Top 8 Affordable East Africa Safaris
These safari options do not include flights to the region but rather suggest a range of trips that are possible once you get to east Africa. Most start from the Kenyan capital Nairobi but also from Kampala in Uganda, Kigali in Rwanda. Wild Discoveries and many other operators in the region generally quote prices in US dollars, although on occasion we will accept other currencies. For details and prices of all possible itineraries on check out out Uganda Safaris, Rwanda Safaris & Kenya Safaris pages but the options below have been carefully selected to maximise experience and minimise cost. Prices quoted are generally the lowest that the operators offer for that particular trip but they – and the itineraries – can been confirmed with our experts directly.
Track gorillas in Uganda
Normally it’s painfully expensive to go on a gorilla trekking safari due to the high cost of permits (usually US$600) but during the low season (April-May and November), the Ugandan Wildlife Authority discounts the price to US$450 and we can capitalise on this to offer you a 4 Day gorilla tracking safari with a permit for a third of the usual price. We plan for guests safari accommodation with spectacular natural views like Lake Mutanda, Nkuringo and the volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains, where they enjoy good quality food and en suite accommodation. With the gorilla safari including two travel days, travellers will track through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest until the mountain gorillas are located, after which the group will spend one hour with the gorillas.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. Tours cost $895pp during April, May and November, including transport by road from Kampala, two nights accommodation, full board while at the lodge, a day of gorilla tracking and gorilla permit; minimum group of four but the company will match you with other travellers
3 day super-budget safari in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
With park fees, transport and accommodation, Maasai Mara safaris can quickly add up to US $300 a day. Many of the budget options are very rough and ready, but this safari sacrifices some comfort – getting there means up to five hours on the road from Nairobi in a safari-style van as opposed to a 40-minute flight – but you still get nearly two full days in the reserve and the chance to observe wildlife including lions, elephants, cheetah, wildebeest, antelope and many other species. During the great migration (expected between July and October this year) wildebeest herds cross from the Serengeti into the Mara and make several high-risk river crossings. The simple camp with platform tents is near one of the gates to the Mara, the food – such as sausage and beans – is no-nonsense but included in the price and plentiful, and Kenya’s famous Tusker beer can be purchased separately. Add on a night’s stay at a guesthouse in Nakuru town and a game drive in the beautiful Lake Nakuru national park, famous for its flamingos but where many other animals can be seen, for an extra $130.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. $330pp, including transport by road from Nairobi, two nights full-board accommodation (Miti Mingi eco-camp), park fees for two days and four game drives.
Murchison Falls wildlife, rhino tracking, big 5 game and Nile boat cruises, Uganda
Excited to meet the famous Africa Big 5 game – this safari via Ziwa Rhino sanctuary, where guests learn to track rhinos with one of the rangers – heads to Murchison Falls national park, the country’s largest. After a picnic overlooking the falls and a night in basic camp on the banks of the Upper Nile, the safari then takes in a morning game drive in the park’s Nile delta at Lake Albert – where you might catch sight of the other members of the big 5 like the lion, leopard, giraffe and elephant – followed by a boat trip on the river. The camp is simple and facilities are communal but it is one of the few budget alternatives to Murchison’s luxury getaways. Meals are excluded on this trip but can be purchased at the camp, which also has a fully stocked bar.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. $380pp, including all park fees and activities, two nights accommodation in shared safari tents, and transport to and from Kampala.
