In order to get the most from your safari budget there are a number of number of key points to keep in mind.
Find A Good Inexpensive Safari Lodge
Staying at a lodge will give you a better chance of seeing big game at close quarters than you will have on a self-drive safari, therefore we would always recommend staying a night or two at an inexpensive safari lodge if you can afford to.
The quality of food, lodges, guides, and wildlife can vary greatly amongst less expensive lodges, and you should always take care to get independent advice from a good safari specialist or a travel forum.
Nothing is guaranteed, but with some budget safari lodges starting from around £80/$150 per person per day in the low season (including accommodation, and 3 meals, 2 games drives, and a guided walk each day) it is a very attractive option for the serious wildlife enthusiast on a budget.
Go In The Low Season
If you are flexible on your dates, and your safari is the main reason for choosing Africa for your holiday, then consider going in the low season if you can – prices at most safari lodges are up to 30%-40% cheaper over this period and this is also arguably the best time of year for game viewing in the Kruger area (animals are more reliant on rivers and waterholes as it is the dry season, and therefore easier to find…they are also easier to see as the vegetation is not as thick).
Look Out For Low Season Special Offers At Safari Lodges
For people looking for a serious bargain on a safari lodge and Cape Town holiday, keep an eye out for special offers where a discounted stay at a safari lodge also entitles guests to free accommodation at a Cape Town hotel or elsewhere. These are generally only available from the more expensive lodges in the low season (May – September) but do offer exceptional value.
Drive Yourself In A National Or Regional Park
This is definately the least expensive option, however it is important to be realistic about what you might see on a self drive safari – you will be restricted to the road network, have to find the animals yourself, and also have to identify the species and their behaviours for yourself – if animals are 200 meters away from the road and you are not sure what they are because you cannot see them clearly this can be very frustrating!
Self-drive can be great fun, and is certainly less expensive than staying at a lodge, however many budget-conscious travellers will spend a night or two in a relatively inexpensive lodge before venturing out on their own.