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How to Plan a Budget Safari to Botswana?

Published:

Modified: May 17, 2024

by Sunny

How to Plan a Budget Safari to Botswana?

Affordability is not usually associated with a trip to Botswana. Still, it remains on top of every safari goer’s trip to Africa. However, with proper planning, a flexible mindset, and expert knowledge how one can explore the region’s wide open spaces and experience thrilling wildlife encounters without roughing it up or breaking the bank.

 

Safaris in Botswana are notoriously expensive as the Government adopts a more sustainable approach by not allowing over-development and keeping the wilds untouched, which also relates to added costs. 

 

Booking your Botswana safari with a company like Far & Wild Travel will ensure a hassle-free experience through and through. 

 

If you want to DIY your Botswana trip though, here are a few ways to plan a budget trip to the “Holy Grail” of safari destinations of the world, as per your funds, interest, and preferences.

Budget Flight Options to Enter Botswana

Most countries do not have direct flight connections to Botswana and you may require a change-over at Johannesburg in South Africa in order to catch an onward flight to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana.

 

The ticket cost will depend upon the airline you choose and the season, so if you want to travel on a budget it is suggested to travel overland from Johannesburg to Botswana by booking a 4WD car rental for which the starting rate is $115 per day and increases in case you want to book a campervan.

 

Botswana Safari

How Many Days Do You Need For Botswana?

Needless to say, the length of stay will impact the overall budget, so if you are planning for a long safari trip, the first suggestion is to stick to one travel operator to pay less on a per-night basis.

 

This way you can book an affordable safari package for a longer duration of seven nights or more, rather than pay more for a 3 or 4-night stay. To explore the main reserves of Okavango, Kalahari Desert, and Chobe, a minimum of seven nights is recommended.

Packing Essentials for a Budget Safari to Botswana

A budget-friendly safari requires efficient packing and bringing the right essentials. A comprehensive packing list that can make a lot of difference is given below to help you:

 

  • Pack light breathable clothes, including shorts, long-sleeve shirts, swimwear, a wide-brimmed hat, and a light jacket for game rides and cooler evenings.
  • Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes
  • Binoculars, camera, extra batteries, memory cards and portable charger 

 

After considering the weather conditions, limit unnecessary items to limit weight. Ask your safari provider if any gear is included to avoid needless purchases.

Travel During the Shoulder Season

The peak season in Botswana lasts from June to September and finding a good deal during this period is as rare as a black rhino sighting in the wild. By traveling in the shoulder season months of April, May, October, and November you can get great discounts on 4WD hire and accommodation. The weather may be unpredictable, but there is no dearth of wildlife action, especially around the permanent water bodies.

 

Botswana Guided Safari Trip

Join a Guided Tour

The easiest and often the cheapest way to go on a guided safari trip which offers budget camping and overland travel. This involves a bit of self-service like pitching your own tent, cooking, cleaning, and sharing bathrooms but is very cost-effective.

 

Additionally, on this trip, you don’t have to worry about driving cars, parking fees, insurance, and booking campsites. A guided tour also covers the major safari routes. For example, if you are backpacking and using public transport, you may be unable to access remote destinations. Booking a two-day Okavango Delta safari from Maun is a good bet, provided you join with a group.

Self-Drive

Car rentals are a good option, particularly if you want to explore at your own pace and you are in a small group. This can be extremely cost-effective as the rental charges can be shared by all members.

 

A 4WD like a Land Cruiser or Hilux is strongly recommended if you plan to self-drive as the roads in Botswana are sandy and muddy in places and using any other mode of transport can be very limiting. Most car companies will allow you to pick up the vehicle from one location and drop it at another, meaning you don’t have to go back to return it.

 

Botswana Safari Campsites

Look for Affordable Accommodation Options

Comfortable accommodation in Botswana will eat up a lot of money as the more private the experience the more the cost. There are a number of budget campsites and hotel options available that do not opt for the luxury experience.

 

Budget travelers should therefore consider camping(as low as $20 per night) at designated sites that also have grocery shops and even a supermarket.

Try Something Different

This may sound odd, but straying from the traditional Botswana safari itinerary routes and the fully catered lodges can save you a lot of money and in addition, give you a fantastic experience.

 

Some camps offer multi-day safaris off-the-beaten-path in the waterways of the Okavango Delta in mokoros(canoes), plus sleeping on a different Island each night for an affordable safari with a difference.

Take Insurance

This may seem like an additional annoying expense, but no matter how you budget your safari trip, make sure you take travel insurance in case you fall sick or get injured. Paying for medical treatment or evacuation in an emergency will otherwise cost you thousands of dollars.

 

Additionally, if opting to drive, take out insurance to cover the vehicle as cars can get easily damaged in Botswana. Be sure to check with your rental company regarding insurance and if cross-border travel is permitted, in case you want to see Victoria Falls.

How Cheap Can You Travel in Botswana?

Given the number of factors that can influence the cost of a safari trip to Botswana, some of the bare minimum you may need to shell out is given below to give the safari goer a general idea of the costs:

 

  • Flights $1050
  • Accommodation $27 per night
  • Transport $65 per day
  • Park fees $20 per day
  • Ten-day budget safari $220 per person per day 

 

These are the minimum costs per person for those who want to travel with the bare minimum facilities, but these can also vary depending on the travel conditions.

Additional Tips

  • Book well in advance to safeguard your stay against availability and last-minute price hikes.
  • Staying for a longer duration gets you discounts offered by the tour agent.
  • Consider choosing a local operator on the ground in Botswana for competitive pricing and valuable safari information.
  • Cook yourself as restaurants will eat into your budget.
  • Invest in filtered bottles to save on buying bottled water and buy your drinks and beer from supermarkets.
  • You can save tons of money by exploring the parks by car with a guide rather than booking an activity through a safari company.