Where The Road Forks

Traveling Africa on a Budget

By: Author Zachary Friedman

Posted on Last updated: February 13, 2024

Categories Africa , Travel Budgeting

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Africa is a travel destination that can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. If you’re willing to take local transport, eat local foods, and camp, Africa is one of the cheapest places on the planet. After all, millions of people survive on the continent on less than $1 per day. On the other hand, if you want to go on safaris, take tours, and stay in decent hotels, Africa is one of the more expensive continents to travel. In this guide, I outline all of the major costs of traveling Africa on a budget.

Each section in this guide begins with a rough budget. After, I’ll break down the costs more specifically to show you where your money is going. I tend to be conservative with my travel budgets so keep that in mind. I’ll also provide some helpful money-saving tips in each section.

On safari in the Masai Mara in Kenya

This guide is designed for those traveling in Africa independently. If you plan to take an overland tour, most all of your expenses will be included in the price of the tour. If you’re undecided, check out my Africa independent travel vs overland tour pros and cons list.

So far, I’ve visited 12 African countries. I have found that Africa is one of the more expensive places to travel. It is possible to visit on a backpacker’s budget. In this guide, I’ll share my budget and some money saving tips.

Table of Contents

  • Safaris and Tours Budget
  • African Visas
  • Vaccines and Medicines Budget
  • Airfare to and Within Africa

Accommodation Budget in Africa

Transportation budget in africa.

  • Food and Drink Budget

Travel Insurance Budget

  • Travel Gear and Additional Expenses

Volunteering in Africa Budget

Example monthly africa travel budgets, a note about atms and money tips in africa.

Safari in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Safaris and Tours Budget in Africa

Safaris and tours are the most expensive part of your trip to Africa. Expensive tours are the reason that so many travelers complain about the high cost of travel in Africa. Permit costs are high. Some sites require that you take a guide. Often times, you’ll need to hire a vehicle. It all adds up.

Popular Tours and Safaris in Africa and Their Costs

  • Serengeti National Park, Tanzania- This is probably the best and most famous safari park in Africa. It’s located in Tanzania. Expect to pay around $400-$500 for a 2 day one-night safari. This includes your guide, safari vehicle, and one night of accommodation in the park. Food may or may not be included.
  • Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya- Located just across the border from the Serengeti, Maasai Mara offers a similar safari experience for around $300-$350. To reduce costs, check out my guide: How to Safari in the Maasai Mara for less than $200.
  • Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania- Depending on route and number of days that you choose, expect to pay $1200-$2000. This includes a guide, permits, and food. If you don’t have the proper gear, you may need to rent some in Arusha or Moshi. This adds a bit of cost.
  • Gorilla trekking in Uganda, DR Congo, or Rwanda- Expect to pay $800-$2000. This includes a guide, permit, and accommodation for one night. The permit for Uganda costs $600, Rwanda costs $1500, and Congo costs $400.
  • Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe- Entry on the Zimbabwe side costs $30 and entry on the Zambian side costs $20. You may also wish to hire a guide to walk you across the top of the falls to visit Angel’s or Devil’s pool. Expect to pay around $50 for this service.
  • Sossusvlei, Namibia- Here, you can climb some of the largest sand dunes on the planet and visit one of the most photogenic spots in Africa, Dead Vlei. Expect to pay around $300-$400 for a tour. You can save some money by self-driving. For a step-by-step guide, check out my article: How to Visit Sossusvlei, Namibia Independently and On a Budget.
  • The Omo Valley of Ethiopia- Visit the tribes. Tours from Addis Ababa go for around $1000. You can visit independently for around $200-$300. Check out my guide: How to Visit the Omo Valley for more info. Also, check out my guide to Dimeka, Ethiopia.
  • Cape of Good Hope, South Africa- Day tours from Cape Town start around $25. Other activities- If you plan to bungee jump, whitewater raft, SCUBA dive, take a hot air balloon ride, etc. expect to pay $100-$200 for each activity.

Dead Vlei tour in Namibia

How to Reduce Safari and Tour Costs

For whatever reason, Africans love pushing tours. You’ll encounter people all over the continent trying to sell their guide services. Even when a tour is completely unnecessary. In fact, most of the time it’s just a money grab. Even when guides are required.

Permits and entry tickets are also ridiculously expensive. Some are even a bit of a scam. For example, when you visit the Serengeti, you must pass through Ngorongoro National Park both when you enter and leave. Each time, you must pay the entry fee. You must pay twice even if you don’t care to see the park. That’s a $150 fee that can’t be avoided.

A few ways to cut tour costs include:

  • Don’t book in advance- Every tour can be booked when you’re there. If you book online in advance, you’ll end up paying a higher price every time. For example, while traveling in Uganda, a guide approached my friend and I and tried to sell us a gorilla trekking tour for around $800. My buddy had already booked his tour in advance online and paid around $1200. The same is true with safaris. You can save at least $50-$100 by booking in person once you arrive. Tours rarely sell out.
  • Negotiate hard- Prices of tours are always negotiable. You can save hundreds of dollars if you’re willing to spend the time bargaining.
  • Shop around- Different tour companies cater to different types of tourists. Some cater to budget tourists while others are more high end. If you’re on a budget, shop for a budget tour. You’ll enjoy the same experience with fewer comforts.
  • Find a group of people to take a tour with- This can lower your cost in a couple of ways. First, you can use your group to negotiate a lower price per person with a tour company. Second, you can put together your own tour by hiring a guide, vehicle, and booking a campsite by yourself. This is how my buddy and I were able to save around $100 on our safari in Maasai Mara in Kenya.
  • Do your research and know the rules- For example, if you know a guide isn’t required, you can save yourself $50 or so for a day tour. When I went to visit Sipi Falls in Uganda, several guides approached trying to sell me their services. I knew a guide wasn’t required so I didn’t hire one. I just explored on my own.
  • Choose a cheaper safari park- The animals are the same. You can save a few hundred dollars by skipping Serengeti and going to Maasai Mara instead, for example. Check out my pros and cons list to see if the savings is worth it to you.
  • Skip some things- Do you value a longer trip or enjoying a specific tour? Sometimes you have to choose. For example, you could travel for an extra month or two if you forego climbing Kilimanjaro or gorilla trekking. Prioritize the activities that interest you most and skip the rest.

Zac in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia

African Visas Budget

African visas are a significant expense that you have to budget for. The price varies depending on your nationality. Most African visas cost between $50 and $100 for a single entry visa that is valid for 30-90 days. If you want multiple entries, the cost increases. If you want a visa with a longer validity, the cost increases.

Before leaving for your trip, you’ll want to do some research on visas. Check which are available at the border on arrival and which must be arranged in advance. If you need to arrange a visa in advance, check whether you can get from an embassy while you’re traveling or if it must be obtained in your country of residence.

You can obtain most African visas either on arrival or along your journey. There are a few exceptions that you must get at home before your trip.

To make a rough estimate of visa costs for your trip, assume $75 per country that you plan to visit. You’ll probably spend less but this will give you an idea of what to budget for. For example, I visited 11 countries on my trip. 11 X $75= $825. In reality, I spent about $650 on visas.

A Note about Paying for African Visas

Pretty much all African visas must be paid for in US dollars. Local currencies are not accepted. The banknotes that you pay with must be in good condition and issued after 2004. Most borders only accept large bills in denominations of $20, $50, and $100. Be sure to bring enough cash as most borders don’t have ATMs.

I tried to pay with 1s and 5s at a couple of borders to get rid of them but was turned away. They told me to go exchange them somewhere then come back. Luckily, you’ll find a currency exchange booth near most every border. You’ll also encounter independent currency exchange guys who can sometimes give you a better rate by working on the black market.

For info on African visas by country including requirements, availability, and prices, check out my Africa Visa Guide.

How to Save Money on African Visas

  • Avoid multiple entries- Try to plan your itinerary in such a way that you don’t need to enter any countries twice. This way, you’ll avoid having to pay extra for a multi-entry visa or a new visa.
  • Skip countries with particularity expensive visas- The most expensive visa I had to pay for on my trip was Tanzania at $100. It wasn’t worth it. This is just one of the reasons that I’ll never return to Tanzania.
  • Take Advantage of the East Africa Visa- This visa allows you to travel between Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda for up to 90 days. The cost is $100. This saves you a minimum of 30 dollars and a bit of hassle. If you buy each visa separately, you’ll spend $50 for Kenya, $50 for Uganda, and $30 for Rwanda. If you need multiple entry visas, you’d be saving even more.
  • Don’t get scammed- Some immigration officials are corrupt and can solicit bribes. Sometimes, you’ll encounter a scammer offering to help you with the visa. The best way to avoid getting scammed is to know the cost of the visa before you arrive at the border and have patience. For more info, check out my guide: 19 Common Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them.

While traveling from Ethiopia to South Africa overland, I spent about $650 on visas alone. I travel on a US passport. For most European nationalities, the cost will be about the same. I’m currently planning a West Africa trip and expect to spend over $1200 on visas and related expenses. As you can see, this expense is significant enough that you need to consider it while traveling Africa on a budget.

travelling around africa on a budget

Vaccines and Medicines Budget for Travel in Africa

Before traveling to Africa, chances are you’ll need to get a few travel vaccines and medications to help you stay healthy during your trip. Which vaccines you need depends on where you’re planning to travel, for how long, and the activities that you plan to participate in. Some vaccines are required and some are recommended. Some you’ve probably already had. The cost of these varies greatly by country. In some places, they’re free and in some, they cost hundreds of dollars.

Recommended Travel Vaccines for Africa and their Costs

To get most travel vaccines, you must visit a travel clinic. Your regular doctor’s office usually doesn’t stock them. I recommend you visit a clinic that is operated by your city or state government. Prices will be lower than in private clinics. The staff can direct you as to which vaccines you’ll need for your specific trip. The following prices are for the US. They are generally cheaper in other parts of the world.

  • Yellow Fever- This is the most important one because it’s an entry requirement for many African countries. Unfortunately, it’s often the most expensive. Expect to pay $150-$200.
  • Typhoid- This one is available in oral or injection form. Expect to pay $30-$50.
  • Hepatitis A- This disease is transmitted through contaminated food or water. Expect to pay around $100 for the vaccine.
  • Rabies- This one is only recommended if you plan to travel in rural areas or participate in outdoor activities.
  • Cholera- This one is only recommended if you plan to travel in rural areas or participate in outdoor activities.
  • Meningitis (Meningococcal)- While the risk is pretty low, you should consider getting this vaccine if you plan to travel to a place where Meningitis is present. Expect to pay $100-$150.

In addition to the above, you should also make sure that all of your routine vaccines are up to date. Check your vaccine history and make sure that you didn’t miss any during childhood. Your health insurance should cover the cost of routine vaccines. Disease rates are significantly higher in Africa so you want to make sure that you’re protected.

If you don’t already have any of the above travel vaccines, budget $400-$500 to get them. It’s expensive but the good news is that most of these vaccines last for many years or even a lifetime.

How to Save Money on a Yellow Fever Vaccine

Consider waiting until you arrive in Africa to get your Yellow Fever vaccine. In some countries, you can get the vaccine at the airport when you arrive for a fraction of the price of getting it back home. You could save over $150 this way.

Before you do this, be sure to do your research. You don’t want to be denied entry because you don’t have your yellow fever vaccine which is required in some countries. Also, know that the Yellow Fever vaccine takes around 10 days to become effective. You won’t be protected during that time.

Malaria Tablet Budget for Africa

Malaria still kills hundreds of thousands of people per year. Including some tourists. While traveling in much of sub-Saharan Africa, you’ll want to take prophylaxis if you’re visiting a malaria zone. You have three options in terms of tablets. Each has its own pros and cons. Prices also vary. Options include:

  • Malarone (Atovaquone/Proguanil)- This is the most expensive but has the fewest side effects. It is taken daily. Expect to pay around $5 per day.
  • Doxycycline- This is the cheapest option. It is effective against most types of malaria and is taken daily. This is the malaria tablet I use. Expect to pay around $0.50 per day.
  • Lariam (Mefloquine)- This is the most convenient option as you only have to take it once per week. Unfortunately, many travelers complain about side effects. Expect to pay around $0.75 per day.

As you can see, prices vary widely. To help you decide which is best for your situation, visit a travel clinic for a malaria consultation. This usually costs $30-$50. Budget around $30 per month on malaria prophylaxis if you don’t take Malarone (Atovaquone/Proguanil).

How to Cut your Malaria Tablet Budget

Consider purchasing your malaria tablets when you arrive in Africa. I waited until I arrived in Ethiopia to purchase a 4 month supply of doxycycline for less than $10.

Airfare Budget for Travel to and Within Africa

Airfare to and around Africa is expensive. There are simply fewer travelers which means fewer flights and more expensive tickets. Your airfare will be a major chunk of your Africa travel budget.

Of course, the cost of your flight to Africa depends on where you’re starting from. Most flights to Africa originate in Europe or the Middle East. If you’re traveling from outside those regions, you’ll probably have a layover somewhere along your journey.

For a round trip ticket to Africa from the US, expect to pay $1200-$2000. Tickets from Europe and the Middle East are cheaper. Expect to pay around $500-$1000 for a round trip ticket.

Air travel within Africa is expensive for the same reason. One way fights between African capitals often run around $200-$300.

Domestic flights within larger African countries are often more affordable. Even then, the bus is always significantly cheaper.

Tips to Reduce Your Africa Airfare Budget

  • Fly into a major hub in Africa- Choose a major African city to start your journey in. Flights are cheaper. Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Dakar, and Cairo are a few good cities to fly into.
  • Fly from a city with a lot of flights to Africa- London, Pairs, Frankfurt, Istanbul, and Dubai are a few of the cities which offer numerous flights all over the African continent. Prices in these cities are more reasonable due to higher supply. You can save money by taking a budget flight to your nearest major hub first then catching your long haul flight to Africa.
  • Fly with a low-cost or budget airline- The African airline with the most reasonable prices is probably Ethiopian Airlines. Kenyan Airways also offers some decent prices. Keep an eye out for deals- Occasionally airlines offers specials on flights to Africa. It pays to shop around.
  • Take the bus instead of flying- Once you’re in Africa, avoid flights. Just travel overland if possible. For example, I traveled from Addis Ababa to Nairobi overland* for about $40. The same flight costs around $200.

Accommodation in Africa is expensive. Particularly when you consider the quality you get for your money. If you’re traveling alone and plan to stay in budget accommodation every night, expect to spend around $20-$30 per night on average.

In this section, I’ll outline each of your African accommodation options and their cost per night. I’ll offer some tips to lower your accommodation cost.

African Hotels Budget

I’ll start off by going on a bit of a rant. African hotels are a rip-off. A basic, run-down hotel room that hasn’t been updated since 1960 can cost $25-$50 per night. Often, that’s the cheapest option in town. Paying this much for such low quality is particularly annoying when you consider what you could get for the same price in Southeast Asia or Latin America.

You’ll encounter three types of hotels while traveling in Africa. Listed in order of cheapest to most expensive they are:

  • Basic hotels- You’ll find these in small villages and rural areas. They are basically just a small room with a bed and maybe a table and chair. Bathrooms are shared. Some don’t have running water so they bring you a bucket to bathe. Expect to pay $2-$10 per night for a basic African hotel room.
  • Standard budget hotels- This is your typical hotel with a private bathroom, bed, and maybe a tv. Most have hot water. You’ll find these hotels in any decent-sized city. Expect to pay $20-$40 per night for a standard budget hotel room in Africa.
  • High-end hotels or lodges- Larger cities and tourist cites offer high-end accommodation options with all of the facilities you expect a hotel to have. Prices start around $150 per night and go up from there.

travelling around africa on a budget

Tips to Save Money on African Hotels

  • Don’t book in advance- Prices are significantly higher online. Most of the time, hotels don’t even check their online reservations. These places rarely fill up in Africa. You can save a nice chunk of money by just showing up.
  • Negotiate hard- Hotel prices are almost always negotiable in Africa. If you’re staying multiple days, try to negotiate a price for the full stay to get yourself a lower nightly rate.
  • Stay outside of the city center or in less desirable neighborhoods- Hotels in these areas are cheaper. For example, I stayed in Eastleigh in Nairobi for a couple of days for $12 per night in a room with a private bathroom and tv. That’s cheaper than a hostel dorm.
  • Split the cost with another traveler- If you can share the room with someone else, it becomes more affordable. Hotels are the main reason that solo travel in Africa is so expensive.
  • Shop around- Africans love to overcharge foreigners. If you ask around at a few hotels, you may find an honest one that offers you a room at a reasonable price.

Hostels in Africa

Hostels are still pretty uncommon in Africa. Having said that, most capital cities and tourist areas have at least a hostel or two. Expect to pay $10-$15 per night for a bed in a dorm room.

Overall, the facilities are fine. Most African hostels include a basic breakfast in the price. They generally have decent wifi. Most have hot water. Hospitality is excellent in Africa.

Camping in Africa

While traveling in Africa, I recommend you travel with a tent  or some kind of camping shelter. You can greatly reduce your Africa travel budget and have some unforgettable experiences while camping in the bush.

Many African hotels and hostels allow you to camp in their compound for a reduced rate. For example, if a room costs $40, maybe you can camp outside for $10. This is a significant savings. In this case, you still have access to the restroom and other facilities.

While visiting a national park or going on safari, many times your only accommodation options are camping or staying in a fancy safari lodge that charges well over $100 per night. In this case, camping is almost a necessity for most budget travelers.

Most African campgrounds charge around $10-$25 per night. If you have your own tent, expect to pay toward the lower end of this range. If you need to rent a tent, prices are higher.

For those more adventurous travelers, you can also wild camp in parts of Africa. If you decide to do this, I recommend you be very careful about choosing a campsite. You don’t want to stay on someone’s land or be discovered in the night. A good alternative is to ask local villagers if they know of a spot where you can camp for the night. Usually, you’ll be given a safe spot in the village.

Some of my best memories of my trip are camping. Viewing the Milky Way while camping in the middle of the Namib Desert while visiting Sossusvlei is an unforgettable experience. I also camped in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and just outside of Maasai Mara National park in Kenya. Both nights were spectacular.

Airbnb in Africa

If you’re looking to stay in a larger city for more than a week or so, check Airbnb. Many hosts offer long term discounts. A room can end up costing less than a hotel. Plus, you’ll get access to a kitchen and other facilities. Expect to pay $10-$20 per night for a private room in an apartment. You can also find private apartments for just a bit more.

Long Term Accommodation Cost in Africa

If you want to travel in Africa on an extremely tight budget, like less than $800 per month , you can if you don’t travel around too much. By staying in long term accommodation, you can travel in Africa on a low budget.

In small villages, you can rent a basic room for as little as $20 per month. As I said earlier, millions of people survive on the continent for next to nothing. If you’re frugal and not too concerned with comfort, you can travel in Africa on very little.

In larger cities, you can find a decent studio apartment for as little as $150-$300 per month. This will probably be outside of the city center but it will be secure.

Another good place to look for long term accommodation is Airbnb. Many hosts offer major monthly discounts. Sometimes as much as 50% off the normal rate. While this is more expensive than renting, it is much easier and convenient. You can rent a room for around $200-$300 per month in many cities.

Even though transportation is pretty affordable in Africa, costs add up because the continent is so large. Traveling from one tourist destination to another can take days. Your transportation budget while traveling in Africa depends on how fast you want to travel and your desired level of comfort.

On average expect to pay $20-40 for an international bus journey between two capital cities. The price depends on the distance and the quality of the bus. For domestic journeys, assume around $1-$2 per hour of travel.

If you don’t mind squeezing into a minibus for hours or days on end, you can get around pretty cheaply. If you only have a limited amount of time to travel and you need to fly to cover some legs of your journey, costs increase significantly.

Shared Taxi or Minibus Travel Budget in Africa

This is the main mode of transport across Africa. It’s how the locals get around. Shared taxis and minibusses travel both within and between cities. They operate on set routes and just run back and forth all day. Expect to pay between 50 cents and $1.50 per hour of travel when traveling between cities. You’ll pay about the same to cross a large city.

When you travel long distance by minibus, you’ll have to make transfers. Most intercity minibuses travel back and forth between two towns that are several hours apart. Once they reach their destination, you get out and find a minibus on toward your destination. Sometimes you pay once and sometimes you must pay each driver separately. This is a hassle, but it’s the cheapest way to get around.

Money-saving tip: Minibus drivers love to overcharge foreigners. Be sure to ask the price before accepting a ride. You can also ask a fellow passenger how much the ride should cost. If the driver tries to overcharge you, negotiate hard. As a foreigner, you’ll usually end up paying a bit more than the locals.

If the driver tries to blatantly rip you off, just wait for another minibus to come by. In most situations, you’ll find one within 15 minutes. Of course, there are routes with only one bus per day. In this case, you may just have to accept that you’re overpaying.

Africa Bus Travel Budget

For many longer journeys, coach services are available. Expect to pay $1.50-$2 per hour of travel. Most long-distance coach tickets usually end up costing $20-$40. For example, a ticket from Nairobi, Kenya to Kampala, Uganda  usually costs about $25.

If coach service is available for your desired route, I recommend you take it instead of a minibus for several reasons. First, prices are set. This means that you don’t have to negotiate. You also get to enjoy relative comfort. Some coaches even have AC. Coaches are also safer. Africans often drive pretty fast.

Standing in front of a bus in Kenya

For more info on coach and minibus travel including pricing and step-by-step guides to some of the most popular routes on the continent, check out my Ultimate African Bus Guide.

Train Travel Budget in Africa

Train routes around Africa are limited. Schedules are often unpredictable due to maintenance and break downs. Expect prices similar to the bus, around $1-$2 per hour of travel.

Train travel in Africa is an experience. If you have the choice on a particular route, I recommend choose the train over the bus. A few popular African train routes include:

  • Victoria Falls to Bulawayo or Harare in Zimbabwe
  • Iron Ore train in Mauritania
  • Cairo to Aswan in Egypt

I’ve only enjoyed one African train journey so far. To read about my experience, check out my guide: How to Travel Between Victoria Falls, Bulawayo and Harare by train.

Ferry Travel Budget in Africa

One ferry journey that many travelers will make in Africa is the trip to Zanzibar from Dar es Salaam. A round trip ticket on the fast ferry costs about $70-$80.

Several other ferry trips are possible on Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi. If you’re traveling in West Africa, you’ll cross a number of rivers by boat or ferry. Ticket prices vary. Expect to pay anything from a dollar or two to $50 or so for longer journies. 

Uber or other Rideshare Apps in Africa

Ridesharing is surprisingly popular in Africa. Uber operates in many large cities on the continent. Many cities also have their own rideshare apps which are often cheaper. Some even offer motorcycle taxi services.

Expect to pay $3-$5 for an average length ride half way across town. For a longer ride to the other side of a city, expect to pay $8-$10.

If ridesharing is available where you’re traveling, I recommend you use it over Taxis. Prices are lower, you don’t have to negotiate, and you’re less likely to encounter a scammer or shady driver. All of the drivers that I met were honest and friendly. I can’t say the same of taxi drivers.

Self Drive Cost in Africa

If you prefer to have your own wheels, you have several options in Africa. You can:

  • Rent a car or 4×4 and drive yourself- Rental costs vary by location and vehicle type. For a basic economy car, expect to pay around $40-$50 per day. I rented a car in Namibia for $43 per day when I visited Sossusvlei.
  • Buy a car or motorcycle and drive it through Africa- If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can buy a vehicle or ship your own to Africa and explore the continent with your own wheels. This type of travel is called Overlanding. For a trip like this, you must consider the cost of the vehicle, maintenance, gas, insurance, and all necessary documents such as a carnet de passage.

Rental car in Namibia

Hiring a Driver in Africa

If you want the freedom of having your own vehicle, but don’t want to actually drive yourself, you can hire a driver in Africa. Expect to pay $50-$150 per day for a car and driver.

I realize that this is a large range but the price varies greatly by country and type of vehicle required. For example, some routes require 4 wheel drive to navigate.

Bicycle Touring in Africa

Bicycle touring  is becoming more and more popular. Probably because it’s just so economical. Traveling by bicycle cuts your transportation budget to almost nothing. All you need to worry about is the cost of maintenance.

Of course, there are quite a few upfront costs to bicycle touring such as buying a bike, tools, and panniers or bags. All in, you’re probably looking at around $2000 for a decent touring setup.

For my next trip to Africa, I’m considering traveling with a folding bike to cut my transportation budget. This way, I’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of bus travel for long-distance journeys and bicycle travel for local transport.

Food and Drink Budget while Traveling in Africa

Overall, food prices are very reasonable in Africa. You can maintain a healthy, filling diet on about $150-$200 per month. This includes mostly local foods with the occasional western meal.

If you only eat local foods and cook for yourself on occasion, you could get by with a food budget of $80-$100 per month. In Africa, you can enjoy a nice local meal at a small roadside restaurant for around $1-$2.

An Ethiopian dish called tibbs

Common African foods include:

  • Various stews

After a while, basic African foods get a bit boring in my opinion. The cuisine just isn’t that exciting. It’s nice to splurge once in a while and treat yourself to a western or Indian meal. Expect to pay $5-$10 for a decent sized portion of spaghetti, pizza, burger and fries, or a nice curry.

Rolex, a Ugandan street food

Drink Budget in Africa

Drinking water budget in africa.

Because of the heat, you will drink a lot of water while traveling in Africa. Unfortunately, tap water isn’t potable through most of the continent. Bottled water is available everywhere. Expect to pay $0.50-$1 per liter.

Water Budget Tip: Travel with a Water Filter

Assuming you drink 2 liters of water per day, you’ll spend a $30-$60 per month on drinking water alone. This is just too much. A water filter is almost an essential piece of gear while traveling in Africa. You can use your water filter to make tap water or water from a river or stream to safe to drink. A good filter will pay for itself in less than a month. I like the Sawyer Mini. It filters out bacteria, protozoa, and debris. Check out my full review of the filter here.

Alcohol Budget in Africa

The most popular alcoholic beverage in Africa is probably beer. It’s sold everywhere. Most every country has its own national brew for you to try. Expect to pay around $1-$1.5 for a beer on average.

The cheapest and best beer I found in Africa was in Ethiopia where a bottle costs only 50 cents. Beer in Kenya was the most expensive and most disappointing in terms of taste. I paid $2-$3 per beer in Nairobi.

In Uganda, you can buy 100ml bags of spirits for around $1-$2. They don’t taste that great but it’s probably the cheapest way to get a buzz.

A Tanzanian beer

If you decide to travel through Ethiopia, be sure to try the honey wine called tej. This sweet homemade beverage is served in small roadside stands where people congregate to drink. Expect to pay $1-$2 for a large bottle.

Coca Cola products are available seemingly everywhere in Africa. Even in the smallest villages in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. Expect to pay around $0.50-1.50 for a cold glass bottle of coke or sprite.

Travel insurance is optional but highly recommended. Africa is such an unpredictable place to travel with risks that other destinations just don’t have. For example, your bus could break down and leave you stranded for a day, causing you to miss a flight. You could contract a bad strain of malaria and end up in the hospital for a few days. You could get mugged. Travel insurance can save you money in the event of one of these unfortunate occurrences.

Additional Travel Gear Budget

While traveling in Africa, you should pack all of your important gear from home. Don’t expect to wait until you arrive to buy any important items. Finding quality gear in much of Africa can be a challenge. Imported items are more expensive in Africa as well due to high import costs. The only country where you can pretty easily buy whatever gear you need is South Africa.

For example, if you need a new pair of shoes, you’ll probably need to travel to a capital city to find a shop that sells name brands. Once you’re there, you’ll notice that prices are significantly higher than they are back home. It’s also hard to determine what is genuine what is a Chinese knockoff.

Most travelers already have all of the necessary gear for traveling in Africa. If you need help with packing, check out my ultralight travel packing list.

A few additional items you may need for travel in Africa include:

  • A tent or other camping shelter- As mentioned earlier, camping in Africa can save you a good amount of money. Look for an ultralight option. I have the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 1 and am really happy with it. Check out my review here.  
  • Water filter- This small piece of gear can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a long trip. 
  • Mosquito net – Most hotel rooms have one but some don’t. It’ s a good idea to pack your own just in case.
  • Extra credit and debit card- If your card is lost or stolen, you’ll want to have a backup. Getting a replacement could be a challenge as receiving mail in many African countries is expensive and time consuming.
  • Spare glasses and contacts- While you can buy new glasses and contacts in Africa, it’s a hassle and expense that is best avoided. It’s best to just bring some spares. For more tips, check out my guide: Tips for Travel with Glasses and Contacts.
  • Money belt- In Africa, you need to carry quite a bit of cash. You need to pay for expensive visas and sometimes ATMs aren’t very readily available. I recommend you use a money belt to keep your cash, passport, cards, and other small valuables hidden. This will reduce the risk of losing it in the event of a mugging or robbery. I like the Eagle Creek Silk Undercover money belt. For more info, check out my full review here.

Many travelers choose to pair volunteer work with their travels in Africa. They work for a charity organization for a few weeks or months then travel independently after. I recommend skipping the volunteer work for the following reasons:

  • Volunteer programs are expensive- Many of these volunteer programs charge over $1000 per month. Personally, I can’t imagine paying someone to work for them. It just seems illogical. I do understand paying a small fee of a couple of dollars per day to cover food and accommodation but anything beyond that feels like they’re taking advantage. 
  • Volunteer work often does more harm than good- Most volunteers are unskilled. They can’t contribute in any meaningful way. In fact, volunteer work often takes jobs that locals could preform. If you want to help, donating money to a legitimate charity is generally much more productive than volunteering. Of course, there are exceptions. Skilled volunteers like doctors and engineers can do a lot of good.
  • Many African charities are scams- Corruption is so bad in Africa that finding a legitimate charity can be a challenge in itself. Much of your work and money will just go toward lining some corrupt official’s pocket. You can do more good by supporting local businesses with your tourist dollars.

Most travelers can comfortably travel Africa on a budget of $1400-$1800 per month. This includes airfare, safaris, tours, food accommodation, and all other necessary expenses. On this budget, you’ll eat good, see most of the main sites, and travel in relative comfort. Of course, you’ll miss out on some of the more expensive or luxury activities.

Here is the breakdown of an average Africa travel budget:

  • Accommodation- $20 per day equals $600 per month. On this budget, you can stay in budget hotels most nights with the occasional night couchsurfing, camping, sleeping in a hostel, or AirBnb.
  • Food- $200 per month. On this budget, you’ll eat mostly local foods with the occasional higher-end or western meal. You may wish to prepare some of your own meals to balance costs if you like to eat out more.
  • Drinks- $100. Enjoy a couple of beers in the evening or a soda with your meal.
  • Transportation- $100 per month. On this budget, you’ll travel mostly by bus or minibus with the occasional taxi or Uber. You won’t fly within the continent on this budget.
  • Visas – $100 per month. This is assuming you visit about 1-2 countries per month.
  • Flight- The cost per month depends on the length of your trip. Assuming you spend $1200 on a ticket and travel for 6 months, you’ll spend $200 per month.
  • Safaris and tours- Assuming you travel for 6 months and visit some of the more expensive destinations, you’ll spend $1800. That comes out to $300 per month.
  • Additional travel gear- budget around $100 per month for replacement items. Sometimes things get broken, lost, or stolen. For example, if your phone gets pickpocketed , you can buy a new one out of this budget.

If you add this all up, it comes out to $1600 per month. Your monthly budget will be lower if you travel longer. The cost per month of your flight and tours decreases when you divide it between more months. If your trip is shorter, you’ll spend more per month.

Of course, it is possible to travel in Africa on a much lower budget as well. To achieve this, you’ll have to skip the expensive tours and seek cheaper accommodation. Some destinations may be inaccessible because of the high cost.

travelling around africa on a budget

Breakdown of Costs While Traveling Africa on a Budget

  • Accommodation- $10 dollars per day equals $300 per month. On this budget, you’ll be able to stay in basic hotels occasionally. To balance the cost, you’ll have to couchsurf, camp, and stay in hostels where available.
  • Food- $100 per month. Your diet will mostly consist of local food with the occasional western meal. You’ll also need to prepare some of your own meals.
  • Visas- $100 per month. This is assuming you visit 1-2 countries per month.
  • Transportation- $50 per month. To cut your transportation budget, you’ll have to travel slower and take minibusses instead of expensive taxis.
  • Flight- $1200 or $200 per month for a 6 month trip.
  • Safaris and tours- $0. If you’re on a low budget, you’ll just skip these. Additional gear- $50 per month for replacement of lost, stolen, or broken gear.

