In her March 2016 article in Condé Nast Traveler titled How to Take a Safari on a Budget, Mary Holland offers insight into how a low-budget African safari is completely possible, thoroughly enjoyable and still excellent quality. Her four key guiding principles when planning an affordable safari are:
Explore less pricey areas
Of course, those price tags differ from country to country. At the moment, southern Africa seems to have the most affordable options. Calmeyer and Prince both currently recommend Zimbabwe, which is a great value. Kate Retham, safari aficionado at African Bush Camps recommends Somalisa Camp in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. “It has just been rebuilt and offers luxury tented accommodation at very competitive rates. The camp is located on a private concession within the Park offering a more exclusive experience, while not breaking the bank,” she explains.
Go for laid-back, not luxe
“You don’t need to stay in ultra-luxe accommodation to experience great wildlife,” says Deborah Calmeyer, CEO of Roar Africa. Prince agrees: “Being pampered is nice but being down to earth is equally inspiring.” He recommends Pom Pom Camp in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, as one of his favorite affordable spots. “Find the hidden gems by speaking to a specialist who is from there—they will know of lesser-known places that don’t carry the big price tags,” she says.
Take your transfers down a notch
Accommodation prices are one thing, but travel costs often tend to be the most exorbitant aspect of a safari. If time is on your side, consider road transfers instead of flying. “On the ground, the less flying you can do the better. Road transfers will be your best friend and if you can travel in a group, that makes things even more affordable. Just make sure that you are on a private vehicle with a reputable guide and not bundled into a mini-bus on a package holiday,” says Prince. That should be the case if you book through a dependable company, especially a local one.
Travel outside peak months
Another way to cut back on your budget is to consider going during the off-season (December through March). “Traveling out of season is also a great way to cut costs. Some people believe safaris in the rainy season mean game viewing is hindered, which is totally wrong! Many areas offer phenomenal game viewing year-round,” says Kate. She recommends the Khwai region in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. “Rates are always cheaper in Green Season and the experience can be just as good if you choose the right destination,” she says.
Remember: some extras are worth the money
While there are ways to make a safari less expensive, there are certain things you just shouldn’t skimp on. “A few hundred dollars can be the difference between the trip of a lifetime and a complete nightmare,” says Alex Rutherford of Nomad Tours. So where should you not cut corners? “The location of the lodge is crucial. You want to be in an area away from other lodges and crowds,” says Prince. Also crucial? “Make sure your accommodation of choice offers guided game drives and other game activities with experienced guides…. Finding that elusive leopard is a lot easier when you have a guide who knows how to track [it].”
Note: Images used here are not found in original article.
Contact us to plan and book a safari on a budget in Chobe National Park or the Okavango Delta.