How I Got a Luxury African Safari for Under $2,000

So you want to go on a luxury African safari, but you don’t have a lot of money. Anything is possible if you follow my simple five-star safari planning tips.


After months of researching safari tours, I knew exactly where I wanted to stay, which parks I wanted to visit, and what I wanted to do in each one. But I simply didn’t have enough money to fund the kind of experience I was after. Or did I?

It turns out that with a little hard work and perseverance, I could get exactly what I wanted at a price I was comfortable paying. Here’s how I got a five-star, luxury safari experience for under $2,000.

Luxury African Safari Jeep

Know What You Want and Go After It

I wanted a very specific safari experience, and I went after it. I spent months researching what was available from different safari operators. I investigated various types of accommodations, ranging from glamping in tented camps to hotel chains or independent lodges. I looked into private tours versus group tours. And I explored the kinds of activities you can do in Africa aside from game viewing, including village visits and hot-air-balloon rides.

I researched what different tour operators had to offer and how much they were charging. Then, I decided what I wanted from my experience, how much I wanted to spend, and how long I wanted to be away for. At first, it seemed impossible I would ever find what I wanted at a price I could pay, but I decided to make it happen come Hell or high water.

Ask for What You Want

Once I knew exactly what I wanted from my safari, I crafted a very specific email. I made sure to provide the exact hotels, locations, and activities I wanted to experience. I was very clear about what I didn’t want as well. If you don’t want to get up at 5 a.m. every day for game viewing, include that in your message. Describe exactly your ideal experience.

My email included:

  • Type of tour (private)
  • Approximate dates (September to October)
  • Safari parks (Amboseli, Maasai Mara, Lake Nakuru)
  • Hotel names (Serena and Sarova lodges)
  • Activities (hot-air balloon rides, traditional folklore shows, curio shopping)
  • Price ($1,750)

Pro tip: The price you give in your email should be $500 less than you want to pay. This gives you a bit of wiggle room.

Once you’ve drafted your email, send that same message to every reputable tour operator you can find. It’s as simple as performing a quick Google search, clicking “Contact Us,” and pasting your message into a new email for each company. No need to draft a new message each time.

Luxury African Safari Hotel

Negotiate the Best Deal

You will get a lot of responses. And very few will offer what you asked for. But a handful will come close. You will most likely need to bargain a little bit to get the exact price you’re after.

Most of the responses I received were way out of my budget. They were upwards of $3,500 for a 7-to-10 day safari in Kenya. But as more emails came in under $3,000, I started to gain hope that I could negotiate something in my price range. I knew I would likely have to pay more than the $1,750 price tag I’d suggested, but I wasn’t willing to pay more than $2,250 tops.

In the end, three tour operators came to me with prices between $2,000 and $2,250. I was delighted. After a few emails back and forth with each of the operators, I managed to get the price to just shy of $2,000 per person for an 8-day private safari that included every item on my hit list.

I would have loved to spend another 2 days in Kenya, but I wasn’t willing to budge on any other part of my negotiations, so that was my sacrifice. African Sermon Safaris fulfilled every one of my other wishes, and created an experience of a lifetime.

Pro tip: Before wiring funds to the tour company, check it’s the real deal. If so, it will be registered with international agencies. And once you’ve confirmed your booking, fire an email to the hotels where you’ll be staying to be sure they have a reservation in your name before you arrive.

If a luxury African safari is on your bucket list, try these tips to find one in your price range. Also check out these other amazing activities in Africa.

21 thoughts on “How I Got a Luxury African Safari for Under $2,000

    1. Thank you, Kristina! I’ve used this technique a few times now, and I’m never disappointed in the results!

    1. Thanks! I ended up going to Kenya. I started off at the Serena Nairobi, before heading off on a private tour to Amboseli and Maasai Mara. I stayed at the amazing Serena Lodges in both parks, and then headed to Lake Nakuru, where I stayed at the Sarova Lodge. It was absolutely incredible. Our guide had 15 years experience working in the parks and knew all the best spots. We saw the big five and were treated like gold the entire time. And because it was just us on our tour, we could plan our own personalized itinerary each day. Our guide got to know what we liked best and made sure we had the time of our lives. I’ve used these same tips for tours in Romania and Turkey as well. Works like a charm every time!

