05 March, 2012

Safari without the steep prices

I've always wanted to go on a safari, and did consider it for honeymoon, but ended up in the Maldives chilling out! Having said that, it's still on my list but the question I pose in my travel ramblings today is.....can you do a safari on the cheap? Perhaps that's the wrong way to phrase it, as I don't think you can find 'bargains' in this area of travel, but there is a lot of advice out there about how to find the best deals.

Photo courtesy of Becky Lynch
So why are safaris so expensive in the first place? Well the high cost is partly down to the fact that they take place in remote settings where supplies are hard to come by - logistically trying to run a camp in the middle of the African bush is difficult when there are no local shops! Another reason for the expense are park fees.  Maintaining a national park and reserve takes a lot, and the fees at some parks are not cheap. Those are just two reasons for the high prices, so how can you keep the cost of such a trip down?

Photo courtesy of Becky Lynch
Your destination is key. South Africa, home to the vast Kruger National Park (daily entrance fee £16), is the traditional choice for a reasonably priced safari. With two million hectares of wildlife reserve, it's hard to beat. Having said that, there are also lots of good deals for East African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya and Namibia.

Photo courtesy of Becky Lynch
Timing is also important, and the African seasons can be a little confusing. Going 'off peak' sounded to me like you'd be going at a time when you wouldn't see much wildlife, and the weather would be poor - but that's not necessarily the case. Off season trips could not only save you around a third of the price of your trip, but many animals have their young at this time of year, and although it's considered 'rainy season', it's unusual for it to rain all day. Instead you usually get showers in the morning and evening.

Photo courtesy of Becky Lynch
And finally, accommodation is the one area where you can definitely save cash. While luxury lodges look amazing, think about how long you're actually going to be spending in your room if you're out looking at amazing landscapes and animals all day. There are low cost lodges (click here for more details) where you are still taken out on game drives by trackers, and you can also do a self drive and stay in a tent in an official campsite - don't worry, they have fences to keep you safe from the wildlife!

I've been writing this blog for months now and the more I discover and learn, the more I want to travel. Having done the research for this feature and found some amazing options, a safari is definitely still on my list.

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