Kenya Budget Camping Safaris

All the information you need to plan your dream safari in east Africa

A Complete Guide to Kenya Safari Costs

Going on safari has never been easier with a host of locations available to visit. Here we look at the basic price of setting up a trip to Kenya with additional information about the extra costs that you might incur along the way.

That includes whether you’re heading for a budget break or fancy relaxing in luxury and style while seeing all the wonderful wildlife the country has to offer.

If you have put a safari to the far-flung Republic of Kenya in East Africa on your bucket list, you’re not alone. Around 2 million tourists visit the region every year and most are looking to see animals in the wild. It’s one of the most amazing places on the planet and is likely to be the single most memorable trip you ever take.

The good news is there is a range of options when you are planning a safari in Kenya whatever your budget.

Overall the average cost could set you back around $3,000 (£2,400) for a 10-day trip. Within this, there are budget, mid-price and luxury options. If you’re on a tight budget for your safari in Kenya, for example, you’ll need to set aside around $1,700 (£1,400). If you’re booking a luxury experience with most everything included, however, a 10-day trip to Kenya is likely to set you back at least $10,000 (£8,200).

This does not include flights, your insurance, or any visa fees that you might have to pay.

Here we take a look at three options when it comes to Kenya safari costs – budget, mid-range and luxury safaris – and how these break down for a 10-day to two-week holiday break of a lifetime.

Kenya Safaris: A Quick Guide

Kenya is a remarkable country and it’s one of the most popular places to visit for a safari. The country lies on the east side of Africa, opening onto the Indian Ocean, and the people are generally welcoming and friendly. It’s a land of open savannahs, and impressive mountains and has one of the most diverse wildlife populations on the planet today.

If your idea of an amazing experience is watching wildebeest in their thousands drinking next to a river, elephants and hippos in action as the sun goes down or a herd of lions hunting their prey, then it’s pretty certain that a Kenya safari is going to tick all the boxes on your wish list.

The country has 15 national reserves, 24 amazing national parks and 6 marine parks across more than half a million square kilometres. The most visited national park in Kenya is the Maasai Mara which is home to the great wildebeest migration (which takes place between July and August). Covering 1,500 square kilometres it’s home to lions and cheaters, hippos and zebras and a whole host of other wildlife in their natural habitat.

Another great location is Lake Nakuru where you’ll find colourful pink flamingos, snuffling warthogs and cheeky baboons to name just a few. If you want to visit a location that seems to traverse eco-systems, then Amboseli National Park is the perfect place to spend some time, especially with the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro draped in the snow in the distance.

Budget Safaris in Kenya: How Much Do They Cost?

Average price (excluding flights/insurance/visa fees): Between $1,000 and $1,7000 (£820 – £1,400).

If you’re hardy of nature and don’t mind a vacation without all the comforts of home, then there are quite a few budget options when it comes to a Kenya safari. You still get to see plenty of wildlife and visit exotic locations but your accommodation is more likely to be a tent with some basic (and shared) amenities. You’ll likely be sharing your safari with lots of other people from all around the world and you have no choice in who your neighbours will be.

These holidays can be a bit difficult to plan for and you need to be aware of what is included and what isn’t. For example, a budget safari generally doesn’t provide accommodation before or after the actual safari starts. That means you’ll have to organise a room for the night (or even two or three) if you are arriving before everything begins.

A budget safari in Kenya generally attracts younger travellers who are looking for a bit of adventure and are happy to muddle through with often uncomfortable accommodation. If there is hotel accommodation included in the price it is likely to be fairly basic too which can be a little challenging.

Having said that, if your attitude is that the wildlife is the most important thing and you don’t mind slumming it with the rest of the world, this is a great way to have an experience of a lifetime without spending too much – if you’re the gregarious type, there’s no limit to the number of new friends you can make.

Example of a Budget Kenya Safari

One of the most popular safaris is run by Intrepid and covers major locations such as the Maasai Mara, Lake Victoria and camping on the Serengeti as well as visits to remote market towns. The current cost is about $1,400 (£1,200) and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. This Kenya safari is aimed specifically at 18- to 29-year-olds but there are others available that cater to the older generation on a budget.

One of the great things about this kind of safari is that you get up close and personal to the local wildlife. The night on the Serengeti is spent out in the open while being guarded by local guides, giving you a completely immersive experience, you will never forget. The price includes the safari itself and doesn’t cover things like flights to the start location.

