How to Travel In Africa on a Tight Budget

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16 Money Saving Tips That Will Help You Save on Trip to Africa

One would imagine that travelling to Africa is cheap, but in fact, it can be vice versa. Safaris, gorilla trekkings, beach holidays, mountain hiking, petrol, “Western-style” restaurants etc. can be pretty expensive in Africa. But, there is always a possibility of backpacking or traveling on a tight budget. So, read following 16 tips for a super budget travel to Africa, pack your stuff and go!

budget tips africa

1.Find Cheap Plane Ticket!

 Start to look for cheap  plane tickets to Africa early enough, check for prices every day in order not to miss any cheap deals. Also, return ticket is usually cheaper than two times one way. Try flight search engines like momondo.com, expedia.com, skyscanner.com, edreams.com  etc.

2. Be Flexible With Departure and Arrival

While looking for plane tickets to Africa, keep in mind you should be flexible with your departure and arrival. Also, be flexible with the destination. Currently, flights to East African countries are in most cases cheaper than to other destinations in Africa.

3. Avoid High Season in Africa

Avoid peak season (New Year, July, August,), as at that time accommodation, safaris and other activities and offers are more expensive. Besides, you will miss nothing but tourist crowds!

4. Apply for Visa Online or on Arrival

We know it is not always possible to get visa on arrival, but some African countries have this option.  Tanzania, Uganda,Botswana, Egypt for example will issue without problems visa at the airport. Rwanda, Kenya have online system where you simply apply online.  Sending passport to the nearest  embassy and back can mean additional and sometimes unneeded costs for you.

5. Use Public Transport Whenever Possible

At the airport, try to find out if there is public transport running to the city center. When you are about to leave airport, taxi drivers will offer you a ride to city center. Prices can be abnormally expensive, so enquire about the possibility of using public bus. And, if you want it even cheaper, take slower transportation like trains or ferries. I know it sounds strange since in Africa most of the transportation is a priori slow, but some buses are actually even slower than the slow ones.

save on africa trip tips transport

6. Buy Local Sim Card

Avoid paying huge roaming rates  for calling your relatives back home. As well local sim cards are very useful while travelling to call your favourite taxi driver or to use local 3g internet. Just make sure your phone is unlocked, otherwise you will have to invest also in new cell phone.

7. Avoid ATMs

Try not to use ATMs very often, since you might be charged for a high  bank commission during every cash withdrawal.

 

8. Eat Street Food  and Buy Food at Markets

What is better than trying local food when travelling so far? Especially if this is the cheapest food that you can find around!

Buy food in markets africa saving tips

Avoid supermarkets, »Western style« hotels, restaurants, and bars etc. Do not look for comfort and prestige that you can find at home – it will cost you a lot of money in Africa. And especially, avoid buying imported stuff.

budget tips africa travel eat on local markets

9. Avoid Fancy Beaches and Resorts

Dont be a lonely planet sheep! There are always good alternatives, sometimes even better version of paradise beach than those few in guide books. Fancy beaches and resorts are usually crowded with tourists and overpriced. Make some research, talk to locals or check forums online.

local beach zanzibar

10. Skip  African Safaris

 Or make some compromises. Go on safari in Uganda instead, not in Tanzania, where safaris are probably the most expensive in Africa. Also gorilla trekking prices vary between countries, the cheapest gorilla trekking right now is in DR Congo costing only 400 USD, while the most expensive gorilla treks are in Rwanda 700 USD.

11. Bring Cosmetics

and more »fancy« stuff with you, namely cosmetic products are considered as a prestige in Africa and therefore quite expensive, much more than in Europe!

12. Buy Mosquito Net and  Insect Repellent in Africa

Depending on the African country,  mosquito repellants can be up to  five times cheaper. If you decide to take antimalarials, sometimes there is a possibility to find them cheaper in Africa as well.

13. Mingle With Locals

Be sociable person and make new contacts. Meet locals, talk to them, and let yourself be invited to their places to have a meal with them or even spend the night at locals’ places. You can also find them through Couchsurfing.

Couchsurfing in Africa

Having a local acquaintance is also good to check on local prices, so the chance of being ripped off will be smaller.

Stay with locals budegt tips africa

14. Buy Souvenirs in Smaller Cities or Towns

We found out shopping in Africa is more cost effective in smaller towns and cities!  If you have a local friend, even better, ask them to  buy souvenirs for you – he will get local and not tourist price.

15. Travel With a Partner

Single travel in Africa is quite expensive. In some African countries single room can cost the same price as double room. Travelling in pair can prolong your trip for 50 percent.

16. Be Careful With Touts

While wandering the streets of Africa, you will quite often come across touts! Either they will want to sell you something or will start a small talk and will insist to help you with showing the city, carry your bag on bus stations etc. If you meet a guy, who wants to become your friend, make sure he doesn’t want to, for example, give you a tour around the city, which can not really be for free. Let them know in advance you are not paying for something you didn’t ask for!

17. Use Online Freebies with Bookings Online

When travelling on a budget every penny counts, right? Here is 15 EUR you can spend on booking.com with your next booking! For newbies to Airbnb, register your account and get 30 EUR free credit to spend on first booking. You are welcome:)

 

 

About the Author:

Katja, cultural anthropologist, has been intensely travelling for last 8 years and visited over 40 countries so far. She is deeply in love with everything related to Africa. She traveled across Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, The Gambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya mostly alone, did overland from Slovenia through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania to Senegal as well as she did long term anthropological fieldwork in Northern Ghana. She plans to be connected with her favourite continent in different ways and wishes to visit Mali, Niger, Cameroon, Madagascar and Ethiopia in future. All photos in this post by Katja Cof.

7 Comments

  1. David Resetar 02/18/2016 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Come to Ethiopia!

    • Admin 02/18/2016 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      Hi David, indeed We plan to come, this fall!

  2. Peter 06/19/2016 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Gorilla tracking is even cheaper in Central African Republic (Dzanga-Sangha National Park), for around 300€. Moreover within the next 2 years it should be possible in Lobeke National Park in Cameroon. Please note that the gorillas there are not mountain but lowland gorillas which are unsignificantly smaller.

  3. Christina S 10/28/2017 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    I never thought of a trip to African as something that’s budget friendly, but these are great tips!

  4. Lola 11/09/2017 at 6:43 am - Reply

    This helps me a lot thank u!!! I just have one question how much money will it cost me to stay in South Africa for 1 month (for rent/food/traveling) I’m not going on safaris or anything just going to visit a friend, so I’m curious how much I’ll need to save….

    • Safari Junkie 11/09/2017 at 11:28 am - Reply

      Hi Lola!Thanks for stopping by on my blog! You have really specific questions. It all depends on you your lifestyle, travel style. If you are staying for a month, and will not be hosted by your friend I recommend to look into apartment rentals in Cape Town instead of hotels,hostels, regarding the food and daily cost, you can cook at home or you eat out, all depends on personal choices. Public transport in South Africa is not expensive though.

  5. Graham Askey 01/16/2018 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    If you’re going to mention seeing gorillas in the Congo it’s probably best to mention that it’s in one of the most volatile and brutal parts of the world where both armed groups and the DRC military commit appalling acts of violence on a daily basis. Dozens of park rangers have been killed in recent years and wildlife, including gorillas have been killed just for food. There may well be periods of stability in the park but travel in the region can be extremely dangerous. Up to date info is a bare necessity before going.

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