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By Julian 27 February 2020

How much does a safari cost?

The most common question we get asked at Yellow Zebra is, ‘How much does a safari cost?’ Here we explain what factors go into determining the cost of your ideal safari, and how we can help make your budget go further:

Hard-to-find online prices and a huge range of approaches from different companies make it incredibly difficult to understand what you get for your money on safari. A lot of people think that booking through a tour operator is going to cost a lot more than planning your vacation yourself. However, adopting a DIY approach or booking a package deal isn’t necessarily cheaper than opting for a tailor-made safari. If you take your pick from packages with non-flexible prices, you won’t be able to take advantage of off-peak offers, early bird discounts, or even last-minute availability, whereas using a good tour operator will ensure you don’t miss out on these and other offers at the time of booking your trip.

That said, we must mention that a safari, done well, is expensive, and it’s also the type of vacation where you definitely get what you pay for.

So, let’s start with explaining the factors that go into determining how much your safari could cost:

1) How many people are going on the trip?

Typically, prices are given as ‘per person’, but this can be misleading as the figures are based on two people sharing a room. If you’re a solo traveller or you want your own room as part of your family or group trip, it’s likely you’ll pay a single supplement cost.

2) How do you want to get around?

Private transfer? Helicopter? Camel? Or are you happy to consider shared transfer, to lower expenses? Whatever you prefer, we can arrange it, and we recommend talking through various options if you have a particular budget in mind.

3) Do you have specific hobbies?

Do you want to focus on photography and birdlife? Or perhaps you’d like to spend a week horse riding across the Maasai Mara? Alternatively, how about gorilla trekking? More niche-focused activities and excursions can increase the price of a safari, as you’ll need to factor in additional costs, such as for permits, private guides, equipment, and so on.

4) When do you want to travel?

This is a very important question, as if you travel in the off or shoulder season rather than during the peak season, you could cut costs by up to 50 per cent! Time your safari perfectly, and the luxury options in places like Botswana and Tanzania suddenly become much more affordable.

5) What level of accommodation are you looking for?

With property prices ranging from $150 to $3,500 per night, the answer to this question really depends on what type of safari you are after. Is this your safari of a lifetime? Or is this your bi-annual trip? As we’re primarily a luxury travel company, all of our itineraries are high end. However, accommodation options within this high-end region can range from authentic to extremely comfortable to uber-glamorous, and we divide our trips into three corresponding categories – Value, Classic, and Luxury (for more information, see below*).

6) And finally, of course, where do you want to go?

Do you want to go to a fabulous and famous location such as the Kruger, the Serengeti, or the Okavango Delta? Or might you prefer the more remote and far-flung destinations of the Selous, Phinda, or the Lower Zambezi?

Usually, the more remote the destination, the more expensive it is to get to. That said, all the factors we’ve listed play a significant role in working out how much your tailored safari is going to cost.

Here’s a very rough price guide for a week-long trip per person (6 nights/7 days) to our Top 4 safari destinations:

  Value low season Value high season Classic low season Classic high season Luxury low season Luxury high season
Tanzania $4,000 - $5,000 $6,000 - $8,000 $6,000 - $7,000 $7,500 - $10,500 $7,500+ $11,000+
Kenya $4,000 - $5,000 $6,000 - $8,000 $6,000 - $7,000 $7,500 - $10,500 $7,500+ $11,000+
South Africa $4,000 - $5,000 $4,500 - $6,000 $6,500 - $10,500 $7,000 - $11,500 $11,500+ $13,000+
Botswana $4,500 - $6,000 $6,500 - $8,500 $6,500 - $9,000 $10,500 - $14,500 $10,500+ $15,500+

Now let’s look at what isn’t included in a safari…

International flights
Maybe you want to use your airline rewards points, or you can find better deals with which you’re more comfortable? We’re happy to book your international flights for you. However, we find that many clients book these flights themselves, so we don’t include international flights in our quotes unless this is requested.

Visa costs
Destinations have different visa costs, and visas may be purchased either before your departure date or at the border control point (please check here), by you. Normally a visa costs between US$30 and US$100 per person.

Vaccinations
It’s important to ensure you have the right vaccinations for travel to Africa before you set off on your trip. For every country we sell, we recommend vaccinations against hepatitis A + B, typhoid, and diphtheria. If you’re planning to spend time in Kenya, whether for your whole vacation or for just one night, you must also be vaccinated against yellow fever – and you’ll need to bring copies of your vaccine certificate with you on your trip. Additionally, malaria is endemic throughout almost all the areas in which we operate safaris, so we strongly advise you to take malaria prophylactics. The only areas where this advice doesn’t apply are parts of South Africa, including Madikwe Game Reserve and the safari properties around Port Elizabeth. Travel clinics can sometimes have long waiting lists, so it’s a good idea to make sure you book your vaccinations well in advance of your trip! Please consult your GP concerning which types of medication are necessary for you.

Tipping
Tipping is different in each destination. And the amount to tip depends on the circumstances – for example, whether you are tipping your airport drivers or your private professional guide, etc. We’ve put together a rough outline here on how much we recommend.

Travel insurance
Please be aware that, as part of our Terms & Conditions, we require all clients to purchase adequate travel insurance, so this is a very important extra cost. We’ve assembled another handy guide, here, to help you decide which policy is best suited to you.

So, what’s included in the prices set out in our table?

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Ross Couper© 64.jpg

Unless otherwise specified by the property, these prices include all internal flights, transfers, reserve fees, and accommodation booked by Yellow Zebra, as well as meals, soft drinks, local beverages/alcohols, and all activities that don’t incur an additional cost. (An example of an activity incurring an extra charge is a hot air balloon safari.)

*Now let’s look at the three categories of trips we offer – Value, Classic, and Luxury:

Value – These trips often tend to involve authentic tented accommodation, or they might be designed around 4-star camps and lodges. The focus is adventure, rather than the luxury that’s on offer at other properties. A Value safari starts at about $4,000–5,000 per person.

Classic – A Classic safari usually comes in at approximately $7,000–8,000 per person. These safaris tend to feature some superb 5-star properties – camps and lodges where standards of guiding, food, and service are set very high. The Classic category typically includes properties that are run by some of our most impressive partners.

Luxury – The Luxury safaris are the most sumptuous safaris that we offer at YZ. These trips feature properties that cost over $1,000 per person per night! You can expect to see prices soaring to $10,000 per person, as you’re paying for lodges and camps where private plunge pools and excellent levels of hospitality come as standard. The wow-factor is guaranteed!

So, what now?

As a general rule, South Africa is by far the least expensive destination, while Botswana is without doubt the costliest country. Destinations such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania can be suitable for travelers on a fairly strict budget, but can also easily tip towards a Botswana price tag.

To help you decide what category of safari would best suit you, and within which destination, we highly recommend getting in touch with one of our experts. There’s so much information online – and with so many factors to consider when it comes to putting together your ideal safari, planning a trip to Africa can be incredibly confusing. That’s where we come in!