If you add this all up, it comes out to $800 per month. You can further reduce this Africa travel budget by traveling slow. By staying in one place longer, you can find significantly cheaper accommodation. For example, you could rent a basic room for less than $100 per month in many 2nd tier cities. Traveling slower also reduces your cost of transportation and visas.

It’s possible to cut your Africa travel budget to around $500 per month if you’re frugal. While you’d be living a pretty basic existence, this is still 5 times more than millions of people live on.

My Africa Travel Budget

Over the course of about 4 months, I traveled from Addis Ababa to Cape Town overland by bus. I ended up spending about $4000. This includes all food, accommodation, tours, and transportation. It does not include my airfare which I got for free through credit card points. Had I paid my own airfare, it would have cost me around $1000 round trip from Los Angeles.

During my trip, I skipped two major tours. I did not hike Mount Kilimanjaro and I did not go gorilla trekking. These are both $1200+ tours that I decided to skip to reduce my Africa travel budget.

My one regret is skipping the gorilla trekking tour. I hope to travel to DR Congo on my next trip to see the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park.

As an alternative to Kilimanjaro, I’d like to climb Mount Kenya on my next trip to East Africa. The permit price is much lower.

Overall, the money situation is a bit more tricky in Africa than many other travel destinations. Credit cards aren’t as widely accepted. You need to carry cash.

Luckily, ATMs are fairly easy to come by in Africa. This makes withdrawing local currency pretty easy. All larger cities have ATMs. Many small towns surprisingly have an ATM as well. For example, I was surprised to find a working ATM in Jinka in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia. I also used one in Karonga, a small town in northern Malawi.

travelling around africa on a budget

A Few Africa Money Tips

  • Carry some cash as a backup- If you find yourself in a place without a working ATM or if your debit card gets lost or stolen, you need to be able to get by until you’re able to get more cash. I recommend carrying at minimum $500 in USD in denominations of 20,50, and 100. You can exchange them anywhere for local currency. You can use these to buy visas as well.
  • Plan cash withdraws ahead- If you’re traveling to a rural area, withdraw enough cash from the ATM to support yourself until you make it to another city. Small villages don’t have banks.
  • Know the exchange rates- If you need to exchange money, you want to shop around or negotiate the best rate. You also need to know what things cost so you don’t overpay.
  • Do your research- In some countries, it is difficult or impossible to get cash from an ATM. For example, when I arrived in Zimbabwe, I found that all of the ATMs were empty. In Sudan, you can’t use foreign cards at the ATM. You must bring enough cash to last you the duration of your stay.
  • Carry backup cards- Keep them separated so if you lose one, you may not lose the other. You need to have access to your money.

Final Thoughts on Traveling Africa on a Budget

In general, Africa is one of the more expensive travel destinations. When you factor in the high price of flights and safaris, you’re paying more to travel in Africa than you would to visit Latin America, Southeast Asia, or even much of Europe.

On the other hand, if you’re traveling long term and don’t care about seeing the main tourist sites, Africa is probably the cheapest place in the world to travel. You could get by on just a few dollars per day.

Personally, I believe the experience of traveling in Africa is well worth the cost. I completely fell in love with the continent. It’s my favorite continent that I have traveled.

Are you planning to travel to Africa on a budget? Share your plans in the comments below!

More Africa Guides from Where The Road Forks

  • How to Plan a Cairo to Cape Town Trip
  • 13 Best Things to do in Nairobi
  • 5 Incredible Things to Do in Uganda
  • Why Nairobi is the Best African City
  • Scams in Ethiopia: My Afternoon with a Con Man
  • 15 Great Rift Valley Lakes to Visit in East Africa

Zachary Friedman

Zachary Friedman is an accomplished travel writer and professional blogger. Since 2011, he has traveled to 66 countries and 6 continents. He founded ‘Where The Road Forks’ in 2017 to provide readers with information and insights based on his travel and outdoor recreation experience and expertise. Zachary is also an avid cyclist and hiker. Living as a digital nomad, Zachary balances his professional life with his passions for hiking, camping, cycling, and worldwide exploration. For a deeper dive into his journey and background, visit the About page. For inquiries and collaborations, please reach out through the Contact page. You can also follow him on Facebook.

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Saturday 18th of March 2023

This is so much information to plan my trip to Africa. I live in Africa so I will spend less on Visas. However, I wanted to ask if the east Africa Visa you talked about is open to everyone as I stay in west Arica?

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How to Travel to Africa on a Budget

Last Updated: February 13, 2024 References

This article was co-authored by Stef Katz and by wikiHow staff writer, Jessica Gibson . Stef Katz is a Travel Agent and the Founder of The Travel Superhero. She has helped clients enjoy convenience, access, personal attention, and ease in their travel planning for 6 years. Stef specializes in elevated social travel and finds ways to bring peace of mind to her travelers with open communication, genuine care, and professional support. She holds an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts from Miami Dade College and a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from the University of Florida, as well as numerous certifications with destinations, tour companies, and cruise lines in the travel industry. There are 15 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 29,464 times.

Vacationing in Africa has a reputation for being expensive, but it doesn't have to be! It's totally possible to book an affordable flight. From there, you can save on lodging and meals, especially if you're not afraid to backpack or eat local cuisine. We'll give you some tricks and travel hacks so you can enjoy Africa even on a tight budget.

Travel during the off-season.

Visit Africa between March and June or October and December.

  • Yes, the off-season is hotter and wetter than the peak tourist season, but the rain is usually brief. To deal with the temperature, pack loose clothes that are made of breathable fabric.
  • By some estimates, you could save 20% to 40% on travel expenses by traveling during the off-season. This makes it one of the most effective ways to stick to a budget!

Check out the cheapest African destinations.

Visit countries that have a low cost-of-living.

  • Kigali, Rwanda
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Cape Coast, Ghana
  • Livingstone, Zambia
  • Marrakech, Morocco
  • Dakar, Senegal

Find a budget airline that flies to Africa.

Search an airline aggregator website to find cheap flights.

  • Keep in mind that cheaper flights will probably have more than one stop.
  • The site might show flights with budget airlines like Kulula, Fastjet, Mango, Flysafair, Fly540, JamboJet, Dana Air, Flydubai, or Skywise.

Take local transit to get around your destination.

Hop on a tuk-tuk or a bus for the cheapest way to see a city.

  • If you're traveling in Kenya, look for matutus. These vibrant private minibuses cover short and long distances within the country.
  • To get between countries, look into riding the train. A second-class fare usually costs around the same as a similar bus fare. [4] X Research source

Camp or stay in a hostel to save money on accommodations.

Skip costly hotels or resorts and explore Africa!

  • Budget hotels are also a great option if you book in advance. Use an aggregator website that searches for hotels at your destination, then ranks them by cost.
  • For example, a South African hostel in the Nqileni Village runs around $10 and includes village visits, canoeing, breakfast, and other great amenities.
  • If you'd rather backpack and camp, you've got tons of options. You could camp in Kenya's Hell's Gate National Park for around $70 or camp in Namibia's Naukluft National Park for about $26.
  • Be careful with places that seem too cheap or shady. It's important to read up a lot about the location you plan on staying beforehand.

Sign up with a volunteer program in exchange for cheap accommodations.

Many countries offer volunteer opportunities for weeks or months at a time.

  • For instance, you might do community development in Tanzania for a cost of $200 USD a week or you may give musical instructions to kids in Ghana for around $650 USD a week.
  • You're sure to find a program that caters to your interests. There are volunteer opportunities for sports coaching, AIDS prevention, wildlife refuges, shark conservation, and more!

Make your own food or shop at local markets.

This is especially important if you're traveling to popular tourist spots.

  • Avoid shopping at expat-owned supermarkets. They usually charge a premium. Instead, get the basics where the locals shop.
  • Check to see if your accommodations offer meals. You might be able to eat a filling breakfast and make do with snacks later in the day. Some accommodations might also offer inexpensive dinners.
  • The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you avoid drinking tap or well water while in Africa. Stick to bottled water or water that's been disinfected. [8] X Research source
  • Be careful when accepting drinks from strangers. Always go for bottled drinks that are opened in front of you.

Buy a SIM card to avoid roaming fees.

Purchase an international SIM card if you plan on using your phone.

  • If your plan has a limit, keep track of how much data you use, so you're not surprised with charges on your next bill.
  • ATM fees are another way to break your budget. If you use ATMs in Africa, you'll most likely be charged high international fees for withdrawing cash. Plus, you can't assume that you'll be able to easily find one!

Develop your haggling skills.

Negotiate for the price of souvenirs, transports, and guides.

  • Remember, be polite and have fun! Haggling in the market will be a memory you take back with you—especially if you make it fun or make a connection with someone.

Look for affordable safaris.

Choose less-popular options or new camps that don't charge as much.

  • For instance, a luxury safari could cost you hundreds of dollars or even thousands if you have to rent a private vehicle. By comparison, you could stay do a safari out of South Africa's Kruger National Park for $70 a night.

Visit free or inexpensive parks.

Explore the beauty of Africa by seeing national parks or wildlife refuges.

  • Depending on where you're traveling, you may be able to spend time at a breathtaking beach. Check out Wimbi Beach in Mozambique or Grand Baie Public Beach in Mauritius for instance.
  • If you love elephants, be sure to visit Chobe National Park which is known as the elephant capital of Africa! The entry fee is only $13.
  • Want to see Mt. Kilimanjaro? Skip Kilimanjaro National Park which costs $70 a day and see the volcano from Amboseli National Park for half the price.

Plan activities that don't cost you money.

Take a tour of local villages or walk around vibrant markets.

  • For example, spend an afternoon walking around Morocco's famous markets in Fez, or enjoy the sounds of street musicians playing in Cape Town. [14] X Research source

Expert Q&A

Archana Ramamoorthy, MS

  • You might experience people shouting at you as soon as you get out of a bus or taxi. These people are called touts and they're usually trying to sell you something or offer a service. Don't let them give you things or take you around for a tour since they will expect you to pay—usually more than it's worth. Firmly say "no" and walk away. [15] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Have physical and online copies of all your documents at all times. This is important so you don't face any problems in case you lose anything during your trip. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • The first thing you should do is decide what's the experience you're looking for. Is it a guided tour with an opportunity to make lifelong friends or just a quick trip with your traveling partners? After answering this and figuring out your schedule, work with a traveling agent to find what you want in your budget—or the closest thing possible, if your budget is not high enough. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

travelling around africa on a budget

  • If traveling by yourself, make sure to activate the location services on your cell phone and share it with someone you trust, like a partner or a close family member. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

You Might Also Like

Get Free Hotel Rooms

  • ↑ https://ntabaafrica.com/east-africa-safari-off-season/
  • ↑ https://travelnoire.com/10-cheap-tourist-destination-africa
  • ↑ https://www.expatarrivals.com/africa/kenya/transport-and-driving-kenya
  • ↑ https://www.lonelyplanet.com/africa/narratives/practical-information/transport/getting-around/train
  • ↑ https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jan/20/top-10-backpacker-lodges-south-africa-eastern-cape
  • ↑ https://www.volunteerforever.com/article_post/cheap-affordable-volunteer-abroad-programs-low-cost-overseas-projects/
  • ↑ https://www.nationalgeographic.com/traveler/extras/planner/africa/budget.html
  • ↑ https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/south-africa
  • ↑ https://umabroad.umn.edu/resources/travel/electronics
  • ↑ http://hipafrica.com/features/the-art-of-haggling/
  • ↑ https://www.travelandleisure.com/trip-ideas/safaris/ten-amazing-affordable-safaris
  • ↑ https://national-parks.org/africa
  • ↑ https://www.victoriafalls-guide.net/victoria-falls-entrance.html
  • ↑ https://www.fodors.com/news/trip-ideas/how-to-fly-business-class-to-africa-for-the-price-of-an-economy-ticket
  • ↑ https://www.worldnomads.com/travel-safety/africa/tanzania/dealing-with-touts-in-tanzania

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How to Travel Around Africa

A lone jeep on a dusty road during a bright sunset in Africa

Africa is a massive continent known for its exotic animal encounters, dramatic landscapes, world-class beaches, and rich cultural traditions that vary from region to region. It’s a continent few explore in-depth (there are 54 countries here after all), yet one that always seems to captivate anyone who visits.

Stretching over 30 million square kilometers and home to over 1.2 billion people, Africa is a vastly diverse landscape — both geographically and culturally. Most world maps end up distorting the continent’s true size, leading many to underestimate just how big it is (contrary to what a Mercator map shows, Africa is actually 14 times larger than Greenland!).

Clearly, there is a lot to see here.

Where many countries in Africa do have their struggles, there are also many places where tourism is booming. Whether you’re looking for an intrepid budget backpacking experience or a more luxurious safari getaway, you’ll be able to find it somewhere on the continent.

But how do you get around while you’re there?

To help you plan your next adventure, here’s everything you need to know about traveling Africa — no matter your budget!

  • How to Get around By Safari Tours
  • How to Get around By Public Buses
  • How to Get around By Minivans
  • How to Get around By Hitchhiking
  • How to Get around By Renting a Car

Overland Africa Safari Tours

A safari tour jeep driving on a dusty road in Africa

Overland tours are more expensive than doing things yourself, but food, transport, and accommodation costs are all included. You can usually find a wide variety of options as well, from basic backpacker tours to more luxurious options. Small group tours will be your cheapest option, though private tours will also be available (though much more expensive).

These tours are generally perfect for people who don’t want to plan and research a trip and/or travelers who want to minimize hassle while they’re there.

If you’re specifically interested in animal safaris and seeing the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, rhino), South Africa , Kenya, Namibia , and Tanzania are some of the best places for safaris in Africa .

Public Buses

A large public bus on the road in Africa

It will require a bit more planning, but it’s an affordable way to travel. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to converse with the locals. You’ll find that people will go out of their way to make sure that you, as a visitor, are comfortable and safe as possible.

Public buses will usually cost between $3–$30 USD depending on how far you’re going. More often than not, they are used for city travel or inter-city journeys where there is a good network of sealed roads. These buses are generally comfortable, safe, and spacious.

Countries or regions that have fewer or no sealed roads will usually have much older buses that frequently break down and are overcrowded. You’ll want to make sure you plan ahead, secure your valuables, and expect delays.

For these trips, make sure that all your valuables are stored on you/within reach and not in your luggage that’s checked below or above the bus. While thefts are rare, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.  

A parking lot full of minibuses in Ghana, Africa

While this may not be the most luxurious method of travel, it’s definitely a memorable one — and an affordable one, too! Minivans are an incredibly cheap way to get around and are usually taken for journeys up to six hours long within a country (or to a neighboring country). Unless you’ve pre-booked a journey with a company, most minivans don’t leave until they are full, so jump on one that looks ready to go and avoid waiting for hours until it fills up.

Like public buses, prices are cheap. Expect to pay anywhere from $1-20 USD depending on how far you are going.  


Hitchhiking on an open road in Africa

While hitchhiking does bring some risks and challenges, it’s an easy way to get around if you’re flexible and on a budget. If you hitch from the side of the road, it’s best to wave your hand up and down instead of sticking out your thumb as sticking out your thumb is often considered rude in Africa.

Chances are you’ll get a good mix of locals and travelers picking you up. While it’s not necessary, giving your driver (if they are a local) a tip is never a bad idea. Just be sure to use common sense and take precautions if you’re hitchhiking.

Generally, I’d suggest you have some hitchhiking experience before doing it in Africa. This isn’t the best place to try hitchhiking if you’ve never done it before.

For the most up-to-date tips and advice, consult Hitchwiki .  

A rented car exploring the sand dunes in Africa under a bright blue sky

In addition to renting a car for safaris, another popular option is to rent a car to drive the beautiful Garden Route, a popular and scenic stretch of the South African coast. Car rentals from South Africa can be found for as cheap as $35-55 USD per day, especially if you book online.

For the best deals on rental cars, use Discover Cars

If you are planning on long-term travel in Africa, you may even consider buying your own 4WD to tour the continent in. South Africa would be the best place to find a vehicle to purchase. You can also look for a departing traveler ready to sell their vehicle.

When planning your African travel adventure, carefully consider your budget, itinerary, and safety interests before making your transportation decisions. While public transport is cheap and authentic, it’s generally uncomfortable and less safe than other options.

Hiring or buying a car is the more expensive choice but will give you greater freedom as well as maintain an authentic experience. Overland safari tours will be expensive and less authentic but will give you an all-inclusive package and the greatest sense of safety.

But no matter how you get around Africa, you’ll definitely find the experience unforgettable!  

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner . It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld . If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Want to Travel for Free? Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip? Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.

Ready to Book Your Trip? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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A jeep driving down the savannah plains of Kenya while on safari

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Beyond Safaris: Affordable Travel in Africa

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Below you'll find average travel costs by country. You can dig in to each country for specific details about cities in each country, too. We also have costs for hotels, hostels, and tours for Africa.

Average Travel Costs by Country

Choosing an itinerary, planning your travel expenses, activities and highlights, cheap african destinations, buses, trains, or taxis.

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Africa , Budget Travel Ideas

9 cheapest countries to travel in africa.

9 Budget Friendly Countries to Travel in Africa

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I really think that most people have a strong perception that travelling in Africa is cheap.

And I’m guessing this is something to do with the economic disadvantage many of the countries in this continent suffer, coupled with the presumption that places where less tourists go tend to be cheaper.

But sadly, I’m here to bring you the news that it’s just not the case. Or at least not always.

Indeed many travellers tend to be shocked by the costs of travelling in Africa, where lack of infrastructure, remote locations, few tourist numbers, a high risk backdrop and let’s be honest, often corruption, can all hike the prices.

This isn’t to say if you do many things the local way, such as buses and food, you can travel cheaply in Africa.

It’s just that if you want to enjoy some of the experiences that are more geared towards tourists – like hotel or lodge stays, safaris or adrenaline sports (which let’s be honest most of us do) this can really send your budget soaring.

But fear not!

As you know, I love Africa travel and have adventured across 16 nations in this continent (with more planned of course).

What this means, is that I have a fair idea of the real costs of travelling this continent, and with that experience behind me I’m bringing you this list of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa… so here’s my top 9!

Related Posts

  • 55 Best Things to Do in Africa
  • 5 Unforgettable Africa Itineraries
  • Ultimate Female Packing List for Africa

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.

Prices and currency conversions given in this article are correct at the time of publication.

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Morocco, Chefchaouen, Mountains

We’re going to kick off this list in Northern Africa because, for tourists at least, this can be the cheapest end of the continent.

And straight into number 1, it’s that classic budget traveller favourite, Morocco.

Edging the Mediterranean, Morocco is only a short distance from Spain and, as such, is incredibly cheap to get to, either care of a budget flight or a (more ecological) train and boat journey from Europe .

TOP BUDGET TIP: I always use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights, including via budget airlines, and use Trainline to find the cheapest trains / buses across Europe.

This is the first reason Morocco is on this list.

But the bargains don’t end there, because Morocco is also super cheap to travel in once you arrive.

Dorm beds in hostels can be picked up across the country for as little as £5 / $6 USD and usually include a free breakfast.

In addition, local food in restaurants and cafes, such a delicious vegetable tagine, can be found for around 40-80 Dirham, which is about £2 / $3 USD, while a delicious mint tea or coffee will set you back just 5-10 Dirham, aka under a pound / dollar.

Trains and local buses are easy and cheap to use across the country too and even car rental is affordable, which makes exploring the diverse landscape and ancient cities of this country very accessible.

Learning more about Morocco’s rich culture is also easy with museum entries and local hammam experiences cost only around 10-20 Dirham – again around a pound or a dollar.

What can start to hike prices in Morocco however are tours, such as those to the Sahara or into the Atlas Mountains. The key here is joining a budget group tour, doing as much as you can via local transport and then haggling as much as you can!

Here’s a well priced tour overnight camel tour to Erg Chebbi Dunes that will give you some idea of costs

And the haggling doesn’t stop there!

No one can visit Morocco without picking a few souvenirs, so hone those skills well enough and you can pick up some real bargains!

All in all, Morocco is definitely one of the cheapest countries to visit in Africa and here’s my list of the 21 best things to do in this fabulously diverse country.

Morocco Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £30 / $40 USD

Tunisia, El Djem, Architecture

And sticking with the North African theme, although moving slightly east, we come to Tunisia, another definite spot on any list of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa.

Long a preferred package destination for many European travellers, Tunisia has sadly experienced a great amount of civil and political unrest in recent years that seriously put traditional tourists off.

As such the industry near-collapsed and despite peace and stability once again having been largely restored, Tunisia’s travel title as a safe destination has not.

While extremely unfortunate, this does mean travel to and within Tunisia is extremely cheap right now and budget travellers can have an amazing time discovering this nation’s beautiful landscapes and dazzling deserts.

Cheap airline flights can be picked up from across Europe, or for those looking to cut their carbon footprints, boats to Sicily in Italy are an easy and short ride.

Budget guesthouses in Tunisia can be found for as little as £10 / $12 USD per night per double, while food at local eateries costs around only £1-3 / $2-4 USD.

Visits to some of the historical sights in Tunisia are a bargain, with entrance to El Jem, for example, setting you back just £6 / $5 USD and you can easily take local shared minibuses, known as a louage, around the country for a few dollars.

It’s totally possible to avoid more expensive organised tours in Tunisia and you should do this if you want to keep your budget low, because they normally involve a private driver which can cost up to £100 / $130 USD day.

Instead, tour guides for specific attractions can be sought out in local areas for around £15 / $13 USD.

Tunisia Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £30 / $35 USD

Egypt, Luxor, Temple of Hatshepsut

And moving further east still, we come to Egypt, absolutely one of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa, if not the whole world!

Seriously, out of all the places I’ve been, there’s no question Egypt comes in as one of the biggest bargains going.

Even private rooms in hostels and budget guesthouses here can be picked up for as little as £6 / $7 USD and long-distance trains between major cities such as Luxor and Cairo are only £11 / $13 USD in first class!

While I have to admit I didn’t find Egyptian cuisine the best, it is certainly cheap and the national favourite of Koshari (essentially a mix of rice, lentils, macaroni and tomato sauce) can be wolfed down for as little as £2 / $3 USD.

Then, of course, there’s the sightseeing, because who can come to a country like Egypt and miss out on some of the major historical treasures they have here?!

Seriously when you get to somewhere like the pyramids, where entrance costs just £5 / $6 USD, it’s to hard believe you can really access this site for so little!

Another reason Egypt is one of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa is the fact you don’t need to take tours or guides to see the sights, sometimes, as in the case of Abu Simbel, they are even included in the ticket price.

But if you do want to take a day tour of the tombs and temples, for example, it’s good to know these can be picked up for as little as £13 / £15 USD.

I even scored an amazingly cheap Nile cruise when I was in Egypt – found out how here – and also got to dive the red sea for as little as £20 / $23 USD per dive.

No question therefore, that Egypt is definitely one of the cheapest countries to visit in Africa.

Egypt Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £25 / $30 USD

Sudan, Karima, Pyramids at Sunset

And now we start on our journey south, as we move from Egypt overland into Sudan!

Yes this is exactly what I did back in 2018 (albeit in the other direction i.e. from Sudan to Egypt ) before president Bashir was overthrown, but from what I hear from other travellers, Sudan is just as safe and cheap as ever for travellers.

Seriously rivalling Egypt for the title of the cheapest country to travel in Africa, if not the world, things in Sudan are insanely cheap – a sad reflection of the desperate economic situation that has engulfed the country.

When I was in Sudan, I actually found a guesthouse where the price for a bed was £0.75 / $1 USD and with a limited menu (especially for vegetarians) the national dish of ful – basically beans with bread and peanut oil – also costs less than $1 everywhere you go.

Buses in Sudan are amazingly comfortable and still crazy cheap, setting you back just a few dollars for rides that take several hours. There are also trains in the country, but as they cost much the same and are slower and dirtier, why bother?!

Many people, myself included come to see the amazing Nubian pyramids in Sudan, which are free to enter – lying semi-abandoned in the desert – and there’s no need to take a tour.

In fact, I didn’t take any tours while in Sudan, saw everything independently and only spent money on food, coffee, water, guesthouses, buses and the odd camel ride.

There’s literally nothing else to spend your money on in this country, including alcohol, which is illegal under Sudan’s strict Sharia law.

Does it get any cheaper than Sudan? I think not!

Sudan Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller:£10-20 / $13-25 USD

Kenya, Masai Mara, Cheetah Trio

And now we really begin moving south into one of my favourite African countries, the mighty Kenya.

With so much diversity contained within its borders, Kenya is a feast for those looking to sample this continent for the first time, with hiking mountains, discovering amazing national parks, spotting insane wildlife and strolling along beautiful beaches all easy to experience.

Due to recent political disruption, Kenya tourism has slumped… and so too have the prices.

This is now one of the cheapest countries to safari in and with choices as fabulous as Amboseli National Park, Nakuru National Park and the world-famous Masai Mara – found out why it’s my favourite safari destination here – there’s no question Kenya is one of the best too.

3 day / 2 night safari trips to some of these big name parks can be found for around £350 / $410 USD and this includes food, safari drives, guides, entrance and accommodation – usually of the budget camping variety!

If you’re not camping in Kenya, because you’re basing yourself in cities or towns, then dorm beds in this country cost around £8 / $10 USD a night, which is a bargain, especially at the coast, given you’ll be nestled among some posh resorts at some beautiful beachy spots like Diani.

Read More: Full Review of Diani Beach Backpackers

Local food on the street or from small shops in Kenya will set you back around £10-15 / $15-20 per day if you’re doing it cheaply, and local buses / boats are even less.

Don’t forget budget flights can also be snapped up in Kenya – as an example, you can get flights between Nairobi and Mombasa for around £35 / $45 USD – and tuk-tuks or motorbike taxis (called boda-boda) will take you everywhere within small cities or towns for just a few Kenyan shillings.

Yes, Kenya is definitely one of the cheapest countries in Africa and a great option if you are looking to combine safari with the sea!

Kenya Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £45 / $55 USD – activity dependent

Uganda, Bwindi, Gorilla Eating

And just next door to Kenya, is the equally amazing safari destination of Uganda, which is also one of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa if you want to enjoy the amazing wildlife and landscapes.

With similar pricing to Kenya in terms of accommodation, food and transport, it’s once again the case that your budget will massively be determined by how many other activities, tours and adventures you undertake in this country – how long they last and of what travel style they are!

The cheapest way to bag safaris to the most famous national parks in Uganda, such as Queen Elizabeth and Murchison River, is to head to the capital Kampala and arrange them from there… although you need to be flexible on dates for this.

Again, a 3 day / 2 night safari excursion will likely set you back around £300-350 / $430-500 USD.

Otherwise, self-drive safaris in Uganda are possible and another way to keep the budget low.

The other place to organise activities and tours from in this country is Jinja – the adventure sports capital of East Africa.

This town is set on the River Nile (in fact it marks the start of half of it) and offers a host of activities including rafting, horseback riding and quad-biking that can definitely hike up the price of travel in Uganda, costing from £35 / $40 USD an hour up to £110 / $140 USD for a full day.

Check out my article about Jinja, Uganda for more information, otherwise, if you want to makes this one of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa, make sure you do your research and choose your activities carefully!

If fact, you might want to hold back on all activities in lieu of the big daddy in Uganda, which is gorilla trekking.

Yes Uganda is the cheapest place (within the limits of safety) to see these amazing creatures and while it is still a huge ticket item, you can’t do it for less anywhere else in the world.

Check out my full guide to gorilla trekking in Uganda, including everything you need to know, pack and expect, here or learn more about some top-rated tours that include gorilla trekking in Uganda here .

Uganda Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £55 / $70 USD – activity-dependent (and more with gorillas!)

Malawi, Lake Malawi, Local Life

And now we begin to move further south to the country known as the Warm Heart of Africa!

Yes Malawi is a long, thin-shaped country found on the cusp between Southern and East Africa.

Dominated by Lake Malawi – an African Great Lake – this is one of the best countries in the continent for chilling and one of the cheapest countries in Africa too.

Sadly Malawi’s economy is not doing the best and you’ll immediately see what I mean when you get there.

As the country’s accolade attests however, this has nothing to do with the people’s level of happiness and the friendly greeting you’ll receive.

Local food and buses can be bought for next to nothing in Malawi and accommodation costs here are some of the cheapest in this part of Africa – even at the lake where there are a number of backpacker hostels.

The lake also gives you the chance to scuba dive (around £35 / $45 USD a dive), as well as enjoy boat rides or fishing trips. There’s also some nice hiking to do in the mountains around the Lake, but outside of this, the main thing to do is chill!

With few national parks, Malawi isn’t really a safari destination here, which means just relaxing and getting into the local swing of things is the best activity around.

With this in mind, Malawi is certainly one of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa as you won’t be forking out for a huge number of activities.

Malawi Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £30 / $35 USD

#8 Mozambique

Mozambique, Bazaruto Archipelago, View

And sticking with the watery theme, we now come to the coastal dream that is Mozambique – absolutely one of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa.

This really is your chance to sample a slice of paradise for next to nothing.

Tragically still suffering from the blight of the civil war that devastated this country for so many years, Mozambique’s economy is not in good shape and tourism is still a fledgeling industry.

But for those who do make it here, they will find amazing ocean views, great swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving and even the chance to spot some whale sharks, all for next to nothing.

The main spots to head are on the southern coast, including the backpacker mecca of Tofo.

Here a dorm bed will set you back around £8 / $10 and a meals in local cafés are between £3-7 / $4-9 USD.

Local buses to get to Tofo from the capital Maputo will only cost you around $3 USD and water-based activities start from around £35 / $45 USD.

As such, you can quickly see, Mozambique is certainly one of the cheapest countries to visit in Africa.

Mozambique Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £30 / $35 USD – activity-dependent

#9 South Africa

South Africa, Cape Town, Clifton Beach

And now we come to the last entry on this list and probably the most famous country to travel in on the continent, and that is the mighty South Africa!

More economically developed than many of the other countries in this part of the world, I’m nevertheless including South Africa as one of the cheapest countries to travel in Africa because of its popularity, ease and brilliance as a backpacking / independent budget travel destination.

Yes tourism infrastructure in this country is well-established and, as such, there’s a huge competition over hostels, buses, activities and other tourism services that keep prices low.

Cape Town is probably the priciest city – stunning as it is – but even here a dorm bed is likely to only set you back £12 / $15 USD.

You really can explore this city by yourself, without a  guide – check out my Cape Town itinerary for more ideas – and use services like Uber to get around cheaply too.

Greyhound buses and budget airlines can shuffle you around this vast country for very little and if you stick to buying food in supermarkets and cooking yourself, you can get by on a food budget of around £15 / $20 USD per day.

When it comes to tours and activities (especially safari ones, which are wildly popular here) the ability to rent a car and self-drive in many of these destinations keeps them much cheaper.

Check out my post about how to enjoy a Kruger safari on a budget for more ideas.

South Africa Estimated Daily Budget for Shoestring Traveller: £40 / $50 USD

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Mini Travel Guide to Africa

Morocco, Todra Gorge, Me

When to Visit?

As a huge continent, it’s impossible to give an overall best time to visit Africa, so I’ve split this question down in sub-regions.

When it comes to North Africa, I highly recommend visiting during the spring and autumn months, ie. April to May and September to October, so that the weather is pleasant enough for sightseeing.

In West Africa, the high season runs from December through February, when the region generally experiences its lowest rainfall and humidity – definitely a good idea to visit at this time!

In East Africa, visiting during the long dry season is a great idea. In general, this runs between the months of July and September and also conveniently aligns with the Great Migration too. the short rainy season in November and December can be another good time to visit this part of the continent.

And finally, we come to Southern Africa.

If you’re heading to Cape Town, I’d visit between November and February, but for Namibia and Botswana, the best months are May through October when it’s cooler and less humid.

Best Tours in Africa

While travelling solo in Africa is totally possible, if you are looking to include a lot of activities in your adventure, you may well find it cheaper to join a budget overland trip.

