African Safari on the Cheap…is it possible?

Let me preface this with….this is one of the most expensive vacations I have taken for a few reasons:

1. Did not want to use all of my airline points for this trip.

2. Wanted to visit multiple destinations maximizing the time in each location without compromise resulting in higher costs for direct flights

3. Wanted to have all inclusive experiences so it streamlined experiences.

4. Shots were expensive. We also went to Peru so T-Dap, Yellow Fever, Flu, Malaria, Antibiotics just in case. Visit a Travel Clinic 3 months before going.

A Few Picture Highlights

Major Costs:

Airline: direct ATL to JNB ($2230.21)

Travel Insurance: $215 for 2 people

Outlook Tambo Lodge $51.28 outside Jo’burg and was fabulous

Tydon African Safari $1007 per person (4 Day Luxury Tent Package

Outlook Tambo Lodge $51.28

Airline: BA : JNB to VFA: $171 per person

Vic Falls and Chobe Safari Tour: $1147.67

Airline: VFA to CPT: $490.04 per person

Hilton Capetown: $151.00

Rental Car: $140.00 gas and all fees

As I said, definitely not inexpensive.

Trip Details:

June/July Travel: Winter in Africa

Vic Falls waterfalls at a peak

20 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon.

Arrival in Africa

Arrival into Africa was around 4 PM. We were picked up by Outlook Tambo Lodge and had dinner there. Free hotel pickup; dinner $20 per person but fabulous. We used this same hotel when leaving Capetown going to Vic Falls.

This hotel has a large dinner table and smaller tables; opportunity to meet people from all over and the food was fantastic. Breakfast was included.

We went in June which is winter; remember heat and air are not part of every hotel stay so it can get cold but heated blankets were provided. Mosquitos are also not as prevalent.

Safari 1: Tydon Safari (highly recommended) we went through African Budget Safari to book but would book directly through Tydon.


Tour Transport

3 Meals per Day

Accommodations on Safari

Safari Drives in Sabi Sands and Kruger

Day 1: Johannesburg to Safari Camp and Night Drive in Sabi Sands Reserve

Pick up in Jo’burg and stopped for lunch on the way in Nelspruit (cost not covered) then to safari camp located at Shaw’s Gate.

After checking in to room (or tent) at the safari camp; time to freshen up and then embark on the first thrilling sunset safari game drive. The evening game drive takes us in search of wildlife in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, renowned for its abundance of leopards.

An inviting camp fire awaits you back at the Safari Camp after dark, where you will have a well prepared dinner served under star-studded African skies in the Boma or main dining area at the bush camp.

Day 2: Kruger National Park

After morning tea served at the camp reception area, you set off on a morning safari drive in Kruger National Park in search of Africa’s wild animals

Arriving back at the safari camp in the mid-morning, a hearty breakfast will be served. After breakfast, there is rest at camp, relaxing by the pool during the heat of the day or taking a leisurely walk around the safari camp and enjoying some of the exciting activities offered at camp.

Light lunch is served between 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm in the main Camp Lodge area and at about 3:00pm we head back into the bush on an afternoon Safari Drive in the world famous Kruger Park. Wildlife Safaris offer great opportunities to gain knowledge about Kruger Park with its wildlife, bird species, fauna and flora: which promise to leave you feeling enriched and rewarded.

On our Kruger Safari drives we explore the best routes for game viewing and photographic opportunities. Dinner included around the Boma after the Safari Drive.

Day 3: Sabi Sand Game Reserve Safari Drives

In the morning a refreshing tea or coffee is served at the camp reception area, before we head out on out morning safari drive in Sabi Sand Game Reserve with an experienced local tribesman and guide. On your game drive the safari guide is happy to share his extensive knowledge into the local Sabi Sand bushveld, giving you insight into African wildlife as well as Fauna and Flora; Sabi Sand is renowned for its excellent leopard, lion, buffalo, elephant, and rhino sightings, providing excellent photographic opportunities.

We return to camp for breakfast after our successful game drive in Sabi Sand. Breakfast is again followed by free time to relax at the camp during the hottest part of the day. This is the ideal time to retreat from the heat of the African bush and take a refreshing dip in the camp pool or participate in some of the energizing activities available at the well- run safari camp.

