The mention of an African safari to most people immediately conjures up romantic images of admiring exotic animals in a stunning landscape while sipping cocktails on the deck of a luxury lodge.
Unfortunately, it also probably brings to mind the image of parting with huge amounts of money in order to have the experience – money that makes it an unrealistic dream for many.
While the romantic images of safaris can be largely accurate, the part about them being expensive and unattainable for most people is not true at all.
By far the most visited parks are located in the southern and central regions of the continent, and while these are undoubtedly some of the largest and most developed parks, they are also extremely expensive on the whole.
What is so often overlooked is the fact that safari parks operate all over Africa, with many of the less-marketed examples being many times more affordable than the big blockbuster parks found in countries like South Africa and Kenya. Luckily for you, they are often just as impressive and far less crowded.
Choose well and a cheap safari can be equally as profound an experience as any of the big famous parks that can cost thousands for a short stay.
Besides looking for a cheap park in a safe African country, there are a few things you can do to help keep costs down. Opting for self-driving is one of the best, as you only have to cover car rental and park entry fees. You can also visit outside of high season for lower prices, choose camping instead of luxury rooms, and limit your safari to 1 day rather than multiple days.
If you have always wanted to go on safari, but didn’t think you could afford it, then this article is for you. Here are 5 of the best lesser-known destinations if you are looking for an affordable safari in Africa.
Mole national park is the biggest nature reserve in the beautiful West African country of Ghana, at almost 5,0000km2. Ghana is famous for its coastline, but Mole is located far inland, close to the borders of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.
The park itself is stunning, with a surprising amount of precipitation at certain times of the year making it a rich green paradise compared to many parts of the north of Ghana.
The park has been running since the 1950s, meaning it has had plenty of time to maintain and develop a large variety of animal and plant life that rivals that of many far more famous parks. There are elephants, hippos, antelopes, birds, and monkeys in abundance for visitors to admire. For visitors interested in getting more involved, Mole also offers the opportunity to volunteer in a national park in Ghana.
To top it all off, an adult ticket for Mole is incredibly cheap at about $10USD. Very affordable extras are also available, such as ranger-led walking tours and off-road driving tours.
Also in West Africa, a few hundred kilometers east of Mole in Benin, sits Pendjari national park. This park is situated almost on the Burkina Faso border surrounded by the glorious Atakora mountains and makes up 1 of a collection of 3 national parks called the WAP Complex, which falls across areas of Benin, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Pendjari covers a large area, at over 2,500km2. In the seemingly endless plains, you can find lions, monkeys, elephants, and a famous collection of exotic birds.
Again, one of the things that really sets Pendjari apart from other more popular parks is the cost. A visit to the park will set you back a fraction of the amount that the larger parks in, say, Kenya would, making it both an economical and fascinating experience, and allowing it to be in this list of destinations for an affordable safari in Africa.
Following the theme of affordable safari parks in West Africa, Fathala wildlife reserve in Senegal is well worth a mention here. The Gambia is just a stone’s throw away, meaning many people staying over the border come over to Fathala for a quick safari fix.
Anyone choosing this park will be pleasantly surprised by the low prices, and impressed by the vast array of animals that call the park home. Giraffes, lions, zebras, elephants, and more of the classic animals you’d expect to find on an African safari can be seen.
Réserve de Nazinga, Burkina Faso
Set in the southern countryside of Burkina Faso, just a few kilometers from the border to Ghana, is Réserve de Nazinga. This serene natural wonderland is full of opportunities to view many famous African animals. It is particularly well-known for its large population of elephants.
A lake provides a watering hole for much of the wildlife, and all manner of species can be viewed here. Crocodiles are a common sight, along with many varieties of birds, and much more.
Even if you aren’t staying in Burkina Faso, it’s worth making the trip over the border from a neighboring country to see what this reserve has to offer.
Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sierra Leone
This unique little wildlife sanctuary is situated in the compact West African country of Sierra Leone, on a river island in the Moa River. Probably the most compelling reason to visit this island, besides the accessible entry fees, is the high concentration of primate species that can be found there.
Chimpanzees can easily be seen here, as well as many other endangered and normally hard-to-find species. There are also a huge variety of interesting bird species, and many other amazing animals call the island home.
While you won’t see the classics like elephants and giraffes here, it makes a very interesting and unique stop on any trip to West Africa, and it is well worth making the effort to visit.