How to Safari on a Budget in Kenya
Your dreams of going on a Kenyan safari don’t have to be slashed simply because you’re on a budget. If Kenya is somewhere on your bucket list, vision board or ‘places to visit’ list on Pinterest board, keep reading. From visiting the Maasai Mara to camping trips, game drives, hiking trails, and picturesque places, there are many things that make magical Kenya thoroughly worthwhile. ‘Affordable’ is a relative term but we’ve rounded up activities and tips on how you can soak it all in as inexpensively as possible.
Budget for food
A traveler’s budget usually consists of three main costs: transport, accommodation, and food. If you are visiting from another country, chances are you have used a significant chunk of your money on airfare, and you will need to budget for accommodation and food. When it comes to food, there are many cheap eats in Kenya. Eatout Kenya has a very comprehensive guide on places to eat and how much you will have to pay. Locals on a budget can make snacks at home and carry them for their trips, and visitors can buy snacks and drinks from the supermarkets.
Budget for accommodation
When you are planning on where to stay, make sure you do your research. Avoid the big hotels and lodges, which will often charge exorbitant prices for accommodation. With a bit of digging, you are sure to find some fantastic and affordable stays. Couchsurf or use Airbnb if you need be. Better yet, if you have friends or other connections, you can stay with them during your visit.
Read local travel blogs and listings
There are many amazing travel blogs in Kenya that are often unbiased, and they have imagery so you can have a visual of the places you want to visit. The best part is that they offer insider tips on undiscovered places and affordable tour guides to use. Once you narrow down on an establishment, you can look it up on TripAdvisor to get reviews. Check out this list for some great travel blogs.
Know when to travel, and book in advance
In Kenya, there are peak seasons and off-peak seasons. The high season is July to November, and December to January, while low season is March to May. On off-peak seasons, the prices for accommodation may drop by up to 25% and sometimes more. Travel in the ‘shoulder season’ (between on- and off-peak) and you can save more. Plus you can enjoy exploring when less people are travelling. Another trick is to book in advance, as prices are always lower before the peak season approaches. Keep an eye on brand pages for deals and promotions.
Some places worth checking out
Ngare Ndare Forest
On the foothills of Mount Kenya, the indigenous forest of Ngare Ndare has quickly risen to become a favorite among many travelers. There is something magical about hiking through a rainforest with the sounds of birds and animals around you – the rush is palpable. You can camp, go for the canopy walk, hike, and swim. The entry charge is about US$30 per person.
Ngare Ndare Forest Trust, Meru, Kenya, +254 722 886 456
Sagana River rafting
The Sagana River is an incredible place to go kayaking and rafting. It is also breathtakingly beautiful, and other activities include rock climbing, team building activities, and river trekking. You can find different deals on their website, like camping and rafting for upwards of US$70 per person.
Sagana Rapids Camp, Sagana, Kenya, +254 722 308 026
Camp in the wild
Camping is a must-do activity when visiting Kenya. There are numerous camping sites, each offering a unique experience, and you are sure to find something within your budget, sometimes as little as US$55 for everything. The Kenyan Camper is a very comprehensive blog with information on where to camp in Kenya.
One of the last remaining northern white rhino
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a budget-friendly place to visit when you are in Nanyuki, Kenya. There you can visit Sudan, the only male northern white rhino in the world. You can also see other animals on the game drive. Entry fees are US$21 for residents and US$85 for non-residents, with an additional charge of about US$40 to see Sudan. There are many places to stay and activities available in the area, including Sweetwaters Serena Camp, and Pelican House.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Nanyuki, Kenya, + 254 707 187 141