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.
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.
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.