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Zambia Budget Safari Tours

4.6/5  –  106 Zambia Reviews

Dreaming of a budget safari in Zambia? It can be done! Zambia doesn’t attract the attention that its more famous neighbors (such as South Africa and Botswana) receive for being a safari country. And especially not as a country known for its budget safaris. In fact, the country pitches itself mainly at the upper end of the safari market. But that doesn’t mean a cheap Zambia safari isn’t possible. You just need to spend a bit of time shopping around. If you like camping you will be in your element. There are plenty of budget camping options, and many are located in beautiful riverside settings. Just know that you will have hippos and crocodiles as neighbors once the sun goes down. But that’s all part of the adventure in Zambia!

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6 Questions About Zambia Budget Safari Tours


6 Questions About Zambia Budget Safari Tours

Answered by Alan Murphy

Why should I choose Zambia for a budget trip?

“You should choose Zambia for a budget safari because it offers a remarkable and unique wildlife experience. Rural Zambia feels very remote, and here you experience ‘raw Africa’ in all its glory. If you want to sum up this land-locked, off-the-beaten-track country in just a word, it would be ‘wild’. Most Zambian camps are not fenced. They are also deliberately situated on traditional wildlife tracks, which encourages animals to spend time in and around the camps. It’s all a part of the Zambian adventure. A Zambian budget safari in the country’s extensive protected areas is all about wildlife encounters in pristine African bush. And if you are on a budget safari package you will most likely be camping for most, if not the whole, trip. Sheltering in a tent at night while wild animals grunt and snuffle outside your tent adds to the sense of adventure.”


What is included in a Zambia budget safari?

“Generally, park fees and activities (such as game drives and walks) are included in a budget safari in Zambia. Also included is your accommodation, camping equipment and a driver/guide. Transport, transfers from/to the airport, and basic meals are also usually included. There may well be some variation between operators so it’s always good to check what you are getting for your money. International flights, alcoholic drinks, tips, shopping (such as handicrafts or souvenirs) and increases in taxes or park fees are generally not included. It’s always worth finding out the details of inclusions too. Does camping equipment include a sleeping bag and cooking equipment, for example? Are there any tax or park fee rises around the corner? Some tours will throw in beer and wine too (although not spirits). A good operator should make all that clear.”


What are the pros and cons of a self-drive Zambia budget trip?

“Self-driving can be a lot of fun. It feeds your sense of adventure and gives you great flexibility. It also provides alternative sleeping options (in the back of the car or in a tent on the roof). It’s a great way to explore wild Africa. However, your holiday can be ruined by careless or inexperienced driving. If you haven’t had any experience in a 4WD, Africa (Zambia included) is not the place to learn. Driving on gravel roads, or roads with hard-to-spot, massive potholes can get the better of you. At the very least, try to go with someone who has experience 4WDing. 4WDs are generally very expensive to hire, and the costs may be out of reach for people wanting a cheap Zambia safari. Otherwise, the biggest con is getting stuck in a remote corner of the country if your vehicle breaks down. Check if there is mobile reception where you are going and take a local sim card that you know will work. Otherwise, your best option is to rent a satellite phone (another expense!).”


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

“When you wake up in your tent you will feel the delicious cool of early African morning time in Zambia. You will probably hear birdsong and perhaps some grunting hippo nearby. You’ll have a quick breakfast (prepared yourself or made for you, depending on your budget safari package). With the crack of dawn illuminating your surrounds, it will be time to hop into a vehicle and go on an early morning game drive. Alternatively, depending on the park, you could join a walking safari or even do some canoeing. At this early time of morning, you have a chance of seeing big cats on their way back from a hunt. You could spot hyenas loping across the landscape, and even nocturnal (active at night) animals such as genet. Elephant and buffalo herds may be on their way to the closest waterhole for their morning drink. In the late morning when you return to camp and the heat is building, everyone flakes out until late afternoon. Flaking out can mean reading a book or snoozing. Or it could be going through your photos, or sitting in the common areas and chatting to whoever’s around. The late-afternoon game drive starts at about 4 PM. If you go on a night drive later, the guides usually have powerful hand spotlights to help them find animals. It’s a great opportunity to see nocturnal animals. See if the guides will let you have a go, it’s terrific fun.”


What type of accommodation can I expect?

“You can usually expect to be sleeping in a tent on a Zambia budget safari. Tents will be supplied, and you will either erect it yourself or it will be done for you, depending on your package. In some places, such as South Luangwa National Park, there is a wider range of accommodation options. You may get a bed in a budget lodge, cottage, chalet, or even a small room. In such cases the accommodation is normally basic but clean and comfortable. Safari tents are another possibility. They are used at the budget and luxury ends of the market. At the budget end, you will get a bed, perhaps a bedside table and a light, and not much more. Bathrooms are shared. There’s no doubt that sleeping under canvas is a particularly exciting option, be it camping or staying in a safari tent. The sounds of the African bush at night are that much closer in a tent.”


How much will this safari cost?

“The price of Zambia budget/camping safaris start at around US$150 per person per day. Although you’re more likely to pay upward of US$200 per person a day. On top of that you need to factor in your flights to get here, personal shopping and tips for your guides. (Generally work on US$10 to US$15 per day for tips). As a general rule of thumb, the better-known and more accessible parks and attractions will be cheaper for a Zambia safari. This is because there are many more accommodation options available. South Luangwa NP and Livingstone (for Victoria Falls and Mosi-oa-Tunya NP) have the largest array of facilities, including accommodation ranges. Most budget safaris will include these destinations. Kafue NP, which has a major highway running through it, is also good for budget safaris. It has affordable lodges and great camping options just off the highway.”


Zambia Reviews

4.6/5 106 Reviews
Mike Unwin  –  
United Kingdom UK

Mike is an award-winning wildlife writer, former editor of Travel Zambia magazine and author of the Bradt Guide to Southern African Wildlife.

Safaris for aficionados

Zambia has emerged relatively slowly on the safari map. Overshadowed for many years by neighbouring Zimbabwe, and suffering from a poor conservation record and neglected parks, its attractions were best known to insiders. In recent times,...

Full Review

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.

Africa’s Hottest Safari Option

It is only in the last decade that Zambia burst back onto the African safari scene, re-building its safari reputation on the back of some epic national parks and outstanding wildlife. Anyone even vaguely familiar with Zambia and its...

Full Review

William Schelling  –  
United States US
Reviewed: Jul 16, 2023
Under rated.

We booked to a part of Zambia that we were not familiar with. South Lawanga, not hard to get to but not all that easy, which made it perfect for us. We did not want the over touristing that can occur in some parks. The Thornicroft Lodge...

Full Review

Lyn Nguyen  –  
United States US
Reviewed: May 16, 2023
Wild and natural- an untamed destination

Enjoyed my safari to south luangwe national park and the booking went really smoothly. Your company, Ntanda tours, who offered the itinerary and safari bookings were really communicative and I got fast and helpful responses. Would use...

Full Review

Veronica Alvarez  –  
Norway NO
Reviewed: Apr 24, 2023
Fortunately not too popular yet. We were two of very few tourists in amazing and beautiful places.

We went during the green season, at the end of the rainy season. Lovely weather, very few tourists, a lot of wildlife easy to spot if you are with an experienced guide. Unfortunately some roads were still flooded and closed, but it didnt...

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Lisa Wilson Foley  –  
France FR
Reviewed: Nov 8, 2022
Wonderful Zambia

Zambia is a country that I had not ventured but perhaps I was saving it to understand it’s beauty after having visited many of the more frequented African countries. The Zambezi River is a phenomenal place to get close to wildlife via...

Full Review