How Much Does an African Safari Cost?

Bucket lists might be fun to create or dream about, but it can be difficult to check everything off your list without taking a massive chunk out of your savings. Touring experiences to the most remote parts of the world – Antarctica, the Arctic Circle, the Galapagos Islands, Everest Base Camp, or even an African safari – were once reserved for travellers with big budgets and even bigger bank accounts. Today, however, this is far from true. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including a memorable African safari, are equally accessible for almost everyone, and worth pinching every penny for. If you’ve ever asked yourself how much does an African safari cost? allow us to break it down for you!

People reaching out of a safari truck to capture a photo in Kenya
You’re sure to spot plenty of animals on a safari tour | © Heather M Edwards/Unsplash

How much does an African safari cost?

Budgets are a difficult topic to tackle, as each one is slightly different for every traveller, and often, budgets fail to cater for any unexpected costs that occur along the way. All you can do is spend as much time researching, planning and preparing as possible.

To help you out, and so you can effectively plan for a safari tour, Lonely Planet’s money guide for Africa suggests the following guidelines:

Shoestring budget

  • Daily expenses: up to USD $100 per person, per day
  • A dorm bed may cost USD $10-20 per night
  • A cheap hotel room may cost up to USD $75 per night
  • Street food or an inexpensive meal will cost around USD $5

Mid-range budget

  • Daily costs: up to USD $100-250 per person, per day
  • A standard double room will set you back USD $75-200 per night
  • A meal at a nice restaurant may cost up to USD $20
  • Car hire is estimated by Lonely Planet to be around USD $30 per day

High-end, or luxury budget

  • Daily costs: USD $250+ per person, per day
  • Safari-lodge or top-end hotel room: at least USD $200
  • Guided safari or 4WD rental: from USD $150 per day
  • Meal at a top restaurant with wine: USD $50–100

Also worth considering, is when you’re travelling with a group tour, in most cases, you’ll have accommodation, some food, transport, and a handful of experiences all covered in the tour cost, so you can set your budget based on spending money, extra food, and optional activities that won’t be included.

Zebras and buffalo standing in a watering hole.
Watch as zebras and buffalo stand side-by-side in Africa | © Michael Rodock/Unspash

How to save money on an African safari

  1. If you’re able to get time off work, school, or university during any time of the year, consider travelling either during the low season, or the shoulder season to save a considerable amount on your safari tour. Accommodation is likely to be cheaper, food prices may vary, tour prices often drop if you travel outside of the peak season, and you won’t bump into as many tourists. The downside; you may not see as many animals, or the weather might not work in your favour, but if your budget is tight, this is definitely worth considering.
  2. Group tours may not be suited for all travellers, so if you’re travelling independently, it is best to look at accommodation just outside of the main national parks versus staying at a lodge inside the park; as these can be quite pricey.
  3. Depending on how adventurous you are feeling, booking a camping tour is often much cheaper than staying in lodges or hotel accommodation.
  4. Snacks and food in Africa are fairly inexpensive, but it never hurts to pack a few snacks to have on hand. That way, you won’t get lured into over-priced tourist traps when the hunger pains strike.
  5. A short safari might suit your budget, but it is worth remembering that a longer tour often equates to a lower cost-per-day.
  6. Before you travel, always set your budget higher than what you expect you might spend. If you’re planning to travel on a shoestring, aim to save for a mid-range budget. Or, if you’re travelling on a mid-range budget, strive to pocket enough cash to meet the luxury budget just to be on the safe side. That way, you can prepare for any unexpected costs that pop up along the way without taking a nasty hit to your bank account.
Hippos in the water
Keep an eye on the watering holes to spot a hippo swimming | © Wade Lambert/Unsplash

Most popular regions to go on a safari tour in Africa

Southern Africa

Proudly boasting some of the best national parks and a diverse array of wildlife, Southern Africa is waiting to be celebrated and explored. The UN recognises the safari wonderland of Southern Africa to span across Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa. Across this region, exciting overland journeys fill the day, and at night, all that’s required of you is to relax by a campfire and listen out for the sounds of the wilderness.

One mistake you won’t want to make; is to rush through all of the national parks. The region of Southern Africa might seem smaller when compared to West or East Africa, but try to visit a few parks, exploring them in depth while taking advantage of the many cultural learning opportunities along the way.

Person with an iPhone taking a photo of an elephant on a safari tour
Take time to capture a photo during your safari tour | © Wade Lambert/Unsplash

Best tours in Southern Africa

East Africa

Standing tall in the middle of East Africa is where you’ll find one of the tallest mountains in the world; Mount Kilimanjaro, but that’s not all the region has to offer. Some of the notable countries in East Africa include Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Uganda to name a few, so you won’t be short of animals to spy on.

Along the floor of the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania is where you’ll find thousands of flamingos, or up in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you might be lucky enough to come face to face with the mighty gorillas that roam the area. Or, if you’re travelling at the right time of the year, you can witness the Great Migration – one of the most incredible natural spectacles on earth.

Safari truck driving through tanzania
Driving through Tanzania is a memory you’ll cherish forever | © Chen Hu/Unsplash

Best tours in East Africa

West Africa

Flying under the radar, West Africa is a filled with lesser-known national parks that are just as impressive compared to the likes of Chobe, Kruger, the Maasai Mara, and other favourite spots. The best part is that the crowds are few and far between, and you’re likely to see more animals than tourists. Ghana’s Mole National Park is a standout, and the W National Park, or Parc national du W, is a must-visit as it spans across three countries, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Some of the fauna you can expect to see includes aardvarks, cheetah, elephants, leopards, lions and warthogs. As far as prices go, travelling across West Africa is considerably cheaper compared to Southern and Eastern Africa.

Lion yawning in the wild
You’ll see magnificent creatures up close | © Wade Lambert/Unsplash

Best tours in West Africa

North Africa

If you’re looking for an animal-filled safari adventure, then this is one part of the continent that you’ll want to avoid, as most of the large animals are almost non-existent.

Do you have any safari budget travel tips? Let us know in the comments below!