These are group tours that generally travel through several Africa countries using a price model that includes many safaris, activities and guides.

The cheapest overland options usually involve camping and, with access to group discounts, can often be the cheapest way to cover a lot of ground in Africa safely and in the company of others.

So, if you’re interested in an unforgettable, well-priced tour across Africa, with guides you can trust, or a self-drive trip organised by a great company, then email me at [email protected] and I’ll send you my top recommendations – simple!

Alternatively, I’m currently offering my readers an exclusive discount on all Absolute Africa tours , meaning you can now travel even more in the amazing regions of southern and east Africa for even less! Simply send this top African overland tour company an email to [email protected] , quoting the discount code BWSP, and start planning your incredible trip with them today!

Otherwise, if it’s strictly safari tours you’re looking for, check out these top picks .

You can also check out this post I wrote about how much an African safari will cost for lots of information about pricing variables and some top-money saving tips.

Travel Insurance for Africa

travelling around africa on a budget

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.

6 Packing Essentials for Africa

#1 Swimwear and Sarong – One World Sarongs are always my go to and a must when you hit the beautiful beaches across Africa.

#2 Lonely Planet Guidebook – Their Africa edition is excellent and very helpful when it comes to a broad range of travel tips, maps and recommended itinerary routes.

#3 Insect Repellent and Anti-Malarials – I recommend a 30% DEET repellent for Africa and anti-malarials if you’re travelling in at risk countries – although please always consult the advice of a medical professional before any travels to this part of the world.

#4 World Power Adapter – There are at least 3 different types of adapters used across this continent, so make sure you come prepared with a Skross World Adapter at the ready.

#5 Camera and Lens – I love my Sony A6000 mirrorless , and have used it to capture the beauty of this continent and beyond. My GoPro Hero was also amazing for preseving some of the adventure of my Africa travels too!

#6 Good Sandals – You’ll live in sandals in most of Africa and I would never travel anywhere now without my trusty pair of Arizona Birkenstocks !

Travel Money in Africa

When it comes to paying for things across this continent, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card or an ATM abroad, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.

The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here .


9 Cheapest Countries to Travel in Africa {Big World Small Pockets}

And there it is, my list of the 9 cheapest countries to travel in Africa!

Which is top of your bucket list?

Tell me all in the comments box below…

travelling around africa on a budget

Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie adventures the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile

18 thoughts on “ 9 Cheapest Countries to Travel in Africa ”

travelling around africa on a budget

I thought Morocco would be costly but it is relatively cheaper. Glad you shared the list of cheap African countries. Good help for budget traveller like me

travelling around africa on a budget

So happy this article has helped another budget traveller Pradish! That’s the aim of the game 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

hi i managed to travel in uganda do game drives for 15 days using reasonable comforteable hotels . total amount spent 1800 usd. now is that good. if any one wants me to share mos w elcome

Thanks Ernest, super info and a kind offer to help other travellers! Best, Steph 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

Thanks for the list with estimated budget per day. In my list I will add Morocco, Egypt and South Africa.

Great to hear the list was useful and happy to learn about the new destinations in your travel plans. Enjoy, Steph 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

I am African from Nigeria and I found this so cool. I’m So ready to explore Aftica

Great Funke, enjoy 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

What about the ease of getting visas and visa processes to these countries? I have a NZ passport

Hi Gagan, you will have to check your foreign office webite for visa and entry information about travelling to each country listed. All the information you need will be there. Best, Steph 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

Wow. great and informaive piece of writing.

Thanks guys, glad you enjoyed it 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

I have never been to any of these countries listed. However, Malawi is a country I would love to explore and I am glad its on the list of cheap places to visit in Africa.

That’s great to hear Magdalene – sure you will love Malawi! Best wishes, Steph 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

Thank you for sharing your insights on the cheapest countries to travel in Africa. Your article is informative, well-researched, and provides a great resource for budget-conscious travelers who want to explore this beautiful continent.

I appreciated your detailed breakdown of the costs of travel, including accommodation, food, transportation, and activities, in each country. Your personal experiences and anecdotes add a relatable touch to the article and provide a helpful perspective for anyone planning to visit these destinations.

Great to hear Hilary, thanks 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

Really cool. Never thought Morocco would be on the list.

Wow Helen, really? Did you not find it very affordable? Let me know, Steph 🙂

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Africa Guides , World Travel + Tips

How to see africa on a budget.

Is it possible to see Africa on a budget? The answer is an easy yes. Read on to find out how. The vast continent of Africa, with its diverse cultures, abundant wildlife, dramatic landscapes, and unspoiled natural beauty, is a bucket list destination for many. But getting there is a challenge, especially with the costly flights and strict visa and vaccination requirements. Once you’re there, getting around can be an even bigger challenge. In many parts, the infrastructure is abysmal, making road trips inconvenient. There’s a lack of efficient public transport. Outside the big cities, quality accommodations are scarce and often overpriced. All these make Africa an expensive place to travel.

But don’t let this dishearten you. The continent is a diamond in the rough and full of gems waiting to be discovered. Travelling to Africa is a rich and enriching experience, so much so that many people consider it the trip of a lifetime.

Leopard in Chobe National Park - Botswana

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Visit out of Peak Season

It’s a no-brainer. Scheduling your trip with care will help you save money. The best time to travel to Africa is during the low season when hotels offer reduced rates and flights are much cheaper. You may even find a discounted all-inclusive tour and day trip package. Some experts claim that visitors can save around 20 to 40 per cent on safaris and other travel expenses outside the peak season. That’s a substantial amount! Best of all, the attractions aren’t as crowded.

March and June or October and December are the off-peak months. During these times, the continent experiences the rainy season, and the weather can be wet, hot and humid. The rainfalls are usually brief, and you still get plenty of sun. Be sure to bring light and loose clothing made of breathable fabric to cope with the temperature. Also, apply some sunscreen and keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.

We all know accommodations in Africa can be pricey. But there is a way around this. You can join a volunteer programme in exchange for affordable lodgings. Volunteering is not only practical but is also a meaningful way to give back to the community. Who does not like the idea of doing a good act and making a significant impact whilst enjoying the best Africa and saving money?

Volunteer programmes are not free. You will pay a modest amount to cover accommodations, meals, transportation, and travel insurance. You can use the money you saved to pay for trips or tours. Most volunteer programmes last for weeks or months. 

One of the most reputable volunteer programmes in Africa is in the volunteer field of medical and healthcare services. This project provides much-needed support and assistance to health workers at under-resourced facilities and communities. One project focuses on a 2-to-12-week rural healthcare and HIV/AIDS awareness programme in St. Lucia, South Africa.

Other programmes include community development, teaching, sports coaching, wildlife rescue, and environmental conservation. With the variety of options, you’re sure to find one that caters to your interest.

Cultural village dance show - Swaziland

Find budget airlines

The cost of a flight to Africa will take up a bulk of your budget. To circumvent this, research for the lowest flight rates using an airline aggregator website such as Skyscanner. Fill out your point of departure, your destination in Africa and your expected travel date, and the site will pull up information from carriers to help you choose the best deals. Popular budget airlines include Fly 540, Ethiopian Airlines, Kulula, Fastjet, Mango, Dana Air, Flydubai, Skywise, Flysafair, and JamboJet. They also offer budget-friendly domestic flights.

Budget airlines may not be as comfortable as full-service airlines, but they allow you to save money. Cheaper flights most likely will also have several layovers. Regardless of which country your destination is, your international flight will stop by the transport hub in a major city. For Southern Africa, it’s Johannesburg and Cape Town; Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi for East Africa; Cairo and Casablanca for Northern Africa; and Lagos and Dakar for West Africa.

Find the right safari

From permit costs to guide fees and vehicle rentals, safaris can be the most expensive part of your holiday. But it would be a shame to visit Africa and not join a safari. Some tour operators include unnecessary extras to the package and end up charging guests more than what’s worth. Do your research and choose with care. Consider new camps, learn about self-guided safaris in national parks, and check out less-popular options. You might want to team up with other travellers and go for a group tour so you can divide the expenses. Some hostels organise group assembling for solo travellers. 

Always verify the inclusions and exclusions of your tour to avoid paying extra for services that are not part of the package. Most deals include food and drinks, water, accommodations, tips, guide fees, and entrance fees. The Serengeti is one of the most well-known safari destinations in Africa. If you want a more budget-friendly option, go for lesser-known parks. There are cheaper parks in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya with the same fascinating wildlife. If you’re travelling in a pack, look for family holiday safaris for the best value for your money, if you’re going to go all the way to Kenya for a family safari , it’s worth going the extra mile and making the most of it.

Looking out at Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe

Choose cheaper places in Africa

Some places in Africa are more expensive due to high tourist demand. Other countries, such as Zambia , use a high-value, low-impact model, wherein the government imposes hefty fees, so fewer tourists visit. The purpose of this scheme is to avoid overcrowding and preserve the country’s natural environment.

Explore countries with a lower cost of living. Usually, the accommodations, food, and public transportation there are cheaper. According to a 2022 survey, the most expensive country to visit in Africa is Zambia, which has an average daily travel price of $756 per person. Seychelles follows with $156, Swaziland with $123, Senegal with $119, and Cape Verde with $111. Some of the cheaper countries to visit are Rwanda with $23.32, Egypt with $34, Morocco with $44, Ethiopia with $49 and Botswana with $54.

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travelling around africa on a budget

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Traveling Africa On A Budget: Expert Tips For Affordable Adventures

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Looking to embark on an unforgettable adventure through Africa, but worried about the cost? Don’t fret! We’ve got you covered with expert tips that will help you travel Africa on a budget without sacrificing the awe-inspiring experiences this diverse continent has to offer.

From exploring vibrant cities to discovering stunning landscapes and encountering unique wildlife, there’s something for every traveler.

Start by choosing the right time to visit, when prices are lower and crowds are thinner.

Research affordable accommodations that offer comfort without breaking the bank.

Utilize public transportation to get around and save on expensive taxis.

Pack smart and light, ensuring you have everything you need while avoiding excess baggage fees.

Indulge in delicious local and street food for a taste of authentic African cuisine at wallet-friendly prices.

Hone your bargaining skills to score great deals at markets and negotiate prices wherever possible.

Venture off-the-beaten-path to discover hidden gems that won’t break your budget or be overrun by tourists.

Connect with other like-minded travelers for cost-sharing opportunities, making your journey even more affordable.

And most importantly, stay flexible and open-minded, embracing unexpected adventures along the way.

With these expert tips, traveling Africa on a budget has never been easier or more rewarding!

Choosing the Right Time to Travel

If you’re looking to make the most of your budget while traveling Africa, you’ll want to know when is the best time to go! The continent offers a plethora of affordable adventures, and choosing the right time can help you save even more money. When it comes to traveling Africa on a budget, timing is everything.

One of the first things to consider is which region of Africa you plan on visiting. East Africa, with countries like Kenya and Tanzania, offers stunning landscapes and incredible wildlife in national parks such as Serengeti and Maasai Mara. The best time to visit this region on a budget is during the low season, which falls outside of peak tourist times. This will not only save you money on accommodation but also allow you to enjoy the beauty of these places without large crowds.

Southern Africa, including countries like South Africa and Namibia, has its own set of attractions. From exploring vibrant cities like Cape Town to experiencing breathtaking views at Victoria Falls, there’s something for everyone. To save money in this region, consider traveling during shoulder seasons when prices are lower and tourist traffic is reduced.

No matter where in Africa you choose to travel , one surefire way to save money is by exploring local markets and enjoying local food. Not only will this give you a taste of authentic African cuisine but it will also be much cheaper than dining at fancy restaurants catered towards tourists.

When planning your trip to Africa on a budget, don’t forget about visas. Some countries in East Africa offer an East Africa visa that allows entry into multiple countries for a reduced fee compared to individual visas.

Lastly, if you’re feeling adventurous and looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience that won’t break the bank, consider exploring West African countries such as Senegal or Ghana. These destinations offer unique cultural experiences and beautiful landscapes at more affordable prices than some other popular African destinations.

Choosing the right time to travel to Africa can make a huge difference in terms of saving money. Whether you decide to visit East Africa, Southern Africa, or venture into West Africa, planning your trip during the low or shoulder seasons and taking advantage of local markets and food will help stretch your budget further. So go ahead, start planning your affordable African adventure today!

Researching Affordable Accommodations

When researching accommodations, it’s important to prioritize cost-effective options for your budget travel adventure in Africa. Finding affordable places to stay will help stretch your Africa travel budget and allow you to allocate more funds towards other exciting experiences.

Start by looking for cheap flights and consider booking them well in advance to secure the best deals. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, consider renting a car or taking advantage of local transportation options to get around, as this can be much cheaper than relying on taxis or private transfers.

When it comes to accommodations, there are various budget hotels and guesthouses available in many African cities and towns. These establishments offer comfortable rooms at reasonable prices, making them perfect for travelers on a tight budget.

Additionally, exploring street food and local restaurants can save you money on meals while allowing you to experience the vibrant culinary scene of each destination.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want an even more affordable option, consider overland tours. These guided trips often provide transportation, accommodation, and meals bundled together at a discounted rate. This can be an excellent way to see multiple destinations without breaking the bank.

Lastly, don’t forget about the importance of travel insurance. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense when traveling on a tight budget, having insurance can protect you from unexpected costs such as medical emergencies or trip cancellations.

By prioritizing cost-effective accommodations and incorporating these tips into your planning process, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying an incredible adventure through Africa without straining your wallet.

Utilizing Public Transportation

One great way to explore and get around in Africa is by utilizing the convenient and cost-effective option of public transportation. For budget travelers looking to experience Africa on a budget, local buses are a fantastic choice. These buses connect various cities and towns, allowing you to visit multiple countries without breaking the bank.

Whether you’re embarking on an overland tour or venturing out on your own for some solo travel , hopping on a local bus is a reliable and affordable way to get from one destination to another.

When traveling in Africa’s capital cities, public transportation options such as minibusses and taxis are readily available. Minibusses are often crowded but offer an authentic local experience, while taxis provide a more comfortable ride at a slightly higher cost. It’s important to negotiate fares before getting in any taxi or minibus to ensure fair pricing.

By using public transportation instead of private vehicles or tours, you can save money not only on transport costs but also on fuel expenses and parking fees. Additionally, traveling by public transport allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with locals, and gain insights into community development initiatives.

It’s worth noting that during school holidays or peak travel seasons, public transportation may be busier than usual. Plan accordingly and be prepared for longer wait times and potential delays.

Overall, utilizing public transportation is an excellent way for budget travelers exploring Africa on a budget to navigate the continent affordably while enjoying the vibrant cultures and breathtaking landscapes it has to offer.

Packing Smart and Light

To make the most of your journey through Africa, pack smart and keep your luggage light. Traveling to Africa can be an incredible adventure filled with diverse landscapes, vibrant cultures, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re backpacking through Cape Town or exploring the East African countries, packing smart will ensure a hassle-free trip.

Firstly, invest in a sturdy backpack that fits comfortably on your shoulders. This will allow you to navigate crowded streets and uneven terrains with ease. Pack versatile clothing that can be layered for different weather conditions. Remember to include essentials like a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle.

When it comes to electronics, bring only what you absolutely need – a smartphone for communication and navigation purposes is usually sufficient. Don’t forget universal adapters for charging your devices!

As you plan your itinerary, consider using budget airlines for intercity travel . They offer affordable fares that are perfect for travelers on a tight budget. Additionally, opt for local transportation such as buses or trains instead of expensive taxis.

Eating local foods not only supports the economy but also allows you to experience the authentic flavors of each destination without breaking the bank. Explore bustling markets or small eateries where locals gather to enjoy delicious meals at reasonable prices.

Lastly, don’t forget to research free or low-cost attractions in each capital city or national park you visit. From breathtaking natural wonders to historical landmarks, there are plenty of budget-friendly options that will enrich your African adventure.

So pack smartly and embark on an unforgettable journey through Africa while staying within your budget!

Eating Local and Street Food

Indulge your taste buds and savor the authentic flavors of Africa by exploring the vibrant street food scene and trying local delicacies. Traveling Africa on a budget doesn’t mean sacrificing culinary adventures. In fact, eating local and street food isn’t only affordable but is also an excellent way to experience the culture and traditions of each destination.

From bustling markets in Southeast Asia to the lively streets of most capital cities, you’ll find an array of mouthwatering options that won’t break the bank. Whether you’re craving spicy stews, grilled meats, or exotic fruits, there’s something for everyone.

In Chobe National Park, enjoy a traditional braai (barbecue) under the starry sky while listening to tales from locals around the fire. In South America, sample empanadas filled with savory meat or cheese as you explore vibrant city markets. And when visiting Victoria Falls, don’t miss out on trying some delicious biltong (dried meat) or freshly caught fish from the Zambezi River.

If you’re adventurous enough, consider gorilla trekking in Central Africa where you can try dishes made with plantains and groundnuts. You’ll be amazed at how far your money can go when dining like a local in Africa. So don’t let Western prices deter you from embracing these authentic culinary experiences that are sure to leave a lasting impression on your palate and memories.

Exploring Free or Low-Cost Activities

When exploring Africa, don’t overlook the abundance of free or low-cost activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the local culture without breaking the bank. From bustling markets to stunning natural landscapes, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your budget while experiencing all that Africa has to offer.

Start by visiting local markets and bazaars, where you can get a taste of authentic African life without spending a fortune. Wander through colorful stalls filled with fresh produce, vibrant fabrics, and traditional crafts. Engage with locals, bargain for souvenirs, and savor the sights and sounds of these bustling hubs.

Nature lovers will find joy in Africa’s breathtaking landscapes. Many national parks offer affordable entry fees or even free access. Whether it’s spotting wildlife on a safari or hiking through lush forests, there are countless opportunities to explore Africa’s natural wonders on a budget.

Additionally, take advantage of community events and festivals that often showcase traditional music, dance performances, and cultural exhibitions at little to no cost. These lively celebrations provide a unique window into African traditions and customs.

So when planning your trip to Africa on a budget, remember that memorable experiences don’t always come with hefty price tags. By embracing free or low-cost activities, you’ll not only save money but also create lasting memories immersed in the rich tapestry of African culture.

Visiting National Parks and Wildlife Reserves

When visiting national parks and wildlife reserves in Africa on a budget, there are a few key tips to keep in mind. Firstly, research the different options available to you. Some parks have higher entrance fees than others, so it’s worth comparing prices before making your decision. Additionally, consider visiting during the low season when prices may be lower.

Once you’ve chosen your park or reserve, prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience. As you venture into these protected areas, be sure to bring binoculars for up-close animal sightings and a good camera to capture those magical moments. Take advantage of guided tours or self-guided walks that are often available at no additional cost.

Remember to respect the animals’ space by keeping a safe distance and following any rules or regulations set by the park authorities. By doing so, you won’t only protect yourself but also help preserve these incredible ecosystems for future generations.

Visiting national parks and wildlife reserves in Africa is an affordable way to immerse yourself in nature’s wonders. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an adventure like no other!

Engaging with Local Communities

Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures and traditions of local communities as you embark on your African wildlife journey. Engaging with local communities is not only a great way to experience the true essence of Africa, but it can also be a budget-friendly option for travelers.

One of the best ways to engage with locals is by staying in community-run accommodations or homestays. These options not only provide a more authentic experience, but they also directly benefit the local community by providing them with income and employment opportunities. You’ll have the chance to interact with friendly locals, learn about their customs and traditions, and even participate in cultural activities such as traditional dances or cooking classes.

Another way to connect with local communities is through volunteering opportunities. Many conservation organizations and community development projects welcome volunteers who are passionate about making a positive impact. Whether you’re assisting with wildlife monitoring or helping to build schools and infrastructure, your contribution will be invaluable.

When visiting markets or shops, make an effort to buy locally made handicrafts and products. This supports local artisans and helps preserve traditional craftsmanship. Plus, you’ll have unique souvenirs to bring back home!

Engaging with local communities not only enriches your travel experience but also contributes directly to sustainable development in Africa. So go ahead, immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of Africa’s local communities – it’s an adventure like no other!

Taking Advantage of Group Discounts and Special Offers

Now that you’ve learned about engaging with local communities during your budget-friendly African adventures, let’s dive into another fantastic way to save money while exploring this vibrant continent: taking advantage of group discounts and special offers.

Traveling in a group can be an incredible way to cut costs and make lasting memories. Many attractions, accommodations, and tour operators offer discounted rates for larger groups, allowing you to stretch your travel budget even further. Whether you’re exploring the breathtaking landscapes of South Africa or immersing yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Morocco, these group discounts can make a significant difference in your overall expenses.

When planning your trip, keep an eye out for special offers as well. From discounted flights to reduced rates on guided tours or accommodation packages, there are often promotions available that can help you save money without compromising on the quality of your experience.

To take full advantage of these opportunities, consider joining travel forums or online communities where fellow adventurers share their experiences and discuss current deals. By staying connected with other like-minded travelers, you’ll have access to insider tips and up-to-date information on the best discounts available.

So gather your friends or join a group of fellow explorers and get ready to embark on a budget-friendly African adventure filled with unforgettable experiences!

Planning Self-Guided Tours

To make the most of your African journey, consider planning self-guided tours that allow you to delve deeper into the local culture and create a more personalized adventure. By opting for a self-guided tour, you have the freedom to explore at your own pace and discover hidden gems off the beaten path.

One of the advantages of planning a self-guided tour is that it gives you the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the local culture. You can interact with locals, try authentic cuisine, and participate in traditional activities. This hands-on experience will provide a deeper understanding and appreciation for Africa’s rich heritage.

When planning your self-guided tour, be sure to research popular attractions and landmarks in advance. Create an itinerary that includes both must-see sights and lesser-known spots. Remember to leave room for spontaneity – sometimes the best experiences happen when you stumble upon something unexpected.

To enhance your adventure, consider hiring a local guide for certain parts of your trip. They can offer valuable insights, share fascinating stories, and ensure that you don’t miss out on any hidden gems. Plus, supporting local guides helps contribute directly to the community’s economy.

As you embark on your self-guided African journey, embrace all that this vibrant continent has to offer. Immerse yourself in its diverse landscapes, connect with its welcoming people, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure!

Opting for Homestays or Couchsurfing

Consider staying in a local home or couchsurfing to fully experience the authentic culture and hospitality of Africa. This isn’t just a budget-friendly option but also an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the local way of life.

Homestays allow you to live with a local family, sharing meals, stories, and traditions. It’s an intimate experience that will leave you with lifelong memories. When choosing a homestay, research thoroughly and read reviews from previous guests. Look for hosts who have positive feedback regarding cleanliness, friendliness, and willingness to share their knowledge about the area. Reach out to potential hosts beforehand to discuss expectations and any dietary preferences or restrictions you may have.

Couchsurfing is another fantastic way to connect with locals while keeping your expenses low. The Couchsurfing community is active in many African countries, offering free accommodation on locals’ couches or spare beds. It’s essential to create an engaging profile that showcases your interests and why you want to stay with locals.

While staying in someone’s home requires mutual respect and consideration, it can be an enriching experience beyond what money can buy. You’ll gain insights into everyday life, discover hidden gems known only by locals, and forge meaningful connections that could last a lifetime. So go ahead, embrace the warmth of African hospitality through homestays or couchsurfing!

Avoiding Tourist Traps

Escape the tourist traps and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations in Africa, where you can truly experience the rich cultural heritage and natural wonders of the continent. When traveling on a budget, it’s important to avoid falling into tourist traps that cater to foreigners and charge exorbitant prices.

Instead, immerse yourself in local culture by venturing to lesser-known places. Start by researching destinations that are not commonly frequented by tourists. These hidden gems often offer authentic experiences without breaking the bank. For instance, instead of visiting well-known attractions like Victoria Falls or Serengeti National Park, opt for quieter alternatives such as Wli Waterfalls in Ghana or Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

To further stretch your budget, consider staying in guesthouses or small family-run accommodations rather than luxury hotels. These options not only provide a more intimate experience but also support local communities directly. Engage with locals and ask for their recommendations on affordable dining options and transportation.

When exploring these off-the-beaten-path destinations, make sure to pack a sense of adventure. Take public transportation or hire a local guide who can show you hidden trails and secret spots that aren’t mentioned in guidebooks.

By avoiding tourist traps and embracing authentic experiences, you’ll uncover the true essence of Africa – its vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and warm-hearted people – all while sticking to your budget. So go ahead, step off the well-trodden path and embark on an unforgettable adventure through this awe-inspiring continent.

Learning Basic Local Phrases

When traveling through Africa on a budget, taking the time to learn a few key phrases can make all the difference. Not only will locals appreciate your efforts, but you’ll also gain a deeper understanding of their way of life.

Start with greetings like ‘hello’ and ‘thank you.’ These simple words can go a long way in showing respect and building rapport.

As you venture further, expand your vocabulary to include phrases like ‘how much does this cost?’ or ‘where is the bathroom?’ This’ll help you navigate daily activities and negotiate prices without feeling lost or taken advantage of.

Learning basic local phrases also allows you to engage in conversations beyond mere pleasantries. Imagine being able to ask about traditional customs, local cuisine recommendations, or even getting directions to hidden gems off the beaten path. The possibilities are endless when you can communicate effectively with the people you meet along your journey.

To enhance your language learning experience, consider downloading language apps or using phrasebooks that provide pronunciation guides. Practice speaking aloud whenever possible; locals’ll appreciate your efforts even if your accent isn’t perfect.

Remember that communication isn’t just about words but also about gestures and expressions – so be open-minded and willing to learn from non-verbal cues as well.

By incorporating basic local phrases into your travels, you’ll find yourself connecting with Africa’s vibrant cultures in ways that guidebooks alone can’t offer. So go ahead, embrace the challenge of learning some new words – it’s a small investment that’ll pay off big time during your affordable adventures across this breathtaking continent.

Embracing Public Markets and Street Vendors

Explore the bustling public markets and connect with friendly street vendors – their vibrant displays and local products will immerse you in the authentic culture of Africa. When traveling on a budget, embracing public markets and street vendors can be a game-changer.

Not only will you find unique souvenirs and delicious local food, but you’ll also get a chance to interact with locals and learn more about their way of life.

Public markets in Africa are a hub of activity, filled with colorful fruits, vegetables, spices, handicrafts, and clothing. The sights, sounds, and smells will awaken your senses as you weave through the narrow aisles. Don’t be afraid to haggle for a better price; it’s all part of the experience.

Engaging with street vendors is another way to support the local economy while enjoying affordable goodies. From mouthwatering street food like grilled skewers or savory samosas to handmade jewelry and artwork, there’s something for everyone.

Embracing public markets and street vendors not only saves you money but also allows you to connect with the people who call Africa home. You’ll witness their entrepreneurial spirit firsthand as they passionately showcase their products. Take some time to strike up a conversation – locals love sharing stories about their traditions and customs.

So next time you’re in Africa on a budget adventure, make sure to immerse yourself in the culture by exploring public markets and interacting with friendly street vendors. It’s an experience that will leave lasting memories while giving back to the communities you visit.

Participating in Volunteer Opportunities

Get involved and make a difference by participating in volunteer opportunities, lending a helping hand to local communities, and experiencing the impact of your actions firsthand. Africa offers a wide range of volunteer programs that allow travelers to give back while exploring this beautiful continent on a budget.

Volunteering in Africa is not only an affordable way to travel, but it also provides a unique cultural immersion experience. You can choose from various projects like teaching English, working with wildlife conservation organizations, or assisting in community development initiatives. Imagine spending your days teaching eager children in a rural village or helping rehabilitate injured animals at a wildlife sanctuary – these experiences will stay with you forever.

One of the great things about volunteering is that it often includes accommodation and meals, making it even more cost-effective. Many organizations offer flexible durations for volunteers, ranging from just a few weeks to several months. This allows you to tailor your experience based on your time and budget constraints.

Not only will you be contributing to the betterment of local communities, but you will also have the opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals from all over the world who share your passion for making a positive impact. Volunteering in Africa is not only rewarding but also an incredible way to create lasting memories and forge lifelong friendships.

So why not take this chance to explore Africa differently? By participating in volunteer opportunities, you can embark on an adventure that goes beyond sightseeing – one that truly touches lives and leaves an enduring mark on both yourself and the communities you serve.

Taking Advantage of Local Transportation Options

When it comes to getting around in Africa, taking advantage of local transportation options can add an element of excitement and authenticity to your journey. Instead of relying solely on tourist buses or expensive taxis, embrace the adventure and hop on a minibus or shared taxi known as matatu in East Africa, dala-dala in Tanzania, or tro-tro in Ghana.

These local modes of transportation are not only budget-friendly but also offer a unique opportunity to interact with locals and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture. Picture yourself sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with friendly passengers while colorful fabrics decorate the interior and lively African music fills the air.

In some cities, you can even experience riding on a boda-boda motorcycle taxi. Hold on tight as you zip through traffic-filled streets, feeling the wind against your face as you witness daily life unfold before your eyes.

If you’re up for a more adventurous journey, consider taking a ride on a rickety train that rattles along at its own pace. As you chug through picturesque landscapes and pass by bustling markets, this nostalgic mode of transport will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

So why stick to conventional means when exploring Africa? Embrace the diversity of local transportation options available and embark on an unforgettable adventure filled with authentic experiences that will leave lasting memories.

Bargaining and Negotiating Prices

Now that you’re well-versed in utilizing local transportation options, it’s time to dive into the art of bargaining and negotiating prices. This skill will prove invaluable during your budget-friendly adventures across Africa.

When it comes to shopping at local markets or haggling for a taxi fare, bargaining is not only expected but encouraged. In many African countries, negotiating prices is an integral part of the culture and can lead to significant savings if done right.

To successfully bargain, remember to approach it with confidence and a friendly demeanor. Start by engaging in small talk with the vendor or driver, showing genuine interest in their products or services. This establishes a rapport and sets a positive tone for negotiations.

As you begin discussing prices, keep in mind that bargaining is a give-and-take process. Make sure to start with a lower offer than what you’re willing to pay, allowing room for counteroffers from the seller. Be prepared for some back-and-forth until both parties reach a mutually agreeable price.

Remember that patience is key during these interactions. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the price isn’t right – oftentimes, this can prompt the seller to reconsider their initial offer.

By honing your bargaining skills, you’ll not only save money but also gain insight into local customs and traditions. So go ahead and embrace this exciting aspect of traveling Africa on a budget!

Exploring Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations

Discover hidden gems and uncover the magic of lesser-known destinations in Africa by exploring off-the-beaten-path spots. While popular tourist destinations like Cape Town, Marrakech, and Victoria Falls are undeniably breathtaking, venturing off the beaten path allows you to experience the true essence of Africa.

One such hidden gem is Lalibela in Ethiopia. Nestled in the rugged mountains of Northern Ethiopia, this UNESCO World Heritage site is home to 11 remarkable rock-hewn churches dating back to the 12th century. Marvel at their intricate architecture and immerse yourself in the rich spiritual atmosphere that permeates this ancient town.

For a taste of untouched wilderness, head to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. This desolate stretch of coastline boasts stunning landscapes with towering sand dunes meeting crashing Atlantic waves. Explore shipwrecks scattered along the shore or embark on a thrilling safari through Etosha National Park.

In Madagascar, venture to Isalo National Park for a unique hiking experience through canyons, natural pools, and lush vegetation. Encounter lemurs swinging from tree branches as you traverse this otherworldly landscape.

By stepping off the beaten path, you not only save money but also get an authentic glimpse into Africa’s diverse cultures and natural wonders. So go ahead, embrace adventure and create unforgettable memories as you explore these lesser-known destinations across Africa!

Connecting with Other Travelers for Cost-Sharing

Connecting with fellow travelers is a great way to share costs and make new friends along your journey. Not only does cost-sharing help you save money, but it also allows you to create unforgettable memories with like-minded adventurers.

There are several ways to connect with other travelers while traveling Africa on a budget.

One option is to join online travel forums or social media groups dedicated to budget travel in Africa. These platforms provide a space for travelers to connect, share tips, and even plan trips together. You can find potential travel buddies who have similar itineraries or interests, making it easier to split expenses such as accommodation and transportation.

Another way to meet fellow travelers is by staying in hostels or guesthouses that encourage social interaction among guests. Many budget accommodations organize group activities like city tours or game drives, providing opportunities for you to mingle with other adventurous souls. Take advantage of common areas like lounges or communal kitchens where conversations often spark between travelers from different corners of the world.

