Money Matters: How to Budget for Your Trip to Africa [FAQs]
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You’ve booked your flight, decided on the length of your trip and even planned your outfits for the duration of your holiday. Now, all that’s left to do is to think about the one aspect that stumps even the most thorough planner among us: money.
How much does it cost to take a trip to Africa? This golden question may seem quite perplexing as the cost of travels may differ from one end to another. Traveling to Botswana, for example, may prove to cost more than a trip to Tanzania. To ease your travel planning, we’ve answered a series of commonly asked questions to do with money that will help you budget for your upcoming African adventure!
Do I Need A Visa for Africa?
Depending on where you go in Africa, you may need to obtain visas beforehand. It is paramount that you check prior to booking your flights to find out whether or not you require a visa to enter. Some countries like South Africa, Botswana and Rwanda don’t require a visa from US passport holders. However, most African nations enforce visa requirements that are usually priced between USD 50 to 200.
Some visas can be obtained upon arrival to the respective countries, but there are cases where you may need to apply for a visa beforehand. A visa to Angola, for example, needs to be applied at least 2 weeks beforehand and requires a lot of paperwork, which may delay the application process.
Here is a breakdown of prices of visas for popular countries in Africa*:
- Uganda – US$100 for a single entry visa (3 months)
- Kenya – US$50 for a single entry visa (3 months)
- Tanzania – US$100 for a multiple entry visa (12 months)
- Zimbabwe – US$30 for a single entry visa
- Angola – from US$60 for a single entry visa
If you are planning for a multi-country visit in Africa, you can also opt to obtain the East Africa Tourist visa for US$100. This visa will grant you entry to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for 90 days.
*This information is true up until the time of this article’s publication. For more accurate information, please consult the countries’ embassies.
What Will I Do in Africa?
The most common attraction that leads people to travel to Africa is African safaris. Countries like Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania are well known for its numerous safari vacations.
It is a common misconception that all safari tours are expensive. While they may be pricier than other activities in Africa, there are varying safari options – ranging from very affordable to luxuriously pricey. Budget safaris in Kenya can range from US$47 to US$280 per night, while Kenyan luxury safaris can go as high as US$1264 per night.
Prices of safaris also differ from country to country, with the Maasai Mara National Park in Kenya known to be the most affordable option. Botswana, on the other hand, is known for its luxury safaris that come with a hefty price tag – going as high as US$2400 per night.
For a cheaper option as well as a more unique safari experience, try walking safaris! The exclusion of a vehicle – and its use of fuel – slash down the price of the safari significantly. Walking safaris may be more tiring than classic safaris, but the experience of walking alongside wildlife at your own pace is certainly priceless!
How Will I Get Around?
The lands of Africa are vast and widespread, with towns often being miles away from each other. A concern that many may have about traveling in Africa is transportation and how much it will cost to get around.
There are plenty of transportation options in Africa, depending on your sense of adventure. For those traveling in South Africa, there is the option of Baz Bus – a hop on hop off bus that makes a stop in over 40 towns in South Africa between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Prices range between US$175 to US$500.
For the more adventurous, there is the option of traveling on public buses or minivans. Both types of travel, while less comfortable in comparison to a comfortable bus equipped with air-conditioning, offer an opportunity to experience life as a local and to connect with everyday Africans. Minivans are the cheapest option of all, priced between US$0.20 to US$8, while buses cost between US$3 – US$32.
If you are feeling really adventurous, why not hire a car and drive yourself around Africa? Car rentals range from US$30 to US$100 a day, depending on the type of vehicle you hire. Bear in mind that some African countries have more gravel roads than paved ones, making it necessary to hire a 4WD, which will cost more than a sedan car.
What Currency Should I Bring?
The US Dollar and the European Euro are by far the most common and accessible currencies in Africa. Where possible, it is highly recommended that you split your cash between the local currency and either the US$ or the Euro. Many countries in the continent charge airport fees in US dollars while some national parks accept only US dollars, so having some readily available will come in handy.
In Africa, you will find many individuals on the street offering money-changing services. While it is understandably tempting to use these services to avoid service fees, do take caution, as this is an illegal practice. The last thing you’d want to happen on your African trip is to end up in jail. Always have your ATM/Debit card with you in case you run low on cash.
Do I Need to Tip?
While tipping is not compulsory in Africa, it is generally a great practice to have since many locals earn below the minimum wage. For safari guides and drivers, the tips that they receive typically make up a large percentage of their salary. Always carry small change for tipping purposes and tip either in the local currency or in US Dollars.
For meals and drinks in Africa, tipping between 10 – 15% of your bill is generally acceptable. When tipping safari guides and trackers, it is worth noting that most lodges have a communal tipping box where the contents of the box will be shared evenly among the staff. Where this is not present, feel free to tip the guides directly. Guides are roughly given tips between US$ 8 and US$20, but it is ultimately your call on how much to give.
Want a safari that has all the trimmings but at a cheaper cost? Go on a safari in Etosha National Park, Namibia!