Planning Your Safari - What It Costs
Safari may seem unattenably expensive. But actually there are safari options for almost every budget.
How much does it cost?
Some lodges go for upwards of $1500 per person per night! That is truly extravagant, but if your budget allows, it may be the best, most expensive holiday you’ve ever had. The price tag offers stunning accommodation, exclusivity, service - all the bells and whistles of 5+ star. It doesn’t however buy a better game viewing experience, so don’t think you have to dish out $10K to see a lion. When it comes to safari, it’s time more than money that is going to increase your chances of seeing different animals and behaviors.
A more reasonable estimate for a great safari at a wonderful camp would be closer to $400-$600 per person per night. This is the bracket I encourage for most people if money is a consideration, which for most of us, it is. It is still very expensive, but if you save up, it really is worth the spend in terms of areas you have access to, limited density of other vehicles, quality of guides and game viewing (generally), and lodge amenities.
There are also lower budget options. The least expensive way that I know of for a safari outside of camping would be a self-drive through Kruger National Park. It costs about $40 a night for a room in a bungalow and park fees are about $20 per day. Outside of that, there are restaurants in the park or you can self-cater. Even if you don’t have experience driving in wildlife areas, you are almost guaranteed to see animals like giraffe and zebra, hippo, buffalo and antelope, and with the help of other tourists cars, you may get to see lions, leopard, and rhino. The more days you spend there, the higher your animal checklist will grow. I did a 10 day solo self drive there once, and to this day it was some of my best game viewing ever with numerous sightings of lions, wild dogs, rhinos, elephants, hyenas and leopards. If you do go this route, my only suggestion is to drive slowly (under 30km/hr) and give plenty of space between yourself and elephants. Driving near elephants shouldn’t be a deterrent, but you do want to use caution and common sense.
How Many Nights
If you know you love wildlife and nature, the more nights the better. Seriously. But four nights at an absolute minimum. Six nights in two camps is ideal. Ten days is also great. Or more! I’ve done 30 days non-stop on safari, which is AMAZING, but towards the end, the 5am wake up call gets harder and harder.
If you are combining your safari with another activity (city, beach, culture tours, etc.) 3 nights is the absolute minimum. You’ve come so far to get out here, one or two nights just isn’t enough. And seeing animals takes time, so you want to give yourself the best chance of seeing the animals you are hoping to. If you aren’t a nature person but want to see some animals in their natural environment, I would say 3 nights, but four may be too much. You also need to be prepared that safari is a relatively sedentary activity, so people who need to be active might want to look for a lodge that offers a gym.
So if you are planning a safari, want to stay somewhere nice but not over the top, I’d say for a 7 night trip you would be looking around $4000-$5000, including international flights.
Here is the price breakdown:
7 Day trip - $4500
$1300-$1500 - Transportation Costs: international flights, domestic flights, car rental, etc.
$200 - One night in starter City
$3000 - Six nights at two safari lodges, all inclusive of food, drinks, safari activities, transfers, etc.