Top 10 Money Saving Tips for Going on Safari
Guest Post By Abambo Safaris
Fact: there is no such thing as a cheap safari. Safaris in Africa are more expensive than other types of travel, even just for the park fees before you have even thought about accommodation. Have a look at our recent blog post: How much does it cost to go on safari?
Having said that, there are ways to reduce the cost for the savvy safari enthusiast!
Cheap Safari: Tip 1 – Don’t Go to the Big Reserves
Opt for lesser-known wildlife reserves because, like any luxury brand, you end up paying for the name. Not only are the government park fees lower in the lesser-known parks, but the accommodation is often cheaper and you don’t have the crowds.
Cheap Safari: Tip 2 – Go Off-Peak!
Don’t go in peak season because prices are double during this time. Peak tends to be Christmas/New Year and July –September. October is a fab time to go mostly anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, just before the rains when prices are lower and crowds have dispersed.
Cheap Safari: Tip 3– Exclusive Use Accommodations for Groups
If you have a group of you, look for accommodations which are sold on an ‘exclusive-use’ basis, i.e. your group will take the whole place exclusively. This often works out cheaper per head and you can squeeze more people in if you need to, even at a later date.
Cheap Safari: Tip 4 – Special Offers & New Lodges
There are so many options for your safari and the accommodations know that you have a huge choice, so they offer incentives. Look out for deals – even in peak season. New lodges are a good place to find amazing offers if you are willing to take the risk trying out a place that even your tour operator may not have been to.
Cheap Safari: Tip 5 – Mobile Camping
Mobile camping can sometimes work out much cheaper than staying in a more well-furnished accommodation, particularly for a big group. Choose a luxury outfitter to ensure that you are comfortable, and we recommend combining with a luxury lodge with a pool for some r&r at the end of your trip.
Cheap Safari: Tip 6 – Flights
You can certainly make savings on your international flights: adding on a stopover can halve the cost of your flight, as can waiting until the sales.
Cheap Safari: Tip 7 – Spend Longer at the Beach
The expensive bit of a safari is the bit when you’re actually in the game reserve. Most safari itineraries start off looking at game and end up somewhere for some r&r – perhaps the beach or maybe a city break. If you weight the itinerary towards the non-wildlife part then it will reduce the cost. For example 3 or 4 nights on safari and 5 or 6 nights at the beach
Cheap Safari: Tip 8 – Stay Still!
It is the tendency with safari itineraries to move every 2-4 days. Whilst this is a great way of seeing more, the expense of it is better avoided wherever possible. Also there are nearly always long-stay discounts out of season, such as 4 nights for the price of 3.
Cheap Safari: Tip 9 – Stay away from horses!
Anywhere with horses is bound to be more expensive (usually…! Although Horizon Horseback in South Africa bucks this trend). If you are not particularly fussed about riding, stay in nearby places and then request to go on a ride as an extra activity. If the nearby lodge has space to accommodate you for a ride, they will, and you’ll just pay for that ride rather than paying to have horses on standby for you throughout your stay.
Cheap Safari: Tip 10 – Use a Tour Operator
This may seem contrary to logic, to add in a middleman to save money, but the African travel industry is quirky and needs a communicator in between guests and the lodges. The lodges give trade rates to knowledgeable operators and the operators are often able to pass on a saving to the guest. It’s a win-win-win.
Cheap Safari: Tip 10.5 – Use a Tour Operator
I know we just had this one in point 6, but hear me out… If anything goes slightly awry when you are in Africa, you are in trouble if you are alone, and trouble usually means expense. Save yourselves worry and expense by having a reputable tour operator on the end of the phone 24/7 for the times when you need them (no one picked you up from the airstrip/the lodge has burned down/a hippo ate my homework)
Although reducing cost is a primary concern for most guests, it’s important not to compromise on the game-viewing experience. We advise that you don’t go for a really cheap safari without knowing who you are dealing with.
Why not go for any cheap safari? The difference between a good operator and a poor one is the difference between you going on a tourist excursion in a mini bus with a hundred other people in a game park, rather than having the time to experience wildlife in its natural habitat. In our opinion, we’d rather not be there than be herded about to snap picture out of a window of a poor lion trying to go about its business, with a load of other vehicles and their blaring radios.
If you have to make savings on game-viewing, we recommend reducing the number of nights rather than the budget. Or saving up for one extra year…
We don’t sell super-cheap safaris because we believe in good experiences, but we will always get you the best deal for your itinerary. We will always be honest, too. Why not give us your budget and we’ll give you our suggestions for the best itineraries we think will fit with it? Get in touch!