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How expensive is an African safari?

Going on an African safari is a bucket list travel experience that many people dream of. And for many, dreaming never turns into planning because they think African safaris are too expensive. The most common initial question people ask is, “What will it cost to go on an African safari?” The good news is that an African safari doesn’t have to be expensive. A safari can be surprisingly affordable depending on your safari destination, the time of year you travel, the number of stops on your itinerary, and your choice of accommodation.

Understanding what factors contribute to the cost of an African safari will allow you to make an informed decision about what type of African safari itinerary is best suited for your budget, interests and expectations. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. But affordability does not always mean low quality.

How expensive is an African safari? As a rough guideline, you can realistically expect to pay anything from US$250 per person per day up to US$2,000 per person per day. It all depends on when and where you decide to go.

The cost of an East African safari

East Africa, the birthplace of traditional safari, offers some of the most spectacular open-plain game viewing opportunities in Africa, and it’s the only place on the continent where you can go on an authentic gorilla and chimpanzee trekking safari. Prices are usually quoted in US dollars.


The typical price per person per night for a Kenya safari in the peak season ranges from just over US$600 for a scheduled, small-group budget safari up to US$2,550 for a private, fly-in luxury safari (2023 prices). This includes the cost of getting to your safari destination from Nairobi, national park entry fees, your game drives and perhaps a few other activities but excludes the cost of your international flights, visas and optional activities such as hot air balloon safaris over the Masai Mara and walking safaris at some camps.

The time of year you visit Kenya, your mode of transport, your choice of safari camp and the number of domestic flights between destinations will influence the cost of your safari itinerary. Another point to consider is that safaris in Kenya are priced in US dollars, making them comparatively more expensive than similar experiences in South Africa, where safaris are priced in South African rands.

Peak season in Kenya, and the busiest time of year to go on safari, is migration time — from mid-July to the end of September — when gigantic herds of wildebeest cross over from Tanzania into the Masai Mara National Reserve. If you can’t afford the cost of a luxury safari camp, where a more private and exclusive game-viewing experience is guaranteed, consider travelling outside of the peak season, during the short rains from January to March and sometimes in November.

The typical price during the shoulder season ranges from around US$550 per person per night for a scheduled small-group safari to US$1,100 per person per night for a luxury fly-in safari. The parks and reserves are less crowded in the shoulder season, and the abundance of resident wildlife makes game viewing as attractive as in peak season. Here, we’re looking at authentic safari experiences inside the most popular game reserves. There are cheaper options if you stay at budget-friendly camps outside the game reserves.

It’s important to note that the prices we mention here are very rough guidelines based on 2023 pricing. Your destination expert at Wild Wings Safaris will talk you through how travelling outside of Kenya’s peak season, choosing a private guide and personal driver over a fly-in safari and reducing the number of stops on your itinerary can help you cut costs.


As with Kenya, the cost of your safari will depend on the time of year you travel to Tanzania, how you get around (fly-in safari vs drive-in safari; private safari vs scheduled small-group safari), your choice of accommodation and the number of domestic flights you need to get from one national park or safari lodge to the next. While the park fees in Kenya are marginally lower than in Tanzania, there is not much difference in price between a Kenyan and Tanzanian safari which is also priced in US dollars.

Overall, you can expect to pay between US$450 and US$2,800 per person per night (excluding international flights), depending on the season and choice of camp.

Also, like Kenya, the wildebeest migration is a significant factor in the cost of a Tanzania safari. But unlike Kenya, where the migration peaks between July and September, the mega herds spend most of the year in Tanzania.

The wildebeest migration can be witnessed in various phases over many months, starting with the calving season from January to March in Ndutu and Southern Serengeti, rutting season from April to June in Western and Central Serengeti, followed by the dramatic river crossings from July to August in Northern Serengeti. In October and November, the herds begin moving south again.

Besides aiming for shoulder season, one way to keep costs down is the choice of accommodation. This is where the knowledge and experience of a reputable tour operator are indispensable. For some people on a tight budget, it may be worth joining a group tour and staying in some of the larger, more affordable safari lodges. Others may be willing to spend slightly more to stay at a small, more exclusive safari camp in a better location.

Another way to cut costs is to reduce the number of stops on your itinerary. Instead of rushing from one game reserve to the next, which drives up the price, linger longer in one or two places and take advantage of long stay specials or early booking discounts.

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