What Does a Safari Cost in Africa?

What Does a Safari Cost in Africa?

For many travelers, Africa is that once in a lifetime destination. From exciting game drives, to romantic balloon safaris and guided walks in the wild; Africa is the ultimate safari experience for families, couples and solo adventurers alike. We have put together this guide to how much it could cost you and why. We know that it always helps to get a ballpark understanding of price and what you get for your money.

The cost of an African safari is determined by various factors such as the number of nights you want to spend on safari (viewing wildlife) and whether you want some in-between time experiencing some of Africa’s beaches, Winelands, culture, activities or scenery. Safari nights are the most expensive component of your trip as they’re all-inclusive and usually set in remote areas.

Although the lodges do their very best to keep operating costs down, there are certain commodities that are unavoidable and contribute to the overall cost of your safari. We’ve simplified things so that you can best plan your trip.

What does a safari cost: Travel style

Huge herds of wildebeest can be seen from an aeroplane transfer
An aerial view of huge herds of wildebeest gathered in the savanna during a light aircraft transfer.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to mid-range and luxury safari lodges but you definitely get what you pay for. Top-end luxury lodges are costly because they don’t just offer plush accommodation in the best locations, but have to deliver on the expectation of providing guests with impeccable service and flexibility. Many of these lodges have a smaller number of rooms to ensure exclusivity and privacy. To further enhance the guest experience, some lodges will even offer the services of a butler and a dedicated guide who will tailor safari activities to suit your interests. Whether you choose to stay in mid-range or top-end lodges, the logistics of a trip to remote safari destinations contribute to the overall cost. With the lack of infrastructure in many African countries, there is no other means of visiting these destinations without traveling by light aircraft or by road in private 4×4 vehicles.

The least costly safaris are those that operate on set departure dates and run with a minimum of two guests. These tours cover a circuit of popular attractions that can be reachable by road. The cost of these overland tours is kept low by using minivans that can accommodate medium to large sized groups and include low-cost accommodations. Unlike the mid-range and luxury lodges, these tours will have fewer inclusions, making it somewhat difficult to budget for those optional excursions. The ratio of staff to guests is also much lower so it’s important to understand that the guest experience won’t be as exclusive and private as one would get when staying at top-end lodges.

The notion of it being cheaper and easier to book your trip online isn’t always accurate. Consulting with experts such as Safari.com affords you free and honest advice on planning a travel itinerary that best matches your preferences and budget. Consultants are the know-all when it comes to choosing suitable accommodation, activities and locations that ultimately deliver the best value for money.

What does a safari cost: Time of year

a newborn elephant greeted by its family.
An incredible sighting of a newborn elephant welcomed by its family.

Although Africa is a year-round safari destination, the climate plays a huge role in the movement and behavior of wild animals. This means that the cost of a safari trip varies throughout the year with the peak season offering more favorable wildlife viewing opportunities and access to specific wildlife events. If your travel dates are flexible, you can benefit from shoulder and low season rates. The Great Migration, migratory bird watching, and newborn baby sightings for example are seasonal events, so it’s important to advise your consultant of your interests and book these popular trips well in advance. Lodges do tend to raise their prices during these events so it’s important to keep this in mind when planning your safari.

What does a safari cost: Destinations

There are a number of countries that deliver outstanding safari experiences, each with its own price bracket. Adding multiple destinations and countries to your itinerary increases the price of your safari because of the transport involved as well as possible visa costs. However, it is good to note that it is still more cost effective to do one proper safari in Southern or East Africa and see everything, rather than multiple smaller ones.  

Island and beach destinations are often less expensive than national parks as there are no entry or park fees involved, and accommodation is usually more economical. For example, five days on safari and five days on an African island, would be far less expensive than a full 10 days on safari.

See the table below for a rough guideline of the mid-range and luxury cost of a safari in Southern and East African destinations.

A more comprehensive break down of costs per country in Africa:

What does a safari cost: Travel Deals

Full rivers and green vegetation of the Okavango Delta during the green season.
An aerial view of the lush Okavango Delta during the Green Season.

During the more quieter times of the year (low season), many lodges will offer some incredible travel deals that are worth considering if you’re working within a budget. Traveling during Green Season for example means fewer visitors and you will enjoy better rates as lodges lower their prices significantly offering specials

Other trustworthy travel deals to look out for include free night stays – typically pay for 3 nights and stay for 4, as well as bridal discounts on honeymoon packages.

Take a look at our latest Travel Deals.

What does a safari cost: Booking with Safari.com

Bush dinner experience at Rhulani Safari Lodge as the sun sets.
An African safari is not without the experience of a bush dinner and Rhulani Safari Lodge shows us exactly how it’s done.

All our safaris are all-inclusive, which means that meals, most drinks, park fees and taxes are included in the rate for accommodation and you don’t get any ‘surprises’ when you leave. We also prefer to book and arrange excursions or activities as part of your itinerary for the same reason. It is generally pricier to stay in a private concession rather than a national park but the benefit is that you can undertake activities like going off-road to get closer to sightings, night drives and nature walks that aren’t permitted in the park.

Like most things, the more substantial your budget, the more options you will have. But even those with modest budgets can still find a way of exploring Africa – the key is to communicate openly with your consultant so that he or she can do their utmost to create the best possible trip for you.