How much does an African safari cost?

How much does an African safari cost?

This article applies to our safaris, not our tours.

Click here to understand the difference between a ‘safari’ and a ‘tour’.

An African safari is one of the most exciting and memorable adventure holidays you will ever experience.

Factors that affect the cost of an African safari

The main factors that affect safari pricing include destination, time of year, and level of accommodation. Still, there are some general guidelines to follow for your safari budget.

How many days do you wish to spend on safari?

The length of time you spend on an African safari has a direct bearing on how much it will cost you.

When do you want to go on safari?

Much of Africa is more expensive during school holidays, but other natural factors also influence the cost of your safari. All national parks, game reserves and conservancies have times of the year when wildlife viewing is better than others. Hence, most safaris have seasonal pricing. If you want to save money, visit during shoulder season. While this can mean less visible wildlife, it also means more affordability, fewer tourists, and stunningly verdant countryside.

Where would you like to go?

Specific destinations, such as Botswana and Rwanda are more expensive than others, such as Kenya and Tanzania. The difference being, Botswana and Rwanda have decided on higher cost, with less tourists. Whereas in Kenya and Tanzania it is all about mass tourism. To get away from this mass tourism, we suggest you visit the conservancies in Kenya.

What level of accommodation do you want to stay in?

As with any holiday, lodging will consume a big portion of your budget. The most luxurious tented camps, sometimes in private or community-managed conservancies, are more expensive. The trade off is a nicer experience, where you can do night drives, walking, go off road and there is a limit of number of vehicles at a sighting. This is not the case in national parks and game reserves, which do not allow these activities and have no limit on number of vehicles at a sighting.

The location of the camp

Staying outside of the parks is a great way to save money. The trouble with this is that you usually miss the first light of dawn or the glow of dusk. Both of these are good periods for seeing predators.

Getting Around

No matter where you travel in Africa, your transportation will be of key importance. There are many types of vehicles that are used on safaris. Depending on where you will be going on safari, the vehicles will range from open on the sides, to closed with hatches.   Safaris can either be road-based or fly-in or a combination of both:

  • By Road –  you are met at the airport, or collected from your over-night hotel by your safari guide, or operators representative, and driven to your lodge destination.
  • Fly-In Safaris – Suitable for people who do not want to travel long distances by road.  Or, who wish to travel to remote areas, or are time constrained even when road transport is available. 
How authentic do you want your experience to be?

If you go to well-known parks like Kruger National Park in South Africa or Etosha National Park, in Namibia, you will discover lower priced safaris, but also tarmac roads, 2WD vehicles, buses and crowds. In contrast, a visit to one of the private concessions in Botswana, Namibia Zimbabwe, Zambia or Kenya will ensure a more authentic experience, but of course at a higher cost.

At the end of the day, safaris are expensive. It is a true privilege to have the opportunity to see Africa’s wildlife in its natural environment.

When you look at safari costs, you must understand many expenses are not immediately obvious. For example, the cost of procuring materials to build camps and lodges. Getting food and fuel into remote areas is not easy, or cheap. Food is expensive and is frequently flown into remote camps. In fact, in some destinations, like Botswana, fresh food ultimately comes from South Africa.

The costs of running a camp are expensive. Toyota Land Cruisers (the go-to 4WD in Africa) can cost up to US$ 100,000 before being customised. That does not include the ongoing replacement costs for those massive tyres.

Food is expensive and is frequently flown into remote camps.

Finally, many camps are unable to operate year-round. Some camps are open for three months of the year, others for six months. Most camps open for approximately ten months. This is due to weather, as rain can make roads and airstrips unusable. As a result, these logistics must be considered, as camps must generate enough income to operate.

So, when booking a safari, we recommend being patient and not rushing. Invest in your safari not just financially but also in terms of time. Prepare meticulously; you owe it to yourself to get this right.

What does an African safari cost?

