How Much Does a Safari Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 13, 2018

Whether you want to go on a Safari in the United States or maybe you want to go to an authentic one in Africa, you’re going to find that the prices will vary depending on what you want to do, where you want to go, the tour guide company, accommodations and inclusions.

Safari 744 by Joe Turco, on Flickr
Safari 744” (CC BY 2.0) by  Joe Turco

How much does a safari cost?

There are many types of Safaris out there.  There are those where you can stay for days and some which only last a day.  A low-budget safari trip that includes a basic campsite and a one to two-day adventure can range anywhere from $100 to $400 per day, per person.  A budget safari often includes camping, backpacking and an experienced guide.

For those who want to take a week-long camping trip in East Africa, for example, can run anywhere from $200 to $1,200 per person, per day for 6-10 days.  The nicer your lodging options are, the more you will pay.

The more you pay, the more luxuries you will get.  For instance, a four-star lodge safari trip can be as high as $1,000 per day.  HowStuffWorks has a great guide on the overall picture on how they work.

In Kenya, a safari can cost $650 to $800 per person, per day.

In Tanzania, a safari can range anywhere from $900 to $1,200 per day.

In Australia, this can vary anywhere from $850 per person, per day.

According to Travel and Leisure, the average African safari is $800 to $1,000 per day.

Cedarberg-travel says those who want to share can pay $225 per night, while the best safaris in the world could charge $1,400.

The cost of a safari, regardless of where you want to go, will come down to these factors:  the days spent, days you will be walking, the number of people, the lodging options, if you’re flying, the season and where the safari is located.

We contacted a handful of companies online and came up with the prices below:

Safari Company/CountryCost Range (per person, per day)
Botswana Safari Cost$150 to $600
Kenya Safari Cost$80 to $200
Masai Mara Safari Cost$220 to $700
Micato Safari Cost$750 to $2,000
Serengeti Safari Cost$200 to $1,100
South African Safari Cost$100 to $500+
Tanzania Safari Cost$250 to $650

Safari overview

Depending on the safari, this is going to include lodging, an experienced tour guide who knows the area, supplies and transportation.  All safaris will vary with its inclusions, and most reputable companies will let you know what you’re getting with your payment.

Safaris can be niche-based and can cater to the following:  bird watching, horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, gorilla trekking, whale watching, culinary, historical or family-friendly, for example.

During your trip, nearly every day will be spent on the “safari.”  This means you will have very little downtime at your lodging option.

Most safaris will last three to six nights.

Most tour guides will also include a packet/map to show you where you’re at as well as what kind of animals you’re going to be able to see.

Aside from viewing animals in their wild surroundings, it can also help you experience the local culture, explore scenic places, visit historical landmarks and even participate in outdoor activities.

Types of safaris

Overland safaris

This will be the cheapest option and will typically last half the day.  Driving around in a large truck, a tour operator will guide you through a local area with a group of 20 or more.

Budget camping

This will run with smaller groups and will be as bare bones as possible.  This type will include limited transportation and tent lodging.

Exclusive budget

This will be similar to budget camping, but it will also include a mix of lodging options as well.

Budget lodging

Picture this as your lower end hotels on a road trip or destination.  This will be a slight step above tent camping.

Mobile camping

As the name states, your camp will be on wheels.  These camps can be set up in public or private places, and it is usually done in smaller groups.

Lodge-based

You won’t camp on the go, but rather, your lodge will serve as the base.  Each day, you will head out to the fields to view the wild and come back at night to rest and eat.

Luxury

These safaris will set you up in the nicest hotels and lavish game viewing areas.  These tours will often be private and will be mapped out ahead of time like a cruise.

Tailor-made

These higher-end safaris will tailor to your needs.  Being at the top of the pyramid, you will basically get anything you want, while being pampered along the trip.

Fly-in

These safaris will skip the roads altogether, saving you the trouble of the bumpy roads.  You will simply fly from one base to another and there will be very limited driving.

What are the extra costs?

The more luxuries you want, the more you’re going to have to pay in terms of your hotel.  Higher stared hotels are going to cost you more.

Private tours, rather than group tours, are going to cost more.

Food and drinks usually won’t be included.

Flights in-between the safaris are going to cost more than having a safari drive you.  These fees are going to be additional for those who want to go on more than one safari during their trip.  The flight in order to get to your destination can be an additional cost.

A hidden cost can often be the transportation to and from the airport.

Travel insurance is highly recommended.  This will cover medical-related costs, baggage loss and tour cancellations.

Vaccinations may be needed if traveling to certain countries.  Don’t forget your visa and passport fees if you don’t have one.

Optional activities, similar to a cruise ship, may be offered outside of the standard safari.  For example, this could include a balloon ride.

Tips to know:

Since a safari package can be rather complex, it may be ideal to have a travel agent work for you.  While these agents do work on some sort of commission, they can help with booking the airline ticket, booking the safari and lodging.

Since you’re going to be traveling out of the country, it’s wise to pick up an additional health insurance policy as well as consult with a doctor before making a trip to ensure that you’re up to date with all the vaccinations.

Most safaris will have to be paid in advance in order to reserve your spot.  This will include the entire safari, airfare and transportation.

A safari is often confused with hunting; this isn’t the case with tour operators.  Their goal is to show you animals in their natural surroundings.

How can I save money?

Consider going in the off season when the demands aren’t high.  During the peak seasons, some safaris may raise their prices as high as 40 percent.  Each country will vary in terms of the low season, but for example, in South Africa, the low season is from April to October.  In Kenya, it’s March to May.  During this time, some lodges may close down due to the potential rainfall.

Consider going in groups as group packages are going to be a lot cheaper than going with a private group.  AfricanSafariHome.com has a great selection to choose from.

Smaller, lesser-known game reserves will cost closer to $200 per night, and these companies won’t advertise online.  Owner-run camps will be cheaper than chains and they can be more flexible.

A self-driving option can save you money; however, you will still have to factor in fuel costs and uncharted territories.  Without a guide, you will be going long distances and it can be frustrating to find a hot spot to watch the wildlife.  The driving can also be a struggle, especially for those who aren’t used to 4×4 terrains.

Lonely Planet notes you can volunteer your time to save a ton of money.


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