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How much is a safari holiday?

Going on a safari is a bucket-list travel experience for many. Getting up close to iconic African wildlife like lions, elephants, and gorillas is a dream come true. But between park fees, accommodations, flights and other costs, safari holidays can get pricey.

How much is a safari holiday?

So how much does it actually cost to go on safari? The total depends greatly on factors like which country and parks you visit, the quality of your lodging, the length of your trip, and more. Read on for tips that can help you plan and budget for a safari getaway.

Accommodation Costs

One of the biggest factors determining the cost of your safari is where you choose to lay your head at night. Safari lodges span the spectrum from luxurious to rustic. In general, options include:

  • Budget camps/lodges – Simple tent camps or rustic lodges without many amenities. Cost per person is roughly $150-300 per night.
  • Mid-range lodges – Lodges constructed from local materials like stone or wood. Offer comfortable bedding and en-suite bathrooms. Cost is $300-500 per night.
  • Luxury/high-end lodges – Lavish lodges with amenities like pools, spas and high-end dining. Some feel like 5-star hotels in the bush. Expect to pay $500-1,500+ per night.

Keep in mind that safari accommodation is often priced per person per night, based on double occupancy. Solo travelers usually pay a single supplement fee.

When costing out your trip, make sure to multiply the per person rate by the number of nights and travelers in your group. This housing portion often makes up the largest share of your total safari holiday budget. Choosing mid-range over luxury lodging can lead to big cost savings.

Flight Costs

Another major expense is getting to/from Africa and between safari destinations. You’ll likely need to budget for:

  • International flights – Roundtrip flights from North America/Europe to Africa can run $1,000-2,000 per traveler depending on time of year, layovers, etc.
  • Regional flights – To see different parks and wildlife, you may take small bush planes between locations. These flights often cost $100-500 per person.
  • Charter flights – Some lodges, especially remote/luxury ones, offer charter flights as part of the transfer package. These can cost $500-1,500 per person.

Factor flights into your overall budget. Or consider trying an affordable safari in South Africa which is easier to access directly via major international airports. Regional budget airlines can also keep costs down on flights within Africa.

Park Fees

Every national park and protected wildlife area charges entry fees to visitors which also impact trip costs. These fees can include:

  • Daily conservation fee – Charged per person for each day visiting a park. Ranges from $30-150 per day depending on park.
  • Tour vehicle fee – For guided safari vehicles and rangers. Around $25-80 per person daily.
  • Wildlife viewing permits – For special encounters like gorilla trekking. Can be hundreds per permit.

Gate fees vary widely across African countries and parks so research where you want to visit. Expect to pay $75-250 per person daily to access top parks and activities. Going to lower-cost parks or on self-drive safaris cuts fees.

Safari Tour Package Costs

Many travelers opt for all-inclusive guided safari tours to simplify planning. Tour operators handle all logistics like flights, transfers, lodging, vehicles, etc. This ease comes at a cost though.

All-inclusive packages vary greatly but often start around:

  • $200 per person per day for budget/basic tours with simple camps.
  • $500 per person per day for mid-range tours staying in lodges.
  • $1,000+ per person for high-end tours using luxury accommodation.

Extra costs like park fees may still apply. Do your math before booking a package – they seem convenient but can really drive up your total safari holiday spend. Traveling DIY-style or using local guides is much cheaper.

Safaris on a Budget

If your eyes are widening at the rising costs, don’t worry! Safaris don’t have to break the bank. Use these budget tips:

Choose affordable destinations – Countries like South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania offer safaris across price points. Top picks for budget safaris include South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Manyara and Tarangire in Tanzania, and Masai Mara reserve in Kenya outside of peak migration season.

Look into mobile camping – Self-driving safaris allow camping in the parks, lowering lodging costs. Provided camping gear cuts rental needs. Just be ready for rustic conditions!

Seek park packages/deals – Many lodges and operators offer value-focused packages, especially in rainy/low seasons. Ask about special offers when booking.

Go off-peak – Safaris cost less during rainy seasons like November and May when fewer people visit. The wildlife viewing won’t disappoint!

Do self-drive safaris – Driving yourself instead of using guides can seriously cut costs. Just map out your trip carefully beforehand.

Tap into local guides – Hiring just a local safari guide instead of full packages with driver, vehicle, etc. costs much less.

Get creative and flexible with planning, and you can have an incredible safari adventure even on a budget. The wildlife spectacle makes any cost worthwhile!

Average Total Safari Holiday Cost

So what’s the total average price for a once-in-a-lifetime African safari vacation? Unfortunately there’s no one number answer as costs vary widely, but here is a general estimate:

  • Budget/basic safari – staying in no-frills permanent-tents or campsites, with self-driving. $100-200 per person per day, not counting flights.
  • Mid-range safari – staying in standard lodges, local ground transport, and some meals included. Around $250-500 per person per day.
  • Luxury/high-end safari – based in top camps/lodges, with guided touring in private 4X4 vehicles. $500-1,500+ per day per person.

To put in perspective as a whole trip for two people, a frugal DIY safari could potentially cost under $3,000 total for 7 days. While a luxury honeymoon-style guided safari stays around $10,000+ for 10-14 days.

There’s huge variability, so set your own budget and style. Just expect most travelers ultimately spend $5,000 to $10,000 per person all-in for a 7-14 day African wildlife safari vacation.