The tables below provide guideline costs for a safari. When it comes to accommodation level, if you are looking for a safari (not a tour) then most safari camps and lodges start at 4-star. If you are looking for 2 to 3 star accommodation, this is only possible in Southern Africa as a ‘tour’. For example, 20-day Cape Town to Victoria Falls or 12-day Kruger National Park to Victoria Falls.

Read more – What is the difference between a safari and a tour?

The pricing below is a guideline as to the cost per person sharing per night for an African safari. In terms of meals, most camps offer Full Board or Fully Inclusive.

SOUTHERN AFRICA

Regarding safari pricing in Southern Africa, Botswana is the most expensive safari destination, not just in Southern Africa, but in Africa. Generally, safaris in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia are more expensive than in Kenya and Tanzania because they have a more “low impact high-value ethos” compared to the mass market tourism in Kenya and Tanzania.

The below costs are for safaris, not tours.

Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia use US$. South Africa and Namibia use South African Rand (ZAR).

Country4-star comfort4-star comfort4-star luxury4-star luxury5-star comfort5-star luxury
4 STAR 4 STAR 4+ STAR 4+ STAR 5 STAR 5 STAR 
Low SeasonHigh SeasonLow SeasonHigh SeasonLow SeasonHigh Season
BotswanaUS$ 600 ppsUS$ 800 ppsUS$ 800 ppsUS$ 1,250 ppsUS$ 1,450 ppsUS$ 1,800+ pps
NamibiaZAR 2,500 ppsZAR 5,000 ppsZAR 5,000 ppsZAR 10,000 ppsZAR 10,000 ppsZAR 15,000 pps
ZimbabweUS$ 350 ppsUS$ 500 ppsU$S 500 ppsUS$ 900 ppsUS$ 750 ppsUS$ 1,500+ pps
ZambiaUS$ 350 ppsUS$ 600 ppsUS$ 600 ppsUS$ 1,000 ppsUS$ 1,500 ppsUS$ 2,000+ pps
South AfricaZAR 2,500 ppsZAR 5,000 ppsZAR 5,000 ppsZAR 10,000 ppsZAR 10,000 ppsZAR 15,000 pps

EAST AFRICA

East Africa’s pricing is the middle of the road for an African safari. However, adding on a gorilla trekking excursion will significantly increase the cost.

Unlike Southern Africa, Kenya and Tanzania receive many more tourists. There are a lot of very large lodges in Kenya and Tanzania, with 70+ rooms, that allow for more affordability. The trade-off is the more mass-market experience. Their national parks and game reserves are constantly stretched in their efforts to conserve and manage their wildlife resources.

Kenya has developed wildlife conservancies (similar to those in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia) that provide additional promise for wildlife conservation. Conservancies complement national parks and game reserves while enabling local communities to identify and own conservation efforts while benefitting directly from wildlife management. Unfortunately, Tanzania has not adopted this conservancy model.

The below costs are for safaris, not tours.

This pricing includes all meals, game drives, and accommodation.
Country4-star4-star4+ star4-star luxury5-star5-star
4 STAR 4 STAR 4+ STAR 4+ STAR 5 STAR 5 STAR 
Low SeasonHigh SeasonLow SeasonHigh SeasonLow SeasonHigh Season
KenyaUS$ 450 ppsUS$ 550 ppsUS$ 800 ppsUS$ 1,000 ppsUS$ 1,250 ppsUS$ 1,800+ pps
TanzaniaUS$ 500 ppsUS$ 600 ppsUS$ 800 ppsUS$ 1,000 ppsUS$ 1,250 ppsUS$ 1,850+ pps
UgandaUS$ 300 ppsUS$ 400 ppsU$S 500 ppsUS$ 600 ppsUS$ 800 ppsUS$ 1,200+ pps
RwandaUS$ 400 ppsUS$ 500 ppsUS$ 600 ppsUS$ 1,300 ppsUS$  2,500 ppsUS$ 4,000+ pps

The costs above do not include international flights, light aircraft flights, road transfers, visas, and optional activities.