Lastly, consider joining organized group tours specifically designed for budget-conscious individuals. These tours often cater to small groups and offer shared accommodations and transport options at affordable rates. Traveling in a group not only reduces costs but also boosts safety as you explore unfamiliar destinations together.

Remember, connecting with other travelers not only helps lighten the financial burden but also adds another layer of excitement and camaraderie to your African adventure. So go ahead and reach out – you never know what incredible experiences await when you open yourself up to new connections!

Being Flexible and Open to Unexpected Adventures

When you are flexible and open-minded, you create space for serendipitous encounters, unique experiences, and unforgettable memories.

One of the best ways to embrace unexpected adventures is by veering off the beaten path. While popular tourist destinations can offer incredible sights and experiences, exploring lesser-known areas can uncover hidden gems that few others have discovered. Take a detour from your planned itinerary and wander through local markets, stumble upon charming villages, or find secluded beaches where you can relax in peace.

Being open to spontaneous opportunities also means saying yes to invitations from locals or fellow travelers. Whether it’s joining a group for an impromptu hike or attending a cultural event you hadn’t planned on, these unplanned activities can lead to remarkable connections with people and provide insights into the local culture that guidebooks may not cover.

Moreover, being flexible with your travel plans allows you to take advantage of last-minute deals or unforeseen opportunities. Maybe you hear about an affordable safari tour just as you arrive in town or meet someone who invites you to join their road trip across breathtaking landscapes. By remaining adaptable, you give yourself the chance to seize these chances for adventure.

Remember that traveling is not only about ticking off famous landmarks but also about immersing yourself in different cultures and embracing new experiences. So let go of rigid schedules and expectations; instead, welcome unexpected adventures with enthusiasm. Who knows what extraordinary stories await when you allow spontaneity into your African journey?

Frequently Asked Questions

How can i ensure my safety while exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations in africa.

To ensure your safety while exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations in Africa, research and plan ahead, travel with a group or local guide, be vigilant of your surroundings, stay updated on current events and advisories, and trust your instincts.

What are some tips for effectively bargaining and negotiating prices with local vendors?

When bargaining with local vendors in Africa, start by researching the average prices for goods and services. Be friendly, but firm, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the price isn’t right.

How can I connect with other travelers for cost-sharing during my African adventure?

Connect with other travelers for cost-sharing during your African adventure by joining online travel communities, such as forums or social media groups. Post about your plans and budget, and find like-minded adventurers who want to share expenses and experiences.

Are there any specific volunteer opportunities available for travelers in Africa?

Yes! There are numerous volunteer opportunities in Africa for travelers like you. From wildlife conservation to community development, you can make a positive impact while experiencing the beauty and culture of this amazing continent.

What are some basic local phrases that I should learn before traveling to Africa?

Before traveling to Africa, it’s helpful to learn some basic local phrases. Greetings like “Jambo” in Swahili or “Salam” in Arabic can go a long way in connecting with locals and showing respect for their culture.

In conclusion, traveling Africa on a budget is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding. By choosing the right time to travel, researching affordable accommodations, and utilizing public transportation, you can save money without compromising on your adventure.

Packing smart and light, eating local and street food, bargaining for prices, exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations, connecting with other travelers for cost-sharing, and being flexible will all contribute to an affordable and unforgettable experience.

So go ahead and embark on your African adventure without breaking the bank!

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Divergent Travelers

Ultimate AFRICA Travel Guide

The  African continent  is the second-largest in the world, featuring 54 countries and 12 territories. To truly explore all it has to offer would take you a lifetime and man, would that be a wild ride. Our  Africa Travel guide  is here to serve you advice and insight on the most popular areas of the continent and places we have personally visited.

We have an insatiable love for the African continent and have returned four times since our first trip. You’ll be hard-pressed to find the sheer diversity and wonders that it offers on any other continent in this world.

The continent is generally divided into regions, which you’ll find references to throughout this guide and our other Africa content on this site.

Southern Africa  generally refers to the countries of South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini (Swaziland), Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Madagascar.

Eastern Africa  generally refers to the countries of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Eritrea, Comoros, Seychelles and Mauritius.

Central Africa  generally refers to the countries of Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome & Principe.

West Africa  generally refers to the countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

North Africa  generally refers to the countries of Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan. Some of these countries are often grouped together with the Middle East region.

TOP Destinations

Africa country guides, africa travel: quick tips, don’t visit africa without:.


travelling around africa on a budget


travelling around africa on a budget


travelling around africa on a budget


Go on safari & see the big five.

Taking a safari is on the top of every Africa bucket list, for good reason! You’ll spend your mornings and evenings viewing wildlife and searching for the  Big Five . Famous places include the  Serengeti , Masai Mara,  Hwange , Kruger, and  Etosha , to name a few.


Spanning 1078 meters, Victoria Falls is one of the world’s largest waterfalls and it’s a sight to behold. One of the best ways to experience its glory is by taking a  helicopter flight over Victoria Falls  and the surrounding area. We’ve done it twice, it’s that good!


If you’re planning to visit Tanzania, then  Zanzibar  should be on your list. This island features not only dreamy beaches on the Indian Ocean but rich history. Leave time to soak up the sun, scuba dive, and explore Stone Town during your visit.


There is no shortage of great things to do in Africa during your visit and the biggest problem you’ll face is fitting them all into your itinerary.

Each country has its own offering and unique things to check out during a visit, so be sure to look at our city guides once you decide where you’re itinerary will take you.

SEE PENGUINS IN CAPE TOWN:   One of the highlights of visiting South Africa is  visiting the famed Boulder Beach  in Cape Town to view a lively population of Jackass Penguins that live there. The beach, as its name suggests, features massive boulders set on white sands against a bright blue seascape.

GO CAGE DIVING WITH GREAT WHITE SHARKS:  One of the best places in the world to view and  cage dive with Great White Sharks  is off the coast of Gansbaai, South Africa. With the presence of a permanent seal colony, this area is like a giant buffet for hungry sharks. While the sightings are never guaranteed, if you have an encounter here, you’ll likely not forget it anytime soon.

SKYDIVING IN SWAKOPMUND:  One of the best ways to see the stretch of the mighty Namib Desert is by heading to the sky. For us, we chose to increase the adrenaline by jumping out of the plane too.  Skydiving in Namibia  gives you a perspective and appreciation of this part of the world in a way that few other can.

VISIT THE NAMIB DESERT:  Behind the mighty Sahara Desert to the North, the Namib Desert is one of the greatest in Africa. Located in Namibia, it features special places like Sossusvlei, Dune 45 and Deadvlei, featuring large salt pans with massive dune backdrops.

VISIT THE GRAND CANYON OF AFRICA:  Located just over the border of South Africa, in Namibia, is  Fish River Canyon . This massive natural landmark rivals the scenery of the Grand Canyon in the USA and offers not only incredible views but great hiking too.

CANOE SAFARI IN BOTSWANA:  If you’re looking for something a little different and more exclusive than a traditional safari, then you’ll want to head to the  Okavango Delta in Botswana . Here, you will navigate the vast wetlands by traditional Mokoro (dugout) canoe in search of hippos and the Big Five.

CAMP WITH ELEPHANTS IN BOTSWANA:  I know, it sounds crazy but trust us when we say it’s an incredible experience. The  Elephant Sands Camp in Botswana  is set up near a massive watering hole that provides refreshment for a huge herd of elephants. The camp features traditional campsites and cabins, along with a nice central lodge where you can enjoy the pool and watch the elephants in the water hole. It’s not unheard of for the elephants to walk right through camp, either.

VISIT MATOPOS NP IN ZIMBABWE:  Get off the beaten track and visit one of our favorite places in Africa, Matopos National Park in Zimbabwe. Here you can do two very special things, take a walking safari with Rhinos and see cave paintings from the dawn of humanity.

SCUBA DIVE IN LAKE MALAWI:  Get some freshwater diving under your belt and head underwater in the 4th largest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Malawi is home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world and offers up more than 700 species of cichlids. This makes  scuba diving Lake Malawai  a unique experience to add to both your diving resume and Africa bucket list.

CLIMB MOUNT KILIMANJARO:  Take on the tallest mountain on the African continent and one of the seven world summits, Mount Kilimanjaro during your visit to Africa. With a 66% success rate, it won’t be an easy climb but it will certainly be an adventure you won’t soon forget.

TOUR AROUND WEST KENYA:  If you are seeking a more off the beaten path experience, head to west Kenya. Here you’ll find some incredible national parks such as Nakuru, Hells Gate and Aberdere. You’ll also get an inside look at the major tea plantations of Kenya in Kericho.

RAFT THE NILE RIVER IN UGANDA:  Jinja, Uganda is the gateway to adventure on the Nile River. From here, you have the opportunity to white water raft and kayak on the might Nile River. This is a gnarly experience and you should expect big water, meaning you’ll spend more time in the water than you will sitting on the raft. If you’re okay with this, you’ll find few white water experiences to rival this one.

VISIT THE KIGALI GENOCIDE MUSEUM IN RWANDA:  Take a haunting look at Rwanda’s past by visiting the Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali. This is often combined with gorilla safaris in Volcano National Park and shouldn’t be missed. You’ll get an insight into the history of the country and humanity as a whole.

STRADDLE THE EQUATOR IN UGANDA:  With the equator splitting the African continent in half, you simply cannot miss the opportunity to stand in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, at the same time, if you find yourself traveling overland through Uganda.

VISIT TRIBES IN THE OMO VALLEY:  The Omo Valley in Ethiopia is one of the last truly wild spaces in Africa. Home to eight  Ethiopian Tribes  totaling more than 200,000 inhabitants, you’ll have the privilege of witnessing what life is like in the heart of Africa.

HIKE THE SIMIEN MOUNTAINS IN ETHIOPIA:  The  Simien Mountains in Ethiopia  offer some of the most beautiful hiking we have ever done in our world travels. Sitting at the very top of the Rift Valley, this is the last stand of the lush landscape before it drops off into the Nubian Desert and into Sudan. Not only does the park offer spectacular hiking, but you’ll have the change to see the endemic Gelada Baboons, also known as Bleeding Heart Baboons, that inhabit and thrive in the mountain hillsides.


GREAT MIGRATION:  The Great Wildebeest River Crossing of the Mara River is one of nature’s greatest spectacles. Thousands of wildebeest and other migrating animals follow the lush land across the crocodile-infested waters. To witness the event is both heartbreaking and thrilling as plenty will not survive to cross again next year. The migration begins around late June, hitting its peak in July, although predicting an exact date is not possible.

KWITA IZINA : Taking place at the entrance to Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Kwita Izina is an annual event that takes place in September to name all of the gorillas that were born in the previous year. It is attended by more than 30,000 people from around the world, including the President of Rwanda (who we met when we attended in 2015!). It is a proud celebration of conservation.


Popular africa travel destinations, south africa.

South Africa is a classic African safari destination, as the country offers a range of safari parks, landscapes, and importantly, the chance to see all the  Big Five animals  – the lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, and elephant. Across South Africa, you can visit a range of different reserves and national parks, while you can find accommodation and tours to suit many different budgets, be it camping out under stars or enjoying a luxury getaway in the wilderness. Kruger National Park, close to the city of Johannesburg, is the country’s most famous safari destination. The Addo Elephant National Park is the place to see elephants, while the nearby Shamwari Game Reserve is a popular place for safari too. South Africa is also one of the best places in the world to observe and  dive with Great White Sharks  off the coast in Gansbaai.

Although politically, Zimbabwe is never in the news for good reasons, for safari-goers, it’s always been, and always will be a  top spot on the continent . The country’s most famous game preserve is the  Hwange National Park , which actually borders Botswana’s northern national parks, to form one huge area of cross-border wilderness. Hwange National Park protects hundreds of species of animals, including elephants, leopards, cheetahs, lions, and even the rare wild dog, which survives in few other locations in Africa. Additionally, Zimbabwe is home to the famed  Victoria Falls , rich colonial history from its time as Rhodesia, insane Rhino viewing opportunities, accessible early humanity cave paintings, and the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. It’s a beautiful and diverse country that deserves your time spent. 


Uganda & Rwanda can be two of the most fascinating Africa travel destinations. If it’s gorillas you’re looking for , then head to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. In other parts of Uganda, you can visit the Queen Elizabeth National Park for a classic safari. Like neighboring Uganda, Rwanda is a fantastic place to see gorillas in their natural habitat. The best place for  gorilla trekking in Rwanda  is the remote Volcanoes National Park. In a way, this experience is more iconic than Uganda, as you are able to visit the area that Dian Fossey conducted her research. Additionally, Rwanda has a rich history and a visit to Kigali is worth a stop too. 

Found along the southwest coast of the continent, Namibia has a staggering diversity of climates and landscapes, making this a fascinating safari destination. The country is known for its dry and dusty deserts, like the famed  Sossusvlei  and  Deadvlei ,  and windswept coastline near  Swakopmund , and if you want to experience the best safari, head to the excellent  Etosha National Park  where you can find salt pans, grasslands, and even forests, not to mention elephants, rhinos, springboks, giraffes, and many more African animals. In Namibia, you can also visit the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which borders both Botswana and South Africa. 

Tanzania  is an excellent African safari destination on the east coast of the continent because as well as being able to enjoy classic game reserves, you can also spend time at the country’s beautiful beaches, like in  Zanzibar , – you might even see an elephant strolling along the white sands by the Indian Ocean. It’s possible to take a  Tanzania safari  across 16 national parks in total, with the most iconic being the  Serengeti National Park  and the Ngorongoro Crater. These great savannahs are classic safari territory, with sweeping plains and huge herds. You can even see the Great Migration here, as millions of animals move across the region in time with the changing seasons. Other great destinations include Selous Game Reserve, while along the coast, Saadani National Park might be the smallest national park in the country, but it’s here that you can enjoy both the beach and a classic African safari.

While not your typical safari destination in Africa, per se, you do have the chance to trek deep into the  Simien Mountains  to see the endemic and endangered Gelada Baboons. Ethiopia, on the other hand, is a fascinating country of culture, and uncovering the history in places like Addis Ababa, Bahir Dar, Lalibela, Axum, and Gondar will leave you in wonder. The adventurous should also head into the Omo Valley to interact with a handful of  unique Ethiopian tribes .

Botswana  has long been one of the premier destinations on the continent for an African Safari because the vast national parks are teeming with wildlife. 17% of the country’s landmass is preserved or protected, offering a haven for animals.  Chobe National Park  is one of the classic safari destinations, and here you can find enormous herds of elephants all along the Chobe River. In the  Okavango Delta , you can take boat safaris in search of crocodiles and hippos living in the dense network of waterways, and forming one of the greenest parts of Africa. For first-time safari-goers, Botswana is easily one of the best destinations, as you’ll be able to spot all of the Big Five in high numbers across the country.

To the north of Tanzania,  Kenya  is another enduring Africa travel destination. Many safari-goers will visit both Tanzania and Kenya on the same trip, as the vast Serengeti plains stretch across the borders of both countries. Kenya is a great place to observe the Great Migration too, and the country’s most famous reserve is the Masai Mara National Reserve, where you will find all the classic African animals. Other popular safari parks include Tsavo East and Tsavo West, which are both close to the Indian Ocean, as well as the beautiful scenes and vast numbers of flamingoes that you can find around Lake Nakuru. It is also possible to go on safari in the Nairobi National Park where you can see safari animals with the skyline of the city in the distance. Beachgoers will waste no time heading to the white sand coastline of Mombasa where you can relax next to the teal waters of the Indian Ocean.


Again, not a part of the African continent you would visit for safari, but not mentioning incredible cultural and historical destinations like  Morocco  and  Egypt  would be wrong! This region of Africa is defined by the Sahara Desert and is often included as part of the  Middle East  due to the predominantly Mulsim culture across the countries here. In Egypt, you can admire the Great  Pyramids of Giza  and tour the  Valley of the Kings . In Morocco, you can head into the desert on a  Sahara desert camel safari .


Setting a budget for Africa travel is highly dependent on your travel style. It is possible to visit just about anywhere across the continent on any budget and still have a great trip. That said, you can make your trip as basic or as luxurious as you desire.

To help you set your budget, we’ve included some base range price estimations. Of course, keep in mind that prices can fluctuate based on seasons, availability and festivals.

Travel costs also vary from country to country, and you can spend as little or as much as you desire on an African safari.

The cheapest safaris will generally cost around USD 150 per day, including your transport, basic accommodation and meals, while luxurious safaris can cost upwards of thousands of USD per day, for glamorous lodges and VIP service.

For a complete breakdown of our first trip to Africa, read  Africa Overland Trip Budget (A Complete Breakdown) . We traveled for 17 weeks overland from Cape Town to Cairo through 14 African countries.

ACCOMMODATION:  Varies by type and rating. Generally, you can expect  campgrounds  and  hostels to be between 5 to 30 USD per night,  mid-range hotels  from 50 to 100 USD per night and  higher-end hotels  to be from 150 USD per night.  Luxury safari lodges  typically start at 500 USD per night and the sky is the limit on price.

ATTRACTIONS : Costs can vary immensely depending on the country. You’ll find yourself springing for tours, park entrance fees, museums, activities and game drives.

TRANSPORTATION:  The most popular method of travel around Africa is by overland safari truck tours, flights between countries or cars. The African continent is huge and even within countries, it can be a challenge to get around.  Overland safaris  can be booked for as little as 150 USD per day and operate on a point to point basis.  Flights  will start around 200 USD and go up depending on length and route.  Car rental  is possible within a country, but if you want to have a grand African adventure and country hop, you’ll find you have to purchase a car and then plan to sell it when you’re done.

FOOD:  Food will vary widely depending on your tastes and what restaurants you choose to visit on your trip. Generally, though, you can expect to find  fast food  for around 5 to 15 USD per meal, take a meal in a  mid-range restaurant  for 10 to 25 USD per person and pay around 3 USD for a  beer .  Luxury safari lodges  are typically all-inclusive with food costs included in the total package price.


African safaris are never cheap, but backpackers will find cheap ways to go on safari. South Africa and Botswana tend to be the cheapest destinations, and with better infrastructure, it’s easier to get around on a budget, and you can find cheap accommodation and eats in the cities and main tourist destinations too. Camping, transport and cheap meals will be part of this budget.


Midrange travelers have many more options than budget travelers, and you can expect to pay anywhere from upwards of USD 150 per day, with a realistic spend for quality accommodation and several game drives a day being in the USD 350 per day region. This will also include smaller lodge packages, some of which may have all-inclusive options for you too.

1000 USD + PER DAY

Africa offers an amazing level of luxury on safari, but the best lodges and glamping sites can be booked out far in advance. Luxury travelers can expect to pay upwards of USD 1000 per day for an exceptionally glamourous lodge in the wilderness, flights into the reserve, an all-inclusive food and beverage package, and multiple private game drives per day.


There are a few ways to get around Africa during a visit, including overland safaris, flights, buses, cars and cruises. Africa is huge and most of the countries lack serious infrastructure when it comes to transportation. No matter how you choose to move around, expect it to be slow.

OVERLAND SAFARI:  One of the most popular and cost-effective ways to see large areas of the African continent is by joining an overland safari. Itineraries vary depending on the length of the trip but generally are found operating the trodden trail of  Cape Town to Nairobi , including the ‘gorilla loop’ into Uganda and Rwanda. This popular route will take you through the best of southern Africa and include all the popular stops. A wide variety of companies operate these trips, including  Oasis Overland , G Adventures and Acacia Africa, to name a few. Cape Town to Nairobi is around a 56-day trip, with the gorilla loop adding an additional 10 to 14 days. Oasis Overland also offers a 17 week Nile Trans from Cape Town to Cairo ( we did this! ) and a 42 week Trans Africa that starts in the UK and ends in Cairo, navigating the entirety of both the west and east coasts of the continent!

BUS:  If you love a good adventure, then taking the local bus within each country you are visiting will give you just that. Expect to have run down, dusty, over-crowded and blistering hot rides if you choose this method of transport. The upside, however, is that the buses are cheap and available in most countries.

FLIGHTS:  African capitals are all served by international flights from across the world and depending on your destination of choice, it’s simple to fly in and fly out. Given the vastness of the continent, domestic flights, and flights between African countries are the most popular method of transport for travelers, particularly if you are on a tight schedule but want to see more than one safari destination. In many remote areas, lodges and parks can only be reached by light aircraft.

CRUISES:  Plenty of cruise companies operate itineraries that ply the waters of both the West and East coasts of the African continent. Your immersion will be limited, but you’ll be able to explore a variety of destinations with relative ease.

SELF-DRIVE:  Driving is a challenge across Africa, as roads can be in dubious states of repair, and public transport can be crowded and outdated. In the rainy season, many places become inaccessible as roads can be washed away or flooded. If you choose to self-drive, you will want a four by four, and it will need to be purchased in Africa when you arrive. Be sure to do your research and make sure your purchased vehicle comes with a clean carnet to make border crossings slightly less of a headache.


Kenya & tanzania safari.

14 Days Nairobi to Arusha Visits: Samburu, Lake Nakuru NP, Masai Mara NP, Serengeti NP, Ngorongoro & Lake Manyara NP


18 Days Cape Town to Victoria Falls Visits: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana & Zimbabwe


55 Days Cape Town to Nairobi Visits: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda & Kenya


Timing is everything when it comes to planning an African safari because the continent experiences vast seasonal differences when it comes to the weather. The wildlife moves with the changing seasons, and different times of the year can present better opportunities than others for finding the animals you are looking to see.

Broadly speaking the continent’s seasons are divided between  wet and dry periods .

The  dry season  is usually the best time to actually see the wildlife, particularly rarer animals, as when the water sources begin to dry up, animals congregate around particular watering holes and become easier to find. In the dry season, there’s much less vegetation around too, meaning that there are fewer places for the wildlife to hide.

When it is the  rainy season , it rains heavily, and roads can easily become washed away in national parks, while transport can become a logistical nightmare.

The seasons and best times to visit vary from one country to the next. The best time for  southern Africa is May to September  when it’s the dry season. For  areas further north , such as Tanzania and Uganda, the best time to visit is from  October through to April , when it’s the dry season here.


Safety in africa.

Africa travel can pose several dangers, not least of all the wild animals. There are very few incidents involving wildlife, and as long as you join a professionally run safari and follow their rules then you’ll encounter few problems within national parks. This includes not venturing off into the wilderness on your own!

More common safety issues are likely to be found in the African cities, as many – such as Johannesburg or Nairobi – have notoriously high crime rates. Be aware of your belongings at all times, and don’t head off into un-reputable parts of cities.

Don’t carry a lot of money with you when you are out exploring and be sure to leave all valuables back in your room or hidden in your vehicle. Opportunistic theft is rife and sadly, violent robbery is not uncommon. Even in places like Cape Town in South Africa.

Be smart, know where you’re going and walk with a purpose. Don’t head out at night, in any city and certainly not alone. Tell the front desk or your traveling companions where you are going and for how long.

We traveled across the African continent for 5 straight months, through 14 countries, and while we experienced plenty of hiccups and questionable moments, we found Africans to be very friendly and curious people. Yes, crime happens across all African countries, but don’t let that scare you from interacting with its wonderful people during your trip.

As with any destination, we recommend learning and adhering to certain safety practices when you travel. Be sure to read our personal  travel safety tips , compiled from our travels across 7 continents.


Africa travel guide: related articles.

Looking for more info? Check out all the articles we’ve written on travel to Africa and start planning your dream trip.

Incredible Safaris and Luxury at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa

27 unmissable things to do in morocco (on your first visit), how to plan a tanzania safari like a pro, guide to gorilla trekking in rwanda – what to wear and backpacking tips, gorilla safaris in africa: everything you need to know, 11 spectacular things to do in cape town, hwange national park safari guide, 25 epic places to have the best safari in africa, 8 best morocco cities for your itinerary, 11 superb things to do in marrakech, 6 epic things to do in swakopmund namibia (plus planning tips), top things to do in zanzibar: outdoor activities and travel planning guide, etosha national park safari guide, how to plan an epic visit to sossusvlei namibia, fish river canyon: planning & trip guide, chobe national park safari guide, top 8 african safari animals (and where to find them), the only zimbabwe safari you should ever take, 7 reasons to visit tanzania, 9 adventurous things to do in victoria falls, visiting ethiopian tribes in the omo valley (what it’s really like).

Divergent Travelers- Adventure Travel Blog

Mike's Travel Blog

Top Tips for Traveling to Africa on a Budget: Save Money on Your Next Trip

travelling around africa on a budget

Traveling on a budget is a fantastic way to explore new destinations without emptying your wallet. Whether you’re an experienced globetrotter or a travel novice, discover a wealth of tips and tricks to save money on your next adventure. By planning ahead and making wise choices with your expenses, you can fully enjoy your travel experience without breaking the bank.

When it comes to budget travel, remember to stay flexible with your travel dates. By traveling during off-peak times or mid-week, you can often find cheaper flights and accommodations. Additionally, booking in advance can help you snag the best deals and avoid last-minute price hikes.

Another top tip for traveling on a budget is to be strategic with your spending. This means prioritizing your expenses and cutting back on unnecessary costs. For example, you might opt for budget-friendly accommodations like hostels or Airbnb rentals, or cook your own meals instead of dining out every night.

With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can make your travel budget go further and enjoy a memorable trip without breaking the bank.

Travel on a Budget: Transportation

travelling around africa on a budget

When you’re traveling on a budget, transportation can be a major expense. Learn how to save big on getting around and stretch your travel funds further. Here are some tips to help you save money on transportation during your travels.

Flights can be expensive, but there are ways to save money. Here are a few tips:

  • Use a travel credit card to earn points and rewards that can be redeemed for flights.
  • Book flights in advance to take advantage of lower prices.
  • Look for deals and discounts on airline websites or through travel websites like Expedia or Kayak.
  • Consider budget airlines, but be aware of additional fees for things like baggage and seat selection.

Public Transportation

Using public transportation is an excellent way to save money while traveling. Here are some tips:

  • Research public transportation options in the area you’ll be visiting before you arrive.
  • Purchase multi-day passes or tickets to save money.
  • Use apps like Google Maps to navigate public transportation systems.
  • Walk or bike when possible to save money and get some exercise.

Rental Cars

Renting a car might seem pricey, but it’s also a convenient way to get around. Here are some tips to save money on rental cars:

  • Research rental car companies to find the best deals.
  • Book in advance to take advantage of lower prices.
  • Consider renting from a location outside of the airport to avoid additional fees.
  • Be aware of additional fees for things like insurance and gas.

Remember, transportation can eat up a significant portion of your travel budget, so it’s essential to find ways to save money. By following these tips, you can travel on a budget without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

Accommodation: Hostels, Vacation Rentals, Couchsurfing, and House Sitting

travelling around africa on a budget

When it comes to traveling on a budget, accommodation becomes a major expense. But don’t worry! There are numerous options available to save money without compromising on comfort during your stay. Here are some tips for finding affordable accommodation:

Booking your accommodation in advance can help you save money. Many hotels and vacation rentals offer discounts for early bookings. You can also use booking websites to compare prices and find the best deals. Be sure to read reviews before booking to ensure that you’re getting good value for your money.

Hostels are a great option for budget travelers. They offer affordable shared or private rooms, as well as communal spaces where you can meet other travelers. Hostels are also a great way to get insider tips on local attractions and events.

Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals are another affordable option for travelers on a budget. You can rent a private room or an entire apartment or house for a fraction of the cost of a hotel. Vacation rentals also offer the added benefit of having a kitchen, which can help you save money on food.


If you’re really looking to travel for cheap, consider Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is a community of travelers who offer free accommodation to other travelers. It’s a great way to meet locals and get a more authentic travel experience.

House Sitting

House sitting is another option for free accommodation. You can sign up for house-sitting websites and offer to take care of someone’s home and pets while they’re away. In exchange, you get to stay in their home for free.

No matter which option you choose, remember to always be respectful of your host and their property. With these tips, you can find affordable accommodation and stretch your travel budget further.

Saving Money: Travel Rewards, Discounts, and Credit Cards

travelling around africa on a budget

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort or fun. With some prudent planning and a bit of research, you can save lots of money on your next trip. 

Travel Rewards

One of the most effective ways to save money on travel is by making the most of travel rewards programs. Numerous airlines, hotels, and credit cards provide rewards programs that can significantly cut down expenses on flights, accommodations, and other travel costs. By signing up for these programs and earning points or miles, you can save even more money on your trip.

Another way to save money on travel is to look for discounts. Many airlines, hotels, and attractions offer discounts for students, seniors, and military personnel. You can also find discounts by booking your trip during off-peak seasons or by using coupon codes.

Credit Cards

Using a travel credit card can also help you save money on your trip. Many travel credit cards offer rewards programs that allow you to earn points or miles for every dollar you spend. You can then use these points or miles to book flights, hotels, and other travel expenses.


When traveling, it’s easy to overspend on food and drinks. One way to save money on food is to shop at supermarkets instead of eating out for every meal. By buying snacks and drinks at a supermarket, you can save a ton of money on your trip.

In conclusion, there are many ways to save money while traveling. By taking advantage of travel rewards programs, discounts, credit cards, and supermarkets, you can save a lot of money on your next trip.

Travel Tips

travelling around africa on a budget

When traveling on a budget, it’s important to plan ahead and make the most of your resources. 

Budget Travel Tips

Flexibility is key when it comes to saving money while traveling. Embrace spontaneity and adaptability to stretch your budget further on your journeys.  Consider traveling during the off-season, when prices are lower and crowds are thinner.

You can also save money by booking flights and accommodations in advance and taking advantage of travel rewards programs and credit card points.

Another great budget travel tip is to stay in hostels or budget hotels instead of expensive resorts. Many hostels offer private rooms and shared bathrooms, which can be a great way to save money while still enjoying a comfortable stay.


When planning your itinerary, consider visiting free or low-cost attractions. Many cities offer free walking tours or discounted admission to museums and other attractions. You can also save money by purchasing city passes or attraction bundles that offer discounts on multiple attractions.

Itinerary Planning

To make the most of your budget travel experience, it’s important to plan your itinerary carefully. Consider visiting multiple destinations in one trip to save on transportation costs. You can also save money by cooking your own meals or packing snacks instead of eating out at restaurants.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is an important consideration when traveling on a budget. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, travel insurance can protect you from unexpected medical expenses, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen events. Research your options and choose a policy that fits your needs and budget.

Local SIM Cards

When traveling abroad, it’s important to have a reliable and affordable way to stay connected. Purchasing a local SIM card can be a great way to save money on international roaming fees. Research your options and choose a plan that offers the best value for your needs.

Overall, these budget travel tips can help you make the most of your travel experience while staying within your budget. By planning ahead and being flexible, you can enjoy all the benefits of travel without breaking the bank.

travelling around africa on a budget

Traveling on a budget can be challenging, but it is possible to enjoy your trip without breaking the bank. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can save money on transportation, lodging, food, and activities.

One of the top tips for traveling on a budget is to plan ahead. Look for deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars well in advance of your trip. Consider traveling during the off-season or on weekdays when prices are lower. Use travel credit cards to earn rewards and cashback on your purchases.

Another way to travel cheaply is to take advantage of public transportation. Many cities have reliable and affordable bus or subway systems that can take you to all the top tourist destinations. If you prefer to drive, consider renting a car from a local agency rather than a large chain.

When it comes to lodging, vacation rentals can be a great option for budget-conscious travelers. Look for apartments or homes that offer kitchen facilities, so you can cook your own meals and save money on dining out.

Finally, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before your trip. This can help protect you from unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies or trip cancellations.

In conclusion, traveling on a budget requires some planning and research, but it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By following these top tips, you can save money on your next trip and have more funds to spend on activities and souvenirs.

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Wanderlust Movement | A South Africa Travel Blog

10+ of the Cheapest African Countries You Need to Visit

March 6, 2020 by Lauren Melnick

Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Lauren Melnick

10+ of the Cheapest African Countries to Visit

Travelling around Africa is NOT cheap.

From gorilla trekking in Rwanda to luxury safari lodges in Kruger National Park , a trip to Africa can quickly add up.

But good news everyone!

While Africa is no South East Asia, there are plenty of cheap destinations in Africa.

