Thursday, 28 March 2013

Budget Safaris: Worth the Money?

It has been put to me, more than once, that some safaris are suspiciously cheap, the inference from this is twofold:
1) a company offering safaris at such a low price must be unreputable and or provide shoddy service
2) on a cheaper or budget safari the sightings will not be as frequent or high quality as a luxury safari.

Taking our 4 day / 3 night  safaris as an example they vary from R 4895.00 for a 4 day tented safari, to R8300 for a Classic Kruger National Park Safari to R14,500 for a Luxury Sabi Sands Game reserve Safari.   Quite a range of prices.  First of all lets take a look at a couple of similarities with these safaris: they all have

Walk In Safari Tent
  • open vehicle game drives
  • FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa) qualified and registered guides
  • are run by SATSA (Southern  Africa Tourism Services Association)  registered companies.

So what is the difference?  The main one is of course the accommodation;

The Tented safari stays in walk-in safari tents with real beds, but also with shared ablutions .
The Classic safari stays in Skukuza restcamp in an en suite chalet.
Sabi Sands Safaris stay in 5 star lodges with all the comforts and personal attention that this includes.

Sabi Sands Game Reserve Luxury Lodge
You don't get personal pools and 5 star service with the camping, but the camp does include a pool for guests to share.  The classic safari stays in a Kruger National park restcamp, there is a private area just for our guests where meals are served and guests can relax, but there are of course other people staying privately at the camp.  Which suits you depend son your required levels of comfort, but it doesn't affect your game viewing.

Classic Safari En Suite Chalet

The Classic and Sabi Sands safaris stay on Big 5 reserves, our tented safari stays on a private game reserve with rhino, buffalo, zebra and more but no big predators.  The game drives though are all within the Greater Kruger Park, with a night drive in Balule Game reserve and 2 full days in Kruger National Park.

So yes a budget safari can be worth the money, nevertheless a word of advice to help you plan: don't just look at the cost and level of comfort when booking also try to:
  • find out where the game drives are
  • where the accommodation is physically located,  on a big 5 reserve, on a private game farm or outside any reserve
  • find out what is included, meals, drinks, transfers, park entry fees and activities

If you cannot get a straight answer from a safari company or safari travel agent about any of the above questions try another company, this applies to budget, luxury and all the safaris in between.  Good service should start with the booking process!

Looking for some more information: