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Why a Safari outside of South Africa cost so much.

Why a Safari outside of South Africa cost so much.


Caprivi Elephant

For many people who have got their feet wet in South Africa and look to venture outside of the countries of South Africa and or Namibia to sticker price of these “Wild Africa” hunts seems to shock them and they quickly wonder why and start to complain saying its to expensive and don’t understand why and think the outfitters are just getting super rich off of them. I’ve traveled to and have hunted four other countries outside of South Africa and Namibia. Including Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Zambia. Some of my best friends own and operate these hunting companies in these countries and in talking with them I wanted to be able to share the WHY for you all to understand how the prices start to change drastically once you get out of South Africa.

I do want to start this article off by emphasizing that even going to places like Tanzanian, Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Chad have a lower cost point than trying to hunt your four north American wild sheep on average and pursuing your north American 29.

Mountain Nyala shot setup

Area cost: The big difference between hunting South Africa and lets use Tanzania for our example, Tanzania has very little private land and the big hunting areas are all on government owned land where the outfitter goes to auction when the areas are on tender and can bid them out for the allotted time frame typically 5-10 years where than the outfitter will have to pay x amount per year just to hunt the area. Some of these areas are coming at the cost of a few million dollars with payments each year being north of a quarter million to the outfitter. Now in South Africa and Namibia there are some areas like this, but they are very few and far between and typically don’t come at the same price point with most South Africa hunts taking place on privately owned ranches. The outfitter could own his or her own property or he or she could just lease an area for the season or even rent an area out for a safari. These options take the cost down considerable for an outfitter to where he or she is only paying X per day or X per animals. As you can see this takes the overhead cost down drastically for the outfitters in South African to where they don’t have to charge as much to even make up for what they are paying out.  


Quota: For the outfitter that owns his own property let’s say he has 30 cape buffalo bulls on his property, he can shoot all 30 of the bulls but then he could call around to his friends and ask hey can I come shoot a bull at your place? So, he is not limited to just the 30 bulls on his property and is typically not charged for the other bulls hunted unless wounded or taken off the neighboring properties. Whereas in countries like Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe they work on a quota system and the outfitter might be allotted 10 buffalo for that season in a given area he cannot go over the 10 buffalo and if he does that can come with serious consequences in fines and even termination of license. With the quota system the outfitter is typically paying for the quota a head of the season so he or she wants to sell each buffalo prior to the season to their own clients so sharing quota is not a common thing within these other countries. Buy paying for these quotas prior to each season an outfitter can’t afford to not take their quota during that year so its very crucial to have the quota for most of the key species sold prior to the hunting season starting.


Cape Buffalo

Speaking of quota some countries such as Ethiopia require you to pay all trophies prior to the safari this is not the outfitter this is the country’s mandator setup. This makes the deposit or the up-front hunt cost much more than your typical South Africa hunt.

These hunts require a lot more government fee because they are done on a leased area and typically not private owned like the areas within South Africa and Namibia are.


Maintenance cost: Besides the two big price points on area cost and quota cost there is substantially higher cost in maintain a “wild Africa” safari camp than there is one in South Africa. For instance most in Tanzania and in many other countries permanent camps are impossible to have in some areas, the terms of the hunting contract might prohibit them but also it could be logistically impossible for an outfitter to keep a camp going during the off season this requires the camp to be disassembled and reassembled each and every year this in its self takes a full team especially when it comes time to re-open the safari area after the rainy season. Some of these areas are hundreds if not thousands of miles out in the middle of nowhere requiring many days driving into them re opening roads, and airstrips to begin the process of building camp back up for the following season. Typically, these outfitters will have teams of guys to just open roads and burn areas to just get the area back in working order while another team is busy building camp. While your typical safari operation in South Africa done on private property has a nice permeant camp that has upkeep year-round as either the Outfitter or Ph will live on the property or close by and so will most of the staff.


Staffing: For these remote camps the staffing will be much larger as mentioned above you will have teams throughout the year to just maintain and build roads this ranges from 3-6 guys per crew some camps have multiple crews. Then you will have your camp staff, that ranges between 15-25 people per camp to keep things in working order from mechanic’s to cooking staff, to cleaning staff, then on to your trackers and skinners. For these remote areas typically its more of a personal experience and you will just have one hunter in camp or one group in camp hunting at a time and will just have one PH but depending on the size of group and the species on the list you might have upwards of 3 PH’s in camp but this is rare.

For your typical South Africa hunt your staff will be much smaller. You will have between the trackers, skinners, mechanics, and accommodation staff as in cleaning staff, and cooking staff 9-15 people that work for the outfitter with many operations having as few as 3-5 full time employees.


Baiting for leopard

Other cost: other cost can be broken down into extensive list for both hunting camps but for general purposes I will keep them lumped up to save you the time in reading every little nut and bolt detail.

Other cost that a “Wild Africa” operator will incur will be the cost of Anti-poaching teams. Now good operators will have year around anti-poaching teams in place, in areas that allow so these teams can range in size from 5-10 people and can be split up into smaller satellite teams. The cost will be salary’s, transportation, food, and necessary gear for these teams to be living out in the bush patrolling the perimeter of the areas.

 Transportation cost as far as charters and trucking of food, water, fuel, etc. into these remote camps.

Yearly cost for government fees for licensing and so forth

Extra parts and equipment in camp or on hand for when something breaks such as truck parts that you can’t just take to a shop nearby.

Maintenance on vehicles and camp gear at the end and before start of each season


With all this being said the cost to operate a successful safari operation is far different in Tanzania than it is in South Africa the amount of overhead and paid-up front fee’s that an outfitter has is extremely different, this making prices for us hunters much different between your average plains game safari in South Africa and a specialized Safari for Masialand species in Tanzania much different. Just like any business in life they are there to make money. You don’t own your own company or go to your job for free you want to get paid and make a dollar no different when it comes to these hunts, these outfitters have employees that rely on them and families to provide for. It’s also like comparing apples to oranges these hunts are completely different experiences and as such cost different prices its no different than clothing, cars, and houses when demand is high and supply low the cost is always higher. It’s not taking anything away from the south African experience at all, but they are two different hunts and the availability of these more “wild Africa” safaris and the game species found there is much different. I will visit South Africa many more times in my life and will try to make a safari happen there each year along with working hard to get the means to travel and explore these far-off countries and hunt the incredible species they have.


I hope this explains is why you see the cost of Safaris being much more expensive when you get out side of the private game farms in South Africa and Namibia.




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