  1. Was wondering what groups you emailed? I am looking into going to Africa but trying to figure out who to contact.

    1. I contacted dozens of groups; pretty much every one I found on the first five pages of my Google search. I don’t have a complete list because many just had contact forms on their web pages that I used. In the end, I went with African Sermon Safaris, and they were wonderful. I recommended them to a family friend recently, and they also had a fantastic experience.

  2. I always think research, planning and perservereance pays off and here it is in living proof. Great straightforward tips. So glad you got your dream African safari experience Heather – love your smile! Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

  3. FANTASTISK! That’s Danish for fantastic! What a great guide. Now I want to see where you went – do you have a post on that? Brilliant tips – good work you for achieving your goal! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  4. Great tips! I was actually just doing some research on African Safaris a few weeks ago and decided it was a very expensive option that would have to wait. Now that I’ve read this I see it is definitely doable! Thanks for your post!

    1. I’m so glad you’ve found it helpful. I just loved the folks I worked with. I was sure I would never be able to afford it, but I was so wrong. Honestly, tell them what you want, and I’m sure you can work something out!

  5. Thank you so much for your fantastic tips and information! My fiance and I are planning our Honeymoon trip to Kenya and are wanting to visit Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Maasai Mara just like you did! I took your advice and crafted a very specific email and set it to numerous tour operators, but my biggest problem is that they keep coming back to me and saying our requested accommodations aren’t within our budget level. They have given some alternate low-budget suggestions (which other than a couple that have less than desirable reviews, don’t look that bad, but they are just not the kind of safari experience we are hoping for.) Do you have any suggestions of how I can come back to them to get them to include better accommodation options or even the camps that we really want?

    1. Hi Jessi, I’m so glad you found my tips and advice useful. Do you have any wiggle room with the budget you suggested to the tour operators you’ve contacted? I found that by giving a little bit, I was able to get a lot in return. Also, I reached out to dozens of operators before I found one that fit my budget, so you may need to keep digging a bit more. I have my fingers crossed for you!

    1. Hi Kathleen, That’s a great question! To be honest, I didn’t do much advance research. I had an inkling that I wanted to go to Kenya or Tanzania, in particular Masai Mara, Amboseli, and Ngorongoro, based on stories I had heard from a friend who had been to those places, but other than that, I simply wrote to safari companies to find out what they could offer in my budget. Once I had eliminated all of the companies that were out of my budget, I took a look at what was left over and researched the parks they recommended. I lucked out with Amboseli and Masai Mara, and I still keep in touch with my tour operator to this day. African Sermon Safaris was amazing! I don’t get any kickbacks or perks from the company in exchange for raving about it or referring you to them. This is simply my honest opinion. Send the owner, Daniel, an email, and he can help you arrange the perfect adventure in your budget. If you know the types of wildlife you’ like to see, he can help select a park that’s right for you, as well as suggest various accommodations in different price ranges. There are a lot of beautiful parks and places to stay in Africa. A friend of a friend took my advice a few years ago and got in touch with Daniel. He was also exceptionally pleased with his safari experience! Hope this helps!

  6. Great advice here. Really, it helped me focus my own process. First, I had to figure out what I wanted. Then, I started doing the hard work and calling/emailing around. Can’t complain about the result though. Found an amazing safari for less than $3,000!
    Debbi recently posted…Mozambique for Every TravelerMy Profile

    1. I am so glad to hear my advice helped. It sounds like you got a great deal! Have so much fun–it’s unlike anything else you’ll ever do.

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