Track chimpanzees in Rwanda
The mountain gorillas in the Virungas range get all the attention but Rwanda is home to numerous rare primates, most of which can be found in the staggeringly beautiful Nyungwe Forest national park in the south-west of the country. The forest is best known for its large troops of chimpanzees but is also prime swinging grounds for L’Hoest’s monkeys, Angola colobus, vervet monkeys, and a range of others, along with around 300 bird species. Best of all, the cost for this whole package, which includes a day of tracking chimpanzees through the mountains, a nature walk, and two nights in a comfortable forest lodge with full board, still costs less than a single ($750) gorilla tracking permit up north.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. From $700pp, including transport from Kigali, two nights full-board accommodation, park and chimpanzee tracking fees for two days
10 day camping adventure in Kenya’s dramatic north
Get off the beaten track with this 10-day camping safari that takes in a wide range of Kenya’s impressive wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, including Africa’s second highest mountain (Mount Kenya) and the world’s largest desert lake (Turkana). After travelling overland to the Ol Pejeta conservancy in the foothills of Mount Kenya, the safari stops at the semi-arid Samburu national reserve, which plays host to all three big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah –as well as elephants, buffalo and hippos. Crossing volcanic terrain and the baked earth of the Chalbi desert, travellers spend two nights at Lake Turkana – a world heritage site that featured memorably in the film The Constant Gardener. Heading south once more, an afternoon camel safari in the foothills of Mount Nyiro is followed by a stop at Lake Baringo, renowned for its birdlife, as well as hippos and crocodiles. Accommodation is basic, in dome tents, and much of the driving is off-tarmac: which means it’s not for the faint-hearted, but this safari takes in some of Kenya’s most unforgettable regions.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. $1,315pp, including all park fees, transport from Nairobi with driver-guide, camping equipment (dome tents and foam mattresses), all food (prepared by a cook travelling with the group) and selected activities
A city safari and luxurious tented camp, Nairobi, Kenya
Many travellers pass through east Africa’s bustling regional hub en route to other destinations but Nairobi national park – just a short drive from the airport – offers wildlife enthusiasts short on time a fast-track safari experience. Thanks to the Nairobi Tented Camp, which opened in 2011, visitors can now sleep in the park – and tucked into a tree-lined valley, it’s hard to imagine that the capital’s traffic jams lie only a few miles away. The camp replicates a luxury camp deep in the bush, with spacious en suite accommodation in safari tents and evening campfires. The park’s small area means that wildlife sightings are almost guaranteed: visitors might see zebras, giraffes, lions and leopard on a game drive. It is also an acclaimed rhino sanctuary, home to both black and white rhino. While full-board accommodation is not the cheapest on our list, a two-night excursion into the park can be affordable way to see impressive wildlife if you only can spare time for a short stay in the region or want a brief taste of luxury.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. $630pp, including two nights full-board accommodation (sharing in a twin or double tent), two days mandatory park fees, airport transfers, two game drives, sundowner and free beer, wine, and gin and tonic
From the forests to the shore in Zanzibar, Tanzania
Doors in the island capital of Stone Town still boast brass studs for repelling war elephants – by merchants who sought to protect themselves from “combat” elephants that were historically deployed in India and Persia – but large mammals no longer dwell on the Spice Islands. What the archipelago does have, however, is astonishing marine life, with dolphins and technicolour sea creatures galore. There’s also a healthy population of endangered red colobus monkeys and giant Aldabra tortoises. This highly affordable four-day tour package zips between land and sea, with snorkelling trips to the magnificent coral reefs of uninhabited Chumbe Island and walks through two forest reserves, one primate-laden and the other home to rare antelopes. There’s also a trip to Prison Island, where land tortoises creep along the beach, and a stop to watch bottlenose and humpback dolphins frolicking in the waves.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. $485pp, including all transfers within Zanzibar, three nights B&B and all tour and park fees
Elephant herds with Mount Kilimanjaro views, Kenya
If the idea of a roving herd of nearly 100 elephants appeals to you, then Amboseli national park in southern Kenya is the game park for you. The photo-ready peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, just across the border in Tanzania, looms over this small and manageable Rift valley park, where the roads are reasonable and the herbivore viewing is dramatic. In addition to the impressive – and highly visible – packs of elephants, Cape buffalo, hippos, and giraffes can also be seen in abundance, although the big cats are less common. This three-day package includes van transport from Nairobi (it’s about a four-hour drive each way), and full-board accommodation in a nice tented camp with a pool, just outside the Kimana Gate, where many animals congregate during the dry season.
• Enquire with our team of experts [icon type=”icon-mail”]. 19,500 Kenya shillings per pesron (around £135), including transport from Nairobi, two nights full-board accommodation and game drives