One of the most unique and exciting parts of our trip thus far has been the time we spent in South Africa on safari. When we tell people this, they often say it’s something they also want to do, but they wish it wasn’t so expensive. While this is certainly true – safaris are expensive – there are ways to get an unbelievable safari experience without breaking the bank.
The main difference between the luxury safaris and the budget safaris (besides the price tag) seems to be the accommodations. If you’re looking for a safari with a luxury glamping experience, five star restaurants, and amenities such as pools, spas, fitness centers, tennis courts, etc. then the budget safari is not the way to go. However, if your main objectives are getting a first-class game viewing experience and having some fun, there is no reason to spend a fortune on a safari adventure!
We chose to stay one night at Schotia Safaris Private Game Reserve and two nights at the neighboring Addo Elephant National Park. Here’s our exact itinerary with prices included:
Schotia Safaris 1 Night Tooth & Claw Safari Package – $475
- Arrive at Schotia at 2:45 PM – we left our bags with reception upon checking in and indulged in some coffee, tea, cookies, and biscuits while we waited for our guide to arrive.
- At 3PM we met our awesome guide, Charl, and hopped in the back of his Land Rover with two other couples to begin our first guided game drive.
- Around 5 PM we stopped at a lodge in the center of the game reserve for some biscuits, coffee, and tea and a chance to use the restroom.
- After about a 30 minute break, we continued on the game drive until 7 PM when we were taken to the main Lapa (tented dining area) for dinner, unlimited drinks, live music, and a great bonfire.
- After dinner we continued on a night drive where we were able to see some of the nocturnal animals, before being driven back to our accommodations a little after midnight.
- We were dropped off at the Springbuck lodge, a rondavel in the center of the game reserve. Our bags had been taken to the lodge already and there were complementary snacks and bottles of wine waiting for us in our beautiful, candle-lit room.
- Around 7 AM, we were picked up again by our guide and taken on a morning game drive.
- At 9 AM we headed back to the Lapa for a delicious, full English breakfast.
- After breakfast we were taken back to the reception area/parking lot and said goodbye to Schotia!
Addo Elephant National Park – $132/Night
Day Two (cont’d):
- From Schotia we drove about 40 minutes to the entrance of Addo Elephant National Park.
- We checked in and went to the booking office inside the park to set up a guided sunrise safari for the next morning. Here at Addo you can book all sorts of guided safari drives, horseback riding, guided hikes, bird watching excursions, and loads of other adventurous activities within the enormous national park. One of the most unique features of Addo is that they offer a self-drive experience, allowing guests and visitors to enter the park and drive through in their own vehicles, as long as they stay on the roads and do not exit their cars.
- We opted for a self drive through the park to fill our afternoon and were not disappointed! If you choose to follow this itinerary, or do something similar, we recommend going to Addo AFTER a safari at a private game reserve, so you’ll be able to identify more of the animals you see while driving around on your own. We definitely would not have been able to distinguish a kudu from an impala if we hadn’t had our amazing guide in Schotia teaching us the difference!
- After seeing tons of animals on our self-drive, we headed to dinner at Addo’s only restaurant, located near the main entrance of the park. It was overpriced and not that great, but we were there for the animals, not the dining experience!
- After dinner we sat on the front porch of our rondavel, which overlooked of the main watering holes, and watched the sunset while herds of elephants and buffalo stopped by for a drink.
- We woke up at the crack of dawn for our sunrise safari drive, and hopped into our car with about 20 other people. Even though this game drive wasn’t as intimate as our 6-person guided drives in Schotia, it was still an incredible experience. Only people staying overnight in the park get the opportunity to go on the sunrise drive, as the park does not open to the public until 7 AM.
- After our early-morning adventure we headed back to our rondavel for a much needed nap.
- Around noon we did another self-drive through a different area of the park than we drove through the previous day.
- For dinner we grabbed some ingredients from the market/gift shop near the main entrance of the park and cooked in the shared kitchen for all six rondavels on the camp grounds. The shop has some staple ingredients and each rondavel has its own station in the kitchen with a stove top and basic cooking equipment, so don’t expect to be cooking any fancy meals (me made pasta with veggies and meat sauce).
- We ate our dinner on our front porch and once again watched the sunset while elephants drank from the watering hole just a few hundred feet away.
- We said goodbye to Addo and headed back toward Cape Town!
Overall, four days and three nights of safari cost us just over $1000, and we were able to see more animals than we ever imagined, including the first four of the “big five game”: lion, rhino, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard.
- Rental Car: $80
- $20/day for an automatic car
- Gas: $1/liter
- Schotia Stay: $475
- Two person Tooth & Claw Package with Overnight Stay in the Springbuck Lodge
- Included snacks, coffee/tea, dinner, drinks, and breakfast
- Addo Stay: $451
- Two night stay in a Rondavel – $264
- Addo park entrance fee – $88 ($22/person/day)
- Two hour guided sunrise game drive – $58 ($29/person)
- Dinner at Addo Restaurant – $36
- Cooking ingredients from Addo Market/Gift Shop – $5
Price ranges listed below are due to the different lodges you can choose from.
- One Night Addo/Schotia Full Day Safari: $277 to $317/person
- Tooth & Claw Safari + a guided trip to Addo Elephant Park
- One Night Sea/Schotia Full Day Safari: $356 to $396/person
- Tooth & Claw Safari + a Sea Safari in a nearby marina
- Two Night Addo/Schotia Safari: $396 to $475/person
- Two Night Sea/Schotia Safari: $515 to $554/person
- Two Night Addo/Sea/Schotia Safari: $594 to $634/person
- Morning, Midday, or Afternoon Guided Drive: $29/person
- Sundown Guided Drive: $40/person
- Includes drinks and snacks
- Night Guided Drive: $31/person
- Hop-On Guide: $17 for two hours
- Local guides with game-viewing knowledge will drive you around through the park in your own vehicle