Budget vs. Luxury Safaris Revealed

African Safari Adventures:
Pros & Cons of Budget, Mid-Size & Luxury Trips

Every Traveler Has Their Own Budget

You’ve decided to finally check off that bucket list item and embark on a wild ride to Africa for your first African Safari. With so many options out there, it can be hard to figure out the details, from what company, country, park, or region to choose. When it comes time to plan an epic holiday the first thing on your agenda is weighing out the different options. 

You may have realized the myriad of differences between a budget, mid-sized and luxury safaris in Africa.  Yet,  you aren’t sure what is included and what is worth splurging on or cutting down costs. Or maybe you have an unlimited budget and just want to get clear on the difference between budget, mid-sized and luxury to be sure you are getting the best bang for your buck. 

To ensure you are making an informed decision, we will disclose the mysteries of African Safari Adventures and compared the distinct features, benefits, and unique offerings of budget, mid-size, and luxury safaris. 

How Much Should You Expect to Spend?

Prices of a Safari in Tanzania 

Keep in mind that the primary focus of this blog is in Tanzania, with prices ranging throughout popular Safari destinations. 

For General Price points, we have estimated the following cost per person*, per night:

  • Budget Safari $150- $300 per night
  • Mid-Range $350-$650+ per night
  • Luxury  $700- $2,200 per night

*This does not include flights, visa, vaccines, add ons, outside activities,etc and will range from high to low season. 

 

Let’s delve into Pros & Cons of the world of safari experiences and discover which option suits your preferences and budget.

 

Budget Safari 

When you have a limited budget, it’s helpful to get clear on what is worth spending extra and understanding what value you will get for your money. Regardless of your budget, you will still have a  great opportunity to explore the wildlife landscapes and awe inspiring wildlife. While it won’t provide the same level of a midsize or luxury, it does have its unique advantages. Let’s get into the Pros & Cons of a budget Safari in Africa. 

Pros of A budget African Safari

Affordability and Value for Money

The first pro, of course, is being able to find tours that you are able to afford for your price point. It is possible that finding a budget Safari will allow you to experience the wildlife without breaking the bank. You will be able to find budget-friendly accommodations, transportation and activities that will provide you the most value for your money. 

Authentic Cultural Encounters

At any budget you will still receive authentic encounters of the wildlife.  You won’t miss out on finding  opportunities to engage more in the communities, traditions and heritage of the region you have chosen to visit. Engaging with local communities really adds to the totality and richness of your experience. Whether you have a small or large budget, this will always be included on some scale. The experiences will vary.  

Adventure and Spontaneity

The budget option is great for the true adventurer. Perhaps it would draw people that idenitfy as backpackers who enjoy the hostels or embracing a more “roughing it” vibe while being more immersed in the basic camping style. You might be able to experience more remote possibilities with the capabilities of posting up a traditional tent, and sleeping underneath the stars.  

Group Dynamics and Socializing

While this also can be a con, there is a pro factor to this option. Since budget Safaris are more populated, you will have the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people from all over the world, in different groups. Being able to share the experience with other travelers can create unique bonding and memories. Some of the best parts of traveling is being able to meet and connect to strangers. 

 

“Strangers are friends we haven’t met yet”- William Butler Yeats 

 

Now that you got a sense of the positive of Budget Safaris let’s take a look at the Cons.

Cons of a Budget Safari in Africa

Basic Accommodations & Amenities

For travelers that prefer to be more comfortable, this might not be the best option for you. Especially if you plan on doing a longer Safari, you will want to consider your sleeping environment and what is provided. You might have shared bathrooms, or a less comfortable bed, cramped and small space or room, no AC. Be aware that with the more budget options, food and water standards are not as high as mid-sized and luxury, which can result in Nile Runs aka Travellers food poisoning.  You might be paying for your own food, which won’t be included in your Safari package. 

Transportation wise, you will find large cramped buses with about 30-50 people. The accommodations are generally tents, with a public shared toilet. 

