A budget safari costs from $50 per person per day, mid-range from $200 and top-end from $400. South Africa is perhaps the most diverse country in Africa, for its landscapes, wildlife and people, but also for its tourism. You can spend as little or as much here as you wish.
Average Costs of a Safari in South Africa (Per person per day)
The costings table here gives an instant overview of how much the average South Africa safari will cost, depending on your travel style. Using this table allows you to quickly match your daily budget to the kind of South Africa safari you can afford. South Africa is a year-round safari destination, so when you visit is perhaps less important than where you visit (different regions of this vast country are better at different times of year).
|Comfort Level||Private(per day)||Group(per day)|
|Mid Range Accommodation||$225||$200|
|Luxury Plus Accommodation||$1,325||n/a|
Rates in USD $
Excluding additional costs, such as international flights, tips and personal items
Additional Costs Explained
The following list covers a few additional South Africa costs – some obvious,
South Africa is one of the cheaper places to fly to in Africa with international flights to Johannesburg (the best bet for a wildlife safari) or Cape Town. For cheaper flights, avoid European and South African school-holiday periods.
Nationals of most European and North American countries plus Australia can enter South Africa for tourism purposes visa-free for a stay of up to 90 days.
From top-end safari camps down to bare-bones campsites, South Africa has a superb range of accommodation with something for everyone. Most national parks have park bandas (cottages) and campsites, as well as privately managed lodges and tented camps.
A yellow-fever vaccination is required for those arriving from countries where the disease is present. There is no vaccine for malaria, but the disease is present in nine northwestern provinces of the country, in parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. If traveling to these areas, we strongly recommend antimalarial medication.
Drivers, guides and safari-accommodation staff will expect to be tipped. Bring a couple of hundred dollars in smaller bills to cover tips. To give you a hint: $25 to $25 per person per day.
Standard travel insurance is fine for most safari activities in South Africa. If you’re going to do any ‘extreme’ sports (bungee jumping, paragliding etc.), then check your policy covers this.
10 factors influencing the cost of a South Africa safari
The general cost of a South Africa safari varies hugely depending on the what, where, and how. Avoiding major South African school holidays (and the European summer holidays) will help to reduce costs significantly.
Length of stay
Park entry fees don’t get cheaper the longer you stay in a park, they are charged on a 24-hour basis. If you’re organizing a largely independent safari then you’ll likely see a small per-day reduction in accommodation costs the longer you spend in one place.
Level of comfort of accommodation
South Africa is one of the few African safari destinations that truly caters to all budgets. Most parks, reserves and other protected areas have a stack of accommodation in different price bands. The main parks will likely have public campgrounds and good-value bandas, as well as a range of decent mid-range package hotels and more-intimate safari camps. In the privately managed conservancies, accommodation is generally much more limited, very exclusive in feel and limited to big-budget safari camps.
Location of the accommodation
Bigger and more popular parks, such as Kruger National Park, have a range of accommodation for all budgets within the park boundaries. But remoter parks might only have one or two places to stay, and these are often top-end offerings. There is an increasing number of private conservancies in South Africa and in most of these, accommodation is limited to very expensive safari camps (think $300 per person per night and up). However, you can still visit some of these conservancies on a day trip, which allows you to stay in more-affordable accommodation in the nearest town.
A large, organized group safari is always the cheapest way to safari in South Africa. But, remember, you get what you pay for and people paying rock-bottom safari prices often come away disappointed. Organized budget camping safaris can be had for $50 per day per person. At the opposite extreme, a high-end, tailor-made safari to one of the exclusive wildlife conservancies can cost many hundreds of US dollars per day.
When you want to go
It’s always the right time to be on safari somewhere in South Africa! Countrywide high seasons tend to correspond with local school holidays. Christmas (which is high summer for South Africa) is especially busy and expensive. The European summer holidays (July to August) can also be busy and expensive. The ideal combination of fewer crowds and lower prices is May to June and September, which also corresponds to what is, nationwide, the best wildlife-watching period.
How to get around
South Africa is a big country. If you try and see all of it in one trip then you’ll spend a lot of time moving about and a lot of money doing the moving. It’s better to concentrate on just one part of the country. South Africa has a decent and cheap internal flight network with budget airlines connecting major cities. Dedicated safari flights are much more expensive. An excellent road network means that the cheapest way to get about is by vehicle, and South Africa is a great place for a self-drive safari using a rental car.
Where you want to go
The best-known area for a safari is Kruger NP and surrounding areas. This popularity – and the quality of the safari here – does mean that prices tend to be higher than many other wildlife-rich parts of the country. This is especially the case during the high season for this area (October to March). But better wildlife viewing – and lower prices – are found during the May to September Dry season period. In remoter or lesser-known parks in the west and north, prices are generally lower, although the more limited accommodation does mean that at popular times bed prices might go up.
There are some interesting behind-the-scenes-style conservation packages that can be added on to a South Africa safari. These tend to be things like helping to care for injured or orphaned rhinos for a day or so, or tracking lions. There are always additional payments for these kinds of activities and they’re often only available at private conservancies. A walking safari (whether for a couple of hours or a full day) is another popular add-on that’s available in many parks for an extra fee.
The most popular extension by far to a South Africa safari is a few days in Cape Town and the nearby wine areas. This is very simple to organize and, with cheap internal flights, plentiful accommodation and fair-priced car rental, it’s not an expensive extension.
An unusual specialized safari is a flower safari. The Western Cape region is home to an extraordinary number of endemic plants, and dedicated botany safaris are now quite common and easy to arrange. Prices are not necessarily any higher than if you were doing a standard safari in a big-name park.