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Cost breakdown of budget, middle-range, and luxury safaris in South Africa

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

There are so many options when choosing a safari package in South Africa, but it is usually the cost of the trip that determines the final decision. To make it easier for you, this article will provide a breakdown of budget, middle-range, and luxury safari packages in South Africa.

What is a standard safari package?

This analysis is based on a standard safari package, which typically includes two safari game drives per day and lodge/safari camp accommodation with meals or on-site restaurant facilities.

In most lodges, adding extra safari activities to your package is available at an additional cost but there is usually the option of exchanging one safari activity for another (for example, a game drive for a bush walk).

Location of the reserve will also affect the cost, as a five-star safari package in KwaZulu-Natal may work out to be more affordable than a five-star safari package in the renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

It is up to the traveler to decide how many nights they wish to spend on safari. We recommend a minimum of two nights to give yourself more opportunity to spot Africa’s Big Five and to adapt to the rhythm of Africa’s wilderness.



Budget Safaris

R2000-R3500 pp per night

Middle-range Safaris

R3500 – R8000 pp per night

Luxury Safaris

R8000 – R14 000 pp per night

Luxury Plus

R14000 – R30 000 pp per night

This cost breakdown is based on the following factors:

  • Safaris offering lodge/safari camp accommodation within a reserve

  • Safaris offering meals and restaurant facilities

  • Safaris offering open vehicle game drive activities

  • Safaris offering Africa's Big Five (this means that sightings of lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo are possible)

Please note: ‘Single occupancy’ rates are always higher than the ‘per person sharing’ rate; High and low seasons affect the rate; location of the reserve will affect the rate (depending on the popularity of the location)

Standard safari package items

  • Safari Game Drives

Two game drives per day in a Big Five Game Reserve conducted in an open-safari vehicle by a wildlife guide and tracker. These drives depart at approximately 5am/6am in the morning and 33.30pm/4.30pm in the afternoon as temperatures are cooler and the animals are usually more active.

  • Lodge accommodation in a Big Five Game Reserve

Staying in a Big Five Game Reserve is part and parcel of an authentic safari experience. A standard safari package will include comfortable accommodation in a lodge or camp, whether you have booked budget, middle-range or a luxury safari.

  • Meals

Breakfast is generally included in most safari packages, with some packages including lunch and dinner as well. Catering facilities are available on-site.

We are now able to review how each of these package items are affected when booking a budget, middle-range and luxury South African Safari.

Budget South African Safari

When booking a budget safari package, the quality of the experience (Big Five game viewing) is not impacted, but you may not have all the bells and whistles that a middle-range or luxury safari may offer.

  • Safari Game Drives

Guests can look forward to an authentic African safari experience with two game drives per day in a Big Five Game Reserve, with great opportunities for Big Five sightings.

  • Lodge accommodation in a Big Five Game Reserve

Clean and comfortable lodge or camp accommodation can be expected, with en-suite bathroom facilities.

  • Meals

Breakfast will come included in this safari package option, and occasionally with certain places, you may have dinner included as well.

Please note: Although we have used the term 'budget' for this safari cost bracket (R2000-R3500) you will be pleasantly surprised by the star rating of many of these lodges, which are frequented by locals who enjoy quality safari experiences.

Middle-range South African Safari

  • Safari Game Drives

Two game drives per day in a Big Five Game Reserve with snacks and drinks served on both game drives. Bush walks are usually offered as an alternative to game drives for middle-range safaris; however, this is dependent on the chosen lodge and location.

  • Lodge accommodation in a Big Five Game Reserve

You can expect attention to detail in a middle-range safari package, from the rooms to the excellent service. Lodges will have swimming pools to lounge at during the day between your morning and afternoon game drives; and spa and gym facilities may also be on offer. (In some places baby-sitting services can be arranged at an extra cost).

  • Meals

Breakfast and dinner are part of the package, and occasionally lunch as well. There are also options for those with specific dietary needs.

Luxury South African Safari

  • Safari Game Drives

Two game drives per day in a Big Five Game Reserve with snacks and drinks served on both game drives. Nature walks and Big Game viewing walks are often extra or exchangeable safari activities included in this package. (Taking part in conservations projects, for example rhino dehorning, is also available on luxury safari packages at an extra cost).

  • Lodge accommodation in a Big Five Game Reserve

Aside from communal areas at the lodge like swimming, gym and lounge facilities, your luxury room will usually feature a private plunge pool, an outdoor shower, and a well-stocked personal bar. A luxury lodge is usually equipped with an on-site spa that offers guests a variety of treatments, as well as a safari shop for souvenir purchases. Laundry services are also available to guests.

  • Meals

Five-star cuisine can be expected, with all meals included in your stay, and a selection of local wines, spirits, and soft drinks.

Additional costs involved when going on safari in South Africa

  • Flights to South Africa from UK & US

  • Average cost of flight ex London Heathrow to Cape Town International Airport would be GBP600

  • Average cost of flight ex New York to Cape Town USD1200

  • Visas costs for UK passport holders are NIL for stays under 90 days

  • Visas costs for US passport holders are NIL for stays under 90 days

  • Travel Insurance approximately USD150 per person for US citizens - dependent however on one’s age

  • Travel Insurance approximately GBP115 per person for British citizens - dependent however on one’s age

  • Yellow Fever vaccinations may be required, should you have visited a country recently that has the virus. We advise visiting your GP for further recommendations on vaccinations.

  • Airport transfers to safari destination vary according to distance and the number of guests, with an average cost of GBP150 for a three-hour road transfer in a 4-seater vehicle.

  • Average cost of a meal at a lodge GBP12

  • Mandatory Conservation Levy at a Big Five Game Reserve would cost an average of GBP8 per day per person

  • Gratuities in South Africa are generally done in Rands although foreign notes are also accepted. Tipping at restaurants is 10 % of the total bill. Tipping your guide and tracker at the end of your trip is at your discretion but a guideline would be a minimum of GBP5 per day for both.

The cost of a safari in South Africa is very much up to the individual and as discussed, the number of days, standard of accommodation, and location of the game reserve will determine the price of the package. Embarking on unique safari activities over and above the standard safari package will also influence the cost of the safari.

Should you require any assistance in booking a South African safari we would love to be of help and can be contacted at

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