From Morocco to Egypt and Mozambique, here are 10 of the cheapest African countries to visit!

Table of Contents

1. Kigali, Rwanda

4. zanzibar, 5. ethiopia, 7. livingstone, zambia, 9. mozambique, 10. morocco, 11. south africa.

travel to rwanda gorilla trekking

I came across a gorilla by accident during my trip to Rwanda!

Rwanda’ s tragic past, rich culture, and incredible wildlife make it one of the most intriguing places to travel to in Africa.

Kigali is the pulse of the country’s cultural attractions. With its genocide memorials and thriving art scene, it’s a must-visit for history buffs and those who love immersing themselves in different cultures.

Kigali is also one of the cheapest African cities to visit. While the backpacking scene is still growing, there are a few hostels to choose from that won’t break your budget.

Avoid fancy restaurants, eat local or cook your own food, and you can easily survive on under R 300.00 per day.

And for those that want to experience the country’s natural beauty, you can use public transport to visit further away destinations like Volcanoes National Park.

It’s the place to go if you want to trek with gorillas or see Dian Fossey’s grave !

Read More: Travel to Rwanda: 15 Useful Things To Know Before You Go You

How Much Does a Trip to Rwanda cost?

  • Dorm bed: From R200.00 ($13) per person per night
  • Budget double room: From R300.00 ($19) per night
  • Three cheap meals: R 150.00 ($10)+/- per day
  • Local transport: R 20.00 ($1) on a moto-taxi for short trips
  • Average Daily Budget: R 400.00 – R600.00 ($26-39)
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa on arrival at $30 for 30 days.

Check flights from South Africa  | Browse hostels and hotels in Rwanda

cairo egypt

Budget travel and Egypt might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this northern African country. But it’s one of the  cheapest African countries for travellers .

Flights will be your biggest expense, but if you follow these airfare-saving tips , you might be able to score affordable return tickets from South Africa.

You can book a bed in a dorm room for as little as R114.00 ($7) per night, a first-class ticket on a train costs R200.00 ($13), and you can feast on local food for less than R50.00 ($3).

The best part?

The activities in Egypt aren’t crazy expensive.

You can visit the ancient pyramids for R100.00 ($6), and tours start at R235.00 ($15). Cruising down the Nile won’t bankrupt you either, and scuba diving in the Red Sea starts at R360.00 ($23) per dive.

Read More: 16 Unique Experiences You Need To Have in Africa

How Much Does a Trip to Egypt Cost?

  • Dorm bed: From R114.00 ($7) per person per night
  • Budget double room: R400.00 ($26) per night
  • Three cheap meals: R210.00 ($14)
  • Local transport: R34.00 – R50 ($2 – $4) for short taxi rides within the city centre
  • Average Daily Budget: R400.00 – R800.00 ($26 – $52)
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans:  You need to apply for a visa in advance, but there is no cost involved unless you go through a service provider.

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals from Egypt

giraffe center in nairobi, kenya

With incredible national parks, excellent museums and quirky sites – a trip to Nairobi , Kenya won’t disappoint those looking for a cheap Africa holiday destination .

The capital city has a delicious foodie scene and some incredible culinary experiences!

(Just be sure to budget a bit more if your stomach leads your travels).

Nairobi is a stone’s throw from many of Kenya’s top attractions. You can base yourself here and visit the famous Giraffe Manor, go on a safari or fly down to Diani Beach for the weekend for as little as R1600.00 ($104) return!

The most expensive thing you’ll need to pay for is a safari to the Masai Mara. To find the best deal, contact the backpackers near the park and plan a trip with friends.

If you’re travelling to Kenya solo, it’s not easy to find a good deal on safaris as the single supplement fee is quite high.

A 3-day/2-night safari usually costs around R6200.00 ($400) and includes accommodation, safari drives, guides, entrance fees and food.

Read More:  How to Travel Kenya on a Budget

How Much Does a Trip to Kenya Cost?

  • Dorm bed: From R250.00 ($16) per person per night
  • Budget double room or apartment: From R350.00 ($22)
  • Three cheap meals: R260.00 ($17) per day
  • Local transport: R104.00 – R130.00 for short rides with Uber or R6.00 ($0.40) with a minibus taxi
  • Average Daily Budget: R600.00 – R800.00 ($39 – $52)
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa not required

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals from Kenya

beach in zanzibar

If you’re looking for a cheap holiday destination that has gorgeous beaches, look no further than Zanzibar, Tanzania!

Spend your days exploring this island’s past, rich culture, and some of the best beaches in the world.

Zanzibar’s Stone Town and Prison Island are not to be missed if you want to learn more about the island’s dark history in the slave trade and how that created its unique culture.

Or you can hop on over to Pemba Island and go snorkelling and diving!

Want an all-inclusive holiday on a budget in Zanzibar? You can often find package deals that include return flights from South Africa, a week-long all-include stay at a 4-star or 5-star resort.

How Much Does a Trip to Zanzibar Cost?

  • Budget double room: From R500.00 ($32)
  • Three cheap meals: R180.00 ($12) per day
  • Local transport: R30.00 – R60.00 ($2 -$4) on shared taxis

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals from Zanzibar


Ethiopia is a portal to another world.

It’s the gateway to an ancient place mixed in with its growing metropolis Addis Ababa. The capital city is now Africa’s fourth-largest, and it’s home to some of the country’s best museums and traditional food.

For vegan travellers, Ethiopia is heaven. More often than not, you don’t get to experience much of a country’s authentic dishes when you travel on a plant-based diet, but that’s not the case here.

Traditional dishes are meat and dairy-free, packed with flavour and substance that won’t leave you hungry!

When it comes to what to see in Ethiopia – the country is overflowing with unique adventures you won’t find anywhere else in Africa.

Stay in the Simien Mountains , visit the Danakil Depression , explore Ethiopia’s ancient capital Gondor, see Lalibela and spend an afternoon hanging around the country’s famous Gelada monkeys .

Money-Saving Tips:

  • If you fly into Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines, you can save as much as 50% off domestic flights!
  • Book your tours on the ground, and you can knock as much as $200 off the final price.

Read More:  50+ Genius Ways To Save Money for Travel

How Much Does a Trip to Ethiopia Cost?

  • Budget double room:   From R400.00 ($26)
  • Three cheap meals: R220.00 ($14) per day at an inexpensive restaurant
  • Local transport: R14.00 ($0.92) for a short taxi ride
  • Average Daily Budget: R450.00 – R650.00 ($29 – $42)
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: Visa on arrival at $52 (R800.00).

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals from Ethiopia

girl in sossusvlei

Namibia is the ultimate road trip destination in Africa!

Not only are return flights from South Africa super affordable, but it’s possible to camp your way through the country and see its highlights on a budget.

Due to the country’s vastness, you can’t base yourself in one area and go on day trips to attractions. For example, the capital city Windhoek is three to five hours from attractions like Etosha National Park, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Sossusvlei.

But what you’ll spend on car rental and petrol, you’ll make up with cheap accommodation.

Read More:  An Incredible 10-Day Namibia Road Trip Itinerary

How Much Does a Trip to Namibia Cost?

  • Dorm room: R170.00 ($10) per person per night
  • Budget double room: R400.00 – R600.00 ($25-$38) per night
  • Three cheap meals: R150.00 – R200.00 ($9 – $12) if you cook your own food
  • Local transport: R200.00 ($12) if you need to use local transport for short trips
  • Average Daily Budget: R400.00 – R800.00 ($25 – $50) excluding car rental costs and petrol

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and  hotel deals for Namibia


Livingstone in Zambia is the perfect base for exploring Victoria Falls and adventure lovers.

You’ll be only 11 km away from the mighty Zambezi and in prime position to see the falls from above or wrestle its currents.

It’s also one of the cheapest countries to visit in Africa , especially compared to prices on the Zimbabwean side. It’s Zambia’s backpacking mecca making it possible to splurge on big-ticket items like the Devil’s Pool.

Looking for the ultimate safari destination on a budget? Head to South Luangwa National Park .

You’ll need to hire a car or fly in to get there – but it’s worth it. There are budget accommodation options right outside the park ranging from camping, dorm rooms or budget double rooms.

Entrance to the park is around R630.00 ($40) per person per day – which is steep, I know.

But, South Luangwa is famous for having the largest leopard population in Africa, and it’s the home of the walking safari.

Read More: A Quick Guide to Victoria Falls: Everything You Need To Know

How Much Does a Trip to Zambia Cost?

  • Dorm rooms: R240.00 ($15) per person per night
  • Budget double room: R500.00 ($32) per night
  • Three cheap meals: R200.00 ($12) per day
  • Local transport: Livingstone is small enough that you can walk, but a taxi to Victoria Falls costs R230.00 ($15) each way
  • Average Daily Budget: R440.00 – R700.00 ($28-$44), excluding transport to Vic Falls

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals for Zambia

mumbo island chalets

I visited Malawi for my 29th birthday, and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

For 7 days, I called Mumbo Island my home. It’s an uninhabited island in the middle of Lake Malawi, and it’s considered one of the top eco-lodges in the world.

You would think that means you’d have to drop some serious $$$ to stay there, right?

Mumbo Island has incredible all-inclusive packages, which include flights from South Africa and discounts for fellow Africans.

If you’re not looking for something more backpacker-friendly, Malawi delivers.

Go scuba diving for R700.00 ($45) per dive, hike to the summit of Lake Mulanje or attend the iconic Lake of Stars music festival.

While Malawi isn’t a safari destination, you can easily hire a car or join a group tour and hop the border over to Zambia’s world-renowned South Luangwa National Park .

Read More:  What It’s Like Staying on Mumbo Island in Malawi

How Much Does a Trip to Malawi Cost?

  • Dorm bed: R200.00 ($12) per person per night
  • Budget double room: From R500.00 ($31.90)
  • Three cheap meals: R300.00 ($19) per day
  • Local transport: R370.00 ($23) for a taxi ride
  • Average Daily Budget: R870.00 – R1170.00 ($55 – $75)

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals for Malawi


Mozambique was the first African country I travelled to way back in 2015. 40+ countries later, and it’s still one of my favourite budget destinations.

For adventure travellers, it has so much to offer!

Go diving with dugongs and dolphins for R630.00 ($40) with equipment rental, or spend a few hours snorkelling in the ocean with whale sharks for the same price.

Plus, you don’t need to hire a car to explore Mozambique. There are local buses running from Maputo to Tofo for as little as R80.00 ($5), and short tuk-tuk rides cost even less.

You’ll have more than enough room in your budget for all the adventure activities with cheap eats and dorm rooms in abundance.

Read More:  How to Travel to Mozambique on a Budget From South Africa

How Much Does a Trip to Mozambique Cost?

  • Dorm bed: R160.00 ($10) per person per night
  • Budget double room: From R500 ($31) per night
  • T hree cheap meals: R100.00 – R300.00 ($6 – $19)
  • Local transport : Three tuk-tuk rides are R80.00 ($5)
  • Average Daily Budget : R400.00 – R800.00 ($25 – $50)

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals for Mozambique


For those looking to escape to the desert and explore the beautiful architecture that Morocco is known for, head to Marrakech. With Morocco trending as a destination on Instagram, its affordability adds to its picture-perfect charm.

Hostels boast rooms starting at R200.00 ($12) a night , and you’ll get to experience Morocco without breaking the bank.

Plus, there’s plenty to see without spending a dime. Head to Medina, and stroll around the old buildings and monuments while making pit stops at the Koutoubia Mosque, Saadian Tombs and soaking up the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Dine on cheap local food for R30.00 -R50.00 ($2-$3) and book a train ride to far-flung destinations like Fes, Casablanca or the blue city of Chefchaoen.

The things that will drain your budget are activities like camping in the Sahara Desert or climbing the Atlas Mountains.

But if you eat local, use public transportation, keep your accommodation costs low, and haggle, it’s possible to afford trips to these iconic attractions.

How Much Does a Trip to Morocco Cost?

  • Budget double room: From R600.00 ($38)
  • Three cheap meals: R300.00 per day ($20)
  • Local transport: R31.00 ($2) for a short taxi trip around town
  • Average Daily Budget: R560.00 – R1,000.00 ($35 – $63)
  • Visa Requirements for South Africans: A visa is required and obtained at the embassy in Pretoria. It costs R327.00 for a single entry.

Check flights from South Africa | Browse hostel and hotel deals for Morocco

signal hill in cape town

For locals and international travellers alike, South Africa is an affordable destination to explore with so much to offer!

You can hire a car and make your way from Cape Town to the Garden Route (one of the most scenic road trips in the country), go on safari in Kruger National Park , and camp on top of the highest waterfall in Africa .

Or you can explore the Cape Winelands and sip on award-winning vintages for as little as R80.00 ($5) per tasting.

Want to escape the other tourists? Head up to the Wild Coast and explore gems like Coffee Bay, Port St. Johns and Hogsback.

While Cape Town is the most expensive city to visit, there are plenty of backpackers, budget hotels and things to do for FREE .

How Much Does a Trip to South Africa Cost?

  • Dorm bed: From R200.00 ($12) per person per night
  • Three cheap meals: R240.00 per day ($15)
  • Local transport: R80 ($5) for a short Uber trip in Cape Town
  • Average Daily Budget: R600.00 – R1,000.00 ($38 – $63)

Check flights to South Africa

Read More:  The Ultimate South Africa Bucket List: 40+ Amazing Places to Visit

Hopefully, Africa no longer seems like an expensive destination, and you’ve opened up a few more slots on your bucket list.

Did I leave any cheap African countries off this list? 

Want more African travel inspiration? Check out these other posts:

  • 12 Best Visa-Free Countries for South Africans to Visit
  • 100 of the Best Places to Visit in Africa
  • 16 Unique Experiences You Need To Have in Africa
  • 50+ Genius Ways To Save Money for Travel
  • Top Romantic Getaways in South Africa
  • How to Travel Kenya on a Budget

Did you find this post useful? Save it for later on Pinterest!

Want to explore Africa on a budget? Good news, it's possible! Here are the cheapest African countries to visit!

About Lauren Melnick

Lauren Melnick is the founder of Wanderlust Movement, Wander to Here and is a South Africa travel blogger. She's been travelling the world as a full-time freelance writer since 2016 and has visited over 40 countries.

When she isn't typing up a storm, you can find her conquering overnight hikes around the Western Cape, rock climbing, and hosting sold out group travel trips around South Africa, Namibia and Morocco.

Reader Interactions

travelling around africa on a budget

October 18, 2017 at 10:12 am

This is an insightful article! I’m looking to travel more in Africa, so this will definitely help me. Thanks Lauren!

travelling around africa on a budget

October 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Thanks Selam! Hope you make some great memories here 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

March 13, 2018 at 8:57 am

Very interesting and helpful! I was just wondering what monetary unit you are using in the budgets? Thank you!

March 13, 2018 at 10:08 am

South African Rands and US dollars.

travelling around africa on a budget

March 18, 2018 at 1:11 am

One thing I will say about Rwanda is that the gorilla permits are in fact expensive. The most expensive between the three countries to see the Mountain gorillas. Uganda is less and has almost a guarantee of seeing them at Bwindi and Virunga has a pretty good success rate and is even less.

March 18, 2018 at 3:39 am

True. I did the Dian Fossey hike in Rwanda and managed to see three gorillas on the way back down 🙂 But I’d love to go and do gorilla trekking on the Congo side and hike their volcano one day. They are even cheaper than Uganda and there’s a tour company that runs pickups from Kigali International Airport. It’s on my bucket list!

travelling around africa on a budget

March 15, 2019 at 1:10 pm

Excuse me, I really don’t understand the currency used here, can someone help me? is it $ or what? “Dorm bed: R 157.00 per person per night”

March 16, 2019 at 10:58 am

Hey! It’s in South African Rands 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

May 11, 2020 at 5:11 pm

I just discovered your page. Thank you so much! This is extremely informative. I’d love to travel around Africa first since I’m South African. This is so helpful and makes one excited.

May 12, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Hey Faith! I’m so glad you like the post and it’s inspired you to explore our amazing continent 🙂

travelling around africa on a budget

April 17, 2021 at 7:09 am

YOu will be staying really really low end places in Kenya if you budget that much. No anywhere I’d particularly want to sleep

April 17, 2021 at 1:44 pm

Yeah, that’s the point lol 😅 that was kinda my vibe when I wrote this and was backpacking on a super tight budget. If it meant spending the least amount of money, I’d sleep there or couchsurfing. That was even better because it was free!

travelling around africa on a budget

November 24, 2021 at 10:16 am

I think Botswana is also one of cheap African country to visit.

travelling around africa on a budget

August 18, 2023 at 2:57 pm

I would love to visit Egypt however, I need a travel buddy that can foot their own bill you know. A lady especially. My dream destination for years.

August 19, 2023 at 10:12 am

Go on a group tour babe 🙂 solves that problem easy-peasy.

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Africa Travel Guide – Tourism, News and More

Exploring africa on a budget: how to make the most of your trip.

Africa is a diverse and captivating continent that offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. From stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage to incredible wildlife encounters, Africa has a lot to offer. While some may think that exploring this vast continent requires a hefty budget, there are actually several ways to make your trip to Africa more affordable without compromising on the quality of your experience. In this article, we will explore some valuable tips and strategies to help you make the most of your African adventure on a budget.

Planning Ahead: Research and Flexibility

Planning ahead is crucial when you’re traveling on a budget. Start by doing extensive research on the destinations you wish to explore in Africa. Identify the countries and regions that align with your interests and preferences. Each African country is unique in its offerings, whether it’s the stunning beaches of Zanzibar, the vibrant markets of Marrakech, or the incredible safari experiences in the Serengeti.

Flexibility is also key when planning a budget trip to Africa. Consider traveling during the off-peak season when prices are generally lower. Additionally, being open to alternative accommodations, such as guesthouses or campsites, can significantly reduce your expenses.

Choosing Affordable Destinations in Africa

Africa boasts a wide range of affordable destinations that offer exceptional experiences. Here are a few budget-friendly options worth considering:

Morocco : Known for its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and bustling markets, Morocco is an excellent choice for budget travelers. Explore the cities of Marrakech and Fez, wander through the picturesque Atlas Mountains, and experience the unique blend of Arab, Berber, and European influences.

Kenya : Renowned for its diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, Kenya offers numerous budget-friendly safari options. Embark on a thrilling safari adventure in the Masai Mara or Amboseli National Park, and witness the incredible wildebeest migration.

Uganda : For the adventurous traveler, Uganda provides an opportunity to get up close and personal with endangered mountain gorillas. Embark on a gorilla trekking expedition in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and experience one of the most captivating wildlife encounters on the planet.

Tanzania : Home to the iconic Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania offers a wide range of budget-friendly activities. Explore the Ngorongoro Crater, go on a wildlife safari in the Serengeti, or relax on the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar.

Transportation: Getting Around Africa on a Budget

Transportation can often be a significant expense when traveling in Africa. However, with careful planning and a few cost-saving strategies, you can minimize your transportation costs:

Overland Travel : Consider traveling overland whenever possible. Africa offers excellent opportunities for road trips, allowing you to immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and interact with locals along the way. Utilize affordable public transportation options such as buses or shared taxis, known as matatus in East Africa, to get from one destination to another.

Budget Airlines : Take advantage of budget airlines operating within Africa. Companies like Fastjet, Mango, and Jambojet offer affordable domestic and regional flights, allowing you to cover long distances quickly and inexpensively.

Group Tours : Joining group tours or overland expeditions can often be a cost-effective way to explore Africa. These tours usually include transportation, accommodation, and activities at a discounted rate due to group bookings.

Accommodation: Affordable Options Without Compromising Comfort

Finding budget-friendly accommodation in Africa is easier than you might think. Here are a few options to consider:

Guesthouses and Homestays : Opt for guesthouses or homestays instead of luxury hotels. These types of accommodations provide a more authentic experience, allow you to interact with locals, and are often more affordable.

Campsites : Africa is famous for its stunning landscapes, and camping is an excellent way to immerse yourself in nature without breaking the bank. Many national parks and reserves offer campsites equipped with basic facilities, allowing you to experience the wilderness up close.

Online Accommodation Platforms : Utilize online accommodation platforms like Airbnb or Booking.com to find affordable options. These platforms often offer a wide range of accommodations at various price points, allowing you to find the best deals available.

Food and Dining: Delicious Cuisine on a Budget

Sampling local cuisine is an essential part of any African adventure, and doing so on a budget is entirely possible. Here’s how:

Street Food : Embrace the vibrant street food culture in Africa. Explore local markets and street vendors to experience authentic flavors at affordable prices. Be sure to choose vendors with clean and hygienic food preparation practices.

Self-Catering : If your accommodation allows, consider preparing your meals. Shopping at local markets and grocery stores is not only cost-effective but also gives you the opportunity to cook with fresh local ingredients.

Local Eateries : Dine at local, family-run restaurants to experience the authentic flavors of African cuisine at reasonable prices. These establishments often offer delicious traditional dishes at a fraction of the cost of upscale restaurants.

Safety Considerations: Traveling Smart and Staying Secure

When traveling on a budget, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Here are some tips to ensure a safe and secure trip:

Research : Research the safety situation of your chosen destinations before traveling. Stay informed about any potential risks or travel advisories issued by your country’s embassy or relevant authorities.

Travel Insurance : Invest in comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and lost belongings. It’s essential to have a safety net in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

Local Knowledge : Seek advice from locals or trusted tour operators about safe areas, transportation options, and general safety precautions. They can provide valuable insights and help you make informed decisions.

Personal Belongings : Take necessary precautions to protect your belongings. Use a money belt or a secure bag to carry your valuables and avoid displaying expensive items in public.

Traveling on a budget in Africa doesn’t mean compromising on the quality of your experience. With careful planning, flexibility, and savvy decision-making, you can explore the wonders of this continent while sticking to your budget. So, get ready to embark on a remarkable African adventure without breaking the bank!

Q: Is it possible to explore Africa on a budget? A: Yes, there are several ways to make your trip to Africa more affordable without compromising on the quality of your experience.

Q: What should I consider when planning a budget trip to Africa? A: It is important to do extensive research on the destinations you wish to explore and be flexible with your travel plans. Consider traveling during the off-peak season and be open to alternative accommodations.

Q: What are some affordable destinations in Africa? A: Some budget-friendly options in Africa include Morocco, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Q: What experiences can I have in these affordable destinations? A: In Morocco, you can explore vibrant cities, stunning architecture, and bustling markets. Kenya offers diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes for budget-friendly safaris. Uganda provides an opportunity to get up close with endangered mountain gorillas through gorilla trekking. Tanzania is home to iconic landmarks like the Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro.

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Plan an African safari on a budget

  • How to plan an African safari on a very tight budget: the 8-step guide to safari planning

How do you plan an African Safari on a really tight budget? The short answer is with careful preparation and some research. Follow the planning checklist below to ensure you have the best African safari on a budget. You'll see - it can be fun and easy.

Before you plan your African safari

You’ve decided your next holiday is a dream safari in Africa. So, you’ve put in a few keywords in Google to get an idea of what is out there in terms of ‘African Safaris’, and up comes a huge amount of information. Feeling overwhelmed, procrastination mode sets in - where do you start and how do you narrow down the endless options? 

Planning a trip of any kind is very exciting and definitely part of the fun. There are so many amazing places to see and things to do in Africa that picking a few is hard. You will most likely go back and forth changing your mind a few times, but that is normal.

If you’ve been on an African safari before, you probably have a pretty good idea of the basics. So in a sense, this is a beginner's guide aimed at those planning their first African safari. Let me try and make it a bit easier with a few pointers on how to plan an African safari on a tight budget.

Etosha National Park Namibia

1. Pick an African safari country or two

A good place to start is by picking a safari destination – or at least have some idea where in Africa you want to go.

If you are one of the lucky ones with two months to travel and a sizable budget you can certainly cover a lot of ground and get to all the spots you want to see. Most travellers only have 14 days or 3 weeks, maximum, which requires more careful planning.

Some people already have their hearts set on a particular area or African country, but others struggle with this important (first) step. It's totally understandable considering the misconception that Africa is a country, when in fact it is a continent with 54 countries of which about 9 are known as wildlife safari destinations. 

The main African safari countries are Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Of these safari destinations, South Africa, Namibia, and Kenya are often considered the cheapest African safari countries to visit, followed by Botswana, Uganda, and Tanzania. 

African safari lions in Kenya

2. List your must-see places in Africa

Another way to approach the all-important travel destination question is to list your ultimate ‘must-sees’ in Africa.

This could be a specific area, natural wonder or park in a country or perhaps more broadly the animals you want to see. For example; many people want to see elephants and lions, or the fascinating wild dogs, or endangered mountain gorillas. The list goes on, but having an idea of what is important to you can determine more specific areas to include on your African safari trip. To see mountain gorillas, for instance, you need to go to central East Africa - Uganda or Rwanda being the best options.

Parks and reserves differ in terms of vegetation and topography making them more suitable for certain animal species. In some areas, you will find higher concentrations of elephants than in others. Including the parks that are prime African safari destinations will greatly increase the chances of spotting the animals on your list. This is why it’s common for travellers to visit two or three parks/areas in one visit, as each wildlife area offers something unique.

For help choosing between Southern and East Africa, read our blog post:  Southern Africa vs East Africa Safaris - how to choose?  

Safari Planning Tip: Be open to other experiences that are not necessarily on your must-see list. There are many incredible places and things to see in Africa - the little hidden gems along the way can be a wonderful surprise.

How to plan African safari trips

3. Decide on a budget for your African safari

This doesn’t need to be an exact budget, but having a ballpark figure is very useful when searching for African safari trips.

While an African safari is a dream trip, the budget needs to be realistic and ultimately these two need to align – unfortunately. Wanting a luxury trip on a shoestring budget is just not realistic. Then again, luxury has different meanings to different people. To some, luxury is a plush hotel with porters, room service, and expensive linen. To others, luxury is a remote hut in the bush. Really what one needs to establish is an expectation.

What are you comfortable with and what are you prepared to compromise on, if needs be, to stay within your travel budget? It is certainly possible to have an incredible African safari experience when staying in rustic accommodations and even rough camping. The excitement of an African safari - seeing wild animals in their natural environment - is equal, regardless of how you get there, or where you stay.

However, the details are important. Ultimately you want the best African safari experience filled with beautiful memories to look back on. And this all starts with good planning.

Things to consider when deciding on a safari and budget

  • The type of safari and accommodation you prefer. For more about African safari accommodation see  African Safari Accommodation 101: what to expect?  and  How to do your Safari right - choosing your travel style
  • The location of your accommodation. Do you want to stay inside a national park or in a private reserve/concession with fewer camps and people? Bear in mind that exclusivity, in most cases, equates to higher prices but not necessarily higher-end accommodation. For more about the difference between game areas read  Reserve, Park, or Conservancy. What do the names mean?
  • Group size and African safari style. Do you want to join a big group on an overland tour or a small group trip? To find out more about Overland Africa Travel see  What are Africa Overland Tours & Adventures all about?
  • Private tours. Private safaris are tailor-made to visit the places you want to see over the number of days you want. You can design the African safari experience that suits you best and travel in a private group with only your friends and family. Luckily, private safaris have become more popular and therefore more affordable than they once were. Find out more about affordable  Private Group Tours and Custom Safaris
  • Mode of safari transport. Could you endure long hours travelling in a vehicle (without air-con) to get from place to place, or will shorter distances with internal flights be more your vibe? Both have their pros and cons. See  African Safari Vehicles - Every which way to explore the African bush, from biggest to smallest for more.
  • Are you introverted or extroverted? This might help you choose the right trip, based on your personality type -  How to choose the best African Safari  
  • Safari costs. To get you started with budgeting for a safari, here's  How Much Does an African Safari Cost?

Mana Pools Zimbabwe safari

4. Choose when to go on safari in Africa

Choosing when to go on an African safari is a balancing act between the time of year (the travel season) vs. your budget and the seasonal fluctuations at your safari destination of choice.

Time of year and safari planning 

Deciding on the best time of year for your African safari is a complicated question. While you may be flexible with when you can book your leave, many people are bound by school term times and holiday seasons. Add to this the demands of a bucket list and the window of opportunity narrows. Animal migrations are a case in point. To see the largest migration of mammals in Africa (the bats in Kasanka), or the Mara River crossing on the great migration, requires travelling at a specific time of year. Travelling to see these wildlife events, however, brings into consideration another factor, high and low tourist seasons and your budget.

Travel season vs. safari budget

The safari season at your destination and your budget go hand-in-hand with deciding when you plan to travel. 

During the dry season in East Africa, the weather and game viewing are at their best. The great wildebeest migration is in full swing, and safari enthusiasts flock to East Africa from July to October. This creates high demand and as a result, safari prices go up. The shoulder seasons, just before and after the peak season, can offer better travel deals, but the latter part of the dry season, September and October, is when the wildebeest migration reaches the Mara River and will be the most expensive time to travel for a safari in Kenya or Tanzania. You can visit our guide to  The Great Migration in Africa  for tips on planning a budget safari to this iconic wildlife phenomenon.

Balancing the time of year, tourist seasons, and your budget is therefore an important consideration.

Seasonality and your African safari

It is always a good idea to check what is to be expected in terms of weather, temperatures, and wildlife viewing possibilities for the specific places in the month you want to visit. Of course, nothing is guaranteed - as we all know, nature can be very unpredictable. But, having an idea of when it’s summer/winter and dry/rainy season at your safari destination will help manage your expectations and keep you comfortable on your African safari.

For example, perhaps, elephants are high on your must-see list but you arrive in Chobe (Botswana) to be told February is not a good time for spotting elephants! As a safari-goer, the aim is to try and be in the same areas as the wildlife. But, they are free-roaming animals which means they move around according to the season, or in some cases migrate hundreds of kilometres to places where food and water are plentiful at that time.

If you really don’t deal well with extreme heat, it is best to avoid a trip in midsummer in many regions of Africa. Or, maybe you are planning on a camping safari which is best in the drier months in some areas.

Another example is the seasonal changes in the Okavango Delta. If you are dreaming of gliding through the pristine channels of the Okavango Delta in a dug-out canoe (mokoro) it is important to visit when there is enough water in the delta. The water levels fluctuate widely across the seasons so your timing makes a big difference. For more about visiting the delta, see  The Okavango Delta Explained .

Also, keep in mind that southern and eastern Africa have different seasons. Don’t assume Botswana is in its rainy season just because Kenya is at the time of your travels.

Botswana safari to Okavango Delta

5. Pick the duration of your African safari trip

This will probably be determined by the amount of vacation leave you have, but it is still something to think about.

Now, a lot of first-time travellers want to fit in as much as possible and tick as many things as they can off their bucket lists. But in Africa, less is more. Taking it slowly will be a lot more rewarding than trying to rush from place to place.

It will also be worth your while to do some research on how long it takes to get between places. Travel distances are HUGE and often on rough, bumpy, dusty roads. Even if Google Maps say it’s 300 km, the time it takes to get there might be 5 to 6 hours, even more in the rainy season. As the old saying goes – it’s not about the destination, but the journey getting there. The magic lies in the unexpected – meeting people along the way, learning about local cultures, and taking in the incredible scenery.

Kalahari Desert Namibia safari

6. When to book your African safari

There’s not really a right or wrong time to make your actual safari booking, but it’s important to check availability first. Before requesting leave dates from your work or making flight bookings. This is particularly important when you have your eye on specific a date, location, lodge, or group tour that is non-negotiable for you.

If your planned safari trip happens to fall in the high/busy season, booking a year in advance is a good idea. This is particularly true for popular times of the year at the top safari destinations, such as the peak of the great migration in Kenya and Tanzania. Booking about a year in advance is also recommended for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda due to the limited availability of gorilla permits.

In general though, and if your travel plans are flexible, booking an African safari 4 to 6 months in advance is the norm. 

Last-minute safari plans (within a month or less of your travel dates) can be tricky, but doable. It greatly depends on low vs high season and again flexibility with travel dates, where you stay, and what you want to see on your African safari.

African mountain gorilla

Check out our Budget African Safaris and contact us to get the ball rolling.

7. Checklists for planning an African Safari on a budget

Below, I've categorised my essential checklist based on the safari planning phases. This gives you a timeline to work with when you are planning your budget African safari.

