Many people believe that the concepts of budget and safari do not come close to each other. Safaris are often found to be notoriously expensive affairs. This makes a lot of people wonder if it’s a viable holiday choice. However, there are ways to enjoy a South Africa safari tour at a much lower price. The secret is to enjoy these safaris as the locals do.
It has been observed that genuine South Africa safaris give the best value for money when paid for in the local currency. For this exact reason, some excellent African lodges quote their charges in the local currency. However, many African lodges in Tanzania, Botswana, and Kenya use the USD currency. Here are a few useful tips that will help you to have a great South Africa safari holiday without breaking the bank:
Explore the national parks
South African National Parks or SANParks is an organization that looks after 21 parks across the country. These parks are significantly cheaper than privately operated options. They offer both national park safaris and stay at their lodges at a comparatively lesser price.
The most prominent option for a South Africa safari tour is a trip to Kruger National Park. The park spans approximately 19,500 sq. km.. As this trip is widely taken by families on holiday, you have the option of taking the drive yourself. Booking for this trip has to be made in advance. Hence, you get ample time to take care of other required expenses required.
These national parks offer affordable accommodation in the form of huts, chalets, guesthouses, cottages, and campsites. All of these options can be booked through the parks’ websites. Kruger National Park offers rest camps that can be a great experience for sociable individuals. Skukuza is the largest of these rest camps. It offers cottages of different sizes, shops, play areas, and swimming pools.
Fly to major airports
Domestic flying in South Africa is very expensive. This is especially true in the case of airports in remote South African locations. Examples of such locations include Hluhluwe, Hoedspruit, Skukuza, Richard’s Bay, and Hazyview. The better option is to travel through airports located in big cities. You may pick a safari that is located in proximity of a major city. You can then travel with a low-cost regional airline like Safair, Mango, or Kulula to reduce traveling costs significantly. Furthermore, you can use cars to travel through these national parks, as car rentals are quite affordable across South Africa.
For example, the famously malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park is easily accessible from Johannesburg. It takes a two-hour drive to reach the park from central Johannesburg and a one and a half hour drive from the Lanseria airport.
It is considered as one of the most enchanting parks in South Africa. However, it can be very crowded during weekends due to its proximity to Sun City Resort. It is recommended to visit in the weekdays, as not only is the park less crowded then, but the prices are also much lower.
Walk in the morning
Africa on Foot is the name of the guided big-five safaris every morning. This safari is carried out in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve. This reserve borders the Kruger and is situated at a six-hour drive from Johannesburg. Along with the guided big-five safaris in the mornings, this reserve offers evening guided game drives.
The Klaserie and the Kruger share an unfenced border. This means that the guests have a higher chance of spotting the big five along with porcupines, honey badgers, and aardvarks. Guests may also get to look at South African small cats like servals, civets, and caracals.
Travel out of high season
Most South African lodges are cheaper when it is not peak traveling season. South Africa’s dry winter is considered to be low season for travel. This weather falls between the months of May and September. However, game viewing in the northern part of South Africa is considered to be best during this time. This is due to the fact that animals flock together at waterholes. This makes game viewing much easier in the winters compared to summers.
Stay just outside the national parks
When going on a South African safari tour, it is better to get accommodation near the national parks. Not only is it affordable but it also allows you to book guided game drives or self-drive after entering the park. You can do so through the park itself or SANParks.
A good example in this context is Addo Elephant National Park. It is located at a one-hour drive from Port Elizabeth. The park itself spans around 540 sq. km. and houses over 400 Cape buffalos, 600 elephants, and 48 black rhinos. The park has recently reintroduced the spotted hyena and Transvaal lion. The entire area is also filled with ample supermarkets and restaurants.