If cost is the only thing holding you back from planning an African safari trip, you might be surprised at how little (or how much!) the average African safari cost is.
With prices starting around $125 per person/day and going up well beyond $1,500 per person/day, there’s a wide cost range for African safaris.
Luckily, it’s easy to plan one that fits your budget when you understand the underlying cost factors and differences between cheap vs. luxury safari packages.
How Much Does an African Safari Cost?
- Expect to pay $125-$200 pp/day for basic safari packages
- Mid-tier safari packages cost anywhere from $350-$500 pp/day
- Luxury safari packages cost somewhere between $750-$1,500+ pp/day
Wondering how much an African safari costs? If this trip of a lifetime is on your bucket list, you’ll want to make sure you’re planning an affordable trip that fits your budget.
So how much does an African safari cost? It depends.
The New York Times found that safari costs ranged from $200/day to well over $1,000/day. SafariBookings found a slightly different safari cost range around $125/day to $1,5000/day.
What’s up with the wide price range?
It’s all about the length of your safari, number of travelers, region, time of year, and how basic or luxurious an experience you want.
Basic safari packages will put you closer to the $125-$200 per person, per day cost range. Mid-tier safari packages cost closer to $350-$500 per person, per day.
Luxury and specialty safari packages may tally up around $750-$1,500+ per person, per day!
It’s clear that safaris can get really costly when you start considering luxury packages, but it helps to take a step back and look at how the underlying cost factors affect the final total.
African Safari Cost Factors
How much you’ll pay for an African safari depends on a few important factors. These factors can make the difference between a $125/day safari and a $1,500+/day safari!
From how you build your safari package to your preferred level of accommodations, you can make a few tweaks for cheaper safari costs when you keep these factors in mind.
- Basic, Mid, or Luxury
- Safari Length
- Exclusivity and Privacy
- Currency Exchange Rate
- Safari Region
- Time of Year
- Number of Travelers
1. Basic, Mid, or Luxury Package
Your safari package will adjust in price based on the level of accommodations you want: Basic, mid-tier, or luxury.
Basic packages are the cheapest (around $125-$200/day) and accommodations are usually located outside of the national park. You might miss prime wildlife viewing opportunities by missing first light and dusk with this option.
Mid-tier packages cost somewhere in the middle, around $350-$500/day. Accommodations may be nicer and located closer to your wildlife viewing areas for the most viewing opportunities.
Luxury safari packages cost the most, ranging from $750-$1,500+/day on average. Expect top-notch accommodations, more privacy, and included perks like dining and luxury transportation.
2. Safari Length
This factor has two effects on your African safari cost: The longer you stay, the more you’ll pay overall, but the more days you book with a single safari company, the less you’ll pay per day.
Taking a longer safari (around 2 weeks+) ensures the lowest per-day cost, while shorter safaris usually cost more each day.
In the end, you can take your safari budget and decide if you want to split it up into more days and pay a little more overall or book a shorter trip and spend a little less overall.
3. Exclusivity and Privacy
The less your safari package costs, the less exclusive and private it will be overall. The cheapest safaris take you on blacktop roads through crowded regions in national parks, making it a less “wild” experience.
Mid-tier and luxury packages are much more exclusive and offer more privacy if you want a more intimate safari experience.
Like anything else, when it comes to safaris, you pay extra for privacy and exclusivity.
4. Currency Exchange Rate
The currency exchange rate can also have a major effect on your overall African safari cost. If you see prices listed in African currency, your cost in dollars will be lower.
One CFA Franc equals around 0.0016 US dollars. One South African rand equals around 0.056 US dollars. One Botswanian Pula equals 0.077 US dollars.
With these exchange rates (and your own country’s currency) in mind, your African safari trip may cost less than you imagined.
5. Safari Region
The area you choose to go on safari will have a big impact on the overall cost of your trip. Some regions are much cheaper to explore than others.
Some offer you the option to rent a car and drive yourself around (self-drive safari) to save on the overall cost.
Typically, sticking to safari tours in easily accessible areas within national parks will keep costs lower.
Generally, you’ll find more affordable safaris in Southern Africa vs. more expensive trips in East Africa. Here’s a look at average safari costs for these two regions.
East Africa Safari Costs
- Kenya: $420-$1,750/day
- Tanzania: $500-$1,850/day
- Mozambique: $440-$900/day
Southern Africa Safari Costs
- Namibia: $300-$1,750/day
- Victoria Falls: $550-$1,900/day
- Botswana: $600-$2,850/day
- Zimbabwe: $700-$2,950/day
- Zambia: $900-$2,000/day
These prices are lower during the off season in summer and don’t include “drive yourself” options that are much more affordable than full safari packages.
6. Time of Year
The time of year you go on safari will impact your overall costs. Go during the low season for cheaper prices or choose the peak season for the best overall experience.
During the more-desirable winter months (May/June to August/September), it’s the best time for an African safari and prices rise as traveler demand spikes.
Wet, hot, and humid summer months (November to March/April) are less appropriate for an African safari as the grasses grow tall and greenery obscures a lot of the wildlife.
As a result, safari costs take a nosedive in the summer months and make conditions ripe for budget travelers.
