A South Africa safari cost can be difficult to estimate as the prices vary depending on the type of accommodation, transport, and activities included. With over 20 national parks, hundreds of private game reserves, and thousands of kilometers of safari routes, there are several factors to consider when budgeting for a South Africa safari.
However, it’s understandable why millions of people plan a trip to South Africa each year. From some of the biggest land animals, like elephants and rhinos, to insects, birds, and reptiles, South Africa boasts some of the most impressive biodiversity in the world.
One plus of South Africa offering a wide variety of safari experiences is that travelers can find budget-friendly options while still having an unforgettable safari experience. In this article, we will break down South African safari costs from one-day adventures to overnight stays.
What Affects the South Africa Safari Cost
There are several factors that determine the cost of a South Africa safari. For starters, there are so many experiences available, and each experience can be different depending on how long you are staying, what you are seeing, and what’s included.
If you are visiting South Africa, the most budget-friendly option is one-day tours. You can book a stay in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth and then take a day tour to one of the national parks or game reserves. You can find one-day tours for under $200 per person, depending on the park you are visiting.
Then, there are multi-day South Africa safaris that completely immerse you in the bush. You can find safari packages for just over $200 per person per day for a two-day experience.
There are longer safaris where guests stay at luxury lodges, and these trips can cost over $2,000 per person. However, you get to go to South Africa’s best game reserves, including Kruger National Park, Balule Private Reserve, and Motlala Reserve.
The number of days isn’t the only thing to factor in when budgeting for a South African safari. The type of accommodation also plays a big part in the cost. Luxury lodges will have amenities such as swimming pools, air conditioning, and laundry services. Less expensive options won’t have these amenities, and you will be staying in treehouses or tents.
When planning a South African safari, you need to consider what type of activities you want to do and the accommodations you want to stay in. From there, look at transportation costs such as airfare and food and beverage costs.
Let’s dive into each of these factors to get a better understanding of South Africa safari costs.
South Africa Safari Accommodation Cost
When planning a South Africa safari, you will find that there is a wide range of accommodation options. Travelers can book based on budget, mid-range, luxury, and even super-luxurious lodges.
Typically, the lodges that are outside of the national parks are going to be the least expensive. For example, guests can stay at a budget-friendly game lodge for $200-$300 per night, while luxurious safari lodges can be over $2,000 per person per night. Mid-range accommodations can be $400 to $800 per night, depending on the location and amenities.
Length of Your South African Safari
The next thing you need to ask yourself is how many nights you want to stay on your South Africa safari. For travelers coming from the United States or other distant locations, it’s a good idea to book a multi-day safari to make it worth the trip. However, if you want to explore other areas like Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, then a one-day tour will suffice.
This isn’t a bad plan because South Africa has plenty to do besides safaris. For example, there are several beautiful beaches, water activities, the Table Mountains, vineyards, and shopping in the cities. These are things to consider as the more nights you book for a safari, the higher the South Africa safari cost.
One huge plus of choosing to do a safari in South Africa versus other countries on the continent is that it’s one of the least expensive. When you compare a South Africa safari to destinations like Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, and Zambia, you will find that the cost can be hundreds of dollars less per night.
The Time of Year
Like other destination vacations, the time of the year will make a big difference in the total cost of your South Africa safari. If you choose to do it during the peak season, then costs will obviously be higher than if you go during shoulder season or low season.
The problem is you may not see as much wildlife during the low season as you would in the peak season, so it really depends on your expectations. The dry season is from June to September, and this is when most tourists are able to take time off of work and bring their families. Plus, the dry season is one of the best times to spot wildlife due to the vegetation being thin and animals trying to get to the remaining waterholes.
While safari lodges don’t spike the nightly costs during the summer, airfare can be higher experience due to the increased demand. If you travel during the shoulder season, not only will airfare costs be lower, but there will be fewer tourists.
When it’s summer in the United States and Europe, it is actually winter or the dry season in South Africa. Even though this is considered the low season in South Africa, it is a favorable time to go due to the higher chance of seeing wildlife.
The peak season in South Africa is from November to March. This is when many tourists come to go to the beaches and explore the cities. However, for safaris, the heat can be miserable, as it can get up to 100 degrees in some parts of the country.
Safari Mode of Transportation
The last factor that will determine your South Africa safari cost is the mode of transportation you choose. The most expensive option is booking a private guided safari tour. Even though it’s expensive, you will have a private guide that is also your safari driver.
This means that only you and your family members will be adventuring through the national parks on your own agenda. Plus, you may have the opportunity to go to areas that you normally wouldn’t be able to if you did a shared tour. These guides also have years of experience in the area and will know where to go to spot wildlife.
In some areas of South Africa, you can also opt for a self-guided safari. The main advantage of this option is that you aren’t paying the extra costs for the private guide. In addition, you can sit and enjoy an area for as long as you want to without the pressure of having to move on. With that said, you may not know where to see wildlife and may miss out on some of the highlights in the area.
How Much Is a Safari in South Africa?
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when budgeting for a safari in South Africa. The costs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per person per night. Ultimately, you need to think about what you want to see and how many days you need to do it. No matter what you choose, however, you are in for an unforgettable experience.