What Amenities Can You Expect on a Budget Kenya Safari?

As we’ve said, the amenities are likely to be fairly basic and if you love all the comforts away from home this might not be the best option for you. So what do you get for money on a budget safari? It should include:

  • Breakfast, lunch and supper: You have no real control over these meals and what is supplied so it’s worth reading reviews before you book. Most companies nowadays can cater for specialist diets but you need to contact them beforehand to make sure.
  • Transport is usually across land via safari vehicles and that can be quite uncomfortable for some people. If you are planning to fly, you’ll need to arrange this separately and pay for it out of your pocket.
  • Accommodation is either going to be in budget hotels or camps with tents and amenities such as showers and toilets are generally shared.
  • Activities can vary depending on the safari company but they usually include trips to local villages and game drives where you can get up close to the local wildlife with a professional guide and driver. Again, these tend to be group activities.
  • All fees for visits to parks are included in the price so you don’t need to worry about paying for them. Once the tour itself starts, all transportation will be free. Again, if you need to travel outside the safari, you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

Note: One thing to remember about any Kenya safari is water – it’s critical to carry supplies with you and it’s even more essential that this is bottled water.

What’s Not Included in a Budget Safari?

As you might expect with a budget Kenya safari, there are plenty of things that aren’t included in the price.

  • You’ll have to pay for your flights and transfers to and from the airport when you arrive and depart the country.
  • If you arrive before the safari starts you may well have to pay for accommodation until things get going. This also applies if your flight is not leaving straight after the safari finishes and you need to find a hotel room for one or two nights. Hotels in Nairobi can be relatively inexpensive if you shop around, however, with prices around $30 (£25) a night.
  • Most travel in budget safaris is by land and can be quite uncomfortable and lengthy, even if it is included in the price. If you’re planning to fly between different destinations for some reason, you’ll need to pay for those in addition to the safari as they are not included.
  • You may go to some locations where food and drink are available outside the normal itinerary. Generally, these are not included in the price of the Kenya safari and you will need to pay for them.
  • Most budget safaris don’t include beach time – one of the less talked about benefits of visiting Kenya. If you want to spend some time lounging next to the Indian Ocean, again you’ll need to pay extra, not least for accommodation which can be more expensive on the coast.

Top Tips for Surviving a Budget Kenya Safari

If you’re looking for an adventure of a lifetime and you don’t mind everything being basic (for many it’s part of the excitement), then a budget option has a lot to offer. One of the keys to having a good time is to travel light. You will often be carting luggage around from place to place so a sturdy rucksack is probably your best option.

Make sure that you have enough ready cash for emergencies or unexpected expenses, including having to hire travel. Our advice is also to shop around for the right Kenya safari – there are a lot to choose from. Do your due diligence and check reviews before you part with any money.

Budget Travel for Your Kenya Safari

You’ll also need to fund your flight to Kenya in the first place and prices can vary depending on the time of year. The high season in the country is considered around November to January so flights are more expensive at these times. Flights out of season can be very cheap between September and some airlines charge on average $400 (£300) for a round trip.

Mid-Range Safaris in Kenya: How Much Do They Cost?

Average price (excluding flights/insurance/visa fees): Between $1,800 and $3,900 (£1,500 – £3,200).

If comfort is your thing even on a safari, a mid-range option may be just what you are looking for. One of the key factors that help make up a traveller’s mind is that they get at least some time to spend at one of Kenya’s amazing beaches. There are some beautiful areas to explore along the coast and it is the perfect opportunity for some relaxing me-time, with clear blue seas and plenty of activities such as diving and fishing to take part in.

With coral reefs and camels lazily walking along the beach Diani is also a great place if you love surfing. Between Mombasa and Malindi, Kikambala is a wonderful place to see the sunset over the ocean and Mambrui is not only a great place to find isolation and peace but is home to some unique historic ruins.

When it comes to the safari, you can expect to be kept in more comfort when you visit Kenya for a mid-range budget option. This is often a good choice for those who have built up some funds and got their career going go – you’re likely to see more mature travellers around 30+ than young pups who are happy to slum it on a budget safari.

With a price range between $1,800 and $3,900 (£1,500 – £3,200) for mid-range safaris, there can be a lot of differences within this category. That’s why it’s important to look at what is available as just adding a few dollars to the overall price can certainly enhance your experience. It’s also a good idea to think about what sort of safari you want and how much you need comfort compared to the experience itself.

