We knew our safari in Tanzania would be a trip of a lifetime, and it was. We also knew it would cost us a lot more than our typical getaway, and it did.
Was it worth it? Hell yeah.
Would we do it again? In a heartbeat.
That said, we thought others who share our dream of visiting Africa on safari might find use in a breakdown of what it really cost. Like we said, we knew it would be a big-ticket trip from the outset. Our ballpark estimate for the grand total was $10,000 for the two of us. As we neared our trip, some of the less obvious costs had us feeling like we were hemorrhaging money and wondering when it would stop.
First, the cost you see from the very beginning of the planning process: land arrangements. Our particular itinerary with the Africa Adventure Company is no longer available, but our 6-night, 7-day safari package with a night in Arusha on arrival and a day room before we left was $3,150 per person. That included everything from ground and air transportation to lodging and food (drinks were extra, but priced similarly to here in the U.S.).
Next up: getting to Tanzania. International airfare (two 8.5-hour flights) was $1,450 per person. Not a bad price considering the distance we were covering.
The Africa Adventure Company prepared us well for the cash we’d want to have on-hand for tipping. Reading through their comprehensive pre-departure packet, we learned that tips are most appreciated in U.S. dollars and that a dollar goes a long way in Tanzania. They recommended about $30 per person per day for our private tour guide and $5 per person per day for the camp staff.
The company also recommended bringing $500 per person for additional expenses (the aforementioned drinks and souvenirs). We thought that sounded like way too much money for us, so we brought $500 in cash for the two of us. We came home with nearly all of it, but it was nice knowing we wouldn’t be out on the Serengeti looking for an ATM.
We were advised to purchase medical evacuation insurance, and gladly paid the $69 per person for the peace of mind. We also needed $100 per person to cover our Tanzanian visas.
Then it was time to get our vaccinations. We both needed shots and prescriptions to protect us from nasty stuff like malaria and polio (that was a booster, of course), plus antibiotics and over-the-counter medication to have on hand if we came down with traveler’s diarrhea. The shots alone ran us $600 (the office didn’t bill insurance companies, but our insurance did reimburse us for about half of that). The prescriptions tacked on another $100.
As we surveyed our packing list, both Zeke and I found that we needed a few items to round out our safari wear. Zeke spent about $150 on shirts, I spent about $250 on shirts, a jacket, socks and new shoes.
One more thing: our borrowed 500mm lens was $150 (and paid for itself the first day, our photos wouldn’t have been nearly as good with a standard telephoto).
So, math geniuses, here’s the grand total:
Land Arrangements: $3150 x 2 = $6300
International Air: $1450 x 2 = $2900
Tips: $360 (guide) + $60 (camp staff) = $420
Insurance/Visas: $169 x 2 = $338
Safari Clothing/Shoes: $400
Lens Rental: $150
GRAND TOTAL: $11,708
So there you have it, the price tag of our African safari of a lifetime. The experience was worth every penny, even if our planning estimate was a little off.