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How much does a safari cost per day?

Going on a safari is an incredible way to experience wildlife and nature up close. As you plan your African adventure, one of the biggest considerations is the cost per day. Safari prices can vary widely depending on factors like the country and park, type of accommodations, time of year, and tour amenities. Use this guide to understand average daily safari costs to help budget for your dream vacation.

How much does a safari cost per day?

Where are the most popular safari destinations?

The top places for safaris in Africa include:

  • Kenya: Famed for the annual wildebeest migration and abundant wildlife in the Masai Mara reserve.
  • Tanzania: Home to the Serengeti plains and Ngorongoro Crater, with one of the highest densities of wildlife on the planet.
  • South Africa: Features famous parks like Kruger National Park with classic African landscapes and diverse animal species.
  • Botswana: Boasts vast open spaces and unique safari adventures, with the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park as top highlights.
  • Uganda: Offers exceptional gorilla and chimp tracking experiences, alongside other primates, birds, and wildlife in forested parks.
  • Zambia: Provides exceptional safaris with walking options available, especially around South Luangwa National Park.

What is included in safari package prices?

Typical safari packages include:

  • Accommodations: Ranging from luxurious lodges to tented camps.
  • Meals: Ranging from casual camp dining to gourmet cuisine.
  • Game drives: Wildlife viewing outings with expert guides and comfortable transport.
  • Park fees: Entry fees and permits for each traveler.
  • Activities: Varied based on the itinerary, like bush walks or village visits.

Additional costs may include flights, insurance, visas, tips, souvenirs, spa treatments, and pre/post tour expenses.

How much does an African safari cost per day on average?

An African safari costs $200-$1,500 USD per person, per day depending on the amenities, activities and country.

Here’s an overview of price ranges:

  • Budget/Basic Camping Safaris: $200-$500 per day
  • Mid-Range Lodges and Tented Camps: $500-$1,000 per day
  • Luxury Lodges and Tented Camps: $1,000-$1,500+ per day

South Africa and Kenya safaris tend to be less expensive. Going to remote areas and premium parks in Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia or Uganda raises prices. Great migration season in Tanzania/Kenya also increases costs in peak months.

What affects the daily price on safari?

Key factors that influence safari prices per day are:

Country and Park

More remote and exclusive parks cost more. South Africa is very affordable while Botswana is pricier.

Accommodations

Everything from DIY camping to 5-star boutique lodges with spas are available. Luxury increases rates.

Safaris Type and Length

Private tours or custom itineraries are more expensive than set group departures. Longer trips spread out costs.

Group Size

The smaller the group, the higher the per person price will be. Single supplements also apply.

Time of Year

Visiting during peak migration season or holidays raises rates due to higher demand.

Activities and Amenities

Additional aspects like hot air balloon rides, high-end dining, spa access or helicopter transfers add to the costs per day.

How can you lower daily safari costs?

Tips for reducing daily safari prices:

  • Book set small group departures instead of customized private trips.
  • Choose budget/moderate lodges and camps over luxury options. Prioritize location and wildlife over amenities.
  • Opt for self-driving holidays where you rent a vehicle. While challenging, this cuts out transport and guide costs.
  • Travel in the low/green season when prices are reduced and parks are less crowded.
  • Book longer itineraries of 10+ days so initial transport, guide and other fixed costs get spread out over more days lowering the average daily rate.
  • Stick to one country and region instead of a multi-country trip to reduce flights and entry costs and stay longer in key parks.

While lower end safaris may not have all thrills, the wildlife experience and nature immersion is still incredible. Being flexible on aspects like lodging can help you get the main safari adventure at an affordable daily rate.

What does an average affordable lodge safari itinerary look like?

Here is an example itinerary for a mid-range, 8-day budget Kenya lodge safari for about $500 USD per person per day:

Day 1: Nairobi Arrival

Arrive at Nairobi Airport, transfer to hotel. Overnight Sarova Stanley Hotel on bed and breakfast basis.

Day 2-4: Masai Mara National Reserve

Transfer to the Masai Mara reserve area. Stay for 3 nights on all-inclusive basis at Mara Siria Safari Camp with game drives daily in the reserve.

Day 5-7: Lake Nakuru + Lake Naivasha

Drive to Lake Nakuru National Park for afternoon game drive and overnight at Flamingo Hill Camp on full board basis. Next day, morning game drive in Lake Nakuru before transferring to Lake Naivasha Country Club for 2 nights on bed and breakfast basis. Enjoy a boat ride and nature walk along the lake.

Day 8: Departure

Transfer back to Nairobi for departure home.

Total Safari Package Cost: Around $4,000 USD per person

When is peak season for an African safari?

Safari peak seasons vary by country and region based on animal migration patterns and dry season wildlife concentrations. Peak times typically bring the highest rates.