During the early-to-mid safari planning stages (before you book) check:

  • Flights to Africa – this can be one of the most confusing parts of planning an African safari. Funny place names and not knowing what airport is close to the place where your safari starts and ends – which in most cases is not the same city. It can be intimidating, so ask the questions and double-check if you have to.
  • Take out Comprehensive Travel Insurance
  • Make sure your travel documents are in order: apply for a passport or renew yours if it is set to expire within 6 months of your travel dates. Also, check that your passport has enough blank pages. We recommend 1 page per country, except for South Africa which requires 2 blank pages facing each other.
  • Check the visa requirements for each African country you plan to visit.

Once your African safari is booked (before you go):

  • Consult with your doctor or Travel Clinic on necessary vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis where needed.

More about this in  The Complete African Safari Medical Guide

  • Apply for any visas, if needed. For some countries, you can get this visa on arrival – make sure this is possible for your nationality.
  • Start planning what you need to pack and in what bag. Check if there are any restrictions for the safari you're joining (maximum weight allowed, bag size and type). In general, the packing space in a safari vehicle and on domestic flights is limited and strict luggage restrictions apply.

More about packing for your safari in  Easy Guide to Packing for an African Safari

  • Check what currency is accepted in the countries you will be travelling to.
  • Also, check the guidelines for tipping and make allowances for this in your travel budget (see  Tips for Tipping on African Safaris )

The last few things (a month to a week) before travel:

  • Reconfirm your flight arrival and departure times with the establishment or company that arranged your airport transfers.
  • Check the weather forecast for your safari destination, but prepare for the unexpected.  
  • Review all your pre-departure information and checklists received when you made your safari booking. This is essential for preparing for a safari.
  • Leave a copy of your safari itinerary, flight tickets, travel insurance, passport, and visas with a close family member or friend.

African safari lions and zebras

8. Reach out for planning help and travel advice

Chatting to an African safari expert with knowledge can be hugely beneficial and will make the whole process a lot less daunting. Researching on your own is certainly a good starting point. When it comes to choosing and booking a safari, however, it helps to have someone answering questions along the way. Even if you've just read this guide to planning your safari on a budget.

An African safari expert has in-depth knowledge of their portfolio and will be able to recommend budget safari options that suit your needs. This can save a lot of time, money and research on your side. 

If you are travelling with kids, a big group of family and friends or have specific dietary requirements, some special attention to the details will be needed. You need to take into account if a safari camp/lodge has a minimum age limit, do they have family rooms, how far of a walk is it from reception to the room if you have elderly people in the group, do they cater for gluten-free or vegan diets etc... 

Whatever your requirements are, it is very handy to have someone with experience guiding you in the right direction. Getting expert advice will ultimately make your safari planning and the actual holiday as stress-free as possible.

After all the research, planning, waiting and excitement, it is finally time to go on your African safari!!

“Nothing but breathing the air of Africa, and actually walking through it, can communicate the indescribable sensations.” -  William Burchell (English explorer and author)

Oh, and don't forget to talk to a seasoned safari pro to make sure you’ve selected the best destinations for you, on the most suitable safari, and got your timing right. We are here to help you plan and experience the best African safari on your budget. So get in touch , and take a step closer to experiencing Africa for yourself! 

[Post updated on 19 January 2024 | First published on 15 October 2020]

Ingrid Van Wyk Travel Consultant

Ingrid Van Wyk

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17 ways to help you visit Kenya on a budget

Meera Dattani

Nov 30, 2023 • 9 min read

A man and woman smiling in the back of a truck on a safari in Kenya

Camping in national parks is an excellent way to stretch your budget in Kenya © PeopleImages.com - Yuri A / Shutterstock

Kenya is not generally considered an expensive place to travel, but its developed tourist industry means prices can be a little higher than other African countries.

If you plan to see a lot of this beautiful nation, costs can add up – especially if you want to go on safari. While luxury lodges have come to symbolize the safari experience in tourism campaigns and glossy magazines, there are plenty of alternatives – you can camp, opt for midrange accommodations, stay with a local community or travel off-season.

With a wide choice of hotels, apartments and restaurants, Nairobi has options for every budget. Eating street food and using low-cost transportation will also save you money. Beach resorts span the price spectrum, too, from 5-star luxury and stylish, staffed villas to beach bungalows and cut-price boutique hotels. Here’s how to visit Kenya on a budget.

1. Compare direct and indirect flights

Indirect flights to Kenya are often cheaper, so consider flying into other African hubs, such as Addis Ababa in Ethiopia or Johannesburg in South Africa , to see how much you can save. Excellent deals are not uncommon, and a number of African carriers have frequent flights into Nairobi.

If you’re traveling from the west coast of North America, you could also consider flying via Southeast or East Asia. Set up flight alerts on sites like Skyscanner or Google Flights to get a notification when the route and dates you’ve chosen see a price drop. It’s worth signing up for airline newsletters such as the one from   Kenya Airways , which often publicizes exclusive offers within a specified time period.

2. Hop on the bus or take an Uber from the airport

If you’re landing in Nairobi, use the free airport wi-fi to log into Uber. Fares via the app are up to a third cheaper than those charged by official airport taxis – typically KSh2000 to the city center. Alternatively, take the airport bus (number 34), which costs KSh35 from outside Terminal 1.

A 4WD follows a dirt road through a national park as a giraffe looks on from the side of the track

3. Book a car with a driver for multi-stop itineraries

Hiring a private car and driver is an affordable and fun way to travel around Kenya, particularly for groups, as it gives you the freedom to stop off at viewpoints, roadside cafes and anywhere else you want. Arrange hire with a local travel agent or at your accommodation, but make sure you confirm the day rate. This can vary depending on the vehicle, distances and terrain, but it works out to around KSh6000 a day, plus the cost of any extras, such as gas and money for the driver’s meals and accommodations.

Some lodges and hotels will have their own accommodations for drivers, but it’s not always the best quality, so be responsible and ethical by asking what they offer in advance (directly or through your tour operator). If it’s not up to scratch, add another KSh1500 to KSh6000 to the day rate so the driver can find their own accommodation. They’re usually familiar with the area.

4. Travel during Kenya’s shoulder seasons

There are several ways to save money if you’ve got the flexibility to travel outside of Kenya’s busiest tourist periods , typically July to October and January and February, after the short rains. International flights and accommodations will both cost a little less, and if you travel outside of the Great Migration (July to October), you can also pick up good deals for the Masai Mara , which is fantastic pretty much any time of year. For a cheaper safari, book between the short and long rains (January to March) when prices are usually lower than during the peak vacation season.

Beach resorts and hotels offer great deals outside the peak periods too. Shop for bargains in October and November or before the rains in March and April. Traveling in the rainy season can also be a winner as the downpours are often short-lived, the landscapes are lush, and the price difference can be significant.

5. Avoid domestic flights in favor of slow travel

Domestic flights are fairly reasonable in Kenya – costing around KSh7500 for a one-way from Nairobi to Mombasa  or other coastal destinations such as Malindi . But it's cheaper and more eco-conscious to travel by long-distance bus, with equivalent fares of around KSh1600. For a slower, even more sustainable journey, take the train. Routes are limited, but Nairobi to Mombasa only costs KSh1000 in economy class and KSh3000 in first class.

6. If you have to fly, book in advance

Despite a growing number of carriers, popular domestic routes still get fully booked. Buy flights in advance to get lower fares and secure the days and times you wish to travel. Airlines differ in when they release new tickets, so book as soon as you know your dates – flights are often either non-refundable or not easily changed.

A man looks at the ripe fruits stacked at a local fruit and vegetable market in Nairobi, Kenya

7. Try street food and korogas

Kenya has a flourishing restaurant scene, but street food and cafes can be a great way to eat well and save money – it’s hard to resist roadside snacks like freshly grilled corn on the cob, nyama choma (roasted meat), and grilled matoke (plantain). Kenyans will also head to restaurants that specialize in koroga (barbecue) to share large, good-value platters of meat, tawa (griddled) dishes, and pizzas cooked on a jiko (charcoal-burning stove).

8. Don’t dismiss the hostels

Hostels across the world have modernized in the last few years and Kenya is no exception. It’s now standard for dorm rooms to have beds with privacy curtains, personal plug sockets, USB points and reading lights. Many also offer private rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

Kenyan hostels are often cheaper than their hotel equivalent, with many new or recently refurbished establishments offering better quality private rooms than some midrange hotel options. A few standouts include the award-winning eco-hotel Distant Relatives above Kilifi's lagoon, sustainable eco-accommodation Kobi Farm on the border of the Masai Mara National Reserve, and Wildebeest Eco Camp , which has everything from deluxe tents to dorm beds in Nairobi.

9. Go camping

The cheapest way to stay inside Kenya's national parks is to camp. Sleeping under the stars can be a magical experience, especially as most parks have showers, restaurants and bars, too. Rates vary but expect to pay anything upwards of KSh1300 a night with your own tent and bedding, or around KSh2500 for a pre-constructed tent. It's around KSh6500 if you want cooked meals included too.  Kenya Wildlife Service lists the amenities for each park. Because they’re much cheaper, they’re also popular – book ahead, especially in the high/dry season.

10. Stay outside the national parks

Lodges and accommodations inside national parks usually come with a hefty price tag. If you’re looking to save shillings, book a safari lodge or hotel located just outside the park’s boundaries (but not too far if you’re planning an early-morning game drive). For cheaper digs, check out village stays or camps aimed at backpackers (even if you aren’t one). As well as pitches for tents, many offer pre-pitched tents or cabins.

Two men windsurfing in sea off beach holiday resort near Mombasa

11. Book a beach villa with a chef (honestly)

Accommodation with its own cook might sound indulgent, but renting a private house or villa along the Indian Ocean coast or the Lamu Archipelago has become increasingly popular. Costs vary depending on the quality of the property, the location, and the facilities, but you can often rent a 5-star, luxury property for around half the price you’d pay for a hotel of equivalent standard.

Most properties are staffed with a chef and housekeeping. With such delicious, fresh ingredients in Kenya, this is an affordable way to dine like royalty (while also saving on eating out each night). You can request meals or ask the chef to cook their own specialties for little more than the price of a grocery store shop. We recommend tipping at the end of your stay, even if service is included in the rental cost.

12. Plan your itinerary carefully…

You can save a lot – and avoid unnecessary travel – by planning your trip carefully. Many of Kenya's best things to do are spread out across the country, so unless you’ve got plenty of time and money, trying to visit Lake Turkana in the north, then Lamu Island and Tsavo National Park in the southeast in a single trip just isn’t feasible. 

13. …and add in time for Nairobi

Whatever your proposed itinerary, factor in a few days in Nairobi. The often-overlooked capital is a great place for anyone on a budget – you can always find a good hotel deal, there’s a wide choice of restaurants and bars, and if a safari trip is out of the question, you can always head to Nairobi National Park for the day. It’s the only national park in the world located inside a city.

A rhino in wanders around in Nairobi National Park with the city's skyline in the background

14. Book your safari when you’re in Kenya

Unless you’re staying at high-end lodges, Kenya is actually an affordable safari destination with a wide selection of mid-range lodges, eco-camps, community village stays, and hotels. If safari lodges aren’t as full as expected or if it’s low or shoulder season, you can pick up excellent packages that include transport, meals, guides and game drives for half the expected cost.

This doesn’t necessarily mean booking directly. Local travel agents can often find stellar last-minute deals, but you can check out websites such as Safari Bookings , which brings together a wide range of operators offering budget (and luxury) safari packages that are bookable for the next day onward. They include trips for solo travelers too.

15. Don’t forget about national park admission fees

If you're traveling independently, don't forget to budget for National Park admission costs, which vary from park to park. For example, Nairobi National Park charges US$40 to non-residents for entry, while admission to the Masai Mara is US$80 for 24 hours if you are staying outside of the reserve and US$70 if you're staying inside.

16. Be mindful of the exchange rate

Don’t lose out by changing money in a rush. While rates are generally decent in banks and official money exchange bureaus, it’s always advisable to check the day’s exchange rate on an app such as xe.com to make sure what you’re getting is reasonable. If you’re en route to Tanzania and have leftover Kenyan shillings, you’ll get a more favorable exchange rate on the Tanzanian side of the border.

17. Barter a little, but not too hard

It’s standard to haggle a little in Kenya – with a smile – at markets and in certain shops like fabric or souvenir stores. Market stall holders may start with a higher price in the first place, and even expect good-natured haggling. Decide what you feel you want to pay, but don’t push it too low. Most sellers won’t accept a price they don’t want to sell at, so  don’t haggle to the last shilling  and always remain respectful.

Daily costs in Kenya

  • Dorm bed at a hostel: KSh1400–2200
  • Double room in a midrange or boutique hotel: KSh4000–20,000
  • Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): from KSh7500
  • Three-day budget to mid-range safari package: KSh50,000–80,500
  • Public transport ( matatu or minibus): KSh150–650
  • Uber across town: KSh160–800
  • Taxi with driver for sightseeing: from KSh3000 for a half-day
  • Admission to major attractions: KSh1200–3000
  • Coffee : KSh250–390
  • Sandwich or light cafe lunch: KSh380–900
  • Dinner for two: KSh1200–4000
  • Beer at a bar: KSh150–260

This article was first published Aug 8, 2022 and updated Nov 30, 2023.

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Helen in Wonderlust

My 6-Month Africa Travel Budget

travelling around africa on a budget

Working out your Africa travel budget is not easy! I know this because three of my most frequently asked questions are:

  • “Is it expensive to travel in Africa?
  • “Can I travel Africa on a budget?”
  • “How much do I need to go backpacking in Africa?”

My honest reply is… it depends! But in this post, I’ll explain below what I spent in 6 months in Africa to help you work out what it is going to cost you, and how much money you might need.

Please Note:   Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Affiliate sales help with the running costs of this site, so thank you for your support!

Table of Contents

Horse Riding in Malawi

Is it expensive to travel in Africa?

It can be and some destinations are more expensive than others. But it doesn’t have to be.

Africa isn’t as cheap to travel to as some other parts of the world. But there are lots of options for the budget traveller. Kenya , Malawi , Mozambique , Tanzania , Uganda and Zambia are some of my favourite places for budget backpacking in Africa.

The most expensive things tend to be activities (things like gorilla trekking, or multi-day trekking) and safaris. Park fees and the remote location of many national parks can increase the costs a lot too.

But, you DO NOT need to spend thousands on a 2 or 3-day safari. There are plenty of great, ethical and ecologically sound safaris that cost a fraction of what the fancier safaris cost. There are safaris for all budgets.

Often on expensive safaris, you are purely paying for the luxury/all-inclusive element, the logistics of running a remote camp/lodge, lack of infrastructure and in some instances the money will be going to support the local communities that were driven off their land to make way for said, fancy safari lodge.

Expensive does not always mean ethical or better.

Helen in Wonderlust - Tanzania

Can you travel to Africa on a budget?

Can you travel to Africa on a budget? Absolutely! Africa does NOT need to be an expensive vacation – despite what you may have heard.

If you take local transport, camp or stay in hostels, eat local foods and limit your activities/safaris you can keep costs low.

A budget-conscious traveller could probably easily travel on $30 – $50 per day – or even less. If you ate locally every day, you could spend less than $5 on food & water. Camping or staying in dorms, outside of national parks is cheap too, usually between $5 – $10 per night. Local transport is super cheap too.

But isn’t half the fun of travelling seeing and doing all the cool things on offer? it is for me anyway! However, when you start adding in safaris and activities that the costs start rising – quickly.

Helen in Wonderlust in Deadvlei Namibia

How much do I need to go backpacking in Africa?

Now I know you probably came to this post because you’d like me to give you a definite, quick and easy answer to this question.

But, your Africa travel budget will really depend on what you do and how you do it. I’ve known backpackers who travelled Africa on a tiny budget.

But that’s not for me. I love going on safari, I love going white water rafting and treating myself to a meal at the best restaurant in town every now and again. But I offset those costs by getting public transport and eating locally some nights.

This gives me the best of both worlds and gives me a really well-rounded view of the countries I visit.

Going on an Africa group tour is good if you want to stick to a budget, as you can pretty much work out what your costs will be in advance. Travelling solo makes it a little bit more difficult to work out your exact costs and you could end up paying more if you don’t have people to share costs with.

It can also go the other way. Travelling alone, you can dictate exactly how you do your trip and you might get lucky and find an open space on a safari vehicle or hitch a ride with some fellow travellers, saving you money! It’s hard to predict!

Helen in Wonderlust - South Africa

My Africa Trip & Travel Style

Your trip will be different to my trip, but I can tell you what I spent, and then hopefully, it will give you a good idea of what you might spend. Bear in mind that I am not an extreme budget traveller, but on this trip I was also travelling for a long time so I didn’t go crazy either.

These days, I spend around 6 months of the year travelling and running flashpacking tours in Africa .

But my first trip to Africa in 2009 lasted 6 months and my itinerary included 2 different volunteering placements in Zambia and Tanzania, an epic 3-day trip on the Tazara train , a trek up Kilimanjaro a 2.5-month overland safari through (Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) and a 2-week road trip along South Africa’s Garden Route .

The two things that I did spend a lot of money on were:

  • Climbing Kilimanjaro: This is always going to be relatively expensive (even at the cheaper end of the scale).
  • Volunteering on the Book Bus: My placement cost a lot, and there are cheaper ways to volunteer, but I don’t regret it at all because of the opportunities it opened up for me in the longterm (including working as a paid expedition leader for the company in 2012, which ultimately gave me the idea and skills to start my own tour company ).

Please Note: Prices have been updated to reflect prices up to date as of April 2020.

Jinja Uganda

Pre-Trip Costs

I won’t include these costs in my overall budget at the bottom, as these costs have lots of variables, but here’s what I spent my money on.

Flights really depend on where you are flying to and from.

TOP TIP: I almost always use Skyscanner to find the best deals. They have a multi-destination option, which is useful if you are starting and ending in different countries.


This will depend on what you’ve had already, and what you can get for free from your doctor. I managed to get Hep B, Hepatitis A/Typhoid, Diptheria/Tetanus/Polio all free from the doctors.

I then got a prescription for Meningitis (£12), and the doctor gave me the jab for free. I paid for Rabies x 3 (£42.50 per shot), Yellow Fever (£60.30).

Anti-malarials vary in cost, depending on the take of tablets you take. I usually take Atovaquone/Proguanil (aka Malarone) and avoid Doxycycline and Lariam, but it is best you speak to your doctor decide which ones are right for you.

There is no difference between generic Malarone and branded GSK Malarone, except that the generic stuff is cheaper.

Malarone usually costs around £2.30 – £2.60 per tablet and is a daily tablet, which is why many people usually tend to mix it up between different types of antimalarials or skip them altogether.

  Dr Fox  and  Superdrug  also offer convenient postal services where you do not need a prescription.

For a comprehensive view of the health precautions to take when travelling to Africa, check out the NHS, Fit for Travel website and always consult your doctor. Nomad Travel has a range of vaccinations on offer.


This was my first ever long-term backpacking trip, so I spent quite a lot on buying new stuff. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t have spent so much and now I travel much lighter.

Invest in a few essentials – good shoes, good bag, good camera (doesn’t have to be a fancy one, a camera with a good zoom) and the rest you can probably borrow, hire or do without! Just remember, the less you buy before you go, the more you can do when you’re there! 

You can see m y full Africa Packing List here . 

Travel Insurance

I cannot stress how important it is to have travel insurance in place for your trip to Africa as medical care is not free. If you get injured or fall sick, you will have to pay for your medical care which could be very expensive, so make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance that will cover you for all aspects of your trip. I recommend World Nomads ,  Outbacker , or  InsureandGo .

Some bank accounts include travel insurance, so check if you’re covered first. At the time, mine didn’t so I paid around £70. Nowadays, insurance is a lot more expensive (and Americans are more expensive to insure than Europeans usually).

The cost will depend on a lot of factors but don’t forget you may be doing a lot of adventurous activities so ensure that you are covered. And if you’re taking electricals like an expensive camera or a laptop, you may need extra cover for those too.

Helen in Wonderlust with Najin, one of the last Northern White Rhinos

In-Africa Costs

This section includes everything that I paid for whilst I was in Africa – food, transport, accommodation, visas etc. This includes any pre-paid tours and excursions too.

Total = £284

Visas vary in price, depending on where your passport is from. On this trip, I visited Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia & South Africa.

The below amounts are for Single Entry visas, are in USD and for British passport holders. Other types of visas may vary.

  • Kenya: $50 (however you can get the East Africa visa for $100 which allows you to travel freely between Kenya, Uganda & Rwanda for 3 months – as long as you don’t leave those countries).
  • Uganda: $50 (as above).
  • Rwanda: $30 (as above).
  • Tanzania: $50 (for most people) & $100 for US citizens.
  • Malawi: $75.
  • Zambia: $50 (you can also get a KAZA visa if you will be entering Zimbabwe – find more in fo here )
  • Botswana: Free.
  • Namibia: Free.
  • South Africa: Free.

All visas are paid in US dollars and bills should be dated after 2009 and in good condition.

I went to both Tanzania and Zambia twice, so paid slightly more for those visas. My costs for visas as of today would have been $355 (£284). If I’d only been to each country once, I’d be looking at $275.

TOP TIP:   Project Visa and Wikipedia are great resources to get information. If in doubt, contact your local embassy before you go. Just be aware that you need to apply in advance for some visas.

travelling around africa on a budget

Volunteering Project 1

Total = £1,850

I volunteered with the   Book Bus   in Livingstone Zambia for 4 weeks. It isn’t cheap, but it is a great project which I love. 

The Book Bus provided an extracurricular activity for school children in Zambia, therefore not taking away from local employment opportunities.

Their volunteer programme is different now, so I haven’t updated this section, but this gives you an idea of what I spent and you can also find lots of free volunteering opportunities throughout Africa. Just do your research to make sure that they are not taking away local jobs.

Livingstone is also one of the best places for adventure in Africa and there are loads of great things to do there, so you’ll want to have a bit of spending money! 

  • Volunteering (£1,600): For 4 weeks which included in-country support, airport transfers, food, accommodation (tents) and project costs.
  • Weekend Food & Drinks (£200): Food is included on weekdays and not included at weekends but there are quite a few nice places to eat and drink in and around town.
  • Activities:  You can do all sorts from white-water rafting, jet-boating, sunset cruises, cycle tour, high tea at the Royal Livingstone, bungee jumping and even a weekend trip to Chobe National Park in Botswana. I’ll include the cost for these in the activities section at the bottom. 
  • Other (£50): I had some clothes made, bought souvenirs and a local SIM etc and you may need a bit of money for taxis to and from restaurants etc.

Tazara Train - Zambia

T he Tazara Train – Zambia to Tanzania

Total = £369

This is the train between Zambia and Tanzania , a wonderful, epic journey if ever there was one. I probably could have flown for a similar price… but where would the fun in that be? 

  • Bus from Livingstone to Lusaka: £13
  • Dorm Accommodation in Lusaka x 2 nights: £20
  • Bus from Lusaka to Kapiri Mposhi: £7 
  • Tazara Train from Zambia to Tanzania: £36
  • Food/Drink: £20. A small selection of food, water, sodas and alcohol are available onboard. You can also usually buy fruit from people outside the train at various stops. Just don’t forget to change some money if you can at the border. But I would also take some food with you if you can! Things that will keep without a fridge, like jam, bread and peanut butter are good !

The Baobab Home Bagamoyo

Volunteering Project 2

Total = £763

I did a volunteering placement at the   Baobab Home   in Bagamoyo, for just over 4 weeks, running a summer club for the local kids who live in or around the home. We did things like arts and crafts, trips to the beach and sports whilst they were on their school holidays. Bagamoyo is a great place if you want to experience the non-touristy side of Africa.

Side Note: I hardly spend anything when I was here (less than £400), but prices have gone up since then.

  • Taxi from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo: £45. A minibus is cheaper, but as I was new to Tanzania, I took a taxi. But when I left Bagamoyo, I took a minibus. 
  • Mini Bus from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo: £2 (might be slightly more now). 
  • Volunteering: £0. At the time I was there there was no fee to volunteer. Instead, I raised money through a charity night and by climbing Kilimanjaro and split it between the Baobab Home and the Book Bus. You may also need to buy a volunteer visa on top of your regular visa.
  • Volunteer Visa: £160. A volunteer visa is $200. If you are staying for longer than 2 months, you will need a Resident Permit which is $550 and lasts for 3 months each time but you can enter and leave as many times as you need.
  • Accommodation: £336. At the time I only paid £150 for the whole month and I shared a house with 6 other volunteers and shared a room with 2 other girls, but that house isn’t there now. Now you would most likely to stay at one of their recommended guesthouses or hostels which usually cost between $15 – $25 per night.  
  • Food/Drink: £150. We ate rice and beans at a local container most nights or cooked for ourselves. In the daytime, I just ate chapati, samosa and bananas. Occasionally we would travel to Dar es Salaam for pizza or head to one of the hotels for cheese (yes really). These days there are a few more restaurants on offer but it’s still pretty cheap. 
  • Transport: £20. I walked almost everywhere in Bagamoyo, but I took a dala dala into Dar es Salaam a couple of times, and got the odd piki piki (motorbike taxi) or bajaji (tuk tuk) around town if I was going further away, but that was about it. Now the Baobab Home has moved out of town, so you would likely spend between $4 – $10 per day on transport, unless you stayed on the property. But if you want some nightlife, stay in town.
  • Other: £50. There aren’t loads of things to do in Bagamoyo, not that cost a lot of money anyway – most of our free time was spent down at the beach. A tour of Bagamoyo is approximately $20. They also have cool events on at the Bagamoyo College of Arts.

Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro - Everything You Need to Know

Mount Kilimanjaro Trek

Total = £2,227

Now, this was the biggest money drainer on my Africa trip but it was worth it. I’ve climbed Kili twice now and have lots of tips for reaching the top i f you need them!

There was a reason my climb was so expensive, and that was because I climbed alone. You can save a lot by joining a group. Something I wish I’d known at the time.

  • Coach   to Dar es Salaam to Arusha: £13 (36,000 TSH). If you are flying in, a taxi from Kilimanjaro Airport to Moshi is usually between $30 – $50.
  • Kilimanjaro Climb (Machame Route, 6 Days): £1,700. Included park entry, guide, porters, all food, water and accommodation 1 night prior to and 1 night after the climb. Prices for solo climbs can vary and for a 6-day trip, you’ll usually pay somewhere between £1700 and £2,000. If you do a longer climb, expect to pay more.
  • Tips: £360. You can read more in my Tipping on Kilimanjaro: Everything You Need to Know post. It’s cheaper if climbing with a group.
  • Additional Accommodation: £50.
  • Shuttle Bus to Nairobi from Moshi: £16 ($20). If you are flying in, a taxi from Kilimanjaro Airport to Moshi is usually between $30 – $50.
  • Food/Drink: £40. Moshi has a few nice places to eat, and believe me, you’ll deserve a pizza, a big piece of cake and/or a few beers at the end of your trek. 
  • Equipment Hire: £28 ($35) I just hired some walking poles and some waterproof pants.
  • Other: £20. I think I spent about £20 on cans of coke and chocolate bars on the mountain – they charge a fortune for it but I was very sick and that’s all I wanted to eat, so it was money well spent I say. I got up that mountain fuelled by a mixture of sheer determination, Coco-Cola and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

Absolute Africa Overland - Helen in Wonderlust

Overland Safari (Nairobi to Cape Town )

Total = £4,860

As I was new to Africa, I ended up taking a 2-and-a-half month overland safari with Absolute Africa, which is one of the most reasonably priced overlanding companies.

Overlanding is a relatively economical way to get around Africa if you don’t want to travel alone – I weigh up the pros and cons in this post . I made a lot of good friends on that trip. Some people love overland tours, some people don’t. I created my Rock My Adventure tours to bridge the gap between solo travel and more traditional overland tours.

Overlanding isn’t a ‘holiday’ as such, usually, you have to muck in – cooking dinners, cleaning the truck, putting up your tents – but it is an adventure. It takes all of the hassles out of figuring out how to get from A to B, plus you get lots of built-in friends.

Over 73 days, I visited Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. The trip I took also goes through Zimbabwe too now.

  • Trip Cost: £2,425 + $1,260 (local payment). Included breakfasts and dinners when on the truck, transport on the truck, accommodation (mostly in tents, some dorms and twin rooms in Zanzibar – options to upgrade) and some of the activities (but not all, see activity list below). The breakfasts/dinners not included are those when the truck is not with you and accommodation where you choose not to take part in any of the overnight excursions i.e) Okavango Delta, Zanzibar, Lake Kariba Houseboats… but trust me, do not opt-out – you’ll regret it as everyone goes! When I went the trip actually cost £990 + $1,300, rather than £2,425 + $1,260, so you can see how prices have risen.
  • Accommodation: £100 – prior to tour at Heron Hotel (private room), Nairobi and after the tour at Ashanti Lodge, Cape Town (dorm). There are cheaper places to stay in Nairobi, like the dorm tent at Wildebeest Eco Camp or Milimani Backpackers.
  • Spending Money: £1,325 (approx.) Absolute Africa recommend between $1,500 – US$1,800 for the whole safari. That would include additional food & drink, some transport, souvenirs, internet, some excursions and tips.

The Robberg Peninsula Hike

South Africa Road Trip

Total = £1,150

At the end of my trip, my boyfriend came to meet me in South Africa and we did a bit of a road trip from Cape Town, down the Garden Route to Plettenberg Bay and back, along with 3 friends from my Absolute Africa trip. We weren’t on a strict budget and stayed in private rooms.

  • Accommodation: £500. We mainly stayed in backpacker hostels, but got a double room with an en-suite bathroom.
  • Car Hire/Petrol: £150. This was my half of the cost. This was an economy car, with 2 drivers, insurance and petrol. Car hire in SA is very reasonable.
  • Food/Drink: £500. There’s so much good food and drink in South Africa, it’s unreal. You can eat cheaply, or go to expensive restaurants. We mixed it up.
  • Activities: I haven’t included these above, as I’d left the truck at this point. As we had the car, we also did lots of free sight-seeing too!

Best Things to Do in Uganda

Total = £1,500

There are so many touristy activities on offer in Africa, you’ll have a hard time fitting them all in. This might be a good thing because even if you had the time, you might not have the money! So you have to pick and choose!

If you do an overland tour, you’ll have a lot of activities included. These expenses are on top of the activities that were included in the tour.

I did tons of great things on my first trip to Africa, the biggest expense of which was gorilla trekking which now costs $700 in Uganda. At the time it was $500 in Rwanda (they now charge $1,500). The other big costs are hot air ballooning (which is usually between $450 and $550).

If you are travelling on an overland truck for 2.5 months as I did, I’d budget somewhere between £800 – £1400. But just remember each overland company includes different things, so do the maths!

I spend around £1,000 whilst I was on the truck, and the rest during the other 4.5 months of my trip.

Devil's Pool Zambia

My Total 6-Month Africa Budget

So my total was…. £11,653/$14,530 (or £70/$86 per day) *

* Prices approx as of April 2020.

I know what you’re thinking – how much???? With inflation, this is quite a lot more than I actually spent in 2009, which was more like £55/$70 per day. Everything has gone up since then!

Could I have spent a lot less? Yes! If I had been purely backpacking I probably would have spent a lot less.

Could I have spent a lot more? Absolutely!

One safari company I contacted for my trip quoted me £3,000 for a 4-day safari in the Serengeti (not including the internal flight I would need to take between camps) and then it doesn’t seem so bad.

After all, in 6 months I travelled over 17,000 km, did 2 volunteering projects, a trek up Africa’s highest mountain, a 2.5-month overland tour through 9 countries, an epic train journey and 11 safaris.

Not to mention getting up close and personal with mountain gorillas, elephants, giraffes, sharks, cheetahs and lions. All the time making lifelong friends and a million amazing memories.

But I’ll tell you one thing for free… it was totally worth it. Now, start saving!!

I hope this helps you with your Africa travel budget!

