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Tanzania Budget Safari Tours

Tanzania is the ultimate safari destination. One-quarter of its surface area is protected as a network of parks and reserves. This includes a quartet of Unesco World Heritage Sites: world-famous Serengeti National Park, breathtaking Ngorongoro Crater, snowcapped Mt Kilimanjaro and vast Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve). Home to 20% of Africa’s wildlife, Tanzania has three distinct safari circuits. For budget safaris, the focus is the Northern circuit. This incorporates Serengeti and Ngorongoro, as well as Arusha, Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks. Offshore, the spice island of Zanzibar is the ideal place to round off your holiday. Spend a few days here chilling and snorkeling on a palm-lined beach.

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6 Questions About Tanzania Budget Safari Tours


6 Questions About Tanzania Budget Safari Tours

Answered by Philip Briggs

Why should I choose Tanzania for a budget trip?

“Tanzania is a great option for budget safaris because it has affordable camping options, as well as budget accommodation outside most parks (not Serengeti National Park). There are many tour operators offering budget safaris so you can shop around for the best deal. Besides private safaris, shared group tours are also commonly offered and these can cut costs even further. If you are on a very tight budget, Tanzania is not the most obvious destination for an African safari. A self-drive safari tour in South Africa or group camping safari in Kenya will be significantly cheaper. This is because park entrance and camping fees in Tanzania are relatively high. As well, access to most parks requires sturdy 4x4s, putting a tight limit on group sizes. However, the best reason to choose Tanzania for a budget safari is because it’s worth the additional cost.”


What is included in a Tanzania budget safari?

“Most of the costs of a Tanzania budget safari package will usually be included in the quoted price. That means all road transport between reserves, game drives, guides and park fees. Meals on camping safaris, usually prepared by a chef who travels with the safari, should also be included in the price. Meals include drinks such as tea, coffee and, possibly, drinking water. Other types of drinks, including soft drinks and alcohol, are excluded. Since these can be quite expensive on safari, it might be worth stocking up before you leave Arusha (the starting point for most budget safaris). Tips are also excluded, and these can add up quickly in Tanzania. Check what is expected with your operator before you leave and carry enough cash to cover it.”


How do I avoid the crowds in the parks?

“This can be difficult. A safari itinerary is set by the driver-guide, not by the client. Budget companies operating on tight profit margins usually instruct their drivers to try to keep down the mileage in order to cut fuel costs. This means not going too far off the beaten track. In Serengeti, for instance, roads within a 5km/3mi to 10km/6mi radius of park headquarters and public campsites at Seronera are busy with safari drivers with radios. This means that worthwhile sightings attract vehicles within minutes. Yet, travel a little farther afield and you might have a lion or cheetah sighting all to yourself. Speak to the safari company ahead of your trip to see if they put any fuel restrictions on drivers. In all parks, roads tend to be busiest during the peak wildlife viewing hours of 7:30 AM to 10 AM in the morning and 2 PM to 4:30 PM in the afternoon. Instead of having breakfast in camp, pack food for the morning and head out before the crowds. Another option is to travel out of season. March to May are the wettest months on the Northern circuit. However, the countryside is beautifully green at this time of year and parks tend to be uncrowded.”


Can you describe a typical day on a Tanzania budget safari?

“The typical routine is to get up before sunrise and grab a quick cup of coffee or tea. Then you head out on an early morning game drive and return to camp for a late breakfast or lunch. Afternoon game drives start at 3 PM or 4 PM and continue until sunset. This routine may change on days where you travel between camps. Either way, the day usually ends with a few drinks around the campfire, a simple bush dinner prepared by your chef, and an early night for a dawn start the next day. Game drives tend to focus on the first two and last two hours of daylight. These cooler times of the day provide the best chance of seeing lions, leopards and other predators on the move. These times also offer the best light for photography.”


What type of accommodation can I expect?

“A cheap Tanzania safari usually means a camping safari. If you want to keep trip costs to a minimum, camping is the only option in most parks. In most cases the operator will provide your tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mats. Meals will be prepared by a local chef. The better tour operators might provide proper camp beds, portable toilets and showers to supplement the often-substandard facilities in national parks. Budget safaris to Tanzania’s Northern circuit are mostly camping or a combination of camping and budget lodges and hotels located outside the park. Small private campsites can be found in the villages bordering national parks and reserves, for instance, Mto wa Mbu (outside Lake Manyara National Park) or Karatu (outside Ngorongoro Conservation Area). These private campsites are the cheapest and have the best facilities but tend to have indifferent suburban locations, and in some cases, are very busy. Public campsites in the national parks have more of a bush atmosphere, with adequate facilities. Special campsites in the national parks often have no facilities but are more expensive. This is because they offer a genuine wilderness feel and can be booked by only one party at a time.”


How much will this safari cost?

“Even the cheapest budget safari packages in Tanzania start at around US$200 to US$250 per person per day. This is due to high park fees and the costs of operating in remote areas accessible only in sturdy 4x4s. If you want a full-on bush experience, it is generally worth paying a slightly higher price to camp inside national parks where possible, rather than in villages outside them. Most safaris leave from Arusha and focus on the Serengeti and Northern safari circuit. However, there are cheaper camping safari packages out of Dar es Salaam to the lesser-known Mikumi National Park and the vast Nyerere National Park. ”


Tanzania Reviews

4.8/5 1510 Reviews
Stephen Cunliffe  –  
South Africa ZA

Stephen is a travel writer and avid conservationist whose work appears in prestigious magazines such as Africa Geographic and Travel Africa.

Much More than a Migration Destination

For me, Tanzania is a country of two halves. Both hemispheres have been richly endowed with natural beauty and plentiful wildlife, but there are some big differences when it comes to the type of safari experience you’re looking for. The...

Full Review

Mark Eveleigh  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mark is a travel writer who grew up in Africa and has written over 700 titles for Condé Nast Traveller, Travel Africa, BBC Wildlife and others.

As a safari destination Tanzania has it all!

Tanzania as a safari destination has it all. If this is your first safari and your ambition is to get some amazing sightings and rack up the big 5 as soon as possible, then Ngorongoro Crater is probably the best place in the world to do...

Full Review

Mathieu Dos Santos  –  
France FR
Reviewed: Feb 17, 2024
Amazing safaris mainland and astonishing Zanzibar

Safari (3 days) : - Ngorongoro : it is a must. Incredible 1 day experience (1 day is enough) - Tarangire : great park (we stayed 1 day there (I think 1 day may be enough as well) - Manyara : good as well (1 day is enough) Would have...

Full Review

Silvana  –  
Italy IT
Reviewed: Feb 16, 2024
Amazing country

Tanzania didn’t disappoint my expectations. If I could imagine that the parks of Tarangire and Serengeti were not to be missed, the visit of Ngorongoro left me speechless; in particular the view point of the park is among the most...

Full Review

Mina Kim  –  
South Korea KR
Reviewed: Feb 16, 2024

It was wonderful tour. I was satisfied 1000% with my parents. All the scenery was absolutely beautiful, the logdes were perfect with decent services. Our tour guide, Jovin, was excellent, skilled guide. We loved him very much. I recommend...

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David Jackson  –  
Sweden SE
Reviewed: Feb 15, 2024
Simply beautiful

Tanzania is a great destination for safari and other activities. We first went on safari and then took the ferry to Zanzibar. Both destinations were great and we couldn’t have asked for a better trip. The only thing that could have made...

Full Review