We’ve all heard the stories about camps in Botswana that cost more than a month’s rent and yes, a trip to the holy-grail of safari destinations can be expensive. But just like anywhere in the world, you can bring the cost down if you know where to look. We’ve packaged up our top tips and tricks for saving some pennies to show you ways to plan an affordable Botswana safari.
Travel in the shoulder season
The golden rule to planning an affordable Botswana safari is to check your dates of travel. June to September is the peak season over most of Botswana, and good deals are thin on the ground. Instead, check out the ‘shoulder season’ (typically April/May and October/November) or even the green season (January to March). Camps can slash their rates by up to 40% and if you choose your location carefully, the game viewing is just as fabulous. Try Khwai Tented Camp, Xakanaxa or Machaba Camp in the Moremi Concession of the Delta, a spot so jam-packed with animals, it doesn’t matter which time of year you choose!
One of our favourite ways to get up close and personal with the wildlife – after all, there’s nothing that sparks a frisson of excitement quite like sleeping in a tent – a Botswana mobile safari is also an excellent way to save money. So, why are mobile safaris cheaper? The simple answer is that you’re not paying for a permanent camp and all the trappings that go with it. Check out Letaka Safaris for trips in the Delta and Kalahari, and Safari Life Africa for mobiles around Northern Botswana, guided by the legendary Clinton Edwards.
Check out the new offerings
In their first season of operation, new camps will often come in with a fabulous introductory offer making for an excellent affordable Botswana safari. The deals might not be advertised to the world and his wife, so you need to know where to look if you want to plan an affordable Botswana safari – that’s where we can help! Eco-operator Natural Selection have recently opened funky Hyena Pan in the Delta and taken over old favourite Camp Kalahari in Makgadigadi. You heard it here first… And we don’t think they’ll go up too much in price either.
Stick to one or two locations
It’s easy to forget sometimes that internal flights can rocket the cost of a safari, and Botswana is no exception. Forget about cramming in as many areas and camps as possible – to plan an affordable Botswana safari, you need to be looking at a couple of well-chosen areas and camps and we think pre-set itineraries are definitely the way to go here. Take for example our trips Vic Falls & Okavango Delta explorer (combining some of Africa’s most famous watery wonderlands) or Follow the paths of the San Bushmen (an adventure learning about Botswana’s indigenous people through the Kalahari Desert, ending with some wildlife watching at the Delta), starting from £2.6k ($3100) and £3.5k ($4100) respectively.
Try something different!
It might sound contradictory, but straying from the ‘traditional’ Botswana safari, in 4×4 vehicles and fully-catered lodges, can save you some serious pennies and give you a pretty fantastic experience too. Oddballs’ Camp offers guests multi-day mokoro safaris along a variety of off-the-beaten-track Okavango Delta waterways and sleeping on a different island every night, for a very good price. Similarly, David Foot’s Ride Botswana seven-day horseback safari will take you into the hidden corners of the Delta (and up the adventure quota!) on an affordable Botswana safari with a difference.
Research your camps
Something extraordinary has happened in safari-land in recent years; plunge pools, mini-bars and even private butlers, more at home in the swankiest hotels, have become completely normal. In fact, sometimes, they even seem expected. And we wonder why camps and lodges are so expensive? But there are affordable Botswana safari camps out there – ones that are a little less flashy, a little more quirky and just as lovely. Our favourites are Meno a Kwena, an eccentric tented camp in the Makgadigadi, and Pom Pom Camp for budget bliss in the heart of the Okavango Delta.