Travelling is a very involved process, and the cost of going on a holiday is why many people don't go as often as they would love to. Given the very foreign nature of travelling to Africa, the question of what an African Safari costs, is a constant one.
The truth is that there is no standard price or price range for an African Safari. This is because the cost of the various services and products involved is different for the many places and various kinds of trips. With that in mind, we have therefore decided to create this comprehensive article to look at all the things that determine the cost of an African Safari.
Your cost for an African Safari will usually include very many aspects. The major areas are transportation, accommodation, entrance fees and permits among others. We are going to explore each of these aspects below.
Transport is all about how you move from one place to another. Whether it is from one country to another, or from one town to a given national park or event in the same country.
a). International Flights
The cost of international flights is not usually discussed in detail when you look at itineraries. This is because most tour operators do not include that in their packaging. This makes sense because international flights from various places are priced differently.
For your own needs, you should research which airlines go to your destination. At times you will not get direct flights that come from your home airport to your Safari destination. The price could heavily be influenced by the season of travel as well as whether or not you will have any layover flights.
After reaching in your country of choice, you will use a good deal of road transport. In most cases, this is how you will move from one attraction or activity to another.
The price involved with road transport will be determined by the distance, the type of car being used and the driver's payment. The cost here is greatly reduced in situations where you are sharing a car with others - especially if you are travelling as a small group.
c). Chartered Local Flights
In many of the countries with a fairly developed tourism sector, there is an option for chartered local flights. These flights don't leave the country.
The local flight can help you to reach distant attractions and places in a shorter period of time. In most times, the local flight will be more expensive than using a car.
Chartered local flight are very suitable for people whose schedule allows for a very short safari - and the extra cost wouldn't be a big deal.
This is closely related to travelling by road, as mentioned above. The only difference here is that you get to hire a car and drive yourself to the various park and places of interest.
To partake in a self-drive safari, you should remember to carry a valid driving permit (license) and to prepared well by seeking any helpful information about the roads and services along the way.
Self-drive helps to eliminate the fare for the driver but can be quite tiresome. Self-drive safaris are recommended when the distances to cover are not extremely long and the traveller is an avid driver.
Another big cost for travel is accommodation. Unlike transport, accommodation does present a wide variety in term of how you can deal with the overall cost.
In any country on earth, luxury accommodation means luxury service and premium location. In most African cities and towns, you will be able to find luxury hotels that match (or come close) to international standards of fancy.
Places of interests such as national parks, that attract many tourists also have full-scale luxury properties with such amenities like a spa or a private airstrip. Luxury accommodation will obviously cost more and increase your budget quite a bit.
Midrange accommodation is the sweet spot between a lower cost and good amenities. Midrange accommodation is the most commonly used option for travellers.
For most people, this works out very well and we highly recommend that you consider it as you do your research.
Budget accommodation is yet another option that makes very good on the cost. Choosing to use budget accommodation for an entire trip can probably save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.
The budget option might seem like the choice to ruin your entire safari experience, but if you can find trusted hotels and lodges that have good service, you will be okay. The best way to choose budget accommodation might be asking a tour operator who is well experienced in the area.
Camping is another option that is good for your wallet, but kind of a segment for people who love pitching a tent. If you love camping and think you would enjoy it, camping is a good option to look for.
Camping is not extremely popular in some places, but you can always ask around for any hotel or lodge with a campground. In some places, you will be able to rent a tent for the night, but you can feel free to carry your own small tent and camp in it.
Homestays are not a very popular option especially when it comes to African travel. In cases where you can find a trusted homestay or a friend's place, you will definitely cut your cost by a huge sum.
In most places, this will be hard to come about during your research. A tour operator might help you with this information, or if you personally know someone who can let you stay with them for a while.
3. Food & Drinks
Everyone is got to eat and being on a safari isn't any different. In most cases, your hotel or lodge will have prices that are inclusive of meals. This is the best option since you can be able to make requests based on your dietary restrictions and preferences.
You can also choose to use the other options available for food - such as local restaurants, and packaged food from the supermarket.
4. Fees & Permits
After thinking about you transport and accommodation, your next big cost comes from paying entrance fees and permits. This is the money you will pay for access to certain activities, national parks, museums, events etc.
Your overall fees will be determined by the individual fees you will be required to pay. These fees are usually standard and you can easily have a fixed figure on how much is needed.
5. Visa Fees
Many African countries have different visa fees and requirements. One of the main ones is that your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the day of your planned arrival.
Most visa fees are standardized and the process is very simple. For many countries, you can apply for it online and finish the whole process in less than 30 minutes. You can also get your Visa on arrival.
Before you go paying for your visitors' visa, first check to see whether a visa is required for your nationality. In some countries, this might apply to you.
You take check out all our articles about African visas and visa requirements - and see what fits your plans.
6. Extra cash
It is always advisable (no matter where you are travelling) to carry some extra cash with you. The extra cash is what you use for tipping people who serve you as well as buying souvenirs and a few collectables here and there.
How much extra cash should you carry? it depends on your own spending habits. For people who love buying more than a few souvenirs from their travel, they will need a little more extra cash.
You might not find many places that accept your credit or debit cards - especially outside of the big cities and big establishment. It is therefore advised that you exchange some of the money that you plan on using for personal spending.
You should be careful carrying around huge sums of money in a way that makes it obvious to everyone. You wouldn't want to attract the wrong characters.
7. Using a tour operator
While many people feel like tour operators overcharge them (which can be true at times), the advantage is that you get someone to plan all the various details (and more) of a successful safari. The actual administration cost of a tour operator are usually a very small part of the entire trip's cost.
When you book through a middle-man situation with another company that doesn't directly run the tour, the cost increases a little bit more. This is just because of the administration costs of more than 1 company.
Self-touring is when you plan everything on your own and take the trip without any help from a tour operator. This is good for avid travellers who are familiar with the otherwise tiring process of planning a distant trip.
If you think self touring might be a good fit but you have questions, you can still reach out to a local tour operator and consult. In this case, you pay them a consulting fee. You can as well look online for advice.
The big challenge with planning a self-managed safari is the time needed to research and schedule everything properly. Added with the likeliness of making costly mistakes, many people choose the services of a trusted and experienced tour operator.
We hope that this look at how the costs are broken down gives you an idea of where the money spent on your safari actually goes. The actual activities rarely take up a significant portion. Things like transport and accommodation should also offer a great experience since they do take up a big chunk of money.
Any trip, whther local or international does cost money and time, the important thing is to have an experience that is worth more than the money spent. By providing you all the information on this website, we hope you can make the decisions that will make your next African Safari worth every penny - and more.