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:
- Safari companies often combine Masai Mara with Nakuru and Naivasha parks, or Tsavo with Amboseli.
- 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 ($$$$).
- Safaris can be as expensive as you want: you can sleep in camps with electricity just a few hours a day, or you can sleep in luxurious hotels with swimming pools. Both just by the parks.
- If you go for the budget option, you will go in a van (roof pops up during Safari to watch the animals) with a group of people. More expensive options will take you in a fancier vehicle, such as a jeep. There are even airstrips IN the parks, so if you go for the most expensive package, you could fly from one park to another (avoiding what we later found out, the VERY bumpy roads)
- There are private safaris $$$$$, or what they call “group joining safari”. Will explain this more later.
- 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).
- 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