Best Destinations for a Safari Vacation on a Budget

Do you dream of the unforgettable experience that is a Safari? Enjoy the opportunity to see some of the world's most fascinating animals and biomes up close. Whilst safaris are time-consuming expeditions that require you to explore the desired areas in depth, we understand that this trip can rack up a hefty bill! Fret not, after some research and planning, you can enjoy a safari on a budget whilst ensuring you get to tick off all the sites you’ve dreamt of! Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast or just looking for a unique travel experience, we've got you covered. So sit back, relax, and let us take you on a journey to some of the world's most affordable and exciting safari destinations that won’t break the bank!

Planning a trip? Skratch has partnered with Sherpa to offer simple, trusted visa applications. Get your Kenya eTA here, Myanmar eTA here, Tanzania eTA here

Chobe National Park, Botswana 🇧🇼🐘

Chobe National Park is a wildlife enthusiast's paradise located in the northern part of Botswana. Known for its diverse wildlife and stunning landscapes, Chobe is one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa. The park covers an area of approximately 11,700 square kilometres and is home to a wide variety of wildlife. From lions and leopards to elephants and buffalos, Chobe has it all, ready for you to snap some amazing pics!
The park is particularly famous for its large elephant population, estimated to be around 50,000. Visitors can witness herds of elephants wandering along the Chobe River, quenching their thirst and cooling off in the water. It's an awe-inspiring sight that's not to be missed.
Whether you want to get up close and personal with the wildlife that gathers around the riverbanks on a river safari or enjoy a guided drive or walk, there is something at this park for everyone. When it comes to enjoying this natural beauty on a budget, avoid the all-inclusive safari accommodation and enjoy an overland tour that includes most meals, accommodation and park entrance fees. If you want true independence on this trip, then it is advised to rent a 4x4 and monitor your own costs as you go!
Chobe National Park, Botswana, Herd of elephants trying to find shade

Kruger National Park, South Africa 🇿🇦🦁

Kruger National Park is one of the largest and most popular national parks in Africa, located in the northeast corner of South Africa. It's a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering a chance to see some of Africa's most iconic animals up close. At almost 20,000 km2, Kruger is not short of things to see and enjoy. Home to over 500 bird species, 147 mammal species, and a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and insects, there is no wonder this park is referred to as one of the fathers of national parks in Africa.
The park is particularly famous for its population of big cats, including lions, leopards, and cheetahs. Visitors can also enjoy the sights of elephants, buffalos, rhinos, giraffes, zebras, and various antelopes, among many other species. One of the best ways to explore Kruger National Park and all that it has to offer is by taking a guided game drive with an experienced ranger.
Kruger National Park is home to a variety of accommodations, ranging from campsites and chalets to luxury lodges. So, fear not about missing out on this phenomenal park. Whether you're a budget traveller or looking for a luxury experience, there's an option available for you. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an adventure at Kruger National Park.
3 Lions on Kruger National Park - South Africa Safari Reserve

Okavango Delta, Botswana 🇧🇼 🛶

The Okavango Delta is one of Africa's most iconic and beautiful destinations, with its vast network of waterways, lush vegetation, and diverse wildlife. Many travelers assume that a trip to the Okavango Delta is only for those with deep pockets, but that's not necessarily true. Enjoy all the delta has to offer, including its diverse wildlife and beautiful views.
Okavango is is one of the world's largest inland deltas, and it offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers who seek to immerse themselves in nature. This wetland is a place of exceptional natural beauty, home to an incredible variety of wildlife, and rich in cultural history. The delta is fed by the Okavango River, which originates in Angola and flows through Namibia before reaching the delta in Botswana. The waterways spread across the delta, creating a unique ecosystem that supports an abundance of life, creating a mesmerising tourist location and one of Botswana’s most beautiful and most visited natural sites. Take a trip through the delta on a mokoro ride which is highly budget friendly. A mokoro is a traditional dugout canoe that locals use to navigate the waterways. These rides provide a unique and peaceful expedition of the delta's beauty, and they offer the chance to get up close with some of the wildlife.
One of the best ways to experience the Okavango Delta on a budget is by camping. There are a variety of campsites available, ranging from basic to more luxurious options. Camping allows you to immerse yourself in nature as such and allows you to experience a truly wild experience! Plus, visiting this spot is a great way to tick of one of the world's UNESCO heritage sites!
Aerial shot of the Okavango River

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania 🇹🇿🦓

The Ngorongoro Crater is a unique and breathtaking destination located in Tanzania, East Africa. It is a natural wonder that draws travelers from all over the world, with its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. The crater is part of the larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Take a trip here to enjoy a safari on a budget whilst ticking off yet another UNESCO site!
The Ngorongoro Crater is the world's largest unbroken volcanic caldera, with a diameter of about 20 kilometres and a depth of about 600 meters. Home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, zebras, wildebeest, and many more. Ngorongoro is considered to be the best place to guarantee Big Five sightings all year round and is breathtaking even on a budget.
The crater floor is a mix of grassland, forest, and wetland, providing a variety of habitats for the wildlife that lives there. The crater is also home to a soda lake, which supports a thriving ecosystem of flamingos and other water birds. With this in mind, enjoy the different expeditions and tours that take you to the top spots to ensure sightings. In addition to enjoying the best of what the hole has to offer wildlife-wise,  it is also home to the Maasai people, who have lived in the area for centuries. Visitors can visit Maasai villages and learn about their traditional way of life, including their unique style of dress and their livestock farming practices. Tanzania is a true melting pot of culture, and this spot is a great way to start your exploration!
Accommodation options in the Ngorongoro Crater range from luxury lodges to basic campsites. Many of the lodges offer guided game drives and cultural tours, which provide a comprehensive and immersive experience of the area. However, camping is also a popular option for those who are on a budget and seek to be closer to nature and enjoy the unique sounds of the crater at night.
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Maasai Mara, Kenya 🇰🇪🎈

The Maasai Mara is one of Africa's most iconic and popular safari destinations, located in southwest Kenya. It is known for its breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and cultural significance. The Maasai Mara National Reserve covers an area of over 1,500 square kilometres and is part of the larger Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which spans Kenya and Tanzania.
The Maasai Mara is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, including the "big five" - lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalo. Additionally, it is a prime spot for the migration of wildebeest, which occurs between July and October, and it is a spectacle that draws visitors from all over the world.  It is a destination that offers a unique combination of wildlife, culture, and adventure, and it will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you're a seasoned safari-goer or a first-time visitor, the Maasai Mara is a destination that will not disappoint.
Accommodation options in the Maasai Mara range from luxury lodges to budget-friendly campsites. Many of the lodges and campsites offer guided game drives, cultural tours, and hot air balloon safaris, which provide a unique perspective of the vast savannah and its wildlife. Those who want to spend less while visiting the residents of this national park should visit either during its shoulder or low season (November to March).
Early morning hot air ballooning over Maasai Mara.

Starting from Skratch? Here are some helpful resources for you to plan your trip!

If you want to learn about other Off The Beaten Track destinations take a look here!

Budget Safari - Top Tips 🐘

Transfers - Road transfers are cheaper than flights 🚗

Laid back not luxe - Some of the cheaper/camping accommodation options have better views and access to the wildlife 🏕

Travel outside peak months - Research the off-peak times at each location and the busier areas to lower costs 📆

Budget for extras - Remember to budget for extra expeditions to fully immerse and enjoy yourself 👏

Share this post

Imogen Kemp
September 10, 2023

More like this