African Safaris on a budget- it’s possible
Well, I love travelling. There are so many places in my country Kenya that offer amazing experiences. Hence, always ready for adventure. My pocket and cash flow, on the other hand, don’t resonate with this.
I didn’t know how to achieve my travelling goal at first as I always thought that travelling is a luxury. While I was exploring social media, I came across an offer for African safaris on a budget. To my surprise, some of the packages were being offered right here in my country Kenya.
It was an incredible discovery unlocking many opportunities for me to travel as I so desired in my budget. Well, a safari is not complete if it does not involve seeing the wild animals in their natural habitat. Experiencing nature at its best in the game parks and conservancies.
The wildlife experience in Kenya
There are many parks and conservancies in Kenya, most of the parks are managed by the government and hence have a standard entrance fee. There is a park in the capital city Nairobi, one can take a day safari even when on a short stay in Kenya or go for a safari walk within the same place.
If you have enough time to go out of the city, we have hotels and game lodges that offer various pocket-friendly packages and still have the same experience, the difference in the package will be the sleeping area and food.
If you love adventure, you can opt for tented camps most of which are semi-permanent and still have a modern interior set-up.
Packages are normally all-inclusive but park fees are paid separately to the park attendants. It is always good to confirm with your tour guide or travel agent that they actually paid the park fees to avoid getting in the wrong hands of the law.
An all-inclusive package
It’s always good to confirm what travel package you have just bought. It’s not just enough to meet your budget. Most budget safaris have some essentials omitted and end up being your hindrance to having a good time.
My first time on a budget safari, I ignored the fact that we were advised to carry our own water. I thought it courtesy to give people something basic like water on a long journey (5 hours by road). Well had to find a place to buy water on the way.
The other thing about budget safari is the kind of food the package offers, most here in Kenya will offer our normal traditional food which includes, chicken, goat meat, cow meat, ugali, chapati and lots of veggies for vegetarians. They do incorporate some pasta and rice because of the diverse people who visit. However, if you are not able to handle this, you can opt to carry extra money and have the chef prepare you a meal of choice.
It is also advisable to carry enough snacks as game drives can be long and the scheduled meal times might delay. Opt for a travel agent who gives you an itinerary showing well what is included in the package and what is omitted.
Also, good to note that most packages are normally per person sharing a room. If doing solo travel, it would be good to first inquire. If one does not wish to share a room with a stranger, one can negotiate to pay extra by a small amount and have a room by themselves.
Some packages are also offered on the condition that you book the holiday as a group to get a cheap price and always have a minimum number of people per travel. If going for a game drive on budget travel, one may end up sharing a van with other travellers who opted for the same package. Most game-drive vans take 7 passengers though depending on the provider, it may not be necessary to fill all seats. But if doing solo travel, be ready to share with other holidaymakers.
How to control my spending
When going to a new place, your main aim is to create memories and in line with this, you may also want to get some souvenirs. Well in most safaris there are always things to buy from the locals, from jewellery to artefacts plus so much more.
The intention here is to work within your budget. If not familiar with the local currency and the value of these souvenirs, there are chances of being sold at an exorbitant price. My advice would be to get a good travel guide from the community or you can create a good rapport with your tour driver so that they can help you shop for what you need at a good reasonable price.
You can also shop for the snacks you need or water from the local supermarket. You just need to confirm how the local currency is trading against your own currency. Kindly confirm with your travel agent how you can exchange to get the local currency enough to buy the essentials you need, remember you are travelling on a budget.
Hey, I prefer the beach!
I have talked about game drives and the wild on the part of the package, what about the beach? Yes, you can have the same experience.
One way to have a good time is instead of going for a hotel which is expensive, a budget package can include you living in a villa along the coastal strip. This implies that you only pay for your daily stay in the villa. You can opt to cook for yourself or hire a cook from the locals at a very reasonable price.
Then you can schedule activities to do during the day or just go to the beach. Some activities could be snorkelling, dhow cruise or visit to villages. In the evening, wind up your day at a beach hotel for dinner and a drink before going back to your villa. As earlier advised, always opt to get all the details clear with your travel agent or tour guide.
Build up the confidence, take the holiday
You will never discover your potential until you take the first step. A safari is an experience of discovering the other side of life. While you go through your day-to-day life a lot of things happen. But it can’t beat a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a place you have never travelled to before.
Well, what are you waiting for, take up the journey?
Great article you have written. It would be a dream for me to go on a safari in Africa. So much to see and explore!
You are most welcome, there is so much to see here.
I would love to take my kids on a Safari sometime. To hear that it wont eat my wallet alive is great news! Your article is very inspiring and I will definately challenge myself to go on a trip with my kids now.
Do you have any specific Safari destinations to recommend?
Hello, yes a safari is possible without denting your pocket. Number one destination in Kenya is Maasai Mara but its a rough terrain so with kids if they are too young,you can opt for other mild places like the Amboseli National Park, Tsavo National Park plus many more.
I would love to go on a Kenyan Safari vacation someday.
You mentioned there are many parks and conservancies in Kenya and most of the parks have a standard entrance fee.
Can you recommend which parks and conservancies to visit and explore?
Do you know what the standard entrance fees might be for them as well?
Thank you for help.
Hi James, you are much welcome to Kenya. Yes the government managed parks have a standard fee, i have put up a page with the current fees.
You can visit the Maasai Mara Game reserve, its the world famous and will give you a lifetime of memories. I have done a post on the same you can check it out.
Hi Anita! Thank you so much for this much detailed explanation! I appreciate how much research you did in writing this. I like that you have listed several examples such as a walking safari within the city! I always thought that most are all outside of town. Also, what a great option for renting a villa on the coastal strip! I would love to see what they look like.
Hi Colleen, Am glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, we do have a big park in the capital city and offers a safari walk option though not a long stretch. There are several villas in the coast that you can opt for instead in hotel, i will be adding them on my site as time goes.
Awesome sharing! Kenya is such a beautiful country and is definitely in my bucket list. Thanks for your tips on how to save money and control our budget to enjoy Kenya. I will be saving this article for future reference when I have the chance to make the trip to Kenya, which I hope will be soon! Thanks.
Glad i can be of help. I wish you all the best as you plan to visit, hope you have a lovely time and enjoy your safari.
A safari in Kenya would be an amazing experience! I would especially be interested in the tented camp option. Also, being able to visit a beach during the stay would make it even better. What would be the best time of the year to visit Kenya for a safari? This will be on my list of places to go!
Hi Andrew, you are welcome in Kenya. Most lodges situated in game parks are normally designed like tented camps to give the full bush feeling. There are packages that combine beach stay and game drives depending on where you want to go. Best time to go on a safari will be between June and October after the long rains and the wild animals have migrated back to parks.
Hey Anita, I really enjoyed reading your post about Kenya on a budget. Me and my girlfriend are looking for an easter holiday destination. Kenya really looks super interesting and the weather is better too 🙂 I think your idea on how to control your spendings is very clever I will tell my girlfriend about it 😉
Hi Aaron, glad you found Kenya as a good destination for you and your girlfriend. Easter is a few weeks away and most places are already booked if you need an Easter holiday package you better book early.
However i have to warn you that this is the season of long rains in Kenya and there are chances of the rain extending past Easter. Game drives are not a good choice during this time, maybe you choose a place where you can just view the wildlife from the hotel or lodge and make sure the hotel has a good road, being stuck in mud might spoil your vacation all together.
I have always wanted to go on a safari, it looks so serene and epic.
Yes you can Laura, just add it to you bucket list, plan it and soon you will get there.