Now that you’re planning a trip to see lovely Botswana, famous for its carnival of animals that roam freely in its parks, it’s time to start thinking about your budget. When not prepared, you may end up shelling out more bucks than you’d care to. But that doesn’t have to happen if you follow some useful tips to keep your money in your wallet. Here are some of the best money-saving tips to use on your next trip to Botswana.
Skip the safari tours and opt to rent a car instead
You definitely don’t want to leave Botswana without seeing a lion or an elephant in the wild, but safari tours can be extremely costly, especially if you’re toting along the entire family. Some parks allow you to self-drive and enter the park in your own car. Be mindful that you won’t be going for a cruise on a paved road, you’ll need experience and a sturdy 4WD car to tackle hilly terrains as Botswana tends to be more rugged and has less roads than its neighboring countries. But if you’re used to driving Jeep Wranglers over rocks, you may want to try your hand at self-driving.
If staying in a hotel or a safari camp is too rich for your wallet, try camping. Many parks have a designated campsite or permit camping, giving you a more grand experience of getting in touch with nature. Camping equipment might be too much to pack with you, especially if you’re flying into Botswana, so you may want to rent tents or buy them locally at a good price. After all, who can come back home to brag about their camping experience in the wilds of Africa?
If you do have a budget for a safari camp, find the one with the most free amenities
For those who do have the luxury to stay overnight at a safari camp or a hotel, do your research and find out what free amenities it offers before making your reservation. Some hotels will charge extra for tours and the last thing you’d want to do is dip into your savings again. There are many hotels and safari camps that will throw in free boat rides, game drives, and guided hikes as part of its package. Take advantage of that.
Go grocery shopping
You don’t have to constantly dine out during your trip to Botswana. Consider grocery shopping before settling in your tent or hotel and organize a cook out for your family to enjoy the local flavors under the stars. This way, you can also try out some native fruit and vegetables of Botswana, as well as local meat. Also, buy lots of snacks to keep them stored in your room so you don’t constantly buy them from your hotel’s mini store that charges more than a local shop.
Book your reservation as soon as possible
We suggest booking your plane tickets, tours and hotels about a year in advance to take advantage of the lowest prices. Alternatively, you can find some VERY last minute (i.e. book then leave the same week deals), but most people can’t travel on a whim like that. However in general, the longer you wait as it gets closer to the time of your travel, the more expensive it’ll get. Not to mention, you’ll run out of options of cheaper hotels and tours that have been booked up by other tourists, leaving you no choice but to go with more expensive vendors and accommodations. Cheap traveling, especially in Africa, is a long-term plan.
Summer (in Africa) is the busy season for tourists, so it’s highly suggested to get more bang for your buck by holidaying in the winter instead. Keep in mind, Botswana doesn’t get very cold and animals do not go into hibernation mode in the winter like on other continents, so you won’t miss out on them on your safaris. Many hotels and tours lower their prices during off season to coax more tourists to make reservations. This will also give you more freedom to plan last-minute tours while there in case you and your friends want to do something like a cycling safari, since more places tend to have open spots in the winter.
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