What is the cost of a safari in South Africa?

What is the cost of a safari in South Africa?


Cost Of A Safari In South Africa – The question of the cost of a safari in South Africa is challenging to answer because the country offers a wide range of activities beyond safaris. From vibrant cities and scenic landscapes to wine regions and stunning beaches, South Africa caters to diverse interests, making it difficult to pinpoint a single price for a safari experience.

When considering the cost of a safari in South Africa, it’s important to note that the primary factor influencing the overall price is the number of nights spent in national parks or reserves. These accommodations tend to be the most expensive compared to other lodging options throughout the country.

Factors that determine the cost of a safari holiday in South Africa include:

As previously mentioned, there are several factors influencing the cost of a safari holiday in South Africa. Here, we outline these factors to provide a clearer breakdown of the expenses you may incur while planning your visit to South Africa for a safari experience.

Accommodation Costs.

Accommodation options in South Africa vary widely, ranging from budget to super luxury facilities, each priced in the local currency, the Rand. However, it’s important to note that accommodation within safari lodges located inside national parks tends to be more expensive compared to accommodations elsewhere in South Africa. Prices can range from approximately US $280 per person per night for shared accommodation in a budget game lodge to as much as US $2,300 per person per night in a super luxury safari lodge.

Below is a summary of the average accommodation costs in South African safari lodges, both within and outside national parks.

 Type of AccommodationPrice Range in Safari LodgesPrice Range Elsewhere
1.Budget accommodation$275 to $450$100 to $200
2.mid-range accommodation$450 to $750$200 to $350
3.luxury accommodation$750 to $1100$450 to $650
4.super luxury$1100 to $2300

Safari Duration.

When holidaymakers visit South Africa, they often enjoy diverse itineraries that include activities like whale watching, beach relaxation, exploring Table Mountain, touring wine estates, and city sightseeing, alongside exploring national parks to observe wildlife. Typically, these itineraries allocate three to four days for safari experiences. Each night spent in a game lodge within South Africa’s national parks is relatively more expensive compared to nights spent in other holiday destinations across the country. Therefore, as outlined in the accommodation costs, the more nights spent on safari, the higher the overall expense.

It’s advisable to plan your itinerary according to your budget, keeping in mind the number of days you intend to spend on safari.

Safari Pricing in Rand.

Fortunately, South Africa is one of the more affordable tourist destinations in Africa. This is primarily because safaris are priced in the local currency, unlike many other destinations that price their itineraries in US dollars.

Costs Of Safaris In South Africa Per Day.

 CountryBudget (private)Mid-range (private)Luxury (private)Super Luxury (private)
1.South Africa$230 – $350$350 – $450$550 – $650$700 –
2.Botswana$400 – $550$550 – $850$850 -$1100$1,000 -$1,700
3.Tanzania$250 – $400$400 – $550$550 – $800$850 – $1,200
4.Namibia$230 – $400$400 – $550$550 – $750$750 – $1,100
5.Zambia$200 – $350$370 – $500$500 – $800$800 – $950

Season (Peak Is The Climatic)

South Africa boasts a unique safari experience, with the best time to embark on one falling during the dry season from June to September, coinciding with winter. Interestingly, this period aligns with Europe’s summer, attracting a significant influx of tourists to South Africa for summer holidays, leading to heightened demand for safaris in the country.

During this dry season, game viewing in South Africa’s safari national parks and reserves, such as Kruger, KwaZulu-Natal, Madikwe, and Pilanesberg, is optimal. The sparse, dry vegetation and congregated wildlife around water holes make sightings easier compared to the summer months when animals disperse across lush terrain.

Remarkably, safari lodges maintain consistent accommodation prices throughout the year during this peak season. Some facilities even offer discounts, particularly in May, June, and July, with additional special discounts for longer stays. Conversely, South Africa experiences its low season from May to mid-September, marked by discounted accommodation rates ranging from 10% to 20% at lodges and hotels. However, in the northern part of the country, this period coincides with the best time for game viewing, making it the peak safari season during the drier months.