7. Number of Travelers
The number of travelers you’re paying for has an effect on your overall African safari cost. The average prices in our guide reflect the cost per person, so you’ll need to multiply to see your total expected cost.
If you’re going on safari with one other person, that means your costs might be $250/day to $3,000/day, depending on the level of accommodations and package you select.
Traveling with a group? Some safari tour companies offer group discounts when multiple people book reservations at one time. Check with the companies you’re considering to see if this is an option.
What’s the Average African Safari Cost?
Now that we’ve looked at the average African safari cost ranges by day, let’s dive in a little deeper and check out how much you can expect to pay for an average safari trip length of 5-7 days.
Longer safaris will cost more, but you may be able to get a discount on your daily rate when you book a safari for more than 7 consecutive days with the same company.
Keep your total number of travelers in mind as you review these average costs. The costs below represent one person, so you’ll need to multiply costs by the number of people you’re paying for on your safari.
Basic Safari Package Total Cost
With average prices around $125 to $200/day for basic safari packages, you can expect to pay around $625 to $1,400 for your African safari in total.
This may or may not include transportation to different regions for each “leg” of the safari, food, tips and payment for your guide and drivers, travel insurance, etc.
Mid-Tier Safari Package Total Cost
At an average cost of $350 to $500/day, mid-tier safari packages may cost $1,750 to $3,500 in total with a few exceptions.
Read the fine print and check out what’s included with your mid-tier safari package to see what extra costs you might have to cover in addition to the base safari cost.
Luxury Safari Package Total Cost
Luxury safari packages cost around $750 to $1,500+/day on average, making the total cost somewhere between $3,750 to $10,500 for most people.
There are certainly more expensive luxury packages out there, but most 5-star options will fall in or near this price range.
With luxury safari packages, you’ll find that more is included in the total overall cost, from food and excellent lodging to seamless transportation and access to areas with restrictions on vehicle numbers for a more enjoyable experience.
Can You Do a Safari on a Budget?
You’ve seen the wide cost range for safaris so far – we’re talking anywhere from $625 to $10,500+ for the average 5-7 day trip. So can you do a safari on a budget?
The answer is yes, but it’s never going to be dirt cheap.
Some people feel the cheapest way to do a safari on a budget is the self-drive safari option. There are pros and cons here and it’s possible for this kind of safari to cost more than a basic package.
You’ll need to rent a 4-wheel drive vehicle designed for safari drives and camping, which costs around $100/day.
Using the self-drive option means you’ll also be responsible for paying for fuel, food, water, GPS rental, and local car insurance. That can inflate the daily cost by around $50-$100/day or so.
Then, you’ll pay another $30 to $70/day or more for basic accommodations. This might be a public campground, private campground, or national park lodge.
In total, you could spend $180 to $270/day (all travelers included) for a self-drive safari compared to the cheapest safari packages that include a guide, driver, accommodations, food, fuel, etc. starting at $125 to $200 per person/day.
Overall, it’s possible to do a cheap African safari by choosing to self-drive, but it won’t always be the cheapest option. It’s wise to compare costs and look at basic packages to see where you’ll save the most.
What’s Cheaper: African Safari or Cruise?
When you’re considering the overall African safari cost, it’s helpful to have a frame of reference to fully grasp the overall price.
Cruises and African safaris have similar average costs, so let’s take a look at which is more expensive.
The base average cruise cost is somewhere between $130 to $260 per person, per day or $650 to $1,300 per person for a 5-day cruise.
This doesn’t include onboard spending ($90-$130/day), port fees and taxes ($100-$200/person), tips ($15/day), and your transportation to and from the cruise ship.
The base average African safari cost is somewhere between $125 to $1,500 per person, per day or $625 to $7,500 per person for a 5-day safari.
This price may or may not include accommodations, transportation to and from the safari camp, tips, and meals.
While you’ll find similar prices on the low end of both cruises and African safaris ($130 pp/day vs. $125/pp/day), safaris can be much more expensive by the day than most cruises.
But when you consider the additional cruise costs that aren’t included in that base price (tips, taxes, onboard spending, etc.), the cost of a cruise will likely be much higher than the cost of a basic African safari.
Over to You — Book Your Safari Today!
African safari cost varies widely, but knowing the general range can help you start to make concrete trip plans.
Basic safari packages start at $125 per person, per day and go up to $1,500 per person, per day for luxury safari packages.
That translates into an average total 5-7 day safari cost of anywhere from $625 per person all the way up to $10,500 per person.
It’s definitely possible to do a budget safari on the cheap, but don’t expect to get by paying just a couple hundred bucks.
With vehicle rental, insurance, food, fuel, GPS, and campsite included, you’ll still pay around $180 to $270 per day or $900 to $1,890 for a full 5-7 day self-drive safari.
To keep costs lower with safari packages, look for basic package deals in Southern Africa during the cheapest time of year (November-March).
For the ultimate safari where budget doesn’t matter, plan your trip for 2 weeks or more, choose luxury packages with lots of perks and swanky lodging, and go during the best time of year for safaris (May-September).
Taking an African safari might’ve been on your bucket list for a while now. With the current average costs in mind, now is a great time to take the first step toward planning your trip!
Check out the 19 Best Safaris in Africa along with information on the top-rated parks and tours next to get started.