Budget safaris to Zambia cost from $150, a mid-range safari around $400, and a top-end, luxury safari from $500 to $800, all per person per day. Zambia is less known as a safari destination than some neighboring countries, but it has wildlife, parks, beauty and a rare sense of the undiscovered.
Average Costs of a Safari in Zambia (Per person per day)
The costings table here gives an instant overview of how much the average Zambia safari will cost, depending on your travel style. Using this table allows you to quickly match your daily budget to the kind of Zambia safari you can afford. As with most African safari destinations, timings and location make all the difference to what you pay. Going in mid-season (October and May) gives a fair compromise of reasonably good safari conditions, lower prices than during high season, and fewer crowds but without the heavy rains that can make a low-season safari so complicated.
|Mid Range Accommodation
|Luxury Plus Accommodation
Rates in USD $
Excluding additional costs, such as international flights, tips and personal items
Additional Costs Explained
The following list covers a few additional Zambia costs – some obvious,
There are no direct international flights from Europe or North America to Lusaka’s international airport, and this means that flying to Zambia is often fairly pricey. It might be cheaper to fly to nearby Victoria Falls airport in neighboring Zimbabwe.
Most nationalities pay $50 for a three-month, single-entry visa. A multiple-entry visa is available for $75.
Most safari accommodation is low-key and intimate in style. There are only limited budget options. Decent mid-range accommodation can be found from around $200 for a double room.
A yellow-fever vaccination is obligatory for entry into Zambia. Although there is no vaccine for malaria, we strongly recommend that you take antimalarial medication and use all precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
The tipping culture in Zambia is much the same as the rest of southern and eastern Africa. 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 per person per day.
Standard travel insurance is fine for most safari activities in Zambia. If you’re going to partake in one of Zambia’s famed walking safaris then most insurance will cover this (or, at least, they won’t specifically not cover it!).
10 factors influencing the cost of a Zambia safari
The general cost of a Zambian safari varies hugely depending on a number of factors. The most important of which are the time of year you’ll be traveling and the protected areas you wish to visit.
Length of stay
The majority of safari visitors to Zambia go on some kind of organized safari for at least a part of their stay. Park entry fees are charged on a 24-hour basis and the prices don’t drop the longer you stay in a park. You will likely see a small per-day reduction in costs the longer you spend on safari (especially if you stick largely to one or two parks in close proximity to one another), but it’s normally fairly negligible.
Level of comfort of accommodation
Zambia does small, intimate bush camps very well. All of these are of a high standard, but they’re often very expensive. Many start at around $500 per person per night. There are also some very good mid-range safari camps that offer all that the luxury camps do, but with a little less glitter. Expect to pay from $300 per person per night for these. For budget travelers the best options are the basic campgrounds found in and around some of the more popular parks. You’ll need to be self-sufficient, but for a genuine bush experience you can’t beat it.
Location of the accommodation
Nowhere in Zambia is overrun with travelers, but thanks to greater competition between camps and a better infrastructure, the better-known parks, such as South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi National Parks, offer an overall slightly cheaper safari than the wilder, remoter camps. If you just concentrate on the area around Victoria Falls (Vic Falls) then you can get some really good-value accommodation.
There are very few large group tours to Zambia, so all safaris here are likely to have a more exclusive feel than in some other African safari countries. But this also means higher costs.
When you want to go
As with all African safari destinations, when you visit Zambia has a big influence on what you’ll pay. High season is June to early September and is naturally when prices are at their highest. Low season is December to March and is the cheapest time to visit. But this is the Wet season and getting around can be complicated, and many safari camps close. The ideal combination of lower prices but reasonable wildlife viewing are the mid seasons of April to May and October to November (though it’s very hot in October and November).
How to get around
There’s a lot of ground to be covered between Zambian parks, and most people fly between parks and reserves. As is to be expected, this is the most expensive way of traveling around, but it also saves a lot of time, which in itself can save you money.
Where you want to go
The two main parks, South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi NPs, are the cheapest to visit as they have the best infrastructure. But it would be amiss to visit Zambia and not venture into some of its wilder corners. Parks such as Kafue National Park, Bangweulu Wetlands and North Luangwa National Park will provide a genuine African wilderness experience that easily offsets any extra costs entailed in getting there.
Zambia is famed for its walking safaris, and the Zambian wildlife guides are considered among the best walking guides in Africa. So, under no circumstances should you consider leaving Zambia without first doing at least one walking safari. These range from short half-day walks to multi-day camp-to-camp expeditions, and prices vary just as much.
If you’re in Zambia then it goes without saying that you must visit the ‘smoke that thunders’, Vic Falls. The falls actually mark the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, but you should see them from both sides of the frontier as the experience differs. It’s generally cheap and easy to organize a Vic Falls extension.
Ever considered a bat safari? Thought not! Between late October and mid-December millions upon millions of giant fruit bats take up residence in Kasanka National Park, in the far north of Zambia. Watching them turn the evening sky black is one of nature’s great spectacles. But it all happens in a remote region with very poor infrastructure, which all adds up to an expensive safari.