Example of a Mid-Range Kenya Safari

Seven by Far Travel offer an 11-day safari that covers most of the major national parks including Maasai Mara, Amboseli and Lake Nakuru and costs about $2,850 (£2,300) per person. Unlike most budget safaris you get collected from the airport though if you arrive early you will need to pay an extra cost for overnight accommodation.

The first part of the safari covers Amboseli National Park which is most famous for the spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro. You get to stay at a comfortable lodge and the afternoon is spent on a game drive, giving you your first real safari experience. Most accommodation is at lodges and country clubs along the way, places where there are plenty of amenities.

There is also the option to camp out under the night sky in some locations. There are some value-added extras in many of the mid-range safaris available such as this including balloon rides across areas like the Serengeti so it’s worth looking out for these.

As you might expect, all activities are carefully controlled and the benefit of eating and relaxing in comfort when the safari has finished for the day is worth the extra price for many. There’s also more chance to be on your own rather than tagged to a group all the time.

Prices for mid-range safari tend to come down the more people are in your group. For example, with the Seven by Far Travel 11-day safari, the price for someone travelling alone is $4,300 (£3,500) compared to $2,500 (£2,00) for two people sharing a room.

What Amenities Can You Expect on a Mid-Range Kenya Safari?

In general, the amenities for a mid-range safari are much better than if you are on a budget trip. You should expect hotel-quality accommodation with clean sheets and air conditioning, with meals served throughout the day. The vehicles used in the safari also tend to be newer and better maintained and hence more comfortable.

  • Your meals include breakfast, lunch and dinner for the entire duration of the safari, usually taken at one of the lodges or country clubs.
  • For the mid-range safari, some internal flights are included in the price if you need to travel that way. In general, though, you will be travelling in safari vehicles.
  • Most accommodation is in hotels or lodges but you will have the chance to camp outside. These campsites are normally well-equipped and properly maintained with more comfort than you might expect.
  • You can look forward to some amazing game drives in much less crowded vehicles than with the budget option. Some packages have visits to local Maasai villages and trips to the coast for some fresh sea air and relaxation.
  • All your park fees and other costs are covered in the price of the safari and you always have access to a professional guide with excellent local knowledge.
  • Most mid-range Kenya safari packages also ensure that you have access to fresh, bottled water.

What Isn’t Included in a Mid-Range Kenya Safari

While most things are included, there are a few circumstances where costs can be added to your Kenya Safari:

  • If you need accommodation before or after the safari starts or finishes (for example, if you have to wait a day or two for your flight home), then you will need to pay for that in addition to your initial outlay.
  • Some mid-range safaris may require internal flights so it’s important to check whether the cost of this is covered. A lot of the travelling, however, will be overland in a safari vehicle. If you want to avoid this and travel by air, you will need to pay the cost yourself.
  • There is a limit on the food and drinks available in the cost of the safari and you may have to pay extra at lodges if you want, for example, to sample the local wine or have a few beers.

Tips for Mid-Range Kenya Safari

The biggest challenge will be finding the perfect Kenya safari that meets your needs for the holiday of a lifetime. It’s worth looking at all the options available and checking the reviews. A little extra cost can go a long way and provide you with some amazing experiences including balloon rides over some of the national parks.

While Kenya is seen as a year-round destination for travel if you want to witness events such as the wildebeest migration you’ll need to pick your time carefully. The best period for this is between mid-August and the end of October. Between March and late May, the country is at its hottest and this is also the rainy season. 

Luxury Safaris in Kenya: How Much Do They Cost?

Average price (excluding flights/insurance/visa fees): Between $4,000 and $13,000 plus (£3,300 – £11,000).

If you are looking for a top-of-the-range safari that not only covers everything you need by lets you relax in the lap of luxury, there is plenty to choose from on a trip to Kenya. These types of safari are based on providing you with a good deal of customisation which means you have more control of what you see, what you do and where you stay.

Most of the accommodation is in top-quality, five-star hotels with amazing views and lots of amenities including spas and pools. The cost usually bundles everything together, including flights to and from the country and any additional accommodation.

Luxury safaris in Kenya tend to be more focused and you can design everything that you want to do. There is a wide range of choices here and choosing the right company to book with is usually more important than the itinerary.

