Ever wondered how much an African hunting safari costs? The answer might pleasantly surprise you.
There are countless hunters in the United States that dream of hunting Africa, but many of them incorrectly believe they cannot afford such a hunt due to misconceptions about the cost of an African hunting safari. Contrary to what you might think, you don't have to be wealthy to enjoy a hunt in Africa.
In fact, even when you consider the cost of air fare, you can book an all-inclusive hunt for several species of plains game for about the same total cost as a guided elk hunt in most states. Now that's not exactly chump change, but the good news is that you clearly don't have to be a millionaire to afford such a hunt.
Now there's not a darn thing wrong with hunting elk. However, Africa is a completely different experience.
The continent is gigantic and diverse: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are all very different countries with different climates, flora, and fauna. Not surprisingly, the hunting experiences and opportunities in each country are as varied as the continent itself.
That said, the sheer amount and variety of game animals you'll encounter on many African hunting safaris (if you're hunting with a good outfitter in a well-managed area) is truly mind boggling and there really is no other place in the world that can compare. For this reason, you'll likely have the opportunity to take multiple species of antelope on typical plains game hunt.
So, it's easy to see that an African hunting safari may well be one of the best hunting bargains out there.
Cost of an African Hunting Safari
Some hunts in Africa cost more than others.
For the most part, the most reasonably priced African hunts are for non-exotic species of plains game (impala, gazelle, wildebeest, kudu, warthog, zebra, eland, etc.). Hunts for dangerous game like buffalo and leopard cost more than plains game, but still probably not as much as you would think. On the other hand, lion, elephant, and the more rare and exotic species of antelope in Africa, like bongo and sitatunga, are considerably more expensive.
So how much does it all cost?
The exact details vary depending on the country and exact species you hunt (South African hunts tend to be less expensive than hunts in Tanzania for instance), but prices are usually pretty straightforward regardless of where you go. The total price of most African hunting packages consists primarily of two things: daily rates and trophy fees.
Daily rates cover things like food, lodging, the services of a guide and trackers, etc. Daily rates on a plains game hunt typically cost several hundred dollars per day and go up from there on dangerous game or Big 5 hunts. Most outfitters also usually offer a cheaper 2x1 (2 hunters with 1 guide) daily rate or a non-hunter daily rate, which is a great way to save a little bit of money while enjoying your hunt with a friend or family member. Either way, simply multiply the daily rate by the number of days in your hunt for the total daily rates.
A trophy fee is the price you'll pay for each individual animal taken on the hunt. Just like with the daily rates, trophy fees vary between various countries and outfitters. However, fees range for plentiful species like blesbok, springbok, warthog, and impala are normally a couple hundred dollars.
Larger antelope like blue and black wildebeest, zebra, red hartebeest, and gemsbok normally run around $1,000. Really large and desirable antelope like kudu, eland, and sable often cost more.
The good news is that you usually only pay for animals actually taken or wounded.
With all this in mind, a 5-10 day African hunting safari package for several of the most popular species of antelope, like kudu, wildebeest, zebra, impala, and warthog, normally costs between $3,000 and $7,000 depending on the country, outfitter, and the specific animals hunted.
As stated earlier, this compares pretty favorably to a lot of guided deer and elk hunts!
It's more expensive if you want to hunt Big Five species like cape buffalo and leopard. However, you can still enjoy a great all-inclusive cape buffalo hunting safari for around $13,000 these days. This is comparable to what you'd pay for a moose hunt in Alaska.
Be Cautious Of Cheap Outfitters
Yes, it's true that an African hunting safari probably one of the best hunting bargains left out there, but you still need to be really cautious about booking hunts that appear too good to be true.
A red flag should go up if you discover an outfitter that's offering hunts well below market rates.
The vast majority of outfitters in Africa are honest and ethical, but as with most things, there are a few bad apples among African hunting outfitters and you don't have to look too hard to find horror stories about hunts gone wrong over there.
A large portion of those stories involve hunters who booked with the cheapest place they could find and got what they paid for.
Discount prices often involve discount hunts.
Don't let that happen to you. Instead of looking just at the price of the hunt, dig a little deeper into the differences between various outfits over in Africa.
For more information on how to pick the right African outfitter that will deliver the perfect experience for you, read this article.
Extra Costs on an African Hunting Safari
Daily rates and trophy fees cover the vast majority of the costs associated with an African hunting safari. Every outfitter is a little different though and there are always some extra costs that you'll need to budget for.
For instance, airport pick-up and drop-off, rifle rental, Value Added Tax (VAT), and the shipment of your trophies to a taxidermist are services that some (but not all) outfitters include in their prices. Some hunts in the more remote parts of Africa may also require a charter plane to reach camp.
So, make sure you find out the details before your hunt and budget accordingly.
Airline tickets, gratuities, taxidermy, and the shipment of your trophies home are the big additional costs you'll virtually always have to pay if you go on an African hunting safari.
Depending on the time of year and country you're hunting, round trip economy class airline tickets to Africa generally run between $1,000 and $2,000. South Africa is usually the fastest and least expensive destination on the continent to reach from the United States, so you can often find plane tickets to Johannesburg on the lower end of the scale.
You've got two options with taxidermy: do it in Africa or ship the unfinished hides, skulls, and horns to a taxidermist in the United States. Labor is cheaper in Africa, so taxidermy prices are typically correspondingly lower. However, it costs more to ship finished trophies home.
All things considered, it is usually a little less expensive to do taxidermy in Africa, even taking into account the increased shipping charges for finished trophies. Either way, plan on $1,000-2,000 in shipping costs.
It is also customary to tip your Professional Hunter (guide) and the camp staff (tracker, cook, skinner, etc.) at the end of the hunt. Gratuities are voluntary, but they should reflect the level of service that you received during the entire safari, so only very poor effort and attitude from the PH and staff would warrant no tip at all.
For most African hunting safaris, it's standard to give a tip of several hundred dollars for all the camp staff plus a tip of about a 5% of the total hunt cost for the PH.
Booking Your First Hunt
As you can see, an African hunting safari costs much less than you probably thought, especially when hunting some of the more common plains game species. All things considered, few other hunting opportunities provide such an incredible outdoor adventure at such a reasonable price as a hunt in Africa.
Are you interested in a hunt in Africa?
While there's nothing wrong with pursuing dangerous game like cape buffalo on that first trip, most people normally go to southern Africa to hunt plains game for their first African hunting safari. In particular, Namibia and South Africa are both great destinations.
The governments of both countries fully understand the benefits of hunting and have embraced trophy hunting as an important aspect of their efforts to conserve native wildlife. For this reason, Namibia and South Africa both have numerous hunting areas inhabited by large populations of the most popular species of plains game.
Not surprisingly, the cost of plains game hunting in general is very reasonable in both countries and you'll very likely have a very memorable hunting trip in either place.
So don't delay; the African hunting safari of a lifetime awaits you!