Limited Flexibility and Customization

With budget travel and larger groups, tours and organizations usually follow a strict itinerary. There is less room for flexibility, as you will find with a more luxury option. You may experience merely scratching the surface, and have more limited time in parks than you like. Since there is more of a time schedule and the needs of the entire group is accounted for, it might be harder to flow with areas you want to stay longer or leave earlier. 

Higher Tourist Density

You will be hitting peak hours with all the rest of the tourists, in the same locations. This means you will see more vehicles, more crowds, more noise which can certainly affect your ability to see the wildlife that you came to see. Since, you will be on a tour with a lot more people than a midsize or luxury safari, you must consider that your experience might feel more like a general pass holder at Disneyland vs. Disney’s special VIP invited guests only. 

Potential Tour Quality Variations

Since you are on a tight budget, you are more likely to find tours that are less reputable, less experienced & a lesser known issue, such as not treating their employees well. Most of the budget options will have drivers not professional guides.  With poor treatment of tour guides and employees can reflect the great whole of your experience with less enthusiastic and caring tour guides. The quality of service is likely to be affected. It is important that you do your research in finding a well respected and creditable tour company, make sure there are positive reviews, word of mouth and you speak to the tour company directly (not just through an agent). 

Now that we have the budget Safaris in Africa covered, let’s take a look at those with a mid-sized budget. 

See An Itinerary We Put Together For a Budget Safari

 

Semi-Luxury Safari

You might have narrowed down your option to a budget or mid-sized Safari or perhaps you are considering the mid-sized vs luxury leap and wondering, how big of a difference are they, really? With the mid-sized budget we will uncover what parts of the budget safari carry over and what add ons you might receive. 

Pros of a Mid-sized Budget Safari in Africa

For the mid-sized budget, you are looking to get a balance of cost-effective amenities and bundled itineraries and overall experiences. Just like all budgets, you will get to explore the unreal landscapes in awe inspiring wildlife. Let’s dip into the Pros & Cons of a mid-sized Budget Safari 

Cost-Effective

Just like the budget safari, you will find more affordable options with anything from accommodations, to meals, transportation, acitivites & more. You’ll get similar exposure to the budget safari options, where the major difference here would be your accommodations  and the quality of the vehicle. While vehicles on a budget or mid-sized safari might feel more cramped, as opposed to a higher budget, that will be more comfortable, especially if it is for your private group only. 

Comfortable Accommodations

While not as luxurious as high-end options, mid-sized budget safaris typically provide comfortable accommodations, including lodges or tented camps with essential amenities. These accommodations still offer a decent level of comfort, ensuring you have a comfortable place to rest and rejuvenate after your exciting days out and about exploring Lions, Tigers and Bears…I mean…Lions, Leopards, and Gazelles… oh, my ;). 

Wildlife Diversity

While there are many Safari’s throughout Africa, Tanzania is well known for its extrodinary  wildlife diversity, and a mid-sized budget safari allows you to experience the richness of the country’s ecosystems. From the iconic Serengeti National Park to the Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park, you have the opportunity to spot an array of wildlife species, including the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino).

More Experienced Guides

You will typically be able to find experienced guides within the mid-sized budget range as opposed to the budget option, as mentioned will most likely be some who is an experienced driver, not necessarily an experienced guide.  The guides within a mid-sized budget will be knowledgeable in Tanzania’s animals and ecosystems. They will be able to provide insightful and valuable information that will inform of some hidden gems and assist and point out hidden and tricky to spot wildlife. 

Authentic Cultural Encounters

Tanzania, specifically is home to diverse ethnic groups with unique cultural traditions. You will get the same opportunities as the budgeted experience with opportunities to immerse, interact and visit local communities. You might be able to get to see traditional dances. This will give you a richer experience.  

Now that we ticked off the pros, let’s take a peek into the cons of a mid-sized budget Safari. 

