How much does it cost to go on Safari in Zambia?
A commonly asked question, especially for those who have never been on safari but are interested in doing so, is “how much does it cost?”.
The real question should be “how do I get the most value for money?”
A safari these days sadly is not a cheap pursuit, so do be prepared, there is no real way around it. Though having said this, the experience you get at the price of what would only cover your room at a fancy hotel in London, is far superior and inclusive of everything (meals, drinks, all your safari activities, contributions to the parks departments and conservation non-profits).
Generally speaking you get what you pay for, at least at the lower-end of the equation. If you see a safari camp or package for what looks to be cut-price, then it will very likely be cut-price in quality. Camps which are larger, or lower budget, or outside of core wildlife areas are more able to provide cheaper rates (they have access to mains electricity, e.g. overhead power cables, cell signal, tar roads e.g. easier logistics) but this is exactly what you want to avoid in order to get a real and true safari experience (no signs of ‘civilisation’, no WiFi, no cell phones, bush roads, isolation!).
This does not however mean you need to pay $5000 per person per night (yep this is very possible at some camps in Botswana!) to get a lifetime worth of safari experiences. Generally speaking, in Zambia, the ‘sweet-spot’ for rates which gets maximum value, so this is top quality guides, world-class camp locations, true and genuine safari experience (so not hordes of vehicles at sightings, like some of the more budget areas) and fantastic wildlife is between $600 and $900 per person per night. At the higher end of this bracket camps generally begin to lose a little of the ‘true essence’ of safari, at that rate guests will be expecting WiFi, multiple wine choices, air-conditioned rooms, etc. – all things that are not integral to having the best-possible safari. Of course if these things are important to have for you, then that is fine and the $900 per person per night bracket will be where you should begin looking.
Lastly, whilst these rates may seem daunting, remember to ask your tour operator or camps for special offers – there are always offers such as ‘stay 6 nights and get 1 night free’ or ‘free flights and transfers included if staying 5 nights or more’ available, this of course really helps drop the average nightly rate down. There are also generally ‘seasons’ for most countries, ‘low’ and ‘shoulder’ seasons can offer as much as 30-40% off the ‘peak’ or ‘high’ season rates.
One thing is for sure though, a safari to Zambia is no more expensive than many of our neighbouring countries, in fact Zambia is relatively well-priced and whilst we do have a spectrum of varying budget-suiting safari camps (from $200 per person a night to $3500 per person per night) I would suggest aiming for the bracket highlighted above where you get a lot more bucks (bush, water, reed, etc!) for your bucks!