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Safari Cost Comparison

Ballooning at Sunset - Safari Cost Comparison | Luxury African Safari Tours | Classic Africa

Safari is the most expensive component of just about any trip to southern Africa, and one's choices regarding safari destinations and duration will have a major impact on the overall cost of your itinerary. 

Many factors underlie the cost differences between safari destinations, and between camps/lodges within the same areas; some of the most significant cost drivers are analyzed below. The safari market in southern Africa is highly competitive, being driven by supply and demand, and there are very few pricing anomalies but, since everyone has differing priorities, it's important to probe the cost differences between destinations (or even specific properties) to ensure that your budget is most optimally allocated towards your interests and preferences. For a more detailed analysis of cost differences, we encourage travelers to email or call us (toll-free 888.227.8311).

2016 Cost Comparison Chart

 South Africa (Kruger)
Starting and ending: Johannesburg Airport
Botswana
Starting and ending: Maun Airport
Zambia
Starting and ending: Lusaka Airport
Zimbabwe
Starting and ending: Victoria Falls or Harare Airport
Namibia
Starting and ending Windhoek Airport
3 Night Safari US$3,100 to US$5,995 US$5,070 to US$8,570 US$4,460
US$3,295  US$2,970
5 Night Safari US$5,135 to US$9,820 US$8,095 to US$14,070 US$7,260 US$5,995  US$5,940
7 Night Safari US$6,030 to US$12,080 US$11,150 to US$18,895 US$9,730
US$7,140  US$7,135
9 Night Safari US$7,295 to US$14,885 US$13,960 to US$23,910 US$11,870
US$8,510  US$8,520
Off Peak Periods N/A Jan-May 31, and Nov 1 to Dec 19 (cost saving of roughly 25%) Nov-Mar (cost saving of roughly 20%). Many camps are closed over this time Jan-May 31, and Nov 1 to Dec 15 (cost saving of roughly 10%)  Jan-May 31, and Nov 1 to Dec 15 (cost saving of roughly 10%)
  • The costs quoted are rough guidelines, and are per person sharing (single travelers almost always pay a single supplement of between 30-50%). They are fully inclusive, starting and ending at the airports listed. Rates include charter flights, accommodation, meals, activities, laundry, park fees, services of a professional guide, and (in most cases) drinks. Scheduled flights to and from the starting and ending points are not included.
  • The costings are based on travel in peak season. Where applicable, off-peak periods and approximate cost savings during these time-frames are listed. Where a price range is given for peak season, this reflects the difference between mid-range and "top of the line" accommodation options.

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Analysis

  • Concentrations of high profile game (especially predators and/or the 'Big Five'). This is a sine qua non for any safari destination, and the most consistent factor influencing pricing.

  • Camp/lodge experience. The level of style and luxury in accommodation, the quality of food and service, facilities and amenities, ambience, and attention to detail. The more expensive properties invariably excel in these elements of the overall experience.

  • Exclusivity. As a rule, the fewer guests that can be accommodated in a wilderness area (i.e. the more restricted the supply), the higher the rates. This factor very often overrides luxury as a cost driver - Botswana is the most prominent example of this model of 'low volume / high value' eco-tourism.

  • Remote wilderness. The further from civilization a camp, the more expensive it is to supply and operate, and the higher the access costs for guests. A lot of travelers are also willing to pay a premium for being in pristine wilderness areas. 

  • Guides. Many factors influence where guides want to work, but two of the most important are concentrations of game and remuneration. As a rule, the best guides like to be based at the more high end lodges/camps.

  • Convenience. Camps/lodges with private airstrips that are close to camp offer increased convenience due to shorter transfer times between the airstrip and camp. This means less time in transit and more time on safari or relaxing. Such airstrips, in addition to being expensive to build and maintain, are desirable to guests and attract a premium.

  • Political perceptions. The biggest factor influencing the discounted rates in Zimbabwe is the negative perception surrounding the government of Robert Mugabe. Without doubt this regime has had a very negative impact on the lives of local Zimbabweans but, as a safari destination for foreign visitors (assuming you stay within National Parks), the effect has been very limited. We are happy to discuss the pros and cons of a Zimbabwe safari.

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