Other Africa posts you might enjoy…

  • Backpacking Africa: My Top Travel Tips (After 11 Years of Travelling the Continent)
  • The 25 Best Places in Africa for Solo Travellers
  • My Complete Africa Packing List (Plus FREE Africa Packing Checklist)
  • 10 Reasons to Take a Group Tour in Africa
  • Backpacking Africa: 39 Things You Need To Know Before You Go
  • How To Plan Your Dream Trip To Africa (in 18 easy steps)
  • Solo Travel in Africa vs. Taking a Group Tour
  • I Wrote a Book! The Independent Traveller’s Guide to Backpacking Africa is Here!
  • The Best Places in Africa to See Elephants
  • Cultural Appropriation vs Cultural Appreciation & Africa Travel

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6-Month Africa Travel Budget

I love to travel all over the world, but it's Africa that holds a special place in my heart. My mission is to help people travel Africa in an authentic, safe, fun, adventurous and ethical way.

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Interesting. This counting helps your readers. Your boyfriend from s Africa?

Thanks Hassan!

No he’s English!

Very interesting, as it shows that you can really travel Africa on a budget. True, it is not Southeast Asia, but 2.500 USD a month is quite cheap in Africa. I have myself only the experience of shorter trips there, and budgets were often much higher.

The real challenge is that you need your wheels in Africa for almost all kinds of activities, and that is where it adds up quickly. But obviously the overland truck helped you reduce this a lot!

I never tried them… Maybe I should 😉

Thanks for sharing Gilles

Thanks Gilles! Yes, you definitely can do Africa on a budget! I could have done it cheaper overall, but there’s so many great things to do!

I agree, wheels are essential, especially for going to do activities. In there places I didn’t have transportation, I usually had friends who did, so I managed to get to a few places I may not have otherwise!

Yes, try and overland. They’re good fun! 🙂

Thanks for the great post! I’ve always limited myself to Europe travel, but Africa has always been a place I’ve been dying to go. European cultures and lifestyles aren’t much different from America, so it would be nice to experience something totally new. Honestly, I’m not sure if your budget was lower or higher than what I expected, but I like that you gave us a solid number to aim for. It may not be reasonable for a college student like myself right now, but what an amazing post-grad trip, perhaps? 🙂 All of your adventures sound great. The Absolute Africa trip seemed especially awesome. Nice job, Helen!


Hi Rebecka,

Thanks, glad you liked it! 🙂 I was 29 when I first went to Africa and had a pretty good job at the time, so I definitely had an advantage. But I did do lots of touristy stuff and there are definitely ways to experience Africa cheaper. If you look at the month I did in Bagamoyo – that was super cheap. But most of my time was occupied as I was working, so I had less opportunity to spend things on. But yeah, going to Africa would make the perfect post-uni trip! Start saving! 😉

I loved every part of this trip, it’s still my favourite trip of all time. I think a lot had to do with the people I met. And the ones on the Absolute truck were some of my favourites and we are still really great friends now! Hope you get to go soon!!

It’s so great to see people writing about Africa! As an Aussie living in Botswana I LOVE coming across these articles. You’re trip sounds incredible and I can only hope to see as much of Africa as this! Happy travels 🙂

Aw, thanks Grace – glad you liked it! Bet it’s cool living in Botswana! I loved it when I was living in Zambia for a little while! 🙂 Happy travels to you too! x

Thanks for sharing your experiences – awesome!

I am planning a trip to Africa from 30th August – 30th October. I will be starting off in Tanzania for 3 weeks, Zambia for 3 weeks and rounding things off in Cape Town for 2 weeks, which is where my brother lives, so hopefully this will the cheapest leg of my journey 🙂

I would love to get some tips from you, maybe we can exchange some emails so that I can fire you across some questions?

Hey Lizzie,

Zambia and Tanzania are my specialist countries, so feel free to shoot me some questions via the contact page on here and I will point you in the direction of any useful stuff, maybe I have a blog post on it already! If not will try to answer! 🙂

Fantastic write up Helen, it is quite embarrassing I have not ventured to Zambia before considering it is so close to home, I must ask is this one of your highlights as you mention it a lot in your other posts regarding highlights.

Are there any specific locations in Zambia you would recommend for a first timer?

Livingstone is my favourite place in Zambia (maybe in Africa?), however I also love South Luangwa and have had sun staying in Chipata and Ndola, not sure how much there is to do there, but I was camping and it was fun! 🙂

Then there’s Chobe not far across the border in Botswana!

Better start saving.. Do you think it would be possible to do on a smaller budget for 6 months? Also, is East Africa easy to travel on a whim? That’s my favourite way, going with the flow. Or, do you think it’s necessary to have a planned itinerary?

Hey Elliot! You could definitely do it on a smaller budget. As you can see, some of the things I did were expensive, like the volunteering costs for the Book Bus and Kilimanjaro. You can do it cheaper if you do less of the ‘big’ touristy things and live and travel more locally! You can travel on a whim no problem. You need to think about a few things, like having dollars for visas and a Yellow Fever certificate for certain countries, but it is pretty easy to get around most places in East Africa by public transport. There aren’t as many backpacker type places like there are in Asia, so you may have to book some accommodation in advance, but not all.

I think it’s good to have an idea of where you want to go, but you might meet people along the way and want to change direction. I’ve made the mistake of being too planned (on my 5 week trip), but for this 6 month trip, I was happy with the way I did it – it was quite planned, but it worked out well. I would have liked to have stayed longer in some places, but then I would have missed other places. I’ve been back to some of the places that I really loved since and spent more time there. If I went again for 6 months, I wouldn’t plan as much. So if you like going with the flow, just do that. Maybe book your first few nights for somewhere, and then take it from there.

Nice blog btw! 🙂

Happy adventures!

Africa overland tours and adventure experiences with Absolute Africa. Overland truck tours of Africa that have exciting and must see Africa land marks to explore.

Very true! 🙂

Hey Helen, just stumbled across your blog whilst planning my Africa trip. I am going for three months so really useful to know how much you spent. I am doing a similar overland trip to yours but finishing in Livingstone. It looks great and I’ll be reading more of your posts 🙂

Awesome Sara! You will have such an amazing time!! I see from your lovely bog that you’ve been to Africa before so you’ll know how wonderful it is! Southern Africa is quite different from East, so it will be a whole new experience, but there are lots of similarities. Livingstone is my favourite place, so if you get time, have a look at my Livingstone guide as there is so much cool stuff to do! 🙂 https://www.heleninwonderlust.co.uk/2014/05/travel-guide-to-livingstone-zambia/

When are you going and what overland tour are you doing? 🙂

Traveling on a budget can be a hard thing to achieve, but it is definitely possible. Thanks for sharing!

No worries Cassandra! I think there are a few misconceptions about Africa travel, but it can be done on a smallish budget. Even the safaris, whilst not cheap in general, can be done for a lot cheaper than the thousands and thousands that the luxury lodges charge, which are the most well advertised!

Thanks for sharing this budget breakdown, it seems like you have achieved a great deal in 6 months in Africa! I’m optimistic about Asia now from your comparison – I have travelled a lot in Africa, but South East Asia is still on my bucket-list. Sounds like I am going to find it extremely affordable!

No worries, glad it was useful Amy! Enjoy SEA!

Love reading all about your travels through Africa! I’m also doing the Absolute Africa tour you did in a few weeks. Getting me so excited!! Quick question about money…would you recommend taking mostly cash? and in US dollars? Also, do you have any other tips or “must do’s” for this tour? So exciting, been reading through your stuff all day, definitely distracting me too much…haha. x

Hey Keira! Thanks for reading! Great that you are going with Absolute, you’ll have a great time!!! Are you doing the full 2.5 month trip?

I took all mine in cash, and also used ATM’s. If you are coming from USA, bring all US Dollars. If you are coming from elsewhere, I’d bring a mix of dollars and your own currency to exchange for local when you’re there. You’ll need USD for visas etc and some excursions, but there’s no point changing from your own currency, to USD then into local currency.

I have a couple of posts that I would recommend – ’25 Things That Will Happen On Your Overland Trip’ and also ‘Top Africa Travel Tips’ ones but other than that, my best tips are:

– Be as welcoming as possible to new members of the group. Those who join from the start bond, and it’s tough coming in later. Make them feel welcome, you’ll likely make some great new friends. – Make sure you pitch in your chores. It’s actually when you bond the most with your fellow travellers. – If you get chance in Zambia/Zimbabwe, go to the Devil’s Pool, I regret I didn’t do that. – Take a good zoom lens for safari and loads of SD cards. Deleting as you go can be a right pain. – Take some time for yourself every now and again! – Don’t buy too many souvenirs, it always seems like a great idea at the time.

Let me have a think of my ‘must do’ excursions and come back to you!!

Please tell me how your trip goes, would love to hear how you get on!!! Are you going anywhere else before/after?? Is it a career break? Gap year? What’s your story? 🙂

Hello, thank you for your reply! Yep, I’m doing the whole 2.5 months. Getting so close now, so exciting!! I’d read to take the majority of it in cash, but bit nervous about carrying so much around with me! I’m coming from Scotland, so would I be best taking a mix of dollars and Pounds? I’ve read the ’25 Things That Will Happen On Your Overland Trip’ and makes me so excited. Can’t wait to go and meet new people and experience it all myself. Did you do the bungee jump or any other activities like that at the Victoria Falls? I always say I’m going to do it then watch a video and change my mind…act brave on the outside but deep down I’m just a scaredy cat haha. I’m not, no. I’m just doing the tour. I was hoping to get a year off from work, but I was only able to get three months:( I’m just hoping the time off and new experiences will help me figure out what I’m actually wanting to do!! But I know i’ll not want to come home once it’s over.. Keira x

Aw, lovely!! Wish I was doing it again!!

Yes take a mix of dollars and GBP. Dollars for your visas definitely, dated after 2002 (the newer the better) and then you can use some for excursions too. Don’t feel nervous about taking cash. Put it in a few different places in your carry on bag. Once you get to the truck, you can put it all in the safe!

I did white water rafting and canoeing at Victoria Falls but not the jumps. I hate heights. Maybe I’ll do one when I’m 80! 🙂 You’ll have the best time!!! Do as many activities as you can afford, but also take some time to explore local markets and go and see the real Africa away from the tourist stuff!

3 months in Africa will be great, and you can always take another career break later on! I’ve taken 3 of between 5 weeks and a year!

Let me know how it goes! Say hi to the Absolute Africa guys for me!

Hey Helen, This blog is so helpful. Just have a few questions, I hope you don’t mind answering 🙂 In a few of your blogs you’ve mentioned that you can camp along the way, I think I read you saying for around $6 a night. I also read you saying that there are often people that are on overland tours there too. I was just wondering if this would require taking my own tent to Africa when I go? I’m going on a shoestring, but I am also going solo. I don’t think I’ll have trouble meeting people to travel with, however would you recommend doing it as more of a joint tour where everything is planned/organised/provided? that way I would meet fellow travellers? This doesn’t appeal too much to me as I might fall in love with a place and want to spend a few weeks there .. time isn’t too much of an issue for me, and being on a tour you’re restricted to a time. So basically in a nut shell… bring my own tent? or join a tour? (keep in mind I am going solo so might get lonely), is it easy to get from campsite to campsite (I have read your other blogs about transport). Would it be okay to completely wing it with a tent? that’s my plan so far. I obviously have a very good idea of the places I want to go to and the route I wish to take.

Any advice would be great 🙂

No worries at all! That’s what I’m here for! Was about to reply to your email!

There are advantages and disadvantages to a tour. Like you said, if you fall in love with a place, you can’t stay. Well you could, but you’d lose a load of money! 🙂 But it’s a great way to get to the more difficult to get to places, they are economical in some ways, takes away the hassle and built in friends.

I love both types of travel. However, from what you’ve said, I think your heart is telling you solo all the way. So go with that! If you hate it (which I doubt) you can always join on to a tour once you’re there! If you aren’t limited on time, then Africa is your oyster! Wish I was going! You may have lonely days, but you’ll most likely meet nice people where you stay. Some overland groups keep themselves to themselves, but some are very welcoming, and there are often solo or small group travellers about!

On the tent front, if you are backpacking and using public transport, taking your own tent and cooking gear will be a bit of a pain. But lots of the campgrounds can provide tents and have dorms/rooms and bars/restaurants. Some are catered to overland travellers, but lots they can still accommodate backpackers. There will be some camp sites that are difficult to get to without your own transport and cooking facilities. And you may need to take the occasional tour if you want to get to some places, or go on safari or but who knows, maybe you’ll meet up with a fellow traveller who has a car and you can tag along with!

Tell me where you want to go, and I can tell you the situation on camping in that area! 🙂

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. That information was perfect!

After reading all of the above, I think I should do a few weeks on a tour to get my bearings and confidence of Africa and then fly solo after that.

Great to know about the campgrounds, and that getting there is difficult. I might try and buddy up with someone over there and share a car 🙂 I’m going to be winging it a lot. That’s how I usually prefer to travel. I most likely will have cooking gear on me as I will be coming straight from a trekking trip in Nepal (unless I send it back to Aus with my trekking buddies).

When you say you can join onto a tour once you’re there, how hard would this be and what would be entailed?

“Tell me where you want to go, and I can tell you the situation on camping in that area!” << You're the best! The basic route I wish to take is Fly into Nairobi, Kenya. Visit the Maasar Mara, make my way overland to Tanzania (somehow?), hoping to see the foothills of Kili (perhaps in Moshi), head to Dar es Salaam and then to Zanzibar. From there I want to go down and Lake Malawai (from what your blog said…. Amazing!) Zambia (Livingston.. I also want to Bovu Island after reading that other blog of yours) Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nambia (Spitakoppe, Swakomund, Naukkft desert, Sossusvlei, Fish River Canyon, The Orange River) then down to Cape Town. Alternatively, this can be done in reverse. I'm entirely flexible, whats best?.

Its obvious I only have a vague idea of the places I want to go and things I want to see. I can Imagine getting to/from most of these places will be difficult if I'm hopping in vans/buses. I would love to book a tour, but I just know I'm going to fall in love with small little towns/people and want to stay for weeks as opposed to days.

So now that you know the rough route I wish to follow, what do you believe is best?

Much love! I can't wait to be in Africa and telling everyone how I knew about certain places (Helen In Wonderlust)

You’ll be fine getting to almost all campgrounds, it can just be a bit of a pain to get to some outside the cities and in remote areas like national parks, but you can still get there and back! If you have your cooking gear and don’t mind carrying it, then do that. Just call up and see if places have tents/rooms and you should be fine.

The route you have said is the well trodden backpacker trail so there are loads of places to stay.

Nairobi I liked Milimani Backpackers and Wildebeest Camp. My mates run a backpacker place in Masai Mara – Mara Explorers Camp, give em a shout they’ll sort you out. Really easy to get to Tanzania from Kenya. Bus to Arusha or Moshi, and then another bus to Dar es Salaam. Although that is my least fave bus ride. Try and get a seat in the middle on left side. Mikadi Beach in Dar is meant to be good but out of town, so opt for a later ferry to Zanzibar. In Zanzibar I would head straight to beaches, you’ll meet people there, and then do Stone Town at the end with your new mates. Unless you meet people before that. Stone Town isn’t much of a backpacker place.

To get to Lake Malawi I’m not sure – but you will be able to get a bus I am sure from Dar to Mbeya, then go to Kande Beach maybe, then Lilongwe and then down to Cape Maclear if you can. Then you may need to go back up to Lilongwe to get over to Zambia. Maybe go South Luangwa National Park. But if you didn’t want to do that, head towards Chipata (you go through there on way to South Luangwa from Lilongwe), then down to Lusaka, and then Livingstone. Have a look at my guide to Livingstone, loads on there.

From Livingstone it’s really easy to get to Botswana and Zimbabwe. I’d probs go Zimbabwe, then Botswana, then Namibia. Cross over the border near Vioolsdrif (on the Orange River) and head down to Springbok, Steelenbosch and then down to Cape Town and explore SA from there. It’s not difficult to get from A – Z. There is always a way in Africa. I may need to go through some old stuff to look at the exact camps I’d recommend. And you will undoubtedly be told about some cool places on the road by fellow travellers.

I went North to South so that’s my preference! When you are there, if you just email an overland company they can usually find you a space. Just like booking the trip from home. You may just need to make it to one of the towns they go through. A few people on my trip just called last minute and asked if there was availability. We picked one girl up in a town called Naivasha in Kenya. She’d been volunteering and fancied joining an overland, so emailed Absolute Africa and joined the trip.

I have to head out now (NYE and all that :)), but I will reply again tomorrow!!

Hi Helen, Thanks you mm so much again for replying such depth and information.

I feel so much more confident doing it on my own now that I’ve spoken to you. And like you said, if I get lonely or don’t want to plan anymore I can jump on the end of a tour. This is so good to know, I never even considered that or thought it was a thing.

Your blog is seriously my bible for Africa. The knowledge is so relevant and answers everything. You’re amazing!! Thank you 🙂

I think I’ve read your blog about Livingston, but will definitely be reading them all over again before I head off.

Would love to know more about the camp sites if you get a chance, but like you said.. People are always willing to offer advice on the road.

I can’t wait to get there!!! Xx

Happy new year 🙂

Happy New Year!! 🙂 You’ll have a fab time!!

Aw, thank you!! Knowing what I write is helping people is the main reason I keep doing it, so thank you!

I think I’l write a post on the campsites, as people are always asking me about where to stay!

I think that’s a great idea 🙂

🙂 Working on it!!

I thought I’d spend a minute on the internet while waiting for the kettle to boil – 1 hour later I’m still browsing your blog!! My boyfriend and I are currently planning a trip to Africa and then who knows where!, but worried I won’t be able to afford it due to buying a house etc. We are wanting to volunteer in Uganda to where I went a few summers ago (just for 2 weeks then though). It’s amazing to see what you have done!

Will keep following your posts, I feel inspired!

Thanks so much for your lovely comment! You made my day!

I hope you get to go to Africa this year! Did you volunteer with Soft Power? That’s where I volunteered in Uganda!! 🙂

You only live once…

I really am so pleased I found your blog, I can’t stop reading it!! Wish I was able to come on your Kenya trip!! Think we will end up going to Uganda the year after next, bit more plausible money wise.

No, I went with a family friend who set up a charity called Fingerprints In Uganda, which set up a girls safe house (Emmanuel House) in Jinja, and supports lots of local schools. I saw lots of Soft power projects going on though, they look wonderful!

Thanks for your reply. xx

Hey Jossie!

Aw, would be great to have you on the Kenya trip! 🙂

Jinja is amazing isn’t it? I love it there! The project sounds awesome, I’ll look it up! I’d love to go back to Uganda. I miss it a lot.

Hope you get to go to Africa sooner rather than later! But buying a house is also very exciting!!! Africa will be there when you do get to go, and it will be all the better as you waited a bit longer!

Hi, Your blog is great! I am starting initial planning for a month trip to Kenya and Tanzania. and was wondering if you could point me to your post that may have your itinerary for your 5-week Kenya and Tanzania trip. I’ve spent a bit of time looking but through asking might be easiest. Thanks!

I haven’t written this down yet but it shouldn’t take me long to pull together! I’ll get it done over the weekend for you, with all the places I stayed and companies I used etc! 🙂

Wonderful! Thank you so much.

Hey Marsha, your post is up! 🙂


thank you so much for all the info.. I love your blog!

I am going to Cape Town in a couple of weeks (travveling alone) and I am interested in doing a one day safari, but i am on a budget. Which Safari did you go on that cost £80?

I think we used http://www.aquilasafari.com/ . However there are lots and lots of days trip safaris and you can book most of them there. If you’re staying in a hostel or hotel, they will be able to help you arrange!

Thanks for reading!!

Have a great time in South Africa!

Great post Helen, love the detail. Just wanted to add my 2 cents for anyone reading this and feeling like they can’t ever afford to do a trip like this. I planning on travelling solo from Egypt to Cape Town later this summer and am in the planning process (budget planning especially!!) right now. I have been to East Africa 5 times already and spent a year in Southern Africa This kind of money is INSANE in my eyes. Hostels throughout East and Southern Africa should only set you back $10 a night. I have never paid to volunteer and probably never will. You can find local projects that need your skills and will provide you with a place to stay while you volunteer there. Local transport never costs more than a few dollars, bar maybe the Tazara train which I think i paid $50 for. Even South Africa, the most expensive country in Africa (bar maybe Angola!!) is pretty cheap. Meals are only about 5 or 6 dollars and even adventure activities are cheaper than anywhere else. I did Paragliding for just 40 euro, a bungee jump for 50 and surfing lessons for just 3 euro! Anyway, thanks for the honest post and breaking it all down, but I would say a trip the same time and same route could be done independently on a budget of about $6000.

Hi Janet, thanks for reading!

I agree, you can definitely travel Africa cheaper and on a budget if you travel independently, staying in dorms, using local transport, only eating locally etc (which I say at the beginning) and I’ve done subsequent trips cheaper than this one, but wanted lay out my costs as they were. This was my first trip to Africa in 2009 and there are definitely a few things I’d do differently now, but some I’d keep the same.

The biggest single cost for me was the volunteering project, which did cost a lot. I’m not sure I would pay to volunteer again, however it was an amazing experience and led to me meeting some of my best friends and later a paid job with the company in Zambia and Malawi – so it kind of worked out well! 🙂 But I also volunteered for free the following month in Tanzania and also for free in Uganda in 2011 and both were also amazing experiences. Then there was Kilimanjaro, which is never cheap. It could be done a bit cheaper than I did it, but it’s still expensive. And you have to be careful on the companies you choose and how they treat their staff if they’re undercutting everyone else.

Overlanding wasn’t cheap, but I guess there you are paying for the convenience. Sometimes it’s nice not to have to worry about where you have stay or being stuffed into the corner of a crazy bus for 12 hours or getting a dala dala from South Luangwa, to get to the nearest border town, to then get a share taxi to the actual border, then take another share taxi to the bus stand on the other side and then another dala dala back to Lilongwe. You get my drift! And it was always great having a group of mates around! Another experience I wouldn’t change for the world.

The overlanding costs also included a gorilla trek (permits alone are $750 in Rwanda, although in Uganda they are $450 – $600 – depending on the season), white water rafting twice, 11 multi-day safaris and tons of other activities. Then at the end I did a two week Garden Route trip with my (now) husband who came out to join me, so we weren’t staying in mega cheap places.

But yes, I definitely agree though that Africa is not as expensive as everyone thinks and you could definitely do a 6-month trip to Africa for $6000 so it’s not an exclusive destination by any means. Not sure I’d go as far as to say the costs I paid were ‘insane’ – I guess it’s all relative to your budget and your expectations. Some safaris charge £4,000 for a few days! 🙂 Now that’s crazy money! Doing it on a shoestring, the experience would probably be different than the one I had, but that’s not a bad thing and everyone’s experiences will be different anyway! I’ve travelled there super cheap and mid-range/luxury, both are great, and have their advantages and disadvantages.

I hope you can prove me wrong on the costs! 🙂 You’ll have to let me know how you get go on your trip and how much you spent for the Nairobi to Cape Town section and if you did the same activities! Have a fab trip!!

Hey! I have just been reading about your Africa trips and WOW! I am actually heading to East Africa in January & February just as a mini trip to check out a few places. Planning on Kenya and Tanzania to begin. My long term goal is to return after my current work contract ends and do up to a year. I have some serious saving up to do haha. After reading about your 6-month trip I am 100 times more excited to go. Thank you for your information and guidance.

For the price you paid to travel around Africa for six months versus what your friend paid for travelling around Southeast Asia, I would have to agree with you that you managed to accomplish a lot with a very reasonable budget. Thanks for the tip about Overland Tours Africa! I find that local tour companies usually give you a better price and have much better tour options than Western-owned backpacking companies.

Hi Helen, thanks for putting this together. It has been really helpful for my Husband and me. We have decided to do a similar route from Cape Town to Nairobi, but we will do it independently. We are reluctant to carry too much cash on us which will mean that we need access ATMs along the way. The question is how much would be sufficient in cash or should we split our Budget on a 50/50 between currency and atm?

It is really very cheap to travel Africa especially southern Africa.

What an awesome trip!

I spent 3 months travelling around Africa, mainly South Africa and then touched on some of Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Fell in love with it and dreamt of going back ever since. I was wondering if you thought the Absolute Africa (the price has gone up again by the looks of it £2025 + Local Payment US$1260) tour was rushed or if you felt you had a decent amount of time to really appreciate all the countries you visited along the way, as I had a similar route planned but in reverse but this tour would take a lot of hassle out of planning, but having done tours in the past and then solo travel I found tours can be quite rushed and I felt like I missed a lot out, especially in Asia. I also like the freedom of solo travel but I doubt I would be able to do this kind of trip for less than the tour price once you start adding it all up?

I was reading through for ideas because I’ve been to Tanzania before and spent a couple of days in Mombasa but I’m looking to go back for a proper trip.

Safari isn’t really something that I’m too interested in anymore, but for those that are I know you can get a guide in Arusha for the northern circuit. Obviously it depends on how much you trust people, but it’s much cheaper and less of the money ends up back in London, New York or Joburg.

I hope all of you who have been or intend to go find Africa as beautiful and compelling as I did.

Helen, I’m sure you know this but your blog is fantastic, whether you’re preparing for your first adventure, browsing for inspiration or

Hi Helen Have you tried visiting the famed happy valley in Kenya,it had a great colonial past ,so much history. Let me if interested

Thank you so much for this, it has helped me plan my east coast trip!

That’s awesome! Have an amazing time!!! 🙂

Do you have any tips for choosing responsible volunteering programs in Africa? The ones you did sound great, but I know that some can be more exploitative than beneficial, particularly those where children are involved.

I’m thinking about volunteering as part of a longer trip to Africa so would love to hear any advice you have.

Great work on the blog- it’s really useful!

Many thanks

Hello Helen! Thank you so much for this in depth description of your journeys! I and a friend are hoping to fly into Nairobi Kenya over summer (mid may-mid june) visit Masai Mara, Mamosa and make our way to see the victoria falls in zimbabwe. Do you have any recemndations for the means of travel within africa from kenya to zimbabwe (trains. busses. flights ect) to enhance the experience/decrease travel cost and any reccomendations of other countries to stop by along the way? As of now the round trip flights from ATL to Nairobi are well priced in mid may around $900 round trip! Ideally a 12-20 day trip Thanks! Taylor

You can take buses all the way and there are also some trains. You can go from Kenya to Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

I also offer awesome group tours! https://www.rockmyadventure.com/

What a great round up of expenses and experiences on traveling in Africa. So much I hadn’t even thought about. A great heads up. Thank you. Cheers Nathan…

My friends and I are planning to go to Africa later this year and I was struggling for ideas when I found your lovely blog! Your pictures are so inviting! We want to visit so many different places, but our budget is limited, so your tips definitely help to plan our journey. Thank you so much!

Cost is a significant factor when considering to visit Africa. I would say Safari’s is the most interesting part of visiting Africa other than the local culture.

Been to Africa twice, and I’d say Africa is pretty cheap compared to western countries.

Love the blog, hope to be back 🙂

Hi, I’m planning to stay in South Africa for lore or less 90 days and then move to Namibia for other 20 days and probably then Botswana. I’m booking only a one way flight to Johannesburg and then move to Windhoek by bus: di you think that I could have problem entering In SA without a return flight? I’ll have some month to spend in South and east Africa and I don’t want to plan everything in advance, things can change and maybe I can find other people that want to join me. But I’m a bit worryed about visas and immigration department, do you have any suggestion about it?

Hi Helen thanks a lot for the insight. Am planning a trip across the entire African continent, hoping to start from Nigeria, West Africa then go North, East and South. Reading your article really helps. Quite a lot to put together lol but your article sure helps. I hope it wouldn’t be much of a hassle for you if I need answers to a couple of questions as I plan my trip? Thanks for sharing your travel experience.

Aw, thanks Grace – glad you liked it! Bet it’s cool living in Botswana! I loved it when I was living in Zambia for a little while! Happy travels to you too! x

Better start saving.. Do you think it would be possible to do on a smaller budget for 6 months? Also, is East Africa easy to travel on a whim? That’s my favourite way, going with the flow. Or, do you think it’s necessary to have a planned itinerary?

Yes definitely you can – as I mention, I’m not a strict budget traveller and there are tips in here for saving money. You can do a mix of planned and unplanned, no problem! 🙂

Probably one of the most useful and informative blog posts Ive come across in a while!

I’m planning a 6month backpacking trip very similar to yours starting in October. My biggest question is aside from Kilimanjaro what needs to be booked in advance and what can I book while in country?

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This tour was absolutely incredible from the start to the end. Went on the 43 day tour from Kenya to Cape Town and the trip covered everything possible. The tour guide Rachel and truck driver Sam were brilliant, they had so much knowledge and looked after us all - kept us fed very well! All the campsites were better than my expectations, they were cleans, had bars at most of them and occasionally even a pool. I would happily book again with Acacia to do another tour and also highly recommend them to anyone considering travelling around Africa!

19-day Cape Town to Victoria Falls (Camping) Tour

19-day Cape Town to Victoria Falls (Camping)

This was overall a really well run tour. Our guide Pilli and driver Kumu really put a lot of enthusiasm into the trip and made everyone happy everyday. This is a fast paced tour though with some long driving days - if you travel in winter expect some cold nights so pack a decent sleeping bag. Also winter means shorter days and longer nights, so some times we would be setting up camp in the dark and again departing before sunrise, but this wasnt much of an issue as the tents are good quality and after the first couple of goes you can have it done solo in mere minutes. Food quality on the tour was exceptional given the facilities available (cooking out of the back of a truck) All dietary requirements were met with ease and even after nearly 3 weeks on the road the variety just kept coming! The itinerary mentions having cash, however besides maybe 2 optional activities (wine tasting in SA and 1 game drive option) everything was able to be paid for by card without any surcharges. My only real gripe is with one of the camp sites (ZELDA) which was in utter state of disrepair and we had to ask twice for them to turn on the running water and gas to the showers (Which they only then did for the ladies block). The only other improvement I could suggest would be to stay in hostels in the larger towns like Windhoek and Livingston (like we did in Swakopmund) rather than the camp sites which are miles out of town.

Morocco Encompassed - 15 Days Tour

Morocco Encompassed - 15 Days

This was an excellent introduction to the ancient, exotic culture of Morocco, with insights into contemporary life.

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Bei der Reise wurden die tollsten Ziele aus Botswana und Zimbabwe und Südafrika erreicht. An Natur und campingmöglichkwiten kaum zu übertreffen!! Dennoch sind die Fahrtzeiten logischerweise recht lang, es lohnt sich jedoch jeden Tag wieder! Ich habe so tolle Leute kennengelernt, einige fürs Leben. Meine Gruppe und die Guides waren hervorragend. Ich würde diese Reise jedem empfehlen.
Mina was an absolutely amazing guide! Would definitely recommend!! :)
An enjoyable, efficient, and well organized tour. The jam-packed itinerary ensures you get the most out of your time during your stay. Our tour guide Nabil was simply amazing. So friendly, knowledgeable, and informative. He made ancient Egypt come alive for us through his wonderful storytelling. I'd definitely recommend this tour.

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Go Backpacking

How to Travel West Africa on a Budget

By: Author Alissa

Posted on Last updated: September 26, 2021

Colorful buildings in Ganta, Liberia

West Africa is an interesting puzzle when it comes to budget travel.

Unlike many infamously expensive destinations – think Paris or Dubai – you'll be “roughing it” in West Africa regardless of your budget.

Yet compared to reliably cheap backpacker havens like Laos , West Africa is a bit of a splurge. Let's just come out and say it: the value for money might not seem great.

But that's just one way of looking at it because it all depends on what you value.

If you care more about interesting conversations with locals and less about air-conditioned transportation, if you prize vast tracts of jungle and empty wild beaches more than having a toilet seat in your motel room, and if you crave adventure in a camping tent more than comfort, West Africa definitely won't let you down.

Though you'll never reach the absurdly low prices of Southeast Asia, for example, it IS possible to travel West Africa on a budget.

To pull it off, you'll need to embrace a particular style of travel that can be unpredictable, slow, and sometimes hilariously frustrating.

In return, you'll be welcomed into a colorful land of natural beauty, vibrant culture, and memorable interactions.

I traveled in West Africa for three months on a limited budget, moving through five countries along the coast: Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Côte d'Ivoire.

I spent endless hours in cozy bush taxis, stayed in the cheapest local guesthouse rooms I could find, and ate my meals in the same roadside shacks as everyone else.

