Valid: 1 June 2014 - 17 December 2015.
Safari on a Budget
Looking for a cheap safari holiday? How to Make your Budget Go Further
Nothing can compare with waking up to hear a lion roar in the distance or getting a close up view of elephant herds wandering through the bush, so it’s hard to put a price tag on such an unforgettable experience. The reality is that going on a safari in a private lodge will probably take up a significant chunk of your holiday budget. And yet, we are 100% certain that you’ll leave your safari thinking that it was completely worth the cost.
One key thing to remember is that a private safari lodge is far more than a place to rest your head. There are so many added trimmings included in the price, such as great food, unique and atmospheric accommodation and two guided game drives per day. This means that while you’re staying at your safari lodge, you won’t be delving into your spending money at the same time.
Even though private safaris don’t come cheap, they needn’t cost the world. This is something that we’ve learnt over the years and we gathered together some handy tips to help make your private safari experience easier on the pocket. For example, self driving in Africa is not an adventure all of its own, but a great tactic for keeping costs down.
Here’s our lowdown on making your safari budget stretch that little bit further. We hope that you find it useful, and you’re obviously very welcome to call us on 01932 428380 to talk through some ideas for your safari holiday too.
Low season Rates
In South Africa, low season rates run from the beginning of May until the end of September, which is South Africa’s winter. Oddly enough, this is NOT the rainy season for Kruger National Park and many other private reserves in South Africa. Instead, the low season rates all across South Africa are linked to the rainy weather in Cape Town! This is great news for wildlife lovers, because these are actually the best months for a safari in South Africa. For Kruger and Madikwe, May to September is the dry season. At this time of year, the bush is not as green and lush, making for much better game viewing, and, as it’s dry season, the animals are more reliant on waterholes and rivers. This means that finding the game is easier too in winter. If your dream is to watch all kinds of African animals gathered around a waterhole at dawn before the heat of the day sets in, this is your best bet.
Outside of South Africa, however, it’s a slightly different story. In Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya, the low season rates do tend to coincide with less favourable weather conditions. Of course the wildlife is still about, whether it is raining or not, so if you’re a real animal enthusiast, don’t let the rain put you off!
During the low season in East Africa, you can find excellent rates for the private lodges that stay open during the rains. This gives you to the chance get a top notch safari at a fraction of the high season cost. If wildlife is your priority and your budget sits toward the modest end of the scale, low season East Africa is a brilliant solution.
The low season in East Africa varies according to the country, so here’s a snapshot of the low season months in each one:
In Zambia the heavy rains fall between November and April.
In Kenya, the rainy season runs between April and June
In Tanzania, the rain falls between April and May
budget safari lodges
Yes, there is such a thing! Great news! South Africa, specifically, has an excellent range of more affordable or budget private lodges. While they may not quite be shoestring, they offer the very same game viewing experiences as their more pricey neighbours at a snip of the cost. If you’re heading to South Africa primarily for the wildlife, you really can’t go far wrong with one of these affordable lodges. While it’s true that the standard of accommodation might not be quite a polished and luxurious, or the food quite as decadent, they offer brilliant value for money and world-class safaris.
Tanzania tends to one of the more expensive safari destinations overall, but there’s still no reason why you can’t make your budget work for you. Kenya and Tanzania both have accommodation ranging from larger safari hotels or resorts to smaller, more exclusive lodges. The larger ones are less expensive in general, but they don’t quite provide that ‘hidden in the bush’ feeling of the more intimate lodges. Of course, the wildlife is there no matter where you stay, so you’ll still get the safari experience of a lifetime, wherever you opt to stay.
Also, as mentioned above, the rates for private lodges in Kenya and Tanzania tend to take a steep drop during the rainy season, so if you’re happy to swap a little sunshine for a lot more luxury, that’s also a great way to get around the cost.
Find a Special Offer
Keeping an eye on our special offers is also a brilliant way to grab a safari deal. At the moment, you can get one night FREE at a handful of exclusive safari lodges by staying 2 or 3 nights beforehand. Alternatively, we’re offering the chance to spend a night in 5* hotel when you book certain safari lodges.
These offers change pretty regularly, so please do keep checking back for deals that will work for your budget, or give us a call on 01932 428380 When we put together your safari holiday, we’ll try to include any special offers running at the time to give you the very best value for your money.
TRavel By Road Rather Than By Flying
Using a driver-guide instead of flying into your chosen safari lodge is now a popular safari option in both Kenya and Tanzania. It’s easy to see why because it’s a great way to keep costs down.
With a private driver-guide, you literally 'hire' the services of a professional guide for the duration of your safari, together with the exclusive use of a 4x4 or safari minivan vehicle. Your guide will be your personal safari chauffeur, and all your game drives (and any travelling in between) will be taken with him rather than with the lodge's own guides. He’s likely to be your new best friend at the end of your safari holiday!
At first glance, this kind of personal attention probably makes it sound like the more expensive option. And that’s the brilliant thing. Travelling with a private driver-guide actually has some real cost advantages. Firstly, you’ll avoid paying for return flights per person to your lodge, which can be a sizeable expense. Secondly, you can book the less expensive full board rate offered by most safari lodges and camps, which only includes your meals and accommodation. You won’t need game drives to be included, as your driver guide will lead these personally.This can work out far more cost-effectively overall, especially if you’re travelling in a group of four or more, as the vehicle cost is shared between you. Your driver guide's accommodation is obviously included in the proposed rate, but he will stay in the designated guides accommodation. Of course, you are not under any obligation to socialise with your guide once you arrive at your lodge, but this is obviously totally up to you!
