Looking to organise a budget safari? Not all safaris have to cost you an arm and a leg, so this article runs though a few pointers on how to bag a more budget safari to spend a little less on the whole safari experience:
1. Self drive
Look to do a safari where you can drive yourself around, rather than having to pay for a driver and/or guide. Some of Africa’s best safaris – including Kruger Park (South Africa), Serengeti (Tanzania) and Etosha (Namibia) – allow you to take your own car and guide yourself. Bear in mind that for some safari destinations you’ll need a 4WD car to have full access and get the best out of it. Also, guides are in business for a reason – a good one will know the terrain and help you with spotting wildlife, what it’s all about!
2. Think about accommodation
Whilst safari accommodation is often at the luxury end of the scale (with prices to match), there are a couple of options which can help reduce the cost of safari accommodation:
- Most national parks in Africa have one or more camp sites. For some you’ll need your own tent, but some parls also rent tents. Camping of course also gives you the option of taking your own food and self catering. However, in some places, perversely, camping with your own tent is actually more expensive than the accommodation on offer, so make sure you do your research.
- Staying outside the national park you want to visit and arriving early for a full day in the park will more often than not mean a wider choice of accommodation and prices. Also, some national parks charge both an entrance fee plus concession if you stay over night in the park, so staying outside the gates means you won’t incurr a concession.
3. Go to source
If you can make it to your desired safari destination – and have the time to wait a day or two – you’ll have a better chance of finding a bargain. There are often cancellations or people changing their dates, meaning safari companies have last-minute places to fill. You can take advantage of this by heading to the closest town to the national park and doing a tour or safari companies, explaining what you’re after and giving them your contact details. You may also be able to find others who are looking to do a safari and share vehicle hire/guide costs with them.
4. Food & drink
Restaurants in safari lodges are notoriously expensive (if you’re not doing the all inclusive thing), and it’s fairly standard for there to be no shops for supplies in many national parks. As such, it’s well worth taking at least some water (and perhaps something alcoholic for a sundowner!) with you, as well as some snack-type food. If you’re camping then you can do the whole thing self-catering, and stock up before you enter the park.
Whilst park fees, guide fees & vehicle fees are non-negotiable, hotels and tour companies are often open for negotiation. Having a group of people (3 or more) means you’ll may have some bargaining power…if you don’t ask you don’t get!
6. Think about the season
If you’re planning on using a tour company or agency to arrange your safari, you’ll find that the time of year you go will effect the price – in some cases quite dramatically. For some national parks safari companies have big discrepancies in costs netween season usually lower during
7. Be flexible
Some national parks are a lot cheaper to access and visit than others, and the activities you choose to do there will also effect the cost. If you’re flexible about the animals you want to see – and ideally the countries you want to see them in – you’re more likely to find something at the lower end of the price spectrum.