10 Safaris That Offer Unforgettable Experiences for Every Budget
Once upon a time, a safari tour was the preserve of the wealthy and well-connected, but things are changing in the safari travel industry. This once-exclusive type of trip is now accessible to more travelers all around the world.
The most famous of safari destinations, Africa boasts a mind-bending display of rare and beautiful animals, dramatic landscapes, and adventure activities — but it was once pricey. As Leigh Barnes, North America regional director for Geckos Adventures told Travel Weekly, the safari market is rapidly diversifying — and getting cheaper in the process.
“It has long been seen as a luxury experience, out of reach to the young backpacker,” he said, noting that when Geckos introduced three new African tours they were instantly popular.
Of course, it’s now possible to take a safari anywhere: The verdant South American jungle offers the traditional jeep-tour experience, with a range of exotic animals to spot. And if you’re after a luxury bush experience rather than a budget one, there’s no shortage of opulent safari tours all over the world; Dubai, Zanzibar, Tanzania and even the North Pole, offer some of the best.
Related: The 10 Best Safari Lodges in Africa
Whichever safari style you opt for, know that there is always preparation involved before you go. You’ll need to check with your health provider for information on vaccinations and ensure that you read the trip itinerary in detail so you know if you’ll be comfortable getting up close and personal with the animals or on any included safari activities.
Here are 10 of the most incredible safaris, available for your traveling pleasure right now, that you'll want to check out.
Victoria Falls Safari Zimbabwe and South Africa, Geckos Adventure
This millennial-focused, jam-packed safari extravaganza is perfect for those who want to see a lot in a little amount of time and socialize with other travelers along the way for a pretty unbeatable price. An immersive group trip, participants get the opportunity to see all the animals Zimbabwe and South Africa have to offer under the guise of Geckos’ expert local trip leaders. The tour starts at Zimbabwe’s stunning Victoria Falls (one of the seven natural wonders of the world) where a stroll around will have you spotting rainbows, revelling at the crashing curtain of water — and getting absolutely soaking wet. Optional activities in the local area also include; taking an adrenaline-pumping zip wire or bungee jump into the nearby gorge, a helicopter ride over the falls, and whitewater rafting. Later, it’s time to cross the border into South Africa and enter the world-famous Kruger National Park, where two epic nights will be spent spotting the Big Five game of Africa: lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino.
Victoria Falls Safari Zimbabwe and South Africa, Geckos Adventure ($841/person for 9 days)
Northern Tanzania and Zanzibar Safari, Scott Dunn
Explore and indulge on this luxury safari trek across Northern Tanzania and Zanzibar and bear witness to some of Africa’s most breathtaking wildlife destinations; Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara to name but a few. This trip ends on an idyllic ice-white beach in Zanzibar and you’ll travel in style and comfort throughout. Itineraries are tailor-made but the twelve night package includes five nights at the stunningly beautiful Breezes Beach Club & Spa on the East coast of Zanzibar, plus four days and nights tracking the wildebeest migration and resident game at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Serengeti national park.
Northern Tanzania and Zanzibar Safari, Scott Dunn (from $9,995/person for 12 days), 858-523-9000
Lost Land of the Jaguar Safari, WildLife Worldwide
A South American safari is a little different to an African one; instead of spotting the Big Five in savannah grasslands, you could be climbing through lush vegetation in search of exotic animals you’ve never even heard of. This Latin tour with a difference takes place in Guyana and begins in the capital city of Georgetown, before things move to the dense and verdant Iwokrama Forest, which covers some 3,710 square kilometers of central Guyana. It’s here that you might spot red howler monkeys, red-and-green macaws, black spider monkeys and black caimans. Other safari highlights include; a walk on the open savannah of Surama, a climb to the low summit of Surama Mountain, a boat trip on Burro-Burro River to track river otter, tapir, tayra, spider monkey and tropical birds, a boat road to Awarmie Mountain and, a visit to the grass ponds of the Rewa River to see the world’s largest freshwater fish. Full-board accommodation at a selection of comfortable lodges is usually included in quotes.
Lost Land of the Jaguar Safari, WildLife Worldwide (enquire for 13-day price)
Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Rwanda and Uganda, African Adventures
Uganda is perfect for treks and primate-spotting. This five-day Africa Adventure trip would suit the time-pressed traveler searching for an affordable (and less commercial) adventure — but there’s also opportunity for extension and upgrade along the way. This tour kicks off in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali with an informative tour of the Kigali Genocide Museum, after which travelers will be driven north, across the border to Uganda’s Bwindi forest and national park, with stop-offs for scenic photographs along the way. The national park is located in stunning southwestern Uganda and the second day of the tour is jam-packed with gorilla tracking through the verdant Bwindi jungle. The next day participants get the chance to take a scenic drive to Queen Elizabeth National Park via the Ishasha sector for sightings of lions, elephants, topi and antelope before embarking on a gorgeous two hour boat cruise along the Kazinga channel to spot hippos, buffaloes, crocodiles and more.
