Discounted Safaris and Tours to AfricaDeals on safaris and tours are out there, the difficulty is getting a cheap flight to Africa. But if you follow some of my tips, you'll get a good fare. If the deals below don't match your budget or time frame then turn to page 2 to get tips on lowering your safari costs.
The following sites offer good deals and discounts on tours and safaris:
- Africa Guide's last-minute deals and specials: One of the best African tour agents, Africa Guide offers deals on budget and luxury safari tours, adventure tours, diving tours, beach holidays and more.
- Go2Africa.com: A very reputable South African based tour operator offering some excellent deals on tours and safaris in Southern Africa.
- Safari Guide Africa lists special deals and discounts for safaris in all the major safari destinations in East and Southern Africa. Check for great low season deals.
- African Budget Safaris: Based in Cape Town, this very knowledgeable tour operator offers excellent deals on safaris using local transport and campsites when convenient. Great itineraries for Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Namibia and more.
- E-Gnu.com: Offers good discounts and deals on safaris and wildlife park lodging in East and Southern Africa.
- AfricaSafari.com: Offers deals and regular discounts on safaris from high-end luxury fly-in safaris to budget participatory camping safaris.
- Instant Holidays: A budget tour operator in the UK offering good deals on packages to Gambia, Hurghada (Egypt), Luxor (Egypt), Seychelles, Mauritius, Mombasa (Kenya) Sharm el Sheik (Egypt) and Tunisia.
- Flight Centre SA: Offers excellent value holidays from South Africa to African destinations. If you can find your way to South Africa, it's worth booking a trip to Botswana or Mauritius from there.
- Safarinow.com: Last minute deals on safari lodges and guesthouses in South Africa.
Personally, I consider joining an Overland tour as a wonderful option to see Africa; they are always cheaper than other packages, but perhaps not as luxurious.
If you can't find a last minute safari deal that suits you, then here are some tips to help you find an affordable safari that does match your budget and time frame.
Whichever country or wildlife park you choose and however you choose to book your safari, the tips below should enable you to significantly reduce your safari costs. Just FYI, Kenya is the cheapest safari destination while Botswana is probably the most expensive because most parks are only accessible by small plane.
Book locallyArusha (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya) are the best places to look for small local safari companies.
- Local outfitters can slot you in to existing tours at the last minute.
- You can get some people together at your hostel or hotel and book as a group.
- You can't be sure there's avalability for when you wish to go, so this option is better for those with more time.
Go With a Large Organized groupOrganized scheduled safaris are cheaper because you get group rates and this cuts down on your transportation and accommodation costs.
- Good option if you don't want to camp and participate but still want a budget safari.
- These packages include a guide which will make your safari a lot more interesting. Knowing what fauna, birds and ungulates you are looking at really adds value.
- You may not like the people you are booked with.
Find Accommodations Outside the ParkAccommodations within the game park are often more expensive than outside. You can also stay in the nearest town to the wildlife park and just go in for the day.
- A lot of wildlife congregates outside of game parks so you may not have to drive in at all to see the Big Five. This is especially the case at reserves like Masai Mara.
- Takes more time to get to the game park so you may miss an early morning drive which often yields the most successful viewing of wildlife.
Self-drive SafariThe two countries I'd recommend for self-drive safaris would be South Africa and Namibia.
- You have the freedom to decide how long you want to stay in a park
- You avoid the cost of hiring a guide
- If there are more than two of you it's a real savings to rent a car
- You may not know the best roads to take for wildlife viewing
- Car rental can be expensive in many African countries (over US $50 a day)
- You are limited in your choice of safaris to countries with reasonable roads.
- Without a guide you may not know a springbok from a bushbuck.
Camp in the ParksEvery National Game Park in Africa has public camping facilties (we're not talking about the luxury tented safari here) and it's a lot cheaper than staying in lodges.
- You get to enjoy the proximity of wildlife and the sound of hyenas sniffing at your tent
- If you don't have a car carrying all your supplies it can be a hassle and you'd still need to join a group to go on game drives.
Book a Safari in the Low SeasonThe low-season coincides with the rainy season and in most popular safari destinations there are two rainy seasons a year. Low-seasons usually run from April - June and October - November.
- Low-season prices will save you least 25% on any safari.
- You avoid the crowds all looking at the same lion kill.
- The rains mean that wildlife doesn't have to limit their wanderings to a few available water sources. So you may have trouble spotting the animals from your safari vehicle.
- During the rainy season the foliage gets to grow nice and tall and can obscure a lot of wildlife, they're made to blend in after all. Despite this though you'll still get to see plenty of wildlife during the low-season.
- The roads to and in some of the game parks could be washed out.
Choose Just One Wildlife ParkThe more you hop around the more expensive it gets. Choose a park that will almost guarantee you see a lot of animals like the Masai Mara or the Serengeti and plan to just visit there. There are also more and more private game reserves opening up especially in South Africa where you are almost guaranteed to see the Big Five in just a few outings.
- Cheaper than going from one park to the other
- Leaves you with time to explore Africa's incredibly interesting cultural and historic sights as well.
- If you're unucky you may not get to see all the wildlife you want
- You can miss out on seeing a variety of ecosystems
Seeing Animals Without Going on SafariUsually the point of going on a safari is to view animals. And there are ways to view animals without booking an official safari.
- Take local trains through Wildlife Parks. The train from Nairobi to Mombasa in Kenya runs through the Tsavo National Park. There's also a local train that runs through Selous National Reserve in Tanzania.
- Stay in places like Kariba or Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe where it's not uncommon to see elephants wondering around the center of town.