Example of a Luxury Kenya Safari

Abercrombie & Kent specialises in a range of different trips to Kenya, all at the luxury end of the scale. Their 12-day Kenya and Tanzania safari is designed to for the experience of a lifetime and costs $10,895 (£9,000) per person.

It covers areas that you might expect including Maasai Mara and Amboseli as well as iconic locations such as the Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge. You also get to visit local villages and find out about the traditions of nomadic herders. All meals and accommodation are included in the price of your trip as well as access to hotel amenities such as spas and swimming pools.

The Most Expensive Kenya Safari

If you’re searching for the height of luxury when it comes to your Kenya safari then the team at Roar Africa have got everyone beaten. Their safari is exclusive and charges $125,000 (£103,000) per person to explore Africa including a stay at the Singita Kwitonda Lodge with a cost of $2,000 per night.

What Amenities Can You Expect on a Luxury Kenya Safari?

As these are generally considered top-of-the-range vacations, you would expect that most things are included in the price. It’s key when you look at luxury safaris that you check what is on offer and how much you can customise the experience.

  • All your flights to and from the safari location are included in the price. You are still paying for these but you also have a wider range of options available depending on your budget, including travel by private plane. The benefit is that you don’t need to worry about booking flights in addition to your safari.
  • The tour managers and local guides tend to be a lot more attentive on luxury safaris and are generally English-speaking with the appropriate high level of training.
  • Vehicles on a safari can be quite uncomfortable, especially on long journeys. You can expect a lot more comfort on luxury safaris with state-of-the-art vehicles and more privacy.
  • The accommodation is probably what really sets your luxury Kenya safari apart from the competition – it’s generally 5-star, the food is excellent and there are lots of different amenities, whichever part of the country you are visiting. You can also expect some spectacular views from the windows, with amazing sunsets and stunning vistas.
  • You get met and greeted by the safari company when you land in Kenya and they’ll handle all your luggage and get you to your hotel. Accommodation can include little luxuries like breakfast in bed and laundry services and you’ll always have good internet access.
  • The key to luxury safaris in Kenya is being able to customise your experience, whether you want to visit a certain location or take a balloon ride over Mount Kilimanjaro at sunset.

What Isn’t Included in a Luxury Kenya Safari?

The benefit of booking a luxury Kenya safari is that you get everything you need. It’s important to check what’s included and what may not be and whether this matters to you when deciding on the company and your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kenya Safari Costs

Organising a safari to Kenya can be complicated especially if you are looking to fit in as much as possible. Here are some of the questions that most people ask relating to the cost of this experience of a lifetime.

Will I Enjoy a Budget Safari?

While it’s often thought that a budget safari is best suited to the younger demographic, it can be a great experience for anyone as long as you don’t mind slumming it a little. Yes, the accommodation is pretty basic but the key to a safari is the experience itself and seeing some amazing animals in the wild.

It’s important to set your expectations at the right level and make sure you prepare properly. If you are someone who loves a comfortable bed with air conditioning wafting through the room, this may not be the best option for you. It’s also important to note that low-budget safaris are very popular and tend to attract lots of people from all sorts of different backgrounds.

If you like adventure, aren’t fussed about accommodation and want to tick something off your bucket list but also like meeting new people and sharing experiences, the budget Kenya safari option is a great choice. You’ll see a huge range of wonderful animals in the wild and breathtaking views of plains and mountains without a city in sight.

The good news is that tourism and safaris are a big part of the economy in Kenya and your guides and tour managers are likely to be highly friendly, very experienced and focused on helping you have the best time. Check out some reviews here.

Are Luxury Safaris Worth the Money?

This is the big question when it comes to differentiating between mid-range safaris and luxury ones and it all depends on the kind of experience you want to create. In short, luxury safaris are aimed at those that can afford them but who also want to customise their experience.

You get to put up in luxury, 5-star accommodation and you get access to some locations where there isn’t a lot of tourism and see some unique sites. The safari vehicles are much more comfortable and you don’t have to share with someone you’ve never met before. The guides and tour managers are more knowledgeable and better paid and they tend to be 100% focused on your needs.

Of course, mid-range Kenya safaris also have good accommodation and great sites to see. The itinerary tends to be set, however, and the service is less exclusive, but so is the price.

How Much Do Kenya National Parks Cost to Visit?

If you’re planning to go it alone and book your visits to various national parks around Kenya, moving at your own speed you will still need to pay. The charges are in dollars and give you a 24-hour pass into some of the most amazing areas of natural beauty on the planet.

