I have had a look in travel brochures at safaris in South Africa and they are just so rediculously expensive, that I found a 30 week tour of Africa for about the same as a 21 day safari trip in South Africa. Can someone who has travelled a fair bit in Africa let me know which would be the cheapest country to go to for going on a safari to hopefully see all the big animals most people go to see in Africa?
Thanks for any help you can give.
Depends on the way of travelling: staying in tents or hotels, by yourself (renting a car) or in a group.
Organized tours are cheapest to South Africa and Kenia (but not going into Tanzania!), but if you want to stay in tents, I guess it does not mean a big difference.
Kenia and Tanzania and South Africa are just the best countries to see the animals in their highest densities.
There are some people here who might have more up to date numbers (as I know that Tanzania upped the entrance fees to the National Parks in late 2005, after I had already done my safari), but I found some decent deals. I think the key is to work with a local company. For Tanzania, check out the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators for a list.
I did a 5 day, group camping safari. A group safari is a safari where you go with other people that you don’t know. A private safari is where just you (and your private group go). For a single traveler, booking a group safari can save around $200 to $300 US. However, often companies will book a safari with promises of other travelers, but the other travelers aren’t real. In the worse case, this means delaying the safari until real travelers can be found. Luckily for me, I was getting the best case, where a couple of companies combine their groups to still provide the safari.
My five-day, four-night safari consisted of 1 day at Lake Manyara, 3 days in Serengeti National Park and 1 day in the Ngorongoro crater. The trip also included a visit to a Maasai boma village and a visit to Olduvai gorge, though we had to pay separately for those items. Saw 4 of the big 5 (missed the leopard, but saw lion, buffalo, elephant and rhino), and additionally saw cheetah, hippo, wildebeests, zebra, giraffe, impala and many others.
All told my safari (booked in Arusha the day before departure) cost me $US 478, including guide, car, cook, three meals a day, park fees, campsites, tents, sleeping bags and mats, Maasai village visit, Olduvai Gorge fee and tips. The couple who booked from home paid about $50 more than I did booking in Arusha.
As it was a group safari, I didn’t know the people I was with. They were nice, some better than others. Luckily we all had similar desires, most of us being first timers (one of the group had been to the Serengeti many years ago), so a wide variety of animals was called for. I could see problems developing, though, if someone in the group had very specific wants (like bird watching) and the others didn’t.
5 days was just the right amount of time for a first time safari, I think. 3 days would have been a little short and would have been rushed. At 5 days I was ready to get out of the car. There is a lot of driving involved in a game drive – a lot more driving than game viewing, in fact, especially if you are switching parks.
You can read more about my specific experience in my blog entry: Safari Advice, as well as the three entries on the various parks: Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater, as well as my experience (written a touch humourously) with booking the safari in Arusha.
I have heard that Kenya might be cheaper than Tanzania as well, so that might be something to look into.
It depends on where you were looking to go. There are game reserves all around South Africa and not all of them are expensive. Private game reserves are more expensive than reserves such as the Kruger National Park. It also depends on whether you're looking for a luxury, everything inclusive package or whether you just want to go to a reserve and see some animals. Personally I feel SA is the best bet since there's very good infrastructure and a wide variety.