Nothing compares to hearing the sound of a lion roar or watch wild animals hunting up close. Even though you cannot put a price tag on the experience of going on safari, most people shy away from them because of the cost implication they think comes with it. Even so, there are ways you can enjoy the safari without spending too much money.
Unlike many other safaris holiday destinations where the rates are usually quoted in dollars, in South Africa most excellent options quite in the local currency. This means that you can still get value for money if your country’s currency is higher in value than the SA Rand.
Here is how to enjoy a safari in South Africa on a budget.
Find discounted plane tickets
One of the things you need to budget for is your plane travel to South Africa. Start looking for discounted plane tickets early in advance to ensure you spend the least amount of money possible on your plane tickets. If you are travelling in low season, you can find plane tickets for half the cost they would go for in peak safari season.
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Therefore, be on the lookout for affordable deals on airfare. Also, you can consider trading in your SkyMiles for discounted plane tickets to South Africa. South Africa airways can allow you to use your SkyMiles for affordable air services.
Explore the public national parks
South Africa has more than 20 public national parks. Visiting these public national parks is much cheaper as compared to the privately operated lodges. To have a better feel of your safari holiday in South Africa, you can consider a self-driven from your hotel to Kruger national park. You can also easily find a cheap car rental service in Cape Town.
There are accommodation options in and around the national parks. You can choose between camping, living in cottages, guesthouses, chalets, and huts. All bookings can be done through your preferred travel agent. You can choose to make your own food from the camps or enjoy dining in the wild.
Fly to major airports
Internal flights in South Africa, particularly in airports that are close to the remote bush destinations like Richard’s Bay, Hluhluwe, Hazyview, Hoedspruit and Skukuza, are quite expensive. Picking a safari which is close to a big city airport served by local-cost airlines such as Safari, Kulula, and Mango will significantly bring down the cost. You do not have to worry about getting around since hiring a car all over South Africa is reasonably priced.
Go for a safari in low season
Traveling for your safari holiday during low season is a great way to save money. Most South Africans prefer to go on local holidays in low season too because it is affordable at this time. Also, travel Agencies offer very friendly rates in low season. Therefore, you can enjoy first-class safari services at a great discount.
Low season rates run from the beginning of May to the end of September. This is actually the best time to take a safari tour in South Africa as some of the regions where the national parks are situated are dry through these months. During these months, the bush is not lush and green and thus offers you a better view of the animals.
Consider staying outside the game reserves
While it is tempting to want to wake up to beautiful scenes in the wild, it is also somewhat expensive to stray in the game lodges. You can find very affordable accommodation options just minutes from the park. You can also consider staying in the outskirts of the parks and make daily drives to the parks using your car rental. There are also single stay bed and breakfast options if you plan on moving around a lot.
Make bookings through online discount sites
Discount sites are there for the purpose of clearinghouse for some of the best lodges. You can get an even better deal by booking just a week to your departure date. Some discount sites offer up to 50% discount to late bookers for different safari packages.
Therefore, ensure you check out these discount sites before settling for a place to stay. You can compare the rates offered for different locations to ensure you get the very best deal.
Consider a self-drive safari
You can consider taking a self-drive safari. This will ensure you save the cost you would have incurred if you chose to take a guided safari. With a self-drive safari, you get to dictate your own speed and you also get to pursue your individual interests.
All you have to do is spot a few game reserves you would prefer to visit, rent a car and schedule your game drives.
Choose less obvious reserves
Think practically by checking out lesser-known reserves such as Lake Nakuru in Kenya, Lower Zambezi in Zambia, Hwange in Zimbabwe, and Camp Jabulani in South Africa Kapama Game Reserve. Although these are well-known to locals, these are less visited by international tourists. Plus, their camps and lodges usually offer better deals.
For instance, in the northern Kenya Samburu National reserve, an Elephant Bedroom on the banks of Ewaso Ng’iro River offers all the amenities and comforts of a luxury Mara camp: skilled ranger, herbal bath products, electricity, and gourmet meals al fresco. And it is just $260 per day for every person during the low season.
Visit new camps
When compared to well-established properties which charge a premium, new camps still need to attract guests and tourist in order to establish their reputation. Relatively new camps such as Selous Impala Camp that opened in the year 2014 at the center of Tanzania’s wide South Central Serengeti offers 10 1930s-style tents that overlook the Lake Magadi and wide plains and only charges $650 per individual during green season. That is a lot saving than the $840 and up per person rates at famous Beyond Nogorongoro Crater Lodge in the neighboring national park.
The word “safari” and “budget” are not usually found in one sentence since safari adventures are notoriously expensive holiday choice. However, with the above tips on how to go on safari on a shoestring budget, you will surely enjoy a “budget-friendly safari” like no other!
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