracket in terms of accommodation, but quoted at the highest peak season rates.
Below that is the reasoning behind the high prices, and tips of how to visit these countries without paying top dollar.
These trips are:
- luxury itineraries, which means no minibus game-viewing
- fully inclusive which means no needing to get your wallet out during the trip
- flying where road transfers would be too long/uncomfortable
- starting/finishing at the nearest international airport
- not including international flights
- all peak season!! Prices can halve in the low season
- priced in dollars as standard for the safari industry
- based on July/August prices 2017
- based on 1 week (7 nights)
- based on 2 adults sharing
How much does it cost to go on safari?
Abambo well-loved itineraries
1 Week Botswana – $9,187 per person
Xugana Island Lodge (Okavango Delta) & Jack’s Camp (Makgadikgadi)
Starting off in the Delta for some mokoro-punting (dug out canoe) around the hippo channels and wild walks on deserted islands, this itinerary flies you down to the eerie Makgadikgadi Pan, staying at the famous Jack’s Camp. From Jack’s you may be invited on a quad bike adventure to Kubu Island and may sleep out under the stars.
1 Week Tanzania- $7563 per person
Lemala Ngorongoro (Ngorongoro Crater) Serian Serengeti (Serengeti N.P.)
The Ngorongoro Crater provides one of the most wildlife-intense experiences in Africa. This itinerary takes you from Kilimanjaro Airport straight to the crater rim, ready for your descent to the crater floor for a full day’s game viewing. Next on to Alex Walker’s Serian Serengeti South for game viewing with some of the best guides in Tanzania.
1 Week Kenya – $6280 per person
Naibor Camp (Mara Reserve) & Lewa Wilderness (Lewa Private Conservancy)
During July and August the Great Migration is in the Mara so things can get pretty busy. Naibor is a well-priced lodge in the main reserve which manages to feel exclusive despite the traffic – and is a great spot from which to see river crossings. From here it’s up to Lewa which is a private conservancy just brimming with game, and where you can actually get out and feel the bush on foot, on horseback, jumping in rivers etc.
1 Week Zambia – $7670 per person
Chiawa (Lower Zambezi) Tongabezi (Livingstone)
This itinerary starts off in the Lower Zambezi, famous for its game density and scenic diversity. Grant Cumings’ team regularly wins awards for guiding and you’ll stay at his Chiawa Camp on a beautiful spot on the river. The itinerary is complemented by a stay at one of Tongabezi’s cottages by Victoria Falls where you can get involved in some adrenaline sports or some r&r.
1 Week South Africa – $3350 per person
Nottens (Sabi Sand) Garonga (Greater Makalali Private Reserve)
The Kruger is a big name park so it can get busy. This itinerary avoids the scrum by heading to Sabi to stay at the reasonably priced Notten’s. and then on to quirky Garonga, just outside the main reserve, where you can sleep a night in the bush totally on your own on their sleep-out deck.
Why is an African safari so expensive??
- It’s hard to run a business in the middle of the bush, even internet is extortionate for the lodge
- It costs a lot to fly in everything the guests and staff need
- It costs even more to fly in Marmite and Heinz ketchup and all the international food items guests expect
- It costs a lot to look after the wildlife – ask any farmer what it takes to look after his/her land
- It costs extra to protect the wildlife from poaching. Some lodges will have 200 staff for one lodge!
- The government add huge taxes so you’re often paying over $100 per night before you’ve even asked for somewhere to sleep or anything to eat
- It costs to move around. Most lodges are remote, so when you move from there to somewhere else, you’re usually flying. This costs.
Looking at the above itineraries it is clear to see that South Africa is cheaper than its friends in Sub-Saharan Africa, and not only because I have chosen Garonga and Nottens which are very reasonably priced.
This is partly due to significantly lower park fees in South Africa, but also because the infrastructure is so much more advanced which brings the costs down for everyone –for you getting to the lodge, and the lodge getting hold of the materials it needs to run the lodge, among other costs. Self-drive is a very real option in South Africa in a way that it is not in the rest of Africa (bar Namibia).
If money is tight – and let’s face it, with these prices, money is a concern for most of us – rather than asking ‘how much does it cost to go on safari?’ we recommend rephrasing the question and asking ‘how to save money on safari’. And conveniently, we have a guest blog post on the Good Safari Guide about just that – ‘Cheap Safari’: click here (opens in a new window)!
How Much Does it Cost to Go on Safari???
Abambo Recommendations for a Cheaper Safari
Here are our ideas for cheaper safaris, taking advantage of off-peak prices and multi-stay discounts, amongst other things.
1 Week Botswana January – March $3955
Luxury camps and lodges in the Delta – Xugana Island Lodge, in Chobe – Savute Safari Lodge, and in Makgadikgadi, Leroo La Tau. The issue with Botswana is that they’ve declared that they will never be cheap because they don’t want the traffic – and we don’t blame them. But if you stick with Desert and Delta Safaris for the whole of your trip, and you go at the beginning of the year when it’s likely to rain a little, then you will receive a significantly discounted 3-lodge itinerary, spanning Botswana’s key areas.
1 Week Tanzania – May $2983
Kirurumu offers really good basic luxury, as per their Kirurumu Tented Camp in Ngorongoro and the Kirurumu lodge at Lake Manyara. The Ngorongoro Crater is an expensive place to visit – just to drive down costs $250, and that’s not even including the park fees nor the guide you have to take with you. But saving on accommodation with Kirurumu, and driving instead of flying around, means that you can still get to see the Crater and the lovely area around the Crater, and on to stay in Lake Manyara, for under $3000 for a week.
1 Week Kenya in October $2350
Selenkay Adventure Camp & Ol Kinyei Adventure Camp, flying in between. Now this safari is authentic: you’ll be staying in dome tents which is not everyone’s cup of tea. But you’ll have everything laid for you (hot water, hot food etc.) and the benefit is: excellent guiding in excellent locations. You’re getting the luxury game-viewing experience at a fraction of the cost.
1 Week Zambia, November – January $3305
Starting at Lusaka you will fly to South Luangwa, one of the prime wildlife spots in Africa, to stay with Jess and Ade at Flatdogs for 4 nights. From there it’s a flight over to Livingstone to enjoy all that the Victoria Falls has to offer, staying at Waterberry Lodge.
1 Week South Africa – May approx $2000
There are so many options in South Africa, and really it’s such a straightforward country you can book it up yourself by looking at our arch-nemesis, booking.com (awful idea when it comes to booking the rest of Africa!). Our suggestion would be to pick up a car in Johannesburg and self-drive to Madikwe (staying at somewhere like Jaci’s) for some big game, or pick up a car in Cape Down and drive to the Eastern Cape for some big game (staying somewhere like Shamwari). If you are are around Cape Town then you have loads of options for some beach or city time at cheap prices.
So there are ways of making your safari cheaper, if you are flexible. But you really do need to be careful because there are thousands of operators out there, all ready to take your dollar or pound, but not all competent in delivering you a truly awe-inspiring wild experience. And if you’re not going to get that wild experience, then why not just go to the local wildlife park or zoo in your own country?
Get in touch and we’ll tip toe you around anything less than satisfactory…!