Ask any closeted wanderluster what keeps them from going on an African safari as often as they wish, and you are likely to get one answer- safaris are costly.
While this may have been true in the past, the tourism industry has undergone a tremendous shift in recent years.
A case in point is the Maasai Mara, whose world-renowned annual wildebeest migration has recently opened up to all social and financial classes of visitors.
The migration, also christened the ‘eighth wonder of the modern world’, firmly cemented the Mara as the cradle of the African safari.
It involves the annual scenic crossing of the hazardous and crocodile-infested Mara River by over two million animals.
The beasts, who make their mass exodus from the Serengeti in Tanzania to pursue Mara’s greener pastures face mortal danger from countless predators, making the annual pilgrimage quite a spectacle to watch.
In the discussion below, we look at the top five African countries where you can have the time of your life while on a budget safari.
Kenya easily tops our list with abundant wildlife, perfect weather, and competitive tour packages.
It is one of the few African countries that boast vast scores of the Big Five (lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant, and rhinoceros). These are spread across various national parks and game reserves, so there is always lots to see no matter which corner of the country you visit.
Cumulatively, the country has over 40 game reserves and national parks, leaving visitors spoilt for choice. Besides the Big Five, Kenya has over 25,000 wildlife species and over 1,000 bird species.
Aside from being a wildlife hotspot, Kenyan tourism enjoys affordable yet dependable transport infrastructure, making touring even the most remote jungles and savannahs a breeze. Budget travellers have options such as the Toyota Hiace with open roof for game drives, while luxury travellers get to use high end cars such as the toyota land-cruiser V8 or the Land rovers. In terms of accomodation, Kenya has a nice balance between budget camps and luxury options.
Besides wildlife tourism, the country also offers a broad range of other safari excursions. These include beach safaris, heritage tours, as well as sports tourism.
You can secure yourself a Kenya budget safari for as little as $195 per person per day. Such deals will often include a guided tour, mid-luxury 3-star accommodations, plenty of attractions, airport transfers, and domestic road/ rail transport.
2. South Africa
Within South Africa, you can tour several wildlife parks and reserves. These include the Kruger National Park, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, Phinda Private Game Reserve, Madikwe Game Reserve, and a handful of others.
Only rivalled by Kenya in terms of wildlife diversity, South Africa nonetheless presents you with budget safaris averaging $600 per person per day.
Most of these packages include a visit to Johannesburg, the greater Kruger National Park, and the Blyde River Canyon.
It exposes you to the richness of South African wildlife at a pocket-friendly price.
Also, if you opt to travel out of season, the rates are pretty lower compared to peak season prices.
It is also worth noting that self-driven or self-guided safaris in South Africa cost much less than guided ones.
Another coin-saving tip you could employ is visiting South African National Parks (SANParks) instead of privately run safari lodges. The latter come with heftier prices and lesser concessions.
A guided budget safari to Egypt costs approximately $900. It features a trip around Cairo, Alexandria, and a River Nile cruise.
Such a package typically takes 6-7 days/ nights.
You may also opt for a 4-day budget safari that entails a selection of destinations such as the Aswan high dam, the Giza pyramids complex, Abu Simbel Temples, Memphis city, the Egyptian Museum, and the Cairo Citadel.
Egypt is one of the earliest civilizations and is even credited with the 365-day calendar we use today.
It is also home to the massive Pyramids of Giza, whose architectural marvel continues to fascinate builders up to this day.
Pyramids of Gica
According to experts, the pyramids took centuries to build and exhibit engineering technology ahead of their time.
Namibia is a year-round destination for safari with the Fish River Canyon, the Namib desert, and the Okavango Delta.
While you could rent a car and tour Namibia on a self-guided tour, stay in campsites and cook for yourself, guided budget safaris are also available.
A guided budget trip in Namibia averages $1,000 and often includes dunes and wildlife safari while staying at 3-star accommodations.
Such trips may feature itineraries ranging from 3-day to 6-day packages. Mid luxury and luxury packages, on the other hand, may vary between 3-day visits to 15-day visits.
Most of Namibia’s destinations are, however, far-flung from each other. It is thus preferable to focus on one region when planning your budget trip to avoid most of your finances going into domestic travel.
Nonetheless, one product that has remained popular, especially among honeymooning couples, is visiting the Himbas, wildlife tours, and the dune safaris.
With almost thirty per cent of Tanzania being composed of National Parks, visitors to this East African country are in for a treat.
To begin with, once the annual Maasai Mara migration draws to a close in Kenya, some of the migrant herds once again move back to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
The Serengeti is a sprawling national park measuring a whopping 14,763Km2 and is populated by lions, giraffes, zebras, leopards, buffalo, gazelle, elephant, cheetah, and an array of other animals.
In Tanzania, a budget safari averages $960 per person per night and entails activities ranging from tours of Arusha, the Serengeti, Ngorongoro crater, Tarangire National Park, and Lake Manyara National Park.
This type of budget trip may take anywhere from 3-5 days and includes airport transfers, all meals and transport aboard a pop-up roof four-wheel-drive vehicle.