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How to Take a Safari on a Budget

How to Take a Safari on a Budget

We’ve been conned into thinking that going on safari has to cost a fortune. It doesn’t.

When booking a safari, theres one important thing to keep in mind, Staying in a five star lodge is expensive, but seeing animals in their natural environment doesn’t have to be. Africa, after all, is a very big place with a wide range of offerings. "Over the years, safaris have become exclusive and pricey because Africa seems like a daunting place to travel to, and people are unsure about where to go and what to do,” says Jonny Prince, CEO and co-founder of tourism company Timbuktu. "But the most important aspect of any safari is to take control and focus on what you want." In other words, just because Oprah went to Tanzania doesn’t mean you have to.


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 Zimbabwes 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.


"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.


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.

Written by Mary Holland