Cons of a Mid-Sized budget Safari in Africa

Limited Luxury Amenities

Similar to a budget safari, you will get less luxurious and comfortable amenities. Since it does prioritize cost effectiveness, you will most likely miss out on features like private pools, spa services, or gourmet dining experiences.

Potentially Larger Group Size

Just like the budget option, you will also be in a larger group as opposed to a more intimate experience. In addition to the cons mentioned in the budget section, this can result in larger group sizes during game drives and activities which is likely to affect the level of exclusivity. 

Less Flexibility in Itinerary

You will certainly have less flexibility with things like your itinerary, times you come and go into the park, and taking account for any other specific requests or expectations you might have. 

Limited Time for Wildlife Observation

Since there is a cost constraint with a mid-sized budget, the duration of a game drive might be shorter. This is arguably the most important feature of Safari. You might not have as much time to observe the wildlife, but will have to stick to a more strict time table. In which case, you will want to consider a different budget to get the experience of your dreams. 

Now that we have hit the main points for Pros & Cons of a budget & mid sized Safari in Africa, let’s take a look at the Luxury option. While both budget and mid-sized safaris have their merits, there are distinct benefits to enjoy on a luxury safari. 

See An Itinerary We Put Together For a Semi-Luxury Safari

 

Luxury Safari Africa 

While we might be biased, we really wanted to make sure to be as transparent as possible with the pros & cons of each.  With a luxury safari, while you are spending more money, you do, as they say…get what you pay for. Let’s take a look at the outline of the pros & cons of a luxury Safari. 

Pros of a Luxury Safari 

Unique Comforts and Exquisite Accommodations 

By now you can assume that a huge difference between a budget, mid-size and luxury Safari options is that the luxury safari offers an incomparable comfort that surpasses any other option. Just think about retreating to lavish lodges, private tented camps, spacious rooms, comfortable beds (the most important to get the best sleep to enjoy your experience), en-suite bathrooms, and unbelievable views. After a long day in the parks, returning to a luxurious sanctuary will no doubt enhance your overall safari experience.  

Exclusive Access to Pristine Wilderness

Being on a luxury Safari is like joining an exclusive member only club, think, SoHo House But for the wilderness. You will feel like a celebrity, with special access to places that no other budget can afford. This means you will have a more intimate, undisturbed experience. You won’t have the massive groups, potential noise of extra vehicles and people, or any distractions. The animals will most likely be more visible with sensing a more remote group. After all, you are amongst some of the most intelligent creatures on the planet, and they surely know the difference between a mass game drive vs. an intimate one. You will most certainly feel like you are in your own private paradise.  

Highly Knowledgeable, Local and Experienced Guides 

Luxury Safaris, like ours, pride ourselves in having the most experience and local guides. Not only are we local guides, we are locally owned family businesses with our wealth of knowledge, we focus on providing authenticity in how we interact with our guests. Being born and raised, this is our home. We know the landscape and the wildlife better than any other non local owned tour company. We treat and take care of all our animals as family. You are being invited into our home, and we welcome you as a member of our wilderness community.

Local guides are more attuned to things like migration patterns, times of day to be when and where, animal behavior and predictability. You will feel 100% safe and certain that your experience will be unparalleled to any other option out there. 

Treatment of Employees

A less known reason, or one that might not be on your list of considerations are how the employees are treated in other tour companies. As we grow, we will be able to give our employees the chance to be owners and provide profit sharing.  A locally owned luxury Safari company, like Ndifo, is  working to make waves in fair pay and treatment of employees. This is a guarantee when you join a Ndifo Safari. 


When seeking out Tour companies, ask questions about the owners themselves, where they are from and their experience level. We strongly encourage thorough research so you can feel confident where you are spending your money, both in your experience and with Ethical Safari companies. 

Customized and Personalized Experience

Luxury Safaris are known for tailoring experience to your preference and creating personalized itineraries for your group. They offer flexibility in crafting and designing your Safari  to make sure that you can focus on what you came here to focus on, wildlife sightings and engagement in unique activities (hot air balloon rides, guided bush walks, cultural encounters with local communities). A reputable company will be able to coordinate all these activities for you. At Ndifo, we are able to arrange any of the activities ranging from one hour a day to a week long experience.  