Mode Of Transport Used During Your Safari

While on safari in South Africa, holidaymakers have several options for travel within the country. Some prefer privately guided safaris, others opt for self-drive safaris, and there are also those who combine both privately guided and shared day tours.

Privately Guided Safaris

In South Africa, private guiding is a comprehensive service that provides travelers with a dedicated guide who also serves as the safari driver. While this service is relatively expensive, costing approximately $100 to $110 for a full day, it offers numerous advantages. Guides have access to areas within parks that may be closed to ordinary tourists and possess extensive knowledge of animal behavior, making sightings more likely. They also provide insights into local culture, history, and wildlife, enhancing the overall safari experience. However, the cost of accommodating the guide overnight adds to the total expense, making it more economical for larger groups.

Self-Drive Safaris

Self-drive safaris are possible in many South African national parks, thanks to well-maintained road networks. Travelers can drive their own vehicles, saving on the cost of hiring a guide daily. One advantage of self-drive safaris is the freedom to spend as much time as desired at specific spots or following animals, unlike guided safaris with time limitations. This option is best suited for experienced safari-goers.

Privately Guided and Shared Day Tours:

Another option is a combination of shared tours and privately guided safaris. This itinerary may include guided tours led by a professional guide for a few days, followed by self-drive exploration in rural areas, interspersed with private transfers, especially for longer drives, and charter flights to safari destinations. This approach helps reduce the cost of hiring a guide daily while still benefiting from expert guidance and assistance. Such itineraries are typically arranged with the assistance of a professional tour operator.

How Can I Save Money On An African Safari?

After analyzing the various factors influencing the overall cost of your safari, here are some tips to help you save money:

  1. Book Accommodation Directly: Utilize online discounted sites to book accommodation directly. These platforms often offer unsold rooms at discounted rates, especially for last-minute bookings made about a week before your safari date.

  2. Stay Outside National Parks: Opt for accommodation just outside the boundaries of national parks, which tends to be more affordable. From these locations, you can either self-drive into the park or book a guide once inside. Many wildlife destinations in South Africa offer nice accommodation options nearby, providing cost-effective alternatives.

  3. Plan Your Meals Wisely: While staying in safari lodges within national parks or reserves, opt for all-inclusive packages that include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, when exploring other parts of South Africa, try out the variety of cuisines offered in the country. Dine at fine restaurants away from your hotel to enjoy a wider range of food and lower overall meal costs. Avoid street food and prioritize restaurants with good hygiene practices.

  4. Travel During Off-Peak Seasons: Visit South Africa during the off-peak season from May to September (winter), when hotels and lodges offer attractive discounts despite being the best time for game viewing in the northern part of the country. Particularly, you can enjoy significant discounts in the Eastern Cape and Madikwe Reserve.

  5. Opt for Longer Stays: Many safari lodges in South Africa’s national parks and reserves offer special discounts for guests staying longer. Take advantage of these offers to reduce the total cost of your safari by extending your stay at these facilities.

Best Time To Visit South Africa

The best time to visit South Africa depends largely on the activities you want to engage in, considering the country’s vast size and unique climatic patterns.

Best Time for Game Viewing

For optimal game viewing, plan your visit during the winter and spring months from May to September, extending to early October. During this dry season, vegetation becomes sparse, making it easier to spot wildlife congregating around water holes. Destinations like Kwazulu-Natal, Kruger National Park, Pilanesberg, and Madikwe Reserve are ideal during this period.

Best Time for Whale Watching

Plettenberg Bay and Hermanus are prime spots for whale watching, especially from July to November, with September being the peak month. Despite cooler temperatures and occasional drizzles, this period offers breathtaking sightings of whales, including baby whales swimming close to the coastline.

Best Time to Visit Cape Town

Cape Town, one of South Africa’s most popular cities, is best visited from December to March. During this period, the city’s splendor is at its peak, attracting a large number of tourists. If you wish to combine a visit to Cape Town with a wildlife safari, consider exploring private game reserves for wildlife viewing opportunities.

By aligning your travel plans with the best time for your desired activities, you can make the most of your visit to South Africa.

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