When planning a safari for new guests one of our first questions is inevitably What is your budget? This can take people by surprise as it is perhaps not a question they have yet considered or expect to be asked.
Although there are exceptions, with safaris there generally is a direct correlation between the price of the safari and the quality of the safari experience. A higher price does not necessarily equate to more luxurious accommodation however. Key factors influencing price include the quality of the wilderness environment and game viewing, the remoteness of the location, the size of the camp or lodge and the quality of the guiding. A rustic bush camp deep in the bush with bucket shower can easily be more expensive than a luxurious lodge just outside the entrance to the Park. It is the safari experience you are paying for and the experience will be far greater at the bush camp.
Despite the recessionary times we live in, prices for high quality safari experiences have risen steadily and in some cases substantially in recent years. Guest numbers are limited and demand remains high, particularly during peak season. There is however significant variation in prices throughout the year, from the most expensive peak season months to the cheapest months during the rainy season. If budget is limited then our recommendation is to try to stay at camps or lodges that will offer you the best safari experience – if you can’t afford their peak season rates then consider travelling during a cheaper month. Perhaps adjust your itinerary to include fewer nights on safari but of a higher quality, rather than compromising on the experience.
During the peak season you should expect to pay between US$500 and US$1300 per person sharing per night for mid-range accommodation in some of the best wildlife viewing areas. Some of the larger operators will have long-stay discounts available if you combine a number of their camps. During the “green season” months equivalent rates can fall as low as US$400 per person sharing per night with some great special deals available.
For the top lodges rates can be as high as US$2400 per person per night during peak season dropping to around US$1700 per person per night in the green season, again with some great specials available.
Normally these rates are fully inclusive and the only extras you need to pay locally are airport taxes and visa costs (if applicable) and any gratuities. Transfers between the lodges (normally by light aircraft) are at additional cost. A private guide and private vehicle will also cost extra – these are charged per group rather than per person so if you split the cost between six of you for example it will be much cheaper than absorbing the cost between just two guests. So safaris are not cheap!
For those of us without the budget to pay these sorts of prices then the good news is that it is possible to do a safari on a much smaller budget, either on a self-drive or join a small group departure or stay in cheaper accommodation just outside one of the Parks. All of these options can still provide you with a wonderful experience. However for us it is all about the locations, the guiding and the experience and although we do try very hard to make our safaris accessible to everyone we don’t have much expertise in the budget end of the market. For those on a more restricted budget there are a few small group departures that we do recommend, in particular one 10 day Botswana safari (including the Falls) which costs between US$5500-US$5900, depending on the season.
We always try to offer a fair price and normally incorporate a discount from the recommended selling prices published by the camps and lodges. The amount of discount will depend on what rates we get with a particular supplier, how much you are booking with us and how many people are in your group. We value your business and want you to return to us next time you book a safari – and to recommend your friends and family – so it is important that we give you good value.