While it's hard to generalize an entire region, I think many of the budget travel tips I learned in these five countries will help others looking to travel cheaply throughout much of West Africa. 

See also: How to Save Money for Your Next Trip

Traveling West Africa on a budget is possible

Table of Contents

Travel independently

Be flexible and don't rush, venture outside the capital cities and beach resorts, get used to bush taxis and moto-taxis, stay in local guesthouses, bring a small tent, eat what the locals eat, haggle confidently but kindly, general west africa budget travel tips.

Some people believe the only way to see West Africa is from the back seat of a private Land Cruiser while a guide and driver take care of all the details because traveling independently is too tricky.

While this would certainly be easier, it's neither cheap nor necessary, and in my opinion, you'll miss out on most of the fun. 

I traveled independently (and solo) for most of my time in West Africa, arranging my public transportation and lodging on the fly.

Though it can be tricky at times, the kind people of West Africa made it possible.

Carry yourself with an open, friendly demeanor, and locals will offer directions, recommendations, rides, pineapples, and more.

These many vibrant interactions were the highlights of my trip. That said, sometimes, it's worth hiring a guide.

First, hire a hiking guide – someone who knows the network of branching footpaths and the village chiefs – if venturing into the bush on foot.

In some national preserves, a park ranger guide is mandatory.

Second, hiring a local guide for a day can be a great way to learn about a specific area in more depth.

Finally, unless you speak a reasonable amount of French or have the patience of a saint, you'll find a guide helpful in Francophone countries like Guinea.

It's certainly possible to combine the two experiences, traveling between towns independently and then arranging guides for specific hikes or in-depth excursions on arrival.

Flat tire in Ivory Coast

West Africa refuses to be rushed or overscheduled.

If you try too hard, the travel gods will conspire to make a hilarious disaster of your trip until you've fully understood the concept of “Africa time.” 

I once gathered opinions in Liberia about how long the day's bush taxi journey would take and received answers ranging from “a few hours” to “tomorrow morning” (the latter was closest).

Especially if traveling independently on a budget, you're at the mercy of the unpredictable public transport system, the bad roads, and the fluid schedules of those you're attempting to coordinate with.

If you want to get the most out of West Africa on a budget and see more than just the capital city and surrounding towns, allow two weeks for a single country itinerary. Three would be better.

It's not the place for whirlwind checklist-style travel. If possible, arrive with a rough plan but be flexible with how many days you'll spend in each area.

Many of the attractions in West Africa are impossible to book online, so prepare to show up and make arrangements on arrival.

There are a few exceptions: some nature preserves require booking via email or phone, and the more established hiking guides prefer to make arrangements in advance.

Street in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Capital cities in West Africa are unlike anywhere else in the region. Their names roll off the tongue with exotic allure: Dakar, Abidjan, Conakry.

Within each country, they are the economic powerhouse, the center of cultural progress, and home to growing affluent families challenging the unhelpful perception that all Africans are poor .

It's hard to feel you've fully experienced a West African country until you've experienced its capital city. They can also be sprawling, gritty, chaotic, and impersonal.

Paradoxically, even though most foreigners are drawn to their familiar comforts, they are the only places I ever worried about theft and safety .

For the budget traveler, they are a significant hit to the wallet, with expensive hotels (mid-range might start around $70) and mandatory taxi rides to get between sprawling neighborhoods.

For budget travelers (and any travelers really) in West Africa, I recommend limiting your time in the capital city to just a couple of days.

Resist the temptation to linger for the foreigner-friendly restaurants and well-stocked grocery stores – you probably have those at home anyway – and head inland to explore the rest of the country.  

Town of Man in Côte d'Ivoire

One word of caution to penny-pinching travelers: in capital cities, despite the expensive hotel rates, it's worth shelling out for a place where you'll feel comfortable and making a booking in advance.

The big cities of West Africa are the only places in the region that have “bad neighborhoods,” over-saturated with down-on-their-luck young men seeking relief from rural poverty.

Though you're unlikely to be hurt, it's not unheard of to be robbed in these areas after dark.

Just pick a mid-range hotel in a foreigner-friendly neighborhood, and you'll have no trouble.

Taking a bush taxi in Guinea will help you stick to a tight budget

Buses aren't a thing in much of West Africa, aside from a handful of well-traveled routes in countries like Côte d'Ivoire with more developed infrastructure.

Instead, locals and visitors alike take part in the organized chaos of the bush taxi system .

A bush taxi – also known as a shared taxi, taxi brousse, sept place – is a car.

Usually, it's a rather shabby car; you might need to reach through the open window to pull the door handle at the journey's end.

They gather at taxi parks on the main roads through town, each with a designated route for the day, and they leave when full: two people in the front passenger seat and at least four per row of three seats.

Bush taxis are cozy and sometimes quite uncomfortable.

They can also lead to the most amazing conversations with the people whose elbows are in your ribs. I am still in touch with one Sierra Leonean, who I met in a West African bush taxi.

Since the only alternative is to hire a private car and driver, bush taxis will save you money as a budget traveler.

The rates are fixed for each route, and no one ever attempted to overcharge me (if concerned, ask the locals what they're paying).

If they're in the mood to apply a “foreigner tax,” it will be an arbitrary fee charged for your luggage, which is negotiable, especially if your luggage is small.

Motorbike Taxis

Within towns or on rarely traveled longer routes, a motorbike taxi is your typical option.

They're more expensive than cars, but the rates are generally negotiable. They can be dangerous, so try to avoid taking them on faster, paved roads.

Very occasionally, they might have a helmet available if you ask. Choose someone you feel comfortable with, as you'll be pretty cozy together on the bike.

Typically older men are less aggressive drivers and a more comfortable choice for female travelers (you won't find any female drivers).

If you anticipate taking a lot of motorbike taxis, consider bringing an AXE backpack by VikingBags .

Basic guesthouse room in Sierra Leone

In the capital cities and beach resort areas of West Africa, you can research and book hotels online. Some of these are mid-range or even budget accommodation.

But in the rest of the country where tourism is low, you'll need to stay where the local travelers stay.

Even in areas with tourist accommodation, learning to seek out these hidden spots will save you money.

Many of the cheap local guesthouses have zero online presence.

You can't make a reservation, and you probably can't even find them on Google Maps or Maps.me (though the latter is a better bet).

Instead, find them by exiting your shared taxi and asking anyone – the driver, your fellow passengers, a moto-taxi driver, a friendly-looking stranger – where you can find a good cheap guesthouse. 

Quality varies, but my requirements were: I felt comfortable there, and the door locked.

Nice touches:

  • a mosquito net (optional since I had a tent)

Unexpected and often lacking:

  • running water
  • a toilet seat
  • uninterrupted electricity

This type of accommodation ranges from around $10 – $25 per night in the countries I traveled to.

These small family-run guesthouses were another great source of conversations, ranked just after bush taxis in terms of an opportunity to meet locals.

They don't see many foreigners and are often quite interested in chatting with one.

See also: How to Find a Cheap Place to Stay

Beach camping in Robertsport Liberia

If you have room in your luggage, a small backpacking tent with mesh inner can save money in several ways.

First, it gives you the flexibility to choose a cheaper guesthouse with no mosquito net without subjecting yourself to malarial bites all night long (a real risk – I got malaria during my trip).

I've pitched my tent inside plenty of cheap motel rooms.

Second, you might find a hotel that allows camping for much lower rates in the more expensive resort areas.

In Robertsport, Liberia, I stayed at a nice lodge that offered cabins starting at $100 per night.

I camped on their beach in my tent, with access to their bathroom and showers, for $5 per night.

For security reasons, don't camp on beaches near cities unless it's under the watch of a specific hotel.

Third, camping is often possible at nature preserves, such as Gola Rainforest in Sierra Leone.

You might be able to camp near the main lodge for a cheaper rate or book a longer overnight walk in the forest.

A tent will save you money and open up possibilities for exploring the preserves more deeply.

Ideally, your tent would be freestanding (so you can pitch it on a hard surface), have a mostly mesh inner (for ventilation on hot nights), and a rainfly for those tropical downpours.

You won't need a sleeping bag thanks to the hot climate (unless venturing into the mountains, in which case consider a metallic emergency bivy as a compromise). A silk sleeping bag liner would be perfect. 

Eating like a local can help you travel West Africa on a budget

If you're traveling outside the capital cities or resort areas, you don't have other options.

You'll eat your meals in the same roadside stalls and restaurants as the locals. 

Cuisine varies by country, but vegetarian meals like rice and beans are cheaper than meat (especially chicken).

Egg sandwiches, sometimes called omelets, are filling and sometimes more appealing than a super-spicy heap of rice and sauce.

If you're not good with spicy food, ask for “small pepper” or local equivalent because the sauces in West Africa can be scorching.

Coffee with sweetened condensed milk is easy to find in some countries, while the delicious and leisurely ritual of attaya (Senegalese Tea) is common in others.

Mangoes and groundnuts (similar to peanuts) make great snacks and are easy to buy from vendors on the street.

Ovaltine and milk powder can add protein to a budget traveler's diet.

In larger towns, I recommend buying a jar of peanut butter to bring to more rural areas, where you can add it to cookies or baguettes.

The local light beers can be very appealing in hot weather, but indulging in a couple will double the cost of your meal.

Handmade beads in Côte d'Ivoire

Haggling culture is alive and well in West Africa. In most areas, it doesn't feel like the aggressive game of “overcharge the tourist” that you'll find in some backpacker havens; the locals haggle too in West Africa.

But it's certainly expected that people wealthy enough to travel won't mind chipping in a little extra to the local economy. 

Times when it's reasonable to haggle:

  • motorbike taxi fares
  • food or other goods sold in markets
  • souvenir shops in tourist areas (especially this last one)

Times when it's not expected to haggle:

  • bush taxi tickets
  • meals in restaurants
  • buying snacks from the women or kids on the street when their prices are already low

I found that haggling playfully, with a smile or laugh and a little time spent in conversation, often worked best and kept everyone happy.

Remember that vendors are just trying to make a living, and to them, you seem unfathomably rich no matter how small your budget may be.

Consider that if someone doesn't budge on their rate, they may have quoted a fair price to start.

Trekking in Guinea

West Africa is not the kind of place to be trailing a roller bag behind you, especially not when traveling on a budget.

West Africa is the place for a backpack; ideally, carry-on size packed as lightly as possible. 

Your pack will be strapped to the roof of taxis, wedged in your lap, balanced on the handlebars of motorbike taxis, and carried on your back as you search for that perfect budget guesthouse.

Packing light keeps you flexible, independent, and better able to haggle your way out of any excess luggage charges. 

Stick with a few sets of comfortable and lightweight clothes, plus basic Africa travel essentials like water purification, a power bank, and plenty of mosquito repellent.

Keep it simple and functional; you'll be too busy exploring to use all that other stuff anyway.

See also: Guide to Buying a Backpack

There's a lot to consider when preparing for a trip to West Africa. Here are a few essential travel tips that anyone, regardless of budget, should consider.

Health  – Make sure your vaccines are up to date , take malaria precautions and prophylactics, don't drink unbottled water without purifying it, don't eat cooked food that's been sitting out all day.

Money – Don't count on ATMs; they're rare and often broken. Bring cash in Euros or US dollars to change to local currency (for Liberia, bring only dollars).

Bills should be $50 or $100, newish, and in excellent condition. Wear your stash in a money belt or pocket underwear.

Cultural tips – Eat, give, and receive things only with your right hand. Greet everyone before moving forward with a question or request. Smile and shake hands.

Hospitality is valued, so don't be afraid to accept a kind gesture. If the person seems quite poor, you can offer a kind gesture in return, but don't minimize their hospitality.

Dress – People dress beautifully in West Africa. There's no avoiding looking shabby by comparison, but try to keep clothes clean and tidy (no easy task).

It would be culturally sensitive for both men and women to cover their knees and above, and sometimes also shoulders, though this is truer in the predominantly Islamic countries.

Language – Depending on the country, French or English will be spoken by the educated. Don't expect to understand everyone, though, especially in rural areas, where local languages are used almost exclusively.

Safety – The usual precautions: don't wear lots of jewelry or flaunt expensive electronics. Keep your phone tucked away safely in crowded areas.

Don't walk at night in unknown neighborhoods in larger towns and cities.

Most countries are currently politically stable but check before planning a trip.

Most people who've traveled in West Africa feel the government travel advice of countries like the US is overly alarmist in terms of safety and security.

Female travelers – West Africa is as safe as anywhere in terms of physical risk, and degrading street harassment is nearly nonexistent.

However, the numerous marriage proposals, occasional blatant proposition, and endless questions about your marital status might get old. 

Requests – People will ask you for money. People will try to “make friends” because a foreign friend is a valuable asset.

This is natural and inoffensive in the local culture, so try not to let it get you down. It's fine to say no politely.

Photography – As in most places, people dislike having close-up pictures taken without their permission.

I believe it's harmful to spread “poverty porn” – pictures of poor and unhappy-looking people, especially with a foreign tourist as the centerpiece.

Kids often love having their pictures taken and seeing themselves on the camera screen, but you might choose not to post these pictures online so as not to spread this unhelpful stereotype.

I hope these tips have convinced you that it's possible, and even very rewarding, to travel West Africa on a budget.

If you venture outside the big cities, a small budget can open the door to all kinds of memorable interactions and experiences.

If you go with an open mind and heart, you may learn as much about yourself and your own culture as you do about Sierra Leone or Senegal.

Thoughtful travel in West Africa will probably remain a part of you long after you've returned home.

When it comes to getting value for your money while traveling, it doesn't get much better than that.

Alissa loves wide open spaces, thoughtful travel, and human-powered adventure in the great outdoors. She shares what she’s learned from years of travel and adventure, often solo and in off-beat destinations, at exploringwild.com . Visit her there, on Twitter , or on Facebook .

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:

  • G Adventures for small group tours.
  • Hostelworld for booking hostels.

Friday 17th of January 2020

Thanks for the reminder about Guest Houses! They are certainly a life saver ... well, money saver ... when it comes to budget travel. Did the guest houses you stayed at typically include a small breakfast, as well? Or were they mainly just an affordable place for you to base yourself in for a few days to explore more of the rural villages of West Africa?

Friday 24th of January 2020

Hi Ray, no, the guest houses did not typically provide breakfast. I think they were even more "budget" than that! But usually it's easy to find a little food stall or restaurant nearby, or you can buy simple snacks (yogurt, boxed milk, biscuits) at convenience stores.

travelling around africa on a budget

Why Traveling Around Africa Is Difficult for Africans

I was scrolling on social media when a post caught my eye. Green Ranger Safaris , a travel company I'd never heard of, was organizing a road trip through seven African countries. This trip would start in Nairobi, Kenya, then head down into Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana. The pricing was reasonable, so I paid a deposit, brushing aside concerns about both spending weeks on end with a group of strangers and the slight chance that the trip might have been an excellently worded scam.

A few months later, in August, I was on a truck with those strangers. It was late in the evening, and we swept through the Kalahari Desert in northern Botswana, the sun in the sky a flaming orb, the only visible life on the sand of the desert being the shrubs, the wild horses, and the herds of elephants. Music swirled from the truck's speakers, a mishmash of popular Kenyan songs from the turn of the century and Nigerian megahits. The countries we were traveling to had been chosen mostly because they were all English-speaking and provided visa-free travel to Kenyans, so the border crossings were simple, with clearances for the trucks, stamps for our passports and, in Botswana, disinfectant for our shoes.

Talk among the passengers was already turning toward doing similar trips in other parts of Africa. One suggested starting in Namibia, sweeping down along the coast into South Africa, moving through the megacities there, then traveling to Lesotho and Eswatini before entering Mozambique. Another pitched a West Africa trip. It all sounded exciting. Everything was possible. But then another passenger brought up Niger, where a coup had just led to the country's closure of its borders. What would happen if a person took a West Africa road trip and then there was a coup? Would the passenger have to stay there and never go home? We laughed at the absurdity. But behind the laughter was real heartache. Because the reality is that any African traveler has thought about the difficulty of traveling as an African.

My mother was a traveler, and when she traveled for work, my brothers and I would travel in Kenya with her. Then, when I was older, the expanse of my travel grew larger: First I traveled around Kenya, then around East Africa. Now I have a desire to explore the continent, to explore versions of myself in other countries in Africa, home to some of the most humbling and impressive landscapes and vistas in the world: to the largest freestanding mountain on earth (Kilimanjaro); to the largest hot desert in the world (Sahara); to thundering waterfalls twice as wide and deep as Niagara (Victoria); to sparkling white-sand beaches; to UNESCO-listed nature reserves; to cities whose histories stretch back through millennia; and to award-winning wine regions. But I find myself marooned before the bank of difficulties other African travelers face.

A few months after my Green Ranger trip, I spoke to Anneli Douglas, an academic at the University of Pretoria in South Africa who has studied travel in Africa. She pointed out how much easier it is for Western visitors to get visas for Africa than it is for African travelers to visit their countries. "Sometimes, travelers have to travel long distances to apply for a visa, or there might not even be representation of the destination country in the home country, making it difficult to obtain a visa at all," she says. "Also, for Western countries, the cost to obtain a visa to Africa is much cheaper than what it is for Africans-considering the value of the local currency."

In places like Kenya, African destinations are rarely marketed to would-be travelers. Instead, there is a surfeit of packages offering holiday trips in destinations like Dubai, Bangkok, and Istanbul, because it is not only easier but also often cheaper to organize trips to these places than it is to organize trips within the continent. Even when visas are relatively easily attainable, travel from one African country to another is rife with difficulties. Sam Maundu, a Nairobi-based tour operator who runs Rosolo Safaris , which organizes trips around Africa, had no shortage of factors ready when I asked what these difficulties are: "Language barriers, visa restrictions, expensive flights, African destinations not targeting Africans to visit, long distances to be covered either by road or by flight since there are often no direct flights, security situations in some places, perception that there is nothing to see in other African countries, harassment by border officials."

One of the lingering effects of colonialism on the continent is that interaction between African countries tends to exist along mostly colonial lines: There are the former Portuguese colonies, the former British colonies, the former French colonies. Passport holders from Kenya, which was colonized by Britain, are mostly able to go to former British colonies visa-free or with visa-on-arrival status. This means that for a person planning a trip, it becomes easier to think of traveling to these countries. On our multiple-country road trip, the travelers were mostly holders of Kenyan and Ugandan passports (Uganda, another former British colony), and so the countries that the trucks went to were all-except for Namibia-former vestiges of the British Empire. This shared history meant also that because all these countries have English as an official language, it would be relatively easy for us travelers to communicate with people there.

Samuel Agblorti is a lecturer at the Centre for Mixed Migration and Diaspora Studies of the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. I ask him about about a hypothetical trip from Cameroon to Senegal, across a region where multiple coups have happened in recent years. Safety concerns rising from these events had further entrenched visa restrictions across Africa. "Because our borders aren't very well protected, there is a fear that allowing too many visitors will make it unsafe," Agblorti tells me. But even getting those visitors has been a problem.

In 2016, the African Union announced plans for an AU passport to be rolled out by 2020. This passport would open travel across the continent, as more African citizens wouldn't need visas to travel to other African countries. However, more than seven years later, the passport hasn't been launched, stymied by a mixture of security concerns and protectionist attitudes among African states. (The AU remains silent on when and if the passport will be launched.) Still, Agblorti says such a passport would not necessarily be the panacea that its supporters think it would be as it wouldn't automatically lead to visa-free travel without individual states implementing it. He gave the example of regional blocs such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), whose membership comprises 15 West African states whose citizens hold ECOWAS passports. "Even within ECOWAS, there are protocols that member countries are supposed to adhere to, but some of them don't," he says. "You may have a common passport, but if the countries don't make extra commitments, then it doesn't matter."

Thus far, only a handful of African countries have committed to allowing African visitors to visit without a visa: Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles; Rwanda has announced plans to implement this. On a small scale, then, African visitors to these countries will experience the promise of the AU passport-if it does indeed come to fruition.

Most recently, in December 2023, rather than introduce the visa-free status its president had promised , Kenya announced that it would require an electronic travel authorization (ETA) , to increase revenue from visitors seeking to enter Kenya. Visa-free entry was scrapped for all but five other East African countries, and new travel requirements and fees were introduced for countries whose citizens had previously enjoyed visa-free travel into Kenya. To some, the doors of entry-rather than being flung open-were being closed even tighter.

Another issue is how expensive it is to travel in Africa. According to a 2013 World Bank report , airfare within Africa is roughly 50 percent more expensive than airfare in comparable locations worldwide. Flights from one African country to the other tend to be much more expensive than flights from Africa to Europe and Asia, despite logic that the shorter the distance, the cheaper the flight ought to be. This means, in effect, that a traveler from Kampala, Uganda, would find it more affordable, and therefore more attractive, to fly to Dubai than to Maputo, Mozambique, despite the latter being much closer than the UAE.

Tour operator Maundu told me that this makes it difficult for him to suggest to his clients travel packages that involve other African destinations: Often, it means the cost of the round-trip air tickets more than doubles the cost of the entire travel package. And there aren't always reliable road or rail options that offer alternative transport to travelers. Most leisure travelers can't move directly by rail from Kenya to South Africa (there is a luxury train network between Tanzania and South Africa that costs $19,000), while in most other regions of the continent, not only are there no multicountry rail options, but also existing bus networks rely on terrible roads.

The irregularity or non-availability of intra-regional air connections and of internal air transport also constrains access to internal destinations and prevents progress with multicountry tourism packages, Maundu says. Also, tax rates per passenger in Africa are more expensive than they are on other continents: The total tax per passenger is about $64, compared to $30.23 in Europe and $29.65 in the Middle East. This is exacerbated by the lack of a single unified aviation market, whose absence means that fares and tax rates swing with volatility across different parts of the continent.

Rather than negotiate with one central body, airlines operating in Africa deal with individual countries, which each usually have different rates and requirements for entry. In Europe, for instance, the establishment of the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) in 2006 decreased airfares across Europe by making possible the rise of a fleet of low-cost airlines, and at the same time increased the volume of flights within European airports. In this vein, there have been attempts to establish a single aviation market in Africa. The most recent of these attempts is the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). Announced in 2018 , the SAATM so far has signed on 34 countries. However, like the AU passport before it, the SAATM has not been implemented, and so it remains nothing but an idea.

In the meantime, African travelers continue to dream. Travel plans continue to be made. Potential destinations continue to be talked about. At the end of our seven-country road trip, as we headed back to Kenya, we spoke again about organizing future trips together, our group of strangers now bonded as friends. Some people discussed taking a trip to Uganda over the next month. Others talked about heading across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius. In Lusaka, Zambia, where the first batch of travelers would leave us to fly back to Nairobi, weepy goodbyes were made. "We are family," one of them said.

Europe is one of the biggest sources of international arrivals in Africa.

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The worst dangerous uncomfortable... - Safari Link Southern Africa

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  • Safari Link Southern Africa

The worst dangerous uncomfortable irresponsible travel service offer in my 55 years traveling around the world

My tour operator booked round trip service for our group of 10 outbound 30 April to Kapama returning May 3 to JNB for flight to Port Elizabeth. Outbound 10 persons 11 suitcases and 10 hand carry the luggage trailer was not big enough so used van truck as well. Six hours. Return 2 persons decided to take a flight carried their 3 suitcases and 2 hand carry with them but we were still 8 persons with 8 suitcases and 8 hand carry. Safarilink on their own imaginative irresponsibility sent a small van with 10 seats and a mini luggage trailer with 1/3 less than the capacity so they had to use more than half of the least bench with luggage and two persons were forced to sit in a space for 1.5 persons including myself who had to sit with one leg on the wheel and other leg with a torn right knee meniscus hardly stretching and not able to wear the seatbelt. I spoke to the manager on the phone and showed him how we were sitting but he seemed very arrogant and said he would find out how much we paid which was same amount as outbound and until this day refused any refund. I told him at the time it was the first time in My 55 years of travel in the travel industry I had such an experience including the person next to me luckily she is short had terrible back pain by the time we arrived JNB 6.5 hours later. Photos of how two persons had to sit for over six hours and we paid the full amount for a van for 10 persons with proper luggage trailer On their own account they made suppositions including if the two persons who took their three suitcases and two hand carry them luckily can you imagine if they had left their luggage to be transported in the van. Definitely this the most irresponsible service I have ever had and their staff much to Be desired except for driver. So beware if you ever use their services

travelling around africa on a budget

On the way to Johannesburg from Hoedspruit, we passed through some breathtaking mountain scenery and I am grateful that our driver had such a thorough understanding of the scenic route and could fill us in on some interesting anecdotes. Thank you to our driver Ruben

Victor made our travel such an amazing one ! Very cautious of our comfort and needs and he knows the area so well you can basically ask him anything about wildlife, South Africa, safaris, fishing, food, etc… Would recommend to all my friends ! Thank you so much once again !

I have a serious complaint about the Safarilink transfer from Johannesburg to Kruger and back. The van is very small and cramped for a 5+ hour drive, and they really pack it. As if that wasn't uncomfortable enough, people were vaping throughout the ride making it very difficult for me to breathe. I decided to mention it to the driver on my return in hopes the ride home would be better, but when I told him about it, he seemed instantly irritated and uninterested in addressing the issue. I went to the van to see if I could get a better seat to find it reeked of vape from the drive up that morning. When I asked the driver if he could air out the van before we leave, he brushed me off again and said he would deal with it later. Having asthma and other allergic reactions to it, I took it upon myself to air out the van myself. I sat in the front and upon him entering the drivers seat, I finally noticed that he was the one who reeked of vape and continued to reek of it after every stop we made, so I see why he was protecting the people who were causing the problem, which could have also been him, rather than the person being affected by it. When I told him someone was vaping in the van later on in the drive, instead of addressing it, he instantly and without any kind of investigation or inquiry said, "no one is vaping." What kind of idiots do these people think we are? We can smell it, and with me, it affects my breathing, and my ears pop very painfully. The driver was very concerned about people's comfort when it came to air conditioning, but when it came to someone breaking the law and causing someone health problems, he was totally apathetic and even a bit hostile. Safarilink needs to require drivers to assure the safety of the riders by making sure vaping is not happening, and when it is reported, there needs to be a plan in place to address and completely eliminate the problem. Many people have adverse reactions to vape, and we know little about the long term effects, and most people do not detect it or do not yet understand what is causing the reaction their body is having to it. As for me, I feel like I'm being poisoned when I encounter it. There is no question when it happens. My entire body reacts to it instantly, and from my horrible experiences with it since 2019, I know exactly what it is and how the different vapes smell. Please ensure that this does not happen to future passengers.

We use SafariLink, mainly for transporting guests, family and ourselves, to and from our game farm to OR Tambo. We always ask for Victor as our driver and over time he’s become part of the family. Always punctual, considerate & safe driving, with spotlessly clean vehicles and a wealth of knowledge, we wouldn’t consider any other options!

travelling around africa on a budget

My previous disappointment was definitely saved by my recent trip to JHB. To my luck I was the only passenger:) felt like the shortest drive as Sbu(Subusiso) made it very comfortable for me. Felt safe and taken care of. Thanks Sbu!

Victor was our guide from Johannesburg to Greenfire lodge and back. Victor was great and very hospitable. We highly recommend Victor and Safari Link travel.

Watch CBS News

Prince Harry and Meghan visit Nigeria, where the duchess hints at her heritage with students: "I see myself in all of you"

By Charlie D'Agata

Updated on: May 10, 2024 / 10:40 AM EDT / CBS News

Their first trip to Nigeria together might have been called a mini royal tour, but for the fact that Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, haven't been "working royals" for a few years.

The couple — now California residents — received a warm welcome to the massive African nation on Friday. They were gifted traditional Nigerian necklaces of wooden beads and then treated to a dance routine by students at their first stop, the Lightway Academy in the sprawling capital city of Abuja.

There, Harry addressed one of his biggest causes: mental health.


"If you take anything away from today, just know that mental health affects every single person," he told the students. "The more you talk about it, the more you can kick stigma away."

Their visit to the West African country takes on added meaning for Meghan, who not long ago said on her Archetypes podcast that a genealogy test had revealed she's "43% Nigerian." The couple have both referenced her Nigerian descent since that revelation, and Meghan voiced her hope to "dig deeper" into her roots.

"My daughter Lili looked at me and said she could see her reflection in my eyes, and said, 'Mama, I see me in you and you in me,'" she told the students in Abuja on Friday.

"As I look around this room, I see myself in all of you as well," she added, drawing a round of applause from the crowd.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex Visit Nigeria - Day 1

Harry and Meghan are in Nigeria at the invitation of the country's military, visiting to discuss the future work of the prince's Invictus Games Foundation. The charity helps wounded servicemembers and veterans through sport. Nigeria has a similar program and collaborates with Invictus.

The visit to Africa comes just days after Prince Harry was in London — on his own — to mark the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games. The stop in his old hometown prompted a flurry of speculation about a possible reconciliation with the rest of his royal family in Britain.

But it wasn't to be . He neither met with his brother, Prince William , nor his father, King Charles III.

At one point, the father and son were a mere two miles from each other, attending separate events. According to a statement from the Duke of Sussex, a meeting was unfortunately not possible due to "his Majesty's full program" on the day. It added that Harry hoped to see his father again soon.

Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex: Their relationship in pictures

King Charles is currently undergoing treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer, but he has resumed some of his public duties , saying this week that he'd, "been allowed out of his cage."

Harry and Meghan were to wrap up their Nigerian tour on Sunday, following a cultural reception and charity polo match for wounded war veterans.

  • Prince Harry Duke of Sussex
  • Meghan Duchess of Sussex


Charlie D'Agata is a CBS News senior foreign correspondent and has been based in London since 2000. He's spent more than two decades covering international news for CBS.

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  1. Want to explore Africa on a budget? Here are the cheapest African

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    travelling around africa on a budget

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    travelling around africa on a budget

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    travelling around africa on a budget

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    travelling around africa on a budget


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  1. Traveling Africa on a Budget

    Here is the breakdown of an average Africa travel budget: Accommodation- $20 per day equals $600 per month. On this budget, you can stay in budget hotels most nights with the occasional night couchsurfing, camping, sleeping in a hostel, or AirBnb. Food- $200 per month.

  2. 12 Easy Ways to Travel to Africa on a Budget

    Download Article. Hop on a tuk-tuk or a bus for the cheapest way to see a city. In addition to walking or biking, you could hire a 3-wheeled motorized taxi called a tuk-tuk. Larger cities like Nairobi, Johannesburg, and Durban all have an inexpensive bus system, too. [3] If you're traveling in Kenya, look for matutus.

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    10. Morocco. 11. South Africa. 1. Kigali, Rwanda. I came across a gorilla by accident during my trip to Rwanda! Rwanda' s tragic past, rich culture, and incredible wildlife make it one of the most intriguing places to travel to in Africa. Kigali is the pulse of the country's cultural attractions.

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    Choosing Affordable Destinations in Africa. Africa boasts a wide range of affordable destinations that offer exceptional experiences. Here are a few budget-friendly options worth considering: Morocco: Known for its vibrant culture, stunning architecture, and bustling markets, Morocco is an excellent choice for budget travelers. Explore the ...

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    Let me try and make it a bit easier with a few pointers on how to plan an African safari on a tight budget. Etosha National Park Namibia. 1. Pick an African safari country or two. A good place to start is by picking a safari destination - or at least have some idea where in Africa you want to go.

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    Car hire is the best budget option for traveling around South Africa, especially if you're traveling as a family or in a small group. International and local rental agencies have branches at major South African hubs, and many offer unlimited kilometers at reasonable rates - essential for keeping costs down while covering the country's large ...

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    When traveling to a new destination, figuring out much to budget for activities, food, and transportation can be a little tricky. When I first started exploring Africa, I wasn't sure how much to budget for different activities, safaris, transportation, accommodation and other costs of travel.. Fast forward a few years, and I've explored over ten countries on the African continent!

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    Find the right budget tour in Africa with TourRadar. Choose from 1614 trips with 7178 customer reviews. ... Explore the best budget trips around the world with TourRadar! Dates & length Places Filters. 250+ Budget Africa tour packages with 7,178 reviews ... The Intrepid travel Road to Zanzibar was absolutely fantastic. The organisation of the ...

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    "As I look around this room, I see myself in all of you as well," she added, drawing a round of applause from the crowd. Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, visit students at ...