In almost all itineraries, safari is the most expensive component of a trip to southern Africa. Various factors play a role in one's choice of safari destination and, for most people, cost is one of the many criteria that influence this important decision.
These are not exact quotes, they are rough guidelines for comparative purposes.
Within Botswana and South Africa camps/lodges exhibit a fairly wide price range, which is indicated by the quotes for mid-range and 'top of the line' properties.
Camps in Zambia and Zimbabwe are more clustered around an average rate.
The costs quoted are per person sharing (single travelers almost always pay a single supplement of between 30-50%) and are fully inclusive, starting and ending at the airports listed.
Rates include charter flights, accommodation, meals, activities, laundry, park fees, services of a professional guide, and (in most cases) drinks. Scheduled flights to and from the starting and ending points are not included.
The costings are based on travel in peak season. Where applicable we also list off-peak periods and approximate cost savings during these time frames.
Cost Comparison Chart - Based on current rates for 3 - 4 star accommodations. For five star safaris and hotels ask for a quote.
The explanation for cost differences between safari destinations, and between camps/lodges within the same areas, is multi-faceted and complicated. The safari market in southern Africa is highly competitive and driven by supply and demand, there are very few pricing anomalies.
Below we list some of the factors that are behind the cost differences between destinations as well as individual camps/lodges. By their nature, these generalized explanations are fairly crude and we would be happy to elaborate in more detail regarding specific cost differences between individual camps/lodges.
* Concentrations of high profile game (especially predators and/or the 'Big Five'). This is a sine qua non for any safari destination, and the most consistent factor influencing pricing.
* Camp/lodge experience. The level of style and luxury in accommodation, the quality of food and service, facilities and amenities, ambience, and attention to detail. The more expensive properties invariably excel in these elements of the overall experience.
* Wilderness and exclusivity. As a rule, the larger and more private the concession/reserve, the higher the premium. Botswana (where private concessions are typically 100,000 acres or larger) is the most prominent example of this model of 'low volume / high value' eco-tourism. The lower rates in Zambia are, in large part, a reflection of the absence of private concessions.
* Guides. Many factors influence where guides want to work, but two of the most important are concentrations of game and remuneration. Inevitably, the best guides want to work at the more high end lodges/camps.
* Remoteness. The further from civilization a camp/lodge, the more expensive it is to supply and operate, and the higher the access costs for guests. This is most evident in Namibia, home to some of southern Africa's most remote camps.
* Convenience. Camps/lodges with private airstrips that are close to camp offer increased convenience due to shorter transfer times between the airstrip and camp. This means less time in transit and more time on safari or relaxing. Such airstrips, in addition to being expensive to build and maintain, are desirable to guests and attract a premium.
* Political perceptions. The biggest factor influencing the discounted rates in Zimbabwe is the negative perception surrounding the government of Robert Mugabe. Without doubt this regime has had a very negative impact on the lives of local Zimbabweans but, as a safari destination for foreign visitors, the effect has been almost imperceptible.