Bwindi Gorilla Trekking Rwanda and Uganda, African Adventures ($1,850/person for 5 days)
Southern Namibia Camping Safari, African Budget Safaris
This Namibia tour is for travelers in search of a unique, off-the-beaten-track destination — that also happens to be stunning value. The reasonable price is achieved by camping throughout the tour which begins in Windhoek. Participants will check out the rolling hills of the orange Kalahari Desert before heading to the breathtaking Fish River Canyon and onto the scenic landscapes of the Namib Desert, the towering Sossusvlei Dunes and the awe-inspiring Sesriem Canyon. Other tour highlights included in this tour are a visit through the coastal, colonial town of Lüderitz, the desert ghost town of Kolmanskop and Klein Aus and an optional visit to the Mesosaurus Fossil Site and quiver trees.
Southern Namibia Camping Safari, African Budget Safaris ($1,115/person for 7 days)
Svalbard Photography Polar Safari, Natural World Safaris
Who said a safari has to take place in warm climates? Natural World Safaris offers the chance to track the movement of polar bears and other wildlife in the mesmerizingly ethereal (and very cold) Svalbard archipelago, situated between Norway and the North Pole. Starting in the small town of Longyearbyen, travelers will set sail along the sparkling white coast in M/S Freya, photographing a diverse selection of Arctic wildlife along the way, like whales, reindeer, walruses and, of course, polar bears. Travelers also get the opportunity to venture out on Zodiac excursions and shore landings, hear informative lectures from guides and dine with the Captain on the final night. This is one lesser-known safari tour that’s guaranteed to stand out from all the rest.
Svalbard Photography Polar Safari, Natural World Safaris ($10,264/person for 11 days)
Classic Tanzania Tour, Jacada Travel
Take a tailor-made, opulent safari tour to uncover some of Tanzania's best wildlife in style. Jacada Travel offer packages to the epic Ngorongoro Crater and North Serengeti plains, allowing travellers to choose from a selection of the most atmospheric luxury lodge accommodation along the way. A sample itinerary involves starting things off at Kilimanjaro and staying at one of Tanzania’s largest coffee plantations, which is equipped with luxury a pool. Days 2-4 would be spent at the mesmerising Ngorongoro Crater - one of Africa’s best and most beautiful places to spot the Big Five, which is the permanent home to roughly 25,000 animals. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, nestled high up in the edges of the Crater with a private butler service on-site, is the most exclusive accommodation from which to relax, unwind and keep watch of the animal activity below. Days 4-8 can be enjoyed in North Serengeti in the luxurious tented camps, Serengeti Bushtops, which are built on raised wooden platforms on the hillside, ensuring fantastic view of the landscape.
Classic Tanzania Tour, Jacada Travel (from $7,861/person for 8 days)
Kenya Wildlife Safari, Intrepid Travel
If you’re keen to uncover authentic Kenya in all its glory, opt for this utterly individual and participatory Intrepid Travel tour. Travelers will be expected to pitch in and help with camp set-up and food prep from time to time, which helps keeps costs down, create a truly immersive experience and of course, facilitates all that group bonding. Starting and ending in the eclectic city of Nairobi, this 8 day African extravaganza is perfect for travelers in search of a safari that allows them to connect with both locals and other like-minded travelers. It includes; the opportunity to meet and learn about the fascinating way of life from Maasai warriors, a trip to the incredible Masai Mara National Reserve for an epic full-day game drive, a rhino-spotting trip in the beautiful Lake Nakuru National Park and the opportunity to check out Hell's Gate National Park, which boasts breathtaking cliffs, towering gorges, spectacular rock towers, volcanoes and the lush Lake Naivasha.
Kenya Wildlife Safari, Intrepid Travel, ($1,035/person for 8 days)
Platinum Luxury Desert Safari Dubai, Platinum Heritage
Take a day trip into Dubai’s desert wonderland and enjoy fine dining under the stars with this uniquely opulent Middle Eastern experience. Led by an expert safari guide, guests will be led on a journey through the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve to find exotic and native wildlife. Later they’ll enjoy sunset canapes (which include white truffle infused custard, blue swimmer crab and caviar) and a six course dinner as well as the option for camel rides, henna tattoos, private bellydance performances and aromatic shisha pipes. There is also the option for a private falconry show and a portion of the fee is contributed towards local conservation.
Platinum Luxury Desert Safari Dubai, Platinum Heritage (from $408/person for one day)
Big 5 Volunteer Wildlife Conservation South Africa, African Impact
If eco-travel is your thing, enjoy getting up close and personal with exotic animals in South Africa as you contribute to a project that is dedicated to their preservation and conservation. The two-week volunteer project will allow participants to join field guides and researchers on game drives in one of the most famous wildlife spots in the country, the Greater Kruger Area, a location of stunning natural beauty which is thriving with animal activity. Volunteers will assist with the tracking of the leopard, rhino, lion, buffalo and elephant and will help protect endangered and at-risk species.
Big 5 Volunteer Wildlife Conservation South Africa, African Impact ($2,109/person for 14 days)