Safari Pricing Examined – Southern Africa
‘What does a typical safari cost?’ ‘How much is the average South Africa safari these days?’ ‘How much is a safari in the school holidays?’ – or some variation on that theme must be our most frequently asked question. We always heave a little inward sigh because it’s like asking how much does a car cost? Or a house?
We tend to reply by saying that any safari probably costs more than you want to spend. We then follow that up quickly by saying it ranges from the moderately expensive to very expensive (sorry).
On the other hand, for most of our clients, their South Africa safari is declared to be their best holiday ever…
South Africa Safari Prices per Night
The overall safari price will be determined by how many nights you are spending in a game lodge. Usually visitors to South Africa like a varied holiday including Cape Town, the Winelands, perhaps the Garden Route or KwaZulu Natal, as well as a classic safari, staying at a small camp or lodge within a game reserve. So yes, your 3 nights on safari will probably be the most expensive part of the trip, but the overall holiday price may be happily within your budget.
Typically, one night at a South Africa game lodge will range from the equivalent of $225 / £150 per person sharing, per night all the way up to $1400 / £900) for one of the best safari lodges in the world.
In the off season (May to August) South Africa safari prices are sometimes lower and we can often recommend long stay offers like 4 nights for the price of 3, or very occasionally 3 nights for 2…
As you can see, that’s a vast range of prices – which is why we find it such a difficult question to answer!
Factors affecting South Africa Safari Prices
Other major factors which affect the safari cost are:
1) When you choose to travel eg in peak safari season
2) Number of nights ‘on safari’
3) Access – distance from the nearest airport. Will you need to have a charter flight to get to the lodge or can it be reached by road?
Setting a Reasonable Safari Budget
Assuming that you want at least 3 nights in a good quality safari lodge as well as 9-10 nights in 4 star hotels/lodges elsewhere, budget for at least $2800 / £1800 per person including the domestic flights PLUS the international flights.
If you want more nights on safari and/or to stay in some of the smarter game lodges, then assume you may need to pay $4700 / £3000 per person plus the international flights. If you want a top flight option then a budget of $5,000-$7,000 will go a long way, with the current low value of the Rand.
How much is a Safari in Botswana or Zambia?
These tend to be more expensive safari destinations for 3 reasons:
1) Nearly every night of your holiday or vacation is spent ‘on safari’. There is no convenient nearby city, beach or mountain resort where one can chill out for a few days at a far lower cost.
2) Invariably the cost of reaching these more inaccessible lodges is higher and is usually via safari flights
3) The safari season is much shorter (especially in Zambia) and so everyone wants to stay during a couple of peak months. This means that the safari camps often raise their peak season prices by 35-40%.
So, in the light of the above, you can see why it’s so useful to give us the target budget range for your proposed safari on a per person basis – and excluding the international flights.
Enquire Now for some South Africa safari prices, or have a look at some of our sample safaris…
Safari Pricing Examined – East Africa
Following on from the discussion above, getting a handle on safari costs in East Africa presents a whole new set of factors to bear in mind.
East African camps and safari lodges are rarely as amazingly good value as some in South Africa nor as eye-wateringly expensive as some in Botswana. With a few notable exceptions, the headline cost per person, per night tends toward the middle ground. The range can still be from US$290 per person per night to US$1670, so the variation is still as great. But a far larger tranche of camps sit between US$600 and US$900.
Visitors tend to either focus on safari or they simply combine game viewing in two or three different game reserves with some ‘R & R’ at a coastal beach resort. A stay at a beach resort is typically less expensive per night than a stay in a game lodge, though safari flights to get from A to B and many shortish road transfers can add up surprisingly fast. Nonetheless, two weeks spent entirely on safari will nearly always cost more than two weeks split equally betweeen ‘the bush and the beach’.
The park and concession fees are a significant factor in the cost of an East African safari, especially in Tanzania. This makes it harder to plan a tailor-made safari to meet a challenging budget as so many costs are fixed and no amount of searching for a lower budget alternative camp will make that much difference.
Bear in mind that the cost of staying the night at a lodge is only a part of the overall cost of being on safari in East Africa. Perhaps more so than in Southern Africa, the key drivers are the park fees, the cost of safari flights and/or the all-important 4×4 and driver/guide. This means that the best way to economize on safari in East Africa is to join a scheduled departure group safari (and sacrifice some flexibility in return for camaraderie).
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