Fees range between $20 and $80 and these are covered if you are with a safari group. If you are going it alone, you will need to also arrange appropriate transport and have a guide with you to make sure you don’t get into trouble which can add to the cost.

What Are the Best National Parks in Kenya to Visit?

With 23 national parks, there’s a lot to choose from in Kenya but by far the most popular is Maasai Mara which lies on the border of Tanzania.

If you’re looking to spot lions and leopards as well as zebra and a whole host of other animals, this is probably the best bet if you are only visiting one location. Other popular destinations include:

Is Using a Tour Company Cheaper Than a Safari?

Tour companies can be a lot cheaper than a full-blown safari and are generally restricted to a certain area. You can find tours for a few hundred dollars at the top range but they do tend to be more light on great experiences and you will need to share with a lot of other people.

What Additional Costs Can I Expect?

  • Your flights in and out of the country are likely to be the biggest other expense and these can vary depending on the airline you choose and the time you travel. Booking early can help you save on costs.
  • You will need to get vaccinated against common diseases such as malaria, not least because you will be spending a lot of your time outdoors. It’s important to check with your doctor about what you may require as you might have to start your vaccinations well in advance of your trip. Find a quick guide to vaccinations here.
  • You’ll also need to organise travel insurance for your trip to Kenya and ensure you are protected from any risks. This is important even if you are on a budget safari especially if you want to cover medical expenses and potential repatriation if something goes wrong. Insurance companies may also stipulate that you must be vaccinated against certain diseases such as Hepatitis B. Check out this guide on insurance.
  • Additional accommodation may also be another expense you need to consider, especially if you arrive before the safari begins or need to stay waiting for a flight after. If you want to add something to your itinerary such as a stay on the coast, you’ll need to factor this in.
  • General costs you can expect in addition to your safari will include buying gifts and souvenirs as well as some food and drink. It’s always a good idea to have some ready cash available for emergencies.

What Clothes and Equipment Are Best for a Safari?

The other cost that you need to factor into your trip is the sort of clothing and luggage you need to take. If you are on a budget safari, keeping things down to a minimum and investing in a good rucksack is going to be a priority.

  • Shoes: Choose a robust pair of hiking shoes if you are only taking one set of footwear, especially if on a budget safari where thee will be a lot of walking. Make sure you wear these in before your vacation starts so you won’t be bothered by things like blisters. Check out this guide from Safari Store.
  • Clothing: Light clothing is going to be the order of the day in Kenya and make sure that you cover parts of the body such as arms and legs. The sun can get pretty hot and not exposing your skin too much can help keep away dangerous mosquitos.
  • Camera: If you’re heading out to see some amazing wildlife, you may also want to invest in a good camera and not just depend on your smartphone. There are plenty of choices out there. Check out this guide on the best cameras.

Do I Need to Get Vaccinated for a Kenya Safari?

Kenya is a tropical country and there are risks if you do not get vaccinated. Our advice is to check with your GP and travel agent to find out what you need at least a few months before leaving for your Kenyan safari. As of writing, you are still required to give proof of a Covid-19 vaccination if you are over 18 before entering the country.

Routine vaccinations can include flu, measles, mumps and rubella, polio, Hepatitis A & B, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. You may not require all these but it’s critical to check first.

What is the Cheapest Time to Visit Kenya?

The peak time for visitors to Kenya, especially those going on safari is between late June and the end of September. Many come at this time to visit places like the Maasai Mara which are in full flow. Because of the diverse geography, however, there is always plenty to see and do whatever time of year you visit.

The low season in November is a good budget option if you want to avoid the masses of tourists and have a great experience at the same time.  March up to the end of May, when the rainy season is moving in is another good option.

Summary

Kenya is one of the most amazing places to visit on the planet and there are lots of opportunities to see its wonderful wildlife and experience the local culture. One of the main reasons that people visit the country is to undertake a safari and get out into the wild. There are different ways you can do this depending on your budget.

Kenya safaris are available all year round but the peak season, when most tourists descend on the country, is between January and March when the weather is at its mildest and the animals are out in their thousands. If you want to catch the migration of the wildebeest, however, your best option is to visit between August and the end of September.

Whether you choose a budget option or want to spend your safari in luxury, picking the right package is essential and planning your trip is even more critical. Get it right, and you’ll certainly have a holiday of a lifetime and something to tell friends and family when you finally return home.

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