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White Rhino at Welgevonden Game Reserve in South Africa

Cheap Safari Holiday Tips

Home > Advice to finding the best Safari Holiday Deals

Whilst Africa has some of the poorest countries in the world, it also has some of the most luxurious lodges meaning that a safari holiday in Africa can be expensive, but this does not always have to be the case. To get the best deals and possibly a cheap safari holiday, requires some research, out of the box thinking and the desire for a little adventure.

Here are my tips to finding a cheap safari holiday in Africa:

Choose a National Park

Growing up in Zimbabwe, we would often go a holiday in the bush, but would never go and stay in a private lodge, that was way too expensive and only something that tourists with loads of forex could afford. Instead we would go to one of our fantastic National Parks and stay in the campsite or the accommodation offered by the park.

Obviously this way you are never going to get the luxury of a five star lodge, but you will save heaps of money. For example a self-catering two-bedroom bungalow in the Kruger National Park in South Africa costs about £35 a night, with similar prices for all the other fantastic National Parks in South Africa and if South Africa is not your ideal destination, Kenya, Botswana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Namibia all have fantastic National Parks all with really good value accommodation.

For more details, including accommodation, take a look at a few of South Africa's National Parks:

 

Going and staying at a national park also does not mean that you have to opt for a self drive safari. For first time visitors to the bush in Africa, I would recommend that you organise for a guide to take you out on safari, apart from the safety aspect, it will also improve the experience as a guide will not only know where to look for the best sightings, but will also be able to explain certain behavioral aspects of an animal that you may be viewing. Inexpensive guides are usually available for "hire" from the main office at most National Parks throughout Africa.


Self Drive Holidays

This is for those who are looking for a little adventure and instead of being met at the airport by a representative of the lodge you are staying at, you hire a car and go on a self drive holiday, staying at a National park rather than at a private game reserve and lodge.

Think of it this way, you will be saving on expensive private lodge costs, air transfers and you get the freedom to explore the country. Hiring a car is simple in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

These countries also have an excellent road system, National parks with excellent facilities including inexpensive self catering lodges and campsites.

Zimbabwe has an excellent road system and some fantastic national parks, although hiring a car can be more difficult. Kenya's National parks are legendary, but their roads are not great -perfect if you are really looking for an adventure!

Self Drive Safaris

To go on a self drive safari, you will most probably have to visit a National Park. This is not something that I would not recommend for everyone. A qualified safari guide is a real asset on safari, not only will you be safer, but you can benefit from their experience and local knowledge in finding the best game viewing spots and then helping with things like animal behavior, tracking, identification of animals, birds, trees, flowers and much much more. Unless you have a good knowledge of the bush I would suggest that a guide is money well spent on Safari.


Off-season Travel

Just as you can save allot of money traveling out of season in Europe, one of the best ways to save money on a safari holiday is to go off-season. The flights will be cheaper, game reserves and lodges will be less crowded and the prices will be less than you'd pay in high season.

Working on a lodge in South Africa, I noticed that most of our guests during the summer months were foreign, whilst during the winter they were mostly South Africans. The prices were cheaper and in many places you actually get much better game viewing during the winter (UK Summer) this is due to many reasons but mainly because the grass is shorter making it easier to spot game, and there is less water about (winter is the dry season in southern Africa) meaning that animals never travel too far from permanent water sources, making them much easier to locate.

As for the temperature, check where you are visiting, but winter often means bright sunny days with comfortable temperatures, with it only really getting cold in the evenings and early mornings.


Choose an Un-popular Destination

Ok, so this is not for the faint of heart, but it is another way to find that cheap safari. I don't suggest you visit a war zone, but there are plenty of destinations that for one reason or another become unpopular. This can men that prices fall as those who offer holidays in those countries search for customers.

Keep an eye on Zimbabwe, we all keep our fingers crossed that things will start to improve and when they do Zimbabwe has to be on of the best safari holiday destinations in the world.

Kenya also has some of the best holiday deals around as they are still recovering from the violent aftermath of its January elections.


Choose Less Famous Reserves

If you are going to stay in a private game lodge, choose some of the lesser known game reserves. Some of them are every bit as good and even better than their better known cousins and it often costs quite a bit less to stay there.

Look at Welgevonden Game reserve, less than 2 hours north of Johannesburg, it has some super luxury lodges and all the game you could ever hope to see on safari. Then there is Timbavati or Madikwe, also in South Africa, North Luangwa in Zambia.

In Kenya there is Lake Nukuru and the Samburu National Reserve, both are well respected locally but less visited by international tourists and as such their lodges and camps usually offer better deals.



Countries with Weak Currencies

With the US Dollar and the Euro getting stronger against the pound, Africa is a great place to find countries with a much weaker currency, which can (not always) mean a saving.

Namibia is rich in natural beauty and has some wonderful wildlife reserves and national parks, like the Etosha National Park. Namibia also pegs its currency to the weak South African rand as opposed to the dollar, meaning that you can find some good deals. Botswana on the other hand has a currency stronger than the rand.

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