For many, going on safari is the dream vacation; a recurring theme on the vast majority of bucket lists, but one many deem too expensive to pursue. Yet while the idea that a full-fledged African safari can cost an arm and a leg is rampant (and possible if you leave your vehicle at the wrong time), it is also justified, as many safari vacations can cost upward of $10,000 or more per week, per person. What few realize is that a budget safari experience is also possible – and fantastic.

As far as expenses are concerned, even a budget safari has travel costs. For many (myself included), the biggest expense is the trip from North America to Africa, which rings in at $2,000 or more for a cramped 22 hour flight. Perhaps this is why the word Safari, which is derived from the Swahili word Kusafiri, means long journey. Probably not though.

Recently, I traveled to South Africa for work and a colleague suggested we spend our weekend in Kruger National Park – conveniently located near our last meeting on Friday afternoon. With a limited budget, I gawked at the suggestion, not realizing that while there are many private and luxurious game reserves bordering Kruger, the park itself is quite affordable, costing just 248 rand (~$25) per day for international visitors. Better still, be mistaken for a South African national – as I was – and you’ll only be charged 62 rand (~$6) for the whole day.

With the flight and entrance fee covered, all you need to worry about is accomodation. To avoid the expensive lodges bordering the park, we stayed outside but near the reserve in the town of Komatipoort, a short drive from Kruger’s Crocodile Bridge gate. Our lodge was basic but clean and comfortable and cost roughly the same as a low to midrange hotel in any North American city.

While the idea of a budget safari may still seem far off for some – given the cost of a flight, basic accommodations, and car rental – ask yourself this: if you were hanging out in Amsterdam and someone asked you for $6.00 to hang out with an elephant, what would you do? You’d flip the hell out and pass on your whole wallet.

With that, here are some photos from my recent budget safari experience at Kruger National Park. I encountered four out of the “Big 5“, ate and slept well, and only spent a few hundred dollars for the weekend.

Have any other tips or questions about DIY safaris? Just leave a comment below – and enjoy the photos!

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Crocodile Bridge

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Zebra

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Monkeys

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Elephant

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Buffalo

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Birds

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Selfie

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Rhino

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park

Budget Safari: Kruger National Park Giraffe


Budget Safari Photos Courtesy of JP Bervoets


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JP Bervoets

JP Bervoets

JP has spent the last decade working in the not-for-profit sector and has called Canada, the Netherlands and South Africa home. He’s travelled to over 30 countries and currently lives and works in Toronto, Canada. His interests include photography, cycling, playing guitar and working on Departful. JP co-founded the site in 2012.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.

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