After a light lunch served at camp we make our way back into the wilderness in search of Africa’s wild animals, big and small. Our afternoon safari drive in Sabi Sands Reserve takes us exploring along routes in search of the iconic leopard, lion, rhino, and buffalo. A camp fire in the boma welcomes you back to the Camp after dark, where dinner and drinks will be served. Then dinner is served in the outdoor dining Boma surrounded by the African bush and the sounds of its nocturnal creatures stirring.

Day 4: Transfer to Johannesburg via Panorama Route

Today you will leave the Safari Camp, heading back to Johannesburg via the scenic Panoramic Route. We travel through one of the most scenic parts of South Africa stopping to admire the stunning views at God’s Window, Lisbon Falls, and Graskop, passing through beautiful mountainous areas and small towns.

Arrival in Johannesburg around 5:30 PM

Things to know about this Safari:

Exhilarating game drives

Luxury Tent is incredible.

Shower and Toilet in the back of Luxury Tent

Transportation to and from Safari in SUV

Open Game Drives can be cold. Pack for 30 degrees and for 85 degrees. Temperature in Africa varies often and quickly

Safari 2: 4 Days / 3 Nights Victoria Falls and Chobe Safari Tour Package Highly Recommend – Work with Joseph Moyo – African Coast Travel and Tours

Day 1: Arrival in Victoria Falls

Meet and greet at Victoria Falls Airport and transfer to 2 nights stay. (Victoria Falls Safari Hotel) and in the afternoon embark on afternoon Sunset Cruise on Zambezi River and dinner at the hotel following.

Day 2: Early morning visit to Zambia for Microlight over Victoria Falls. ($280)

After that, a drive to the rainforest for a guided tour of Victoria Falls

Transportation to the The Lion Walk ($150)

Boma Dinner

Day 3: Transfer to Victoria Falls Hotel (did not want to change hotels but fell in love with this hotel)

At 7:30 AM drive toward Kasane Botswana for a full day excursion; 2 – 3 hour activities in the famous Chobe National Park (4×4 game drive vehicle and boat cruise). Boat cruise includes the opportunity to see waders and water birds along the river and the ever present crocodiles and lurking hippos. After 3 hours, a satisfying lunch is provided at a restaurant along the river. Guests then head off for a game drive for 3 hours.

Chobe has the highest elephant density in the world. Frequent lion sightings along with various giraffes, antelope, and warthogs and monkeys – will return to Victoria Falls hotel by 6:30 PM


Day 4: Transfers to Victoria Falls Airport (flight around 1 pm)

Following this, we flew to Capetown.

Arrival 4 PM in Capetown

Drove directly to Table Mountain. High winds did not allow for a cable car but the view was incredible.

After this, drove to the Capetown Hilton which is directly across from Bo-Kaap (famous colored buildings)

Dinner drove to the Capetown Waterfront. Huge Mall, Outdoor Experience including a Ferris Wheel.

Day 2: Drove around the Best of Capetown sites that take you all around the coast and took all day ending in the wine country (8 hours) – Map Below

After this trip, I have been asked…what would I do differently….the only thing is add more days but honestly, this was perfect for a first visit to Africa.

What we were not aware of:

1. Water is safe. We drank bottled water.

2. Food is delicious. Safari food is amazing!!

3. Temperatures range – pack accordingly

4. Dusty everywhere. Brown, khaki, green – no neon or bright colors

5. June/ July were cooler but loved that it was not super hot – also minimal mosquitos and snakes

6. US cash is hard to get especially in Zimbabwe. ATMs do not always work and cash even in South Africa was challenging as it was rejected for fraud even with a call and travel warning given from me prior to the trip.

7. Cell phone service – check before you go. On Verizon, with an international plan, South Africa was unlimited call and text $10 per day. Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia were much more expensive. We waited to use wi-fi in hotels when we entered the other countries.

8. Zimbabwe – again bring US cash – do not expect to get cash from a bank or machine. Food is expensive.

9. Zimbabwe and Zambia: It is highly recommended to take a tour across the border as renting a car can be complicated in this area.

Questions? Just ask!




A travel, home, & lifestyle blog written by Heidi Stevenson. Follow along for affordable ways to travel, sophisticated and savvy style, expensive looks for less for the home, and everyday style



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