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6 Affordable Safari Lodges in Africa

Looking at the price tag of the average African safari is enough to make most people think going on this bucket list adventure is only a pipe dream: $800 to $1,000 per person per night. Add in the cost of the flight from the U.S., and it becomes even more of an impossibility. But the good news is, more affordable options can be found. While they won’t fit into a shoestring budget, they are a lot more doable, at less than $300 a night, especially if you go in the off-season, generally considered between May and September – Africa’s winter is the opposite of North America’s, falling in June, July, and August.

Samara Game Reserve - Eastern Cape, South Africa Samara Game Reserve
Credit: Samara Game Reserve by samara.co.za

Samara Game Reserve - Eastern Cape, South Africa

Visit Samara Private Game Reserve in the off-season and you can stay in the luxurious Sibella suite in the Karoo Lodge. Located in scenic Camdeboo National Park, you’ll enjoy spectacular views as well as the chance to spot cheetah, black and white rhino, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, huge herds of eland, and even the rarely sighted aardvark. There are no large predators like lions, as the reserve focuses on cheetah conservation. Karoo Lodge is housed within a renovated farmhouse, while the suites are standalone cottages located nearby. Each one has an outdoor shower, fireplace, air conditioning and a spacious bathroom along with a private covered patio that’s ideal for stargazing and sipping your morning coffee while taking in the gorgeous vista.

Elephant Bedroom Camp - Samburu Game Reserve, Kenya Elephant Bedroom Camp
Credit: Elephant Bedroom Camp by Elephant Bedroom Camp - Samburu

Elephant Bedroom Camp - Samburu Game Reserve, Kenya

Elephant Bedroom Camp is a rustic-chic camp with tents set under lush palms. This intimate, exclusive safari camp in Samburu National Reserve sits along the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River, allowing guests to be at one with nature. The tents are set on a raised wooden deck with a plunge pool, and all include electricity as well as bathrooms with showers. The camp also happens to be visited regularly by elephants and other wildlife that enjoy lying under the shade of the trees. An open-front lounge tent with cozy armchairs and sofas are ideal for relaxing and taking in the view, as are the hammocks hung between the trees on the riverbank. The camp also has regular visits to a local village where guests can learn more about Samburu culture and witness a little of Samburu life.

Shindzela Bush Camp - Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, South Africa Shindzela Bush Camp
Credit: Shindzela Bush Camp by shindzela.co.za

Shindzela Bush Camp - Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, South Africa

This camp is made up of simple and luxury tents. As they overlook the riverbed that frequently hosts elephants, buffalo herds and other wildlife, you’ll get a front-row seat of all the action too. The unfenced camp is open to all sorts of wild creatures big and small, including the animal it was named after – Shindzela means honey badger in the African Shangaan language. The camp offers game drives as well as walking safaris, with an emphasis on understanding the wild environment and viewing animals in their natural surroundings. Excursions take place in the early mornings and late afternoons, allowing guests to enjoy time for relaxing in the camp in between activities.

Black Rhino Game Lodge - Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa Black Rhino Game Lodge - Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa
Credit: Black Rhino Game Lodge - Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa by blackrhinogamelodge.com

Black Rhino Game Lodge - Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa

Head to the Black Rhino Game Lodge in Pilanesberg National Park and you can stay in one of the detached suites that overlook a popular, busy waterhole frequented by buffalo and elephants. It includes three outstanding meals and two game drives each day. All suites are air-conditioned and include TVs, mini-bars, large bathrooms and an outdoor shower. The private game viewing decks are perfect for taking in the scene and the tranquility as well as for bird watching. There are guided Big 5 game walks as well as open vehicle 4×4 game drives, along with a restaurant, bar, and three plunge pools.

Sausage Tree Tented Safari Camp - Balule Private Game Reserve Sausage Tree Tented Safari Camp
Credit: Sausage Tree Tented Safari Camp by sausagetree.co.za

Sausage Tree Tented Safari Camp - Balule Private Game Reserve

Located south of the Olifants River in Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger, this tented camp is an ideal blend of personal, professional, comfortable and rustic. While rates are a bit steeper than some of the others, those rates do include all meals, en-suite safari tented accommodation and two game drives per day where you’ll have the chance to view buffalos, elephants, and lions. The spacious tents are set on thatched platforms and include air conditioning. From the open-air dining deck, you can enjoy lunch while watching a wildebeest or an entire herd of impala take a drink from the watering hole. If you want to enjoy a relaxing swim, a low bar opens from the lounge onto the pool.

Kwa Maritane - Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge
Credit: Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge by Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge

Kwa Maritane - Pilanesberg Game Reserve, South Africa

Kwa Maritane is located within the Pilanesberg Game Reserve, the fourth largest reserve in South Africa. Located on the slopes of an ancient volcano, deep within Pilanesberg National Park, it makes an ideal base for exploring Africa’s Big Five, more than 360 bird species and the rich diversity of its indigenous fauna. Adults can enjoy stargazing and guided bush walks or bird walks while younger family members take part in the Junior Ranger programs. Rooms offer modern amenities and the property also features a trampoline, tennis courts, two swimming pools, a children’s pool with a slide and a playground. There’s also a game-viewing hide, connected to the lodge by a tunnel, where you can relax and watch the animals drink at the waterhole.

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