How to See Africa on a Budget

Is it possible to see Africa on a budget? The answer is an easy yes. Read on to find out how. The vast continent of Africa, with its diverse cultures, abundant wildlife, dramatic landscapes, and unspoiled natural beauty, is a bucket list destination for many. But getting there is a challenge, especially with the costly flights and strict visa and vaccination requirements. Once you’re there, getting around can be an even bigger challenge. In many parts, the infrastructure is abysmal, making road trips inconvenient. There’s a lack of efficient public transport. Outside the big cities, quality accommodations are scarce and often overpriced. All these make Africa an expensive place to travel.

But don’t let this dishearten you. The continent is a diamond in the rough and full of gems waiting to be discovered. Travelling to Africa is a rich and enriching experience, so much so that many people consider it the trip of a lifetime.

Leopard in Chobe National Park - Botswana

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Visit out of Peak Season

It’s a no-brainer. Scheduling your trip with care will help you save money. The best time to travel to Africa is during the low season when hotels offer reduced rates and flights are much cheaper. You may even find a discounted all-inclusive tour and day trip package. Some experts claim that visitors can save around 20 to 40 per cent on safaris and other travel expenses outside the peak season. That’s a substantial amount! Best of all, the attractions aren’t as crowded.

March and June or October and December are the off-peak months. During these times, the continent experiences the rainy season, and the weather can be wet, hot and humid. The rainfalls are usually brief, and you still get plenty of sun. Be sure to bring light and loose clothing made of breathable fabric to cope with the temperature. Also, apply some sunscreen and keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.

Volunteer

We all know accommodations in Africa can be pricey. But there is a way around this. You can join a volunteer programme in exchange for affordable lodgings. Volunteering is not only practical but is also a meaningful way to give back to the community. Who does not like the idea of doing a good act and making a significant impact whilst enjoying the best Africa and saving money?

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Volunteer programmes are not free. You will pay a modest amount to cover accommodations, meals, transportation, and travel insurance. You can use the money you saved to pay for trips or tours. Most volunteer programmes last for weeks or months. 

One of the most reputable volunteer programmes in Africa is in the volunteer field of medical and healthcare services. This project provides much-needed support and assistance to health workers at under-resourced facilities and communities. One project focuses on a 2-to-12-week rural healthcare and HIV/AIDS awareness programme in St. Lucia, South Africa.

Other programmes include community development, teaching, sports coaching, wildlife rescue, and environmental conservation. With the variety of options, you’re sure to find one that caters to your interest.

Cultural village dance show - Swaziland

Find budget airlines

The cost of a flight to Africa will take up a bulk of your budget. To circumvent this, research for the lowest flight rates using an airline aggregator website such as Skyscanner. Fill out your point of departure, your destination in Africa and your expected travel date, and the site will pull up information from carriers to help you choose the best deals. Popular budget airlines include Fly 540, Ethiopian Airlines, Kulula, Fastjet, Mango, Dana Air, Flydubai, Skywise, Flysafair, and JamboJet. They also offer budget-friendly domestic flights.

Budget airlines may not be as comfortable as full-service airlines, but they allow you to save money. Cheaper flights most likely will also have several layovers. Regardless of which country your destination is, your international flight will stop by the transport hub in a major city. For Southern Africa, it’s Johannesburg and Cape Town; Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi for East Africa; Cairo and Casablanca for Northern Africa; and Lagos and Dakar for West Africa.

Find the right safari

From permit costs to guide fees and vehicle rentals, safaris can be the most expensive part of your holiday. But it would be a shame to visit Africa and not join a safari. Some tour operators include unnecessary extras to the package and end up charging guests more than what’s worth. Do your research and choose with care. Consider new camps, learn about self-guided safaris in national parks, and check out less-popular options. You might want to team up with other travellers and go for a group tour so you can divide the expenses. Some hostels organise group assembling for solo travellers. 

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Always verify the inclusions and exclusions of your tour to avoid paying extra for services that are not part of the package. Most deals include food and drinks, water, accommodations, tips, guide fees, and entrance fees.
The Serengeti is one of the most well-known safari destinations in Africa. If you want a more budget-friendly option, go for lesser-known parks. There are cheaper parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya with the same fascinating wildlife. If you’re travelling in a pack, look for family holiday safaris for the best value for your money, if you’re going to go all the way to Kenya for a family safari, it’s worth going the extra mile and making the most of it.

Looking out at Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe

Choose cheaper places in Africa

Some places in Africa are more expensive due to high tourist demand. Other countries, such as Zambia, use a high-value, low-impact model, wherein the government imposes hefty fees, so fewer tourists visit. The purpose of this scheme is to avoid overcrowding and preserve the country’s natural environment.

Explore countries with a lower cost of living. Usually, the accommodations, food, and public transportation there are cheaper. According to a 2022 survey, the most expensive country to visit in Africa is Zambia, which has an average daily travel price of $756 per person. Seychelles follows with $156, Swaziland with $123, Senegal with $119, and Cape Verde with $111. Some of the cheaper countries to visit are Rwanda with $23.32, Egypt with $34, Morocco with $44, Ethiopia with $49 and Botswana with $54.

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