Gourmet Dining and Culinary Delights

The cuisine you will receive on a luxury safari is one for Kings & Queens (as you are). You will experience Fine dining, with meals prepared by talented chefs,  candle lit dinners under the stars, local and international cuisine. You will get an elevated experience like a 5 star, every meal goes down in the books of a Michelin Star restaurant. 

Attention to Detail & Impeccable Customer Service and Care

One of the hallmarks of a luxury safari experience is the exceptional level of service and attention to detail. From the moment you arrive, you will be greeted with warmth and hospitality by the staff, and guides to ensure that all your needs are met. Whether it’s a personalized game drive, surprise treats in your room , or thoughtful gestures that anticipate your desires, the attentive service on a luxury safari creates an atmosphere of pampering and relaxation. 

Now that we covered all the Pros of a luxury Safari, we will move on to the cons. 

Cons of a Luxury Safari 

High Price Tag

It is no secret that a Luxury Safari will come with a high price tag. You want to make sure you are getting what you paid for. With luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, private vehicles and personalized service you will come to understand the cost for your experience. This might not be in everyone’s budget. For budget conscious travelers, this can be a major drawback, as it might affect the duration of time spent on a Safari. For example 5 days compared to a 2 week stay. 

Potential Lack of Authenticity Amongst Wildlife 

Some people might prefer a more rugged nature experience. It is important to note,  Luxury Safari will offer tents, they will be a 5 star glamping experience that are more gigantic, spacious, havens, as opposed to traditional tents.

This might feel like it is distracting from a more authentic experience and immersion with unfiltered encounters with African wilderness. 

Potential Lack of Privacy

While luxury safaris offer exclusivity, there may be moments where you will be met with other groups and guests and their vehicles might also be in more common areas. This can distract from the privacy or solitude some travelers expect when they pay for a luxury Safari. 

At Ndifo, we do our best to be aware of where the larger crowds will be and customize the itineraries accodingly. 

Unrealistic Expectations

Luxury Safari companies can often create high expectations. Over promise and under deliver. We highly recommend you go in understanding what you are getting. You might think you are getting an extravagant lodge and gourmet meals only to be disappointed. Since wildlife sightings can be unpredictable and nature may not always conform to our expectations, regardless of the level of luxury or not. This is important to be mindful of any size budget. 

Limited Cultural Interactions

Most luxury safari companies will prioritize wildlife encounters and accommodations and will miss out on showing more of the experiences, cultural activities, work within the communities, and the authentic life of the cultural immersion. 

*This is what makes us, at Ndifio stand out. We have married the luxury with authenticity to ensure that you get the best of all worlds. You can check out our involvement in our local communities here and how you becoming a member of our family gives back.

See An Itinerary We Put Together For a Luxury Safari

 

 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you take a budget friend, mid-sized or luxury safari you will have an incredible time on your Safari in Africa. We are so grateful that you have come to spend your vacation with us and simply want you to have the best for your budget requirements. 


At Ndifo, we pride ourselves in taking care of our employees, providing our customers the best of the best, ensuring that we are exceeding all your expectations, from accommodations, meals, transportation (check out our new vehicle here), visibility of the park, comfort, safety and we are family run and owned. We know the in and outs of the park and can answer all your questions that you might not be able to find with other organizations. 

Make sure you ask yourself and the tour company clarifying questions to ensure that you are selecting the best option for yourself. 

CTA: Want to talk to us directly? Fill out contact information and someone will get back to you ASAP. 

CTA:Need more? Check out other Articles: 

The Activities on Safari: What is a Game Drive?

What are the Features of a  Safe Vehicle (check out our new one)

Questions to ask any tour company before booking Difference between the 

Different Landscapes & Wildlife Safaris in Africa 

Ethical Safari Companies: What are they and how to spot one?