Key Takeaway

While not cheap by any measure, a African safari adventure is priceless when it comes to rare wildlife encounters, spectacular scenery and eye-opening cultural immersion. For budget-minded travelers, South Africa and self-drive safaris provide the most affordable options. Mid-range guided safaris in Kenya/Tanzania with a mix of camping and simple lodges also balance cost with once-in-a-lifetime experience. Or go big with luxe accommodation and tours for a honeymoon or special occasion. Regardless of budget, smart planning using cost-saving tips will help fund your bucket-list safari holiday.

The massive diversity of safari options in Africa means incredible wildlife access across most price levels. Weigh factors like activities, lodging and destinations against your budget to plan an epic adventure you’ll never forget!

Conclusion

From rustic camping to ultra-luxury lodges, African safaris span a wide spectrum of budgets. Many elements impact trip costs like lodging quality, parks and activities chosen, level of guides and transportation provided, timing, and so much more. Review all costs like flights, fees, food and touring when budgeting. Utilize creativity and flexibility to control spending. Setting priorities and realistic expectations will position you for the most epic yet affordable safari filled with awe-inspiring wildlife and scenery. Time in Africa’s untamed wilds will capture your imagination and heart, making even the splurge worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1. What is the cheapest African country to safari in?
    South Africa and Kenya have the most budget-friendly safari options in Africa thanks to accessible game reserves, accommodation variability, and transport infrastructure.

  2. Is it cheaper to safari in South Africa or East Africa?
    Overall, South African safaris cost 25-50% less for comparable experiences than popular East African countries thanks to fewer flights, lower park fees, and exchange rates.

  3. How can I do a safari on a budget?
    Tips for budget safaris include camping/mobile accommodations, self-driving tours, rainy season travel, using just a guide instead of full packages, seeking deals, and choosing affordable destinations like South Africa.

  4. What is the most expensive part of a safari?
    Flights and quality lodging usually account for over 50% of a safari vacation budget. Minimizing long-hauls and opting for camps instead of luxury lodges cuts major costs.

  5. Is it safe to self drive a safari?
    Self-driving safaris are safe and allowed in most major game reserves when proper precautions are taken like staying in vehicle at all times and not driving at night. Having navigation, supplies and recovery gear also helps mitigate risks.

  6. How much does it cost to fly within Africa?
    Depending on the airline and route, flights within Africa can range between $100-500 USD or more per person. Choosing budget carriers helps minimize these regional air travel costs key for multi-country safari itineraries.

  7. Are safaris worth the money?
    The expense of African safaris pays off exponentially thanks to thrilling up-close encounters with iconic wildlife in their native habitats. No zoo or documentary matches spending sunrises tracking lions, or hearing gorillas grunt steps away.

  8. What vaccinations do you need for African safaris?
    Recommended vaccinations for safari destinations include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), and meningitis. Malaria prevention medication also advised in many regions – discuss all with your doctor.

  9. When is peak season for African safaris?
    Peak safari travel seasons Align with the annual Great Migration from July-October and the warmer, drier months of January-March. June and September/early-October also popular. Going in rainy season means fewer crowds and lower prices.

  10. How many days do you need for an African safari?
    Most travelers spend a minimum 7-10 days on a comprehensive African safari covering multiple parks/countries. At least 3-5 days needed per region to balance transit time with wildlife viewing.

  11. Can I sleep somewhere overnight on an African safari?
    Budget-friendly safari options allow overnight camping/sleeping in tents within reserves for a truly immersive experience. Top mobile camping operators have comfortable multi-day pop-up camp set-ups.

  12. Is it safe to travel to Africa?
    Exercise normal destination precautions, but popular safari countries like South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania are very safe for tourists. Guides provide additional security, with most instability only in remote outlying areas easily avoided.

  13. How close can you get to animals on safari?
    Unique landscape features in African game reserves mean impressive close-up viewing – snapped by lions and elephants just feet away! But guides still keep a safe distance and you must stay in the vehicle.

  14. What should you not do on safari?
    Actions to avoid include leaving your safari vehicle outside designated areas, approaching wildlife, feeding animals, littering, hiking alone, careless smoking, and disregarding guides. These help preserve order and prevent incidents in fragile reserves.

  15. Do you tip on an African safari?
    Tipping guides and staff is customary if service is good as part of local economy. Budget $15-25 USD per traveler daily towards camp staff tips. And $20-50 USD per traveler to lead guides/drivers for entire trips.

  16. What do you wear on safari?
    Essentials include lightweight neutral shirts/pants, hiking boots/shoes, sun hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and layers for fluctuating temperatures. Avoid bright colors and noisy jewelry that could distract wildlife.

  17. What is the most popular African safari destination?
    The vast game-rich Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya tops bucket lists thanks to plentiful wildlife diversity and annual Great Migration crossing. Kruger National Park, Serengeti, Okavango Delta also extremely popular.

  18. How do I choose the best African safari tour company?
    Top African safari providers shine through positive reviews praising responsible practices, quality vehicles/gear provided, extensive guide expertise, good value for cost, and intentional sustainability and community support.

  19. Is April a good time for safaris in Africa?
    April falls within the rainy shoulder season, bringing moderate crowds and prices compared to peak months. Lush green landscapes and newborn wildlife abound, though stormy days occasionally slow game drives.

  20. What should I budget daily for safari activities/excursions?
    From game drives to walks – factor $100-300+ per traveler daily towards any guided excursions, tours and activities. These via top operators provide access to wildlife hotspots and exploration of culture/landscapes with experts.

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