June-October is considered peak for most Southern African countries like South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe due to the dry season.

The annual Great Migration also impacts peak seasons in Kenya and Tanzania. August through October sees millions of wildebeest and zebra move through the Masai Mara and Serengeti Plains, attracting more tourists.

Holiday periods like Christmas and Easter also draw bigger crowds across African safari destinations, hiking up rates. Planning an off-season safari can provide similar wildlife experiences often at a fraction of the cost along with fewer crowds.

Summary of Key Takeaways

  • Prices per day for African safaris average $200 to $1,500+ per person depending on country, lodging and activities
  • Budget camping and mid-range lodge safaris provide the best affordable rates year-round
  • Visiting well-known parks in peak seasons raises prices considerably
  • Traveling in low season, booking longer small group trips, and minimizing extra activities can reduce daily costs
  • Kenya and South Africa offer very cost-effective safari options relative to premium parks in other nations
  • An affordable mid-range, 8-day Kenya lodge safari can average under $500 USD per person per day

Carefully weighing preferences and budget to pick the ideal safari option can lead to incredible yet affordable nature encounters across Africa’s epic wildlife havens.

Conclusion

Going on safari is often described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While safari costs per day can range from budget bargains to ultra luxury, incredible wildlife interactions are available across the spectrum. Doing savvy research to find the best value parks and seasons combined with picking comfortable yet not over-the-top lodging and limits on extravagant add-ons can all help in bringing average daily safari prices to affordable levels. With so many bucket list African wildlife habitats to discover, a well-planned affordable safari holiday makes those dreams possible, creating memories to cherish forever.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. Which African country is most affordable for safaris?
    South Africa and Kenya offer the most affordable safari options per day across a range of lodging and activities.

  2. What is the most expensive part of a safari?
    Luxury lodges, private tour guides/vehicles, and extra amenities like spa access or helicopter transfers raise safari prices the most per day.

  3. How can I find the best budget safari?
    Booking set small group departures using mid-range lodging in South Africa or Kenya provides very cost-effective safari options.

  4. What is the average cost for a 5 day African safari?
    For a mid-range lodge safari with game drives, average prices are around $2,500-$3,000 USD per person for 5 day African.

  5. Is it cheaper to add extra days to a safari or book two separate ones?
    Generally it is cheaper to book one longer safari as you minimize repeat transport and entry fees.

  6. How much is a safari for 2 people?
    A mid-range 5 day safari for two typically starts around $5,000 – $6,000 USD total. Luxury options can surpass $15,000.

  7. What is usually included in a safari’s daily rate?
    Most daily safari rates include your lodging, meals, transport, guide services and standard park fees. Flights and alcohol are usually excluded.

  8. Is camping or lodging on safari more budget friendly?
    Camping safaris can have lower daily rates around $200-$300 USD per day, saving over $200 compared to mid-range lodge options.

  9. What is the most economical month for safaris?
    April and May, along with November are typically the most economical months in between peak seasons for bargains across southern African safaris.

  10. How can I cut down food and drink costs on safari?
    Opt for half-board meal plans instead of all-inclusive ones. Pack snacks. Drink local beer and wine instead of imports to save.

  11. What should you avoid paying extra for on safari?
    Avoid add-ons like spa treatments or balloon rides unless they are a personal splurge item or special occasion.

  12. Should I tip safari guides and staff?
    Yes, tips for drivers, assistants, trackers and housekeeping staff are customarily expected, budget 5-15 USD pp per day.

  13. Are there any free safaris?
    While tour companies have occasional contests, there are no free guided safari tours. Backpackers have done DIY, self-drive safaris by car for the lowest rates.

  14. Is it safe to self-drive in national parks and reserves?
    Self-driving safaris are highly risky unless very familiar with backcountry navigation and wildlife encounters when on foot or in an open vehicle.

  15. Is it cheaper to fly or drive between parks on safari?
    Flying can cost less than car transfers between parks, saving substantial hours and allowing you more time enjoying wildlife instead of driving long distances across countries.

  16. Will I have electricity and WiFi on a budget safari?
    Budget camps may have limited shared outlets or WiFi only in common areas instead of running throughout, so prepare backup batteries/data.

  17. Can I bargain prices for my safari?
    While negotiating is not typically part of African safari culture, special deals sometimes exist for return travelers or those booking as a large group.

  18. Will safari vehicles provide charging ports?
    Most modern 4WD vehicles have charging points available though carrying battery packs as backup is wise in budget camps with less overall electricity access.

  19. Are prices higher for special interest-focused safaris?
    Specialized safaris like birding or photography do command higher rates to fund expert specialized guides leading your experience.

  20. Is travel insurance necessary on safari?
    Comprehensive travel insurance covering medical emergencies, evacuations and trip interruptions is strongly advised for remote safari travel.

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