There are few adventures more thrilling for the avid traveler than the chance to take an African safari, but touring the Serengeti can be expensive. As with any vacation, a safari in East Africa requires careful planning to ensure that the trip is a success. Here are a couple of tips on how to keep your finances in order when organizing your next safari adventure.
Planning ahead is the best way to save money on any trip, and safaris are no exception. Booking airline tickets at least half a year in advance can help you to save money over booking just a month or two ahead of your trip. If you plan to stay in a hotel, accommodations are also often cheaper if you book a room ahead of time.
Proper planning also allows you to dictate the time of year that you want to visit. East Africa has rainy and dry seasons that dictate the weather and wildlife available to see at any given time. Many tourists choose to visit during the dry season, which lasts between December and March, but this can lead to overcrowding in local hotspots. Airline tickets and hotels also tend to be more expensive around this time.
Frequent downpours during East Africa’s rainy season often put off tourists who are considering visiting the area, but a little bit of rain won’t detract from the quality of most safaris. Animals still wander the plains during the rainy season, and what’s more, plants tend to look lusher. Tourist attractions are also less crowded, and you’ll likely save money on lodging and airfare.
Package Tours versus Do-It-Yourself Safaris
As with any vacation, some safari trips are bound to be more expensive than others. You can find different trips to fit any travel budget, but some options require more skills and experience than others. Package tours run by professional organizations are ideal for travelers heading to Africa who are not experienced with the terrain or outdoor camping. These tours conveniently organize food, lodging, and transportation into one package, but prices are often inflated due to middlemen and hidden fees.
Some tourists opt for the slightly cheaper route of arranging a DIY African safari. This requires renting a vehicle, arranging camping or hotel accommodations, and purchasing any necessary permits on your own dime. Many national parks charge separate entry fees for visitors who are driving their own vehicle.
While arranging a DIY tour may be more cost-effective, it is not always as safe. Package tours often include a guide who is native to the area and able to avoid high-risk areas. These guides are also often able to better help you track local wildlife populations.
Safaris give tourists the chance to get close to exotic animals in their natural habitat, offering a unique experience that they’ll treasure forever. While travel to East Africa can be expensive, by planning ahead, you can organize a once-in-a-lifetime trip without worrying about clearing out your bank account.