South Africa has more budget safari lodges than any other country, and you can see some of our favourites listed below.
Guest Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 based on 21 ratings
The rustic, unfenced Wildside Safari Camp consists of 20 en-suite tented chalets, including 4 family tents as well. Dining in the restaurant is an informal affair, where other guests soon become friends.
Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
All of the 24 en-suite and air-conditioned private chalets are beautifully furnished and fully equipped to ensure your absolute comfort. Relax on your own private patio, star gazing and listening to the sound of the bush settling for the night.
Guest Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 based on 7 ratings
Lakeside Lodge is situated on the banks of Lake Entabeni and offers 24 luxurious, elegantly furnished en-suite bedrooms. View Entabeni's famed hippos from the comfort of your own private deck with the ever-changing colours of the Entabeni Mountain reflecting in the lake.
Guest Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 based on 3 ratings
Ravineside Lodge comprises of tranquil thatched wooden lodges on stilts with bird's-eye views. Each lodge has 3 or 4 luxury en-suite bedrooms with an African ethnic theme, making this ideal for families or groups of people travelling together.
Guest Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 based on 6 ratings
Shindzela has 8 safari canvas tents. Each tent is built on a wooden deck, and has a thatch grass roof, designed to keep you cool in summer and cosy in winter.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
There are 10 luxury rooms in total, 2 with double beds and 8 with twin beds. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms, and are equipped with a hair dryer, tea/coffee station, satellite TV and a mini bar fridge.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
Bongani's rooms are ideal for families, groups or individual travellers and are set atop the Malelane Lebombo Mountains with private decks featuring magnificent wraparound views. All chalets and suites, each with 2 en-suite bathrooms and a private deck, are a subtle blend of timber and thatch, spaciously spread out across an impressive mountain ridge, within easy walking distance from the guest areas perched above.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 23 ratings
Each chalet is tastefully decorated and furnished with the emphasis on outstanding comfort. Central facilities include a large viewing deck and splash pool with a 180 degree view of the river shaded by an old leadwood tree.
Kwafubesi Tented Safari Camp pampers guests in 5 well appointed luxury canvas tents where romantic oil lamps add to the 'Out of Africa' ambience. All tents are fully furnished with a private deck and en-suite bathrooms, however there is no electricity.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
Relax on your own private deck, and if you are lucky you may see an elusive bushbuck or hear the cry of the African fish eagle. Each en-suite tent is equipped with military campaign style furniture similar to that used by the early explorers.
Guest Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 based on 22 ratings
The Woodbury Tented Camp is set in the heart of the reserve, and the tranquil surroundings of the open bushveld allow you to truly experience a quiet getaway. The centre of the camp is an airy, thatched entertainment area, where you can soak up the African sun.
Africa on Foot Camp has 5 chalets (2 of which are family units), ensuring an intimate and personal safari experience. To truly immerse yourself in the rustic bush experience, all chalets are equipped with lanterns while plug points in the main area can be used to charge your camera batteries.
Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 3 ratings
Set against a backdrop of lush green mountainous vegetation, exclusive accommodation in 47 air-conditioned luxury thatched chalets and 3 suites, all with en-suite bathrooms, offer guests complete comfort and relaxation in a beautiful natural setting. Natural, bold colours stand confident and proud, enhancing an ethnic feel throughout the lodge.
Guest Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
Each of Shibula's 8 chalets have an en-suite bathroom with Victorian bath and outside shower, and also feature a private patio. The decor throughout the entire lodge has been acclaimed by all as being exceptional and unique.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 5 ratings
The 4 comfortable en-suite bedrooms at Reed Valley Inn are positioned in the tranquil working farmyard just on the outside of the reserve's game fences, and are completely separate from the main homesteads to ensure guests' peace and privacy. All meals are taken at Bush Lodge, which is about a 5 or 10 minute drive from Reed Valley Inn into the reserve.
Accommodation at Leeuwenbosch includes the historic Country House and the newer Shearers Lodge Suites. The Country House, built in 1908, offers 5 spacious en-suite bedrooms, and is layered with a collection of historical images, documents, and furniture dating back to the 1800s.
The lodge offers the choice of 6 luxury air-conditioned suites, which all have large wooden decks overlooking the bush, a spacious en-suite bathroom with double basins, and a private outside shower which is perfect for cooling off after a hot game drive. The glass fronted Honeymoon Suite offers romantic elegance, total privacy and a stunning view, as well as a private splash pool.
Guest Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 based on 15 ratings
nThambo Tree Camp has 5 solar-powered tree house chalets. The chalets are raised on wooden stilts, the floor is wooden decking, the walls are canvas tent, with a thatched roof.
Guest Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 based on 10 ratings
The lodge sleeps a maximum of 14 guests in 7 chalets/rooms. The chalets have a small verandah with a sitting area, offering views over the African bush.
Guest Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 based on 1 ratings
Bushcamp (sleeping just 8 guests) is built on a hillside overlooking a private plain, with a central waterhole that attracts a vast array of creatures, by day and by night. Enkoveni (sleeping up to 14 guests) is situated on the river banks of the mighty Olifants River.
Selected Special offers for South Africa
Valid: 1 January 2013 - 31 December 2015.
Valid: 1 May 2014 - 31 July 2015.
Valid: 1 October 2014 - 30 April 2015.
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