BUDGET SAFARI TANZANIA – HOW TO FIND A SAFARI WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK

We won’t try to hide it… compared to other nearby countries, Tanzania is probably not the best place to start if you’re looking for the cheapest African budget safaris. Prices are usually a bit higher, mainly due to factors that we as a tour operator have no impact on, such as entrance fees and accommodation prices. But we firmly believe that Tanzania has what it takes to make every cent worthwhile, as places like the Serengeti or Ngorongoro crater can only be found here, and they are truly stunning. Luckily there are a few simple ways to keep the price of your trip reasonable, so let us show you how to best organize your budget safari in Tanzania!

In this article you’ll find the following information:

  • Why a safari in Tanzania costs so much
  • How to save costs with a camping safari and by joining a group 
  • How much you should budget and what you can expect

TANZANIA SAFARI PRICES – WHY DOES A TANZANIA SAFARI COST SO MUCH?

There is a number of factors that determine the price of your safari, and there are only very little that your tour operator can do anything about. Prices concerning the national parks, like park fees and camping fees, can easily be found on Tanzania’s National Park website (all prices in the list exclude 18% VAT, as mentioned at the bottom of the document).

  • Park fees make up the biggest chunk of the budget, and they are high. But they’re high for a reason. Wildlife conservation and the maintenance of the parks cost a huge amount of money, and allowing too many visitors would have a negative impact on their condition, so prices need to be high to cover the costs. Plus, we’re quite sure everybody prefers to watch the most amazing scenes from the first row, and that would simply not be possible if there were too many safari jeeps in the parks. To give you an idea, park fees for our 4-day, 3-night ‘Finding the big five’ package, including 1 day in Lake Manyara or Tarangire National Park, 2 days in Serengeti National Park and 1 day in Ngorongoro crater, are as high as 372 USD per person in a group of 6 people. For a group of 2, they’re close to 500 USD per person. Only to get into the parks!
  • Transport in a safari vehicle, including gas and the salary of your guide can easily cost between 700 and 800 USD for the safari mentioned above, to be divided by the number of people in your group. 
  • The cheapest options for accommodation and food will cost at least 150-200 USD per person, including basic camping, the necessary gear, food and a cook. You’ll have to spend up to 2000 USD per person for 1 night in one of the most luxurious lodges.
  • As we are a registered tour operator, we also pay taxes, insurance, licences, etc. 

As you can see, the cost of just these 4 aspects adds up to around 700 USD considering a group of 6 people, which is the maximum size, and much more for smaller groups. There’s a few extra smaller costs to take into consideration, and we obviously try to get a little bit of profit for our work as well. 

KEEPING IT AS CHEAP AS POSSIBLE WITH A GROUP CAMPING SAFARI

We can conclude 2 important things from the explanation above:

  • The only factor that we have a real influence on is the cost of food and accommodation. The cheapest option is basic camping, with food that’s prepared by a local cook. 
  • The more people you put in a group, the cheaper it gets. Six is the maximum number of tourists for a camping safari, as the other 2 seats in the car are taken by your guide and cook. 

To save money on your safari, the best thing to do is join a group on a camping safari. Of course we realize that not everybody is traveling with 5 friends, so we offer group tours for some of our packages, like our 2-day, 1-night ‘Touch of Nature’ package, or the 4-day package mentioned above. Unfortunately we can only do this for our most popular packages, as there are too many options to provide group tours for all of them. We also ask for a little bit of flexibility concerning your tour dates, as we can’t always provide daily departures.

We also offer standard lodge safaris as group tours, which are obviously more expensive than a camping safari, but still much cheaper than traveling alone or in a very small group.  Please be aware that for this last scenario, we sometimes mix people who camp and people who stay in lodges in the same car, in which case the group gets split up for dinner and sleeping. We do not offer group tours for mid-range or luxury lodge accommodation. 

SO HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU BUDGET AND WHAT DO YOU GET FOR YOUR MONEY?

Our group tours with basic camping accommodation cost from around 160 to around 220 USD per person per day (group of 6 people). They include everything that seems reasonable to include, such as transport, a guide, entrance fees, gear and food. You can find a full list under each itinerary. 

We often organize these tours together with one or more other tour operators, always making sure they offer a similar service and comparable standard prices to ours. We can however not guarantee that every participant in the car will be paying the exact same price for their safari, as other people might have booked at different times or might have received a special price for booking several packages at the same time, to name only a few possible reasons. It is possible that you might have to switch from 1 group to another during your safari, as there’s so many possible itineraries and starting dates that we can’t guarantee a full group for each option. 

What you get for this price is basic, but that doesn’t mean that we save money on things that we simply shouldn’t save money on. For example, we use the exact same cars for a basic safari or a luxury safari, and we use quality gear to make sure you can eat and sleep in decent conditions. No super thin mattresses that might as well not be there because you don’t feel the difference anyway, proper folding chairs to sit on, and we also provide sleeping bags and pillows, unlike many other tour operators. We do our absolute best to not get them mixed up in the car, but if you want to be absolutely sure to be using the same sleeping bag for the whole trip, we recommend bringing your own. We’re sure you’ll also be surprised at how tasteful and varied the food is, especially since we carry all kitchen gear with us and your cook has to prepare everything in a very basic mobile kitchen. 

However, toilet and shower facilities are usually truly basic. They often have only cold water or low water pressure, making it difficult to shower, and as the camp sites are public, we have no control over how clean they are either. Conditions go from reasonable to downright dirty, depending on the time of year and how many people have used the facilities before you. We recommend for example bringing flipflops to wear while you shower, your own toilet paper, baby whipes in case you’re unable to take a decent shower and a flashlight in case there’s no light. Please check our safari packing list to make sure you don’t forget anything.

The level of comfort and hygiene for standard lodge options are usually quite a bit higher. If you get in touch, we’ll be more than happy to help you find the option that works best for you! 

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 How to organize a budget safari in Tanzania