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 a car costs, or a house!
If we’re honest, any safari probably costs more than you want to spend. But we 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 African safari is often declared to be their best holiday ever…
So lets try to unpack it… as it depends on a number of factors
South Africa Safari Prices per Night
Your overall safari holiday price will partly be determined by how many nights you are spending in a game lodge. Usually visitors to South Africa like a varied holiday. This includes Cape Town, the Winelands, perhaps the Garden Route or KwaZulu Natal, as well as a classic safari. 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 $260 / £200 per person sharing, per night for a very modest private game lodge, all the way up to $1900 / £1500 per person per night) for one of the best safari lodges in the world. So you can see there’s a vast range of safari prices. Which is why we find it such a difficult question to answer!
To break this down:
Moderate private game lodges – between $260 and $450 per person per night
Good quality private game lodges – between $450 and $900 per person per night
The top private game lodges – between $900 and $1900 per person per night
Our Winter season
In our winter season (May to July) South Africa safari prices are sometimes lower, for example in the Eastern Cape or Madikwe. Unfortunately this is virtually never the case with the private lodges of the Greater Kruger Park. Sometimes long stay offers are around just as ‘Stay 4 nights, pay for only 3′, or very occasionally 3 nights for 2.
Factors affecting South Africa Safari Prices
So to summarize, major factors which affect the safari cost are:
1) When you choose to travel
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?
4) Mode of transport – when NOT on safari. Are you going to have a private guide for tours and transfers or do you like the idea of a self-drive trip?
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Setting a Reasonable Safari Budget
In terms of ‘bang for buck’, South Africa is by far the most affordable of all the safari destinations. Because all safaris are priced in rands and not dollars. So yes, that means a safari here is cheaper than a safari in poorer countries such as Kenya or Zambia. (A common misconception!)
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 $2600 / £2,000 per person including the domestic flights. Then you need to add on 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 at least $4,000 / £3,000 per person plus the international flights. If you want a top flight option then a budget of $5,500-$7,000 will go a long way, especially with the value of the Rand.
How much is a Safari in Botswana or Zambia?
These tend to be much more expensive safari destinations for three main reasons:
1) Nearly every night of your holiday or vacation is spent ‘on safari’. There is no fascinating city like Cape Town where you’ll want to spend a few days. Nor is there a beach or mountain resort where you can park out for a few days (at a far lower cost).
2) Invariably the cost of reaching these more inaccessible lodges is higher as it is usually involved light charter flights
3) The safari season is much shorter (especially in Zambia) so everyone wants to stay during the peak months. This means that the safari camps often raise their peak season prices by 40% for peak season.
Plus it’s priced in dollars, as I mentioned earlier…
Expect to pay the following sort of prices per night including an allowance for the charter flights:
Good quality private game lodges – between $550-$600 per night (green season) and $900-$1100 per night (peak season)
Botswana’s top safari lodges – between $900 per night (green season) and $1800 per night (peak season)
So hopefully 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 please exclude the international flights.
Handy Tip: We usually recommend using camps which belong to the same safari company as this brings down the costs considerably. If you want to pick out individial camps to stay at, then it could be a lot more than the sample prices above!
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 are they as eye-wateringly expensive as some of the camps 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$400 per person per night to US$1700, so the variation is still as great. But a far larger tranche of camps sit between US$600 and US$900.
Visitors tend to focus on a 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. Having said that, safari flights to get from A to B and many shortish road transfers can add up quickly. Nonetheless, two weeks spent entirely on safari will nearly always cost more than two weeks split equally between ‘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. So many costs are fixed that 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. Yes, you sacrifice some flexibility. But in return you get some camaraderie and a much better price.
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