“”What does a Tanzania safari cost?” “So how much is a safari in Tanzania?” These are the questions that people are always itching to ask us. But often they don’t. Because they know that asking what a Tanzania safari costs is like asking how much a house costs. Or how long a piece of string is! But in reality we ARE able to give you some guidelines. In a nutshell, safari prices start at around $350 per person per night. But we like to work on at least $400 per night as we don’t like to use the very largest, inexpensive lodges. (As they can be lacking in soul.) But that safari cost can sky-rocket all the way up to $1500 per night for the most expensive camps in Tanzania.
So this article looks into what factors determine our safari prices. We look at
Time of year
Type of safari (eg how you get around)
Choice of camp
Number of flights
This article on Tanzania safari prices is similar to the one that I wrote about Kenya safari costs. But with some crucial differences. You also may like to look our our main article on African Safari Pricing where we compare prices across all our main safari destinations. So read on and learn how to set a realistic budget for your Tanzania safari dream…
I have written a few articles on safari pricing about each country we sell. But South Africa is probably the hardest one to put a finger on. However I am up for the challenge so here goes! Why is it so hard? In a nutshell, it’s because South Africa is not just a safari destination. It offers so much interest for other traditional holiday interests. Fantastic beaches, wonderful scenery, cosmopolitan cities, mountains to climb, wine to drink and so forth.
But the safari nights are usually the most expensive nights. And so how much of your holiday is ‘’on safari’’ does drive the cost considerably. But there are many other factors at play here which differ from other safari destinations:
• There is a much wider variation in price across all the destinations and hotel standards
• The mode of travel is varied and has a big impact
Guide to Typical Nightly Holiday Costs in South Africa
As your time is short, I am giving our crib-chart below. But read on for further explanation…
There can be few more moving experiences than meeting the brown-eyed gaze of the hugely endangered mountain gorilla. This is what makes gorilla tracking in Africa one of many people’s top ‘bucket list’ experiences. You may have to trek for up to 6-7 arduous hours for the reward of a magical encounter with a 220kg ‘silverback’. But the euphoria of the hour-long audience will match the anticipation. Uncontrolled hunting and the accelerating human encroachment into its habitat mean that the mountain gorilla is on the brink of extinction. However, due to conservation efforts, numbers are once again slowly increasing. Now there are about 700 individuals in the wild.
Where do the Mountain Gorillas live?
Roughly half live in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the remainder in the volcanic Virunga Mountains. Gorilla families can roam freely in the Virungas, crossing borders between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda has been set up to protect both the Virungas mountains and its wildlife. Here a handful of family groups have become habituated to limited human contact.
In the Volcanoes National Park there are 7 habituated mountain gorilla groups which are highly protected. This is one of the best places for gorilla tracking in the world. The number of gorilla tracking permits is strictly limited. Only eight people a day can visit each family and can stay for just one memorable hour. That means a maximum of 56 permits per day. The permits can be booked up to two years in advance and we recommend booking as early as you can.
The gorilla tracking permits are expensive (currently $1500 per person in Rwanda and $700 in Uganda). The money gives these poor countries an economic reason to conserve this highly endangered primate. Armed trackers guard each group of gorillas 24/7.
Common Questions about a Rwanda Gorilla Safari
How much trekking is involved – Each trekking group is assigned to a group of gorillas. This means your gorilla tracking experience will vary from 3 hours to up to 6 or 7 hours. (But they consider fitness when assigning walkers to specific groups. The fitter walkers will head to the furthermost groups of gorillas. However this is not an exact science as you can imagine!) So you need to be prepared to walk for some hours in what can be muddy wet conditions.
Level of fitness required – this is uphill walking at altitude so a fair amount of fitness is required. But it is not a route march so the pace is not strenuous. However the terrain and altitude will make it a relatively arduous experience. Generally speaking the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda offers a greater chance of seeing the gorillas without needing to trek for 6 hours.
Chances of seeing the gorillas? – Nothing is guaranteed with any wildlife safari and gorilla tracking is no different. Having said that, they do try to maximize your chances by sending out trackers early in the morning. With radio contact to both locate and then stay with the gorillas so that hopefully your trekking guide will have a good sense of where he needs to get to when you set out. So nearly everyone sees the gorillas. If your budget allows, staying longer than one full day and purchasing two permits for gorilla trekking. This will increase your chances.
What is the terrain like? Gorillas preferred the habitat of bamboo forest and so getting to them usually involves a combination of steep muddy slopes, dense vegetation, slippery underfoot conditions after rain and high altitude.
Uganda or Rwanda?
This is the fifty million dollar question. Broadly speaking Gorilla tracking in Rwanda is easier than in Uganda. The Bwindi Impentrable Forest in Rwanda is further from Kampala and so it takes quite a bit of time to travel there. The treks are on average a little longer and sometimes you start high and need to trek downwards to reach the gorillas. What goes down must come up which means you are often hiking uphill later on in the day. Given the distance, we recommend allowing 3 nights/2 full days for gorilla trekking but the permits are considerably less in Uganda ( but still a hefty $700 per permit price.)
The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda lies only 2 hours from Kigali so it is easier to combine a short visit to Rwanda for gorilla tracking with a safari in Tanzania or Kenya for example. Generally speaking the trekking is a little easier as there are some groups which tend to stay relatively close to the park headquarters. However the permits are a truly eye-watering $1500 per permit. Allow 1 day/2 nights or more if you have the budget.
For a more personal sense of what it’s like, ask Kate, Ginny, Peter or Milandi – who have been lucky enough to track in both Rwanda and Uganda!