SAFARI TIME: How to book a cheap Safari and not die in the attempt.

When in Kenya, doing a Safari is almost a must, but how to book a cheap safari?. When we first decided we wanted to go to Kenya, we didn’t really know much about the country, and that was mostly what made it interesting for us: discovering something we really know nothing about. Later we heard people usually come here for Safari, many times combined with beach holidays in the paradisiac beaches of Mombasa and Diani.

How to book a cheap safari?

We had never done a safari before, so we started looking at the options and prices. There are many parks where you can go see the animals, but the one where most people go and where you have more chances to see “The big 5” is Masai Mara. This is not the largest park in Kenya, but is actually part of the Serengeti in Tanzania, which is massive. The biggest one in Kenya is Tsavo (west and east), which is in between Nairobi and Mombasa, probably the two cities you would visit if you are in Kenya.

After a lot of research and reading, we figured out a few things:

  1. Safari companies often combine Masai Mara with Nakuru and Naivasha parks, or Tsavo with Amboseli.
  2. There are Safari options from one day to two weeks, depending on how many parks you want to cover and how many days. Also, some companies will adapt to the route you would like to do ($$$$).
  3. Safaris can be as expensive as you want: you can sleep in camps with electricity just a few hours a day, or you can sleep in luxurious hotels with swimming pools. Both just by the parks.
  4. If you go for the budget option, you will go in a van (roof pops up during Safari to watch the animals) with a group of people. More expensive options will take you in a fancier vehicle, such as a jeep. There are even airstrips IN the parks, so if you go for the most expensive package, you could fly from one park to another (avoiding what we later found out, the VERY bumpy roads)
  5. There are private safaris $$$$$, or what they call “group joining safari”. Will explain this more later.
  6. Prices differ a lot. The website safaribookings.com can be really helpful to see options and budgets, but you cannot book through them so the prices are only approximations. If you book it from your European home country through an agency, you are paying at least 30% more. If you book it online directly with the company, you will still pay more. The cheapest way to book it is actually going to their physical office (in Nairobi there are many companies).
  7. As in all touristic experiences, there is high and low seasons. The best time to do a Safari is around end of August – September, when the great migration occurs. This is an incredible happening, when millions of wildebeests cross the Mara river risking their lives to the hippos and crocodiles, to go to the Serengeti, following the rains in search of fresher grass. Also, depending of what kind of holiday you want, keep in mind rain seasons in Kenya.

The budget friendly solution

Learning all this took us some time, and we were closer of knowing what we wanted. We did not want to use a high budget for this as we are trying to travel low cost, so we can travel longer, but we have no rush. Our choice was for a Masai Mara, Nakuru and Naivasha combination, 5 days in total. We wanted the budget group joining option, no need for fancy hotels at this moment. With that, I saw on www.safaribookings.com that prices would be around 100 $ per person per day. I messaged a few companies and we got replies with budgets much much higher than that. We started to get desperate – also because we were booking so last minute, literally the day before-. Later we realised that maybe the budget they were giving us was for a private safari, but we were not interested in a private one anyway. We like meeting people!

We managed to book a cheap safari!

So Richard’s idea was to hop on an Uber, go to the office of a safari company and ask for quotation. Surprisingly, without even having to bargain, we got a price of 80$ per person per night. And could join a group the next day. Yay!!!!

That’s why we mentioned above, this is for sure the cheapest way of booking your safari. This is because there are no intermediators getting commissions. We asked everyone we met on the way during the safari and no one paid less than us, booking months or weeks in advance from their home countries. Now that you know how to book a cheap safari, go for it!

You can also read how to do the cheapest safari ever in South Africa here

4 thoughts on “SAFARI TIME: How to book a cheap Safari and not die in the attempt.

  1. Hey, I was wondering which office you went to in Nairobi and if you think it’d be possible to do this in February?

    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment. We went to Karibu Safaris, their office is in Muindi Mbingu streeet in Nairobi. We went in October and we could arrange the Safari for the next day for 80$ per person per day. I’d say that in February it should be fine as well. However, maybe it’s a good idea to give them a call beforehand? Otherwise I would suggest you go to the office as soon as you arrive in Nairobi and plan a few days extra just in case they don’t have availability right away. But I’m quite sure they will have! We did 5 days in total, 3 in masai mara and then Nakuru and Naivasha. We would recommend Masai Mara and Nakuru. I fyou don’t have much time just skip Naivasha.
      Let us know how your trip went! I hope you will enjoy Kenya to the fullest!

  2. Hi,

    What did this 80 USD include? Is it only for transport or transport, full board accommodation, safari game drives?

    We are planning a trip in Sep end this year and just looking at the best options.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Priyanka,

      Thanks for your comment and for reading us! The 80USD included all transport, pick up from our hotel, all the way to the parks and the game drives, and drop off at our hotel again. Also included accomodation, in our case we stayed 2 nights in Masai Mara in a camp sleeping in a big private tent with two beds and bathroom, one night in a simple hotel near the park Nakuru, private room with bathroom, and one night in a simple hotel near Naivasha, as well private room with bathroom. All meals were included, breakfast at the accomodation, lunch on the way, and dinner at the accomodation. Also 1l of water per person (so we recommend taking some more with you, or you can always buy some drinks at the accomodation but a bit more expensive). I’m almost sure that on the same range of price, all companies offer exaclty the same.

      I think September is a great time. They say that the time of the great migration is changing a bit the past years, hopefully you get to see it! I hope you have a great experience. If you have any more questions just ask! And let us know how your trip went afterwards!

      – Blanca and Richard

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