The Budget and the planning of a holiday to Kenya
How much does a Kenya safari cost? What is the safari price in Kenya? These are some of the most searched questions when it comes to safaris.
As a safari specialist of 25 years, I find it a curious question as it is a bit like asking how much a car costs. It’s the classic how long is a piece of string question! But I do understand the need for the question and the answer. A safari is probably the most expensive form of holiday or vacation. So it is natural to check that you can afford it before really starting to dream and plan.
But as with cars, clothes and houses, there is no “one size fits all’’. So this article first looks some typical safari costs per night by season and by standard/mode of safari. And then we try to explain why. The aim is for you to be able to make an informed choice when deciding how much you would like to spend on your Kenya safari.
Typical Kenya safari price (on per night basis)
Tanzania and Kenya safaris are quite similar overall. But Kenya safaris are on average slightly less because the park fees tend to be lower in Kenya.
|Ballpark Price per Night All-Inclusive||Moderate|
Private & fly-in safaris
Mainly Fly-in safaris
|Green Season||$400-$500 pp||$500-$700||$725-$925|
Green Season – varies by camp but always April & May, sometimes late March & sometimes November to mid December
Shoulder Season – varies a lot by camp typically January to March, sometimes November & June. Occasionally October
Peak Season – July to October and Christmas, sometimes includes June. Sometimes October is slightly cheaper.
These are a typical price per night for the safari including the cost of getting there, the park fees, game drives and many activities. But they exclude the international flights. So if you want to come for 10 nights in Shoulder season, staying in premier camps on a private safari basis, you’ll be looking at around $5,500 and $9,000 per person.
Some Observations on Kenya safari prices by season
• Some camps close in the rainy season, especially at the luxury level…
• At the moderate level, the difference between the seasons is not that great on a per night basis. It is also pretty competitive. NONE of our sample safaris are less than $400 per night.
• At the top end, there are some very pricey camps which push up the maximums
What affects the safari price in Kenya?
Even with these categories, there are still some big differentials in price. A Kenya safari cost of $900 per night is a lot more than $600 per night for example.
The main factors which affect your Kenya safari cost are:
- Time of Year
- Mode of Getting Around
- Choice of Camp
- How many flights
Time of Year
This is the big one. Especially so in Kenya where so much is made of the annual wildebeest migration from Tanzania into the Masai Mara of southern Kenya. The peak time for the wildebeest migration in the Mara is from mid July to September/October. This varies by year depending on the rains…
So this is the most expensive and busiest time of year to be on safari.
On the other hand, generally speaking most people want to avoid the long rains which are between mid April and May. And to a lesser degree the short rains of November. That’s why prices are noticeably lower then. If you want to add some nights at the Kenyan beach, I would also avoid that time as rain on a beach holiday just doesn’t work!
So – as with Goldilocks – if budget is a factor, consider the shoulder season periods. There is plenty of resident wildlife in Kenya throughout the year, aside from migration. And the safari crowds will be less..
Mode of Safari
What do I mean by that? This is how you want to travel. Broadly speaking you have 3 main options.
- Most expensive are fly-in safaris where you fly from one region to the next. However given the distances between areas in Kenya, this is very common.
- In the middle in terms of price is a mix of private driving safaris with some flying thrown in. You drive between closer camps & destinations, but use flights to reach some further-flung destinations such as the Samburu Game Reserve.
- The least expensive is the drive-in safari, usually scheduled
TIP: A private safari for 4 people, using the scheduled routing is often a similar price to a scheduled tour. If you are happy to pay a little more, then you can add nights and tailor it to your needs more
Choice of Camp & Kenya safari cost
How many flights?
Many of Kenya’s safari regions are far apart and so there is an established safari flight network. Obviously if you fly to several regions and stay only 2 nights in each place, it will cost you more than if you visited fewer places and stayed 3 nights in each. It will also make for a more leisurely and enjoyable safari experience!
All Inclusive Safaris
We’ve noticed that many people search for an “all-inclusive safari”. The very nature of a safari is that it includes everything – all meals, teas & coffees, game activities, park fees and sometimes drinks. But the exact nature of all-inclusive varies from lodge to lodge. The more moderate lodges and safari lodges will not include drinks. Others will include just soft drinks. Premier lodges will typically include house wines, spirits and soft drinks. But there may be a premium wine list on offer as well.
Most activities will be included but there are some obvious exceptions. These are usually big ticket items that only some people want to do. A classic example would be a hot air balloon safari over the Mara. Or a spa treatment… But some are less obvious. Some activities – such as game walks – are included at most camps but excluded at some.
So always check exactly what is and isn’t included when you receive a safari costing. And if in doubt, ask us!
Tips for saving money on a Kenya safari
The above factors give the answers
- Consider travelling outside of the peak season if you can
- Choose a private guide and driver over a fly-in safari – especially if there are 4 or 5 of you…
- Try not to move around constantly as this eats into your budget. And wastes time packing and unpacking
- Scheduled safaris are an option if you are on a budget, or if you are a solo traveller. But you tend to travel at a faster pace and stay in the larger safari “hotels”
- Adding some nights at the beach in Kenya reduces the average nightly cost and allows you to have a longer time away than if you did safari, safari, safari. It is also a natural way to relax after the early mornings and long days on safari
Give a Budget Range
Our final tip is to give your safari designer a good sense of your budget. What you’d ideally like to spend either per day or in total. And also what is your top-end beyond which you cannot go. (This article is designed to help you do that!).
Why does this save you money?
Most experienced safari specialists work on set mark-ups. So if you don’t like the price, it is not because the safari designer is expensive! It is because of their choice of camps, the season or the mode of travel. By giving a clear budget, we will zero in on meeting that budget. We’ll look at ways of saving money in order to achieve that. We want you to come on safari and so we will try to make it happen.
However if we don’t have any sense of budget, we can waste your time and ours suggesting safaris which are not right for you. You may decide that a safari is too expensive for you and give up!
So tell us what you want to spend! As you can see from above, if you want to only spend $300 per night, we will not be able to help you in Kenya. There may be budget operators who can but then you are getting a budget tour and thats not what we do. (BUT – given the current value of the rand, we will be able to help you in South Africa!)
The above prices are “ballpark”. But they are not going to change fundamentally. However if this is your first time on safari in Africa, you won’t be disappointed. Kenya is a truly magical safari destination.
I hope this helps!
About the Author – Cedarberg Africa
Cedarberg Africa is a specialist tour operator and safari designer for Southern and East Africa. We’re a family-run company who’ve been around for 25 years. We offer 16 different countries in Africa. Given our volume of business, we make our money through specially negotiated rates with the safari camps. So you will get the benefit of our 1st hand experience. And at a fair but competitive price. Contact us now….