How to keep Safari’s sensible
Advice for Saving on Safari
A safari is seldom an inexpensive way to spend a few days; with food, and sometimes drinks, included, as well as dawn and dusk game-drives, not to mention the services of guides and rangers, it can add up. However, as anyone who has been fortunate enough to go on safari will tell you – it’s mesmerising, humbling and utterly unforgettable so worth every penny. And if you are going to splurge anywhere on your holiday, this is the place to do it. For many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event and obviously it’s not just about where you lay your head at night, wonderful as that may be. You are in fact buying into a whole experience, especially where the lodge is community run or managed and thereby helping to sustain the local community and/or essential wildlife conservation projects.
However, with considerable experience under our belt, we bring you our top tips on how to keep costs in check for what is surely one of the most appealing family holiday experiences you will ever have:
1. Go small-scale: select smaller owner-managed and less ‘well-known’ lodges located in National Parks. This gives you access to superb game viewing, but a more personalised and better value safari in e.g. Thakadu River Camp in Madikwe or Oddballs Camp and sister lodge Delta Camp in Botswana.
2. Focus on the Dry Season: Go when the skies are blue and full of stars after sundown and you can ‘afford’ to shorten your stay: you’ll see more in fewer days as animals are easier to spot with less vegetation and they tend to gather around water sources – at Mala Mala 97.5% of guests see the Big 5 in 2 days. Turn up at 2pm sharp on day 1 for tea and your afternoon drive, then enjoy 2 drives on your full day and a morning adventure before departure on your last morning.
3. Safari in a day: Yes there is such a thing! Stay outside the National Parks and include a day-trip to spot the Big Five e.g. stay at Sun City Resort and self-drive into Pilanesburg National Park.
4. Go mobile: For an authentic family safari experience consider staying under canvas. We can suggest some excellent mobile camps and because they don’t have the same facilities as a luxury lodge rates are often much more favourable e.g. &Beyond Botswana Explorer Expedition which sees you moving between camps during your stay or how about Nasikia Camps in Tanzania which follow the migration but then stay put for a few months?
5. Be teen-wise!: Whilst many lodges insist teens have their own rooms and pay the full adult rate (ouch!), we just happen to know a few that allow children up to age 16 or even 18 years to share for a wallet-friendly 50% rate. We know where. Just saying.
6. Choose your destination wisely: whilst we love Tanzania and Botswana, if value is key then opt for South Africa or Namibia where park fees are lower and the currency is more favourable.
7. Book early: for those family rooms which offer the best rates for families, book early. You don’t have to wait for flights to be released as these can be added later. Flights are generally released about 11 months before departure. We can usually hold seats for you for a nominal deposit and should rates go down re-book at the better fare. Win win!
8. Pick & Mix: we like the ethos of Flatdogs in Zambia where you pay room-only rates (starting from a rather staggering £35 per person per night) then choose your add-ons, such as game drives, dining etc. (there is an a la carte restaurant for guests). It means you don’t end up paying for a game-drive that your teen didn’t make it up for!
Do chat to us if you’re thinking about embarking on a safari – our advice is free and willingly given. Not only can we work with you to create a tailor-made itinerary that’s just right for you but we might also save you a considerable amount of money!
“We started planning this holiday quite a while back and sometimes when you look forward to something so much you can be disappointed, but our holiday was perfect in so many ways. Our week on safari was outstanding. Peter, our guide was the best. He was really experienced, softly spoken and great with the kids. The accommodation was excellent…(and) the camping experiences were great… – on the first night we had a herd of elephants around the tent!”
The Cooper Family
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