Why is a safari in Tanzania so expensive?
Have you ever wondered why a safari in Tanzania is so expensive, even though the cost of living is relatively low? Where does all that money go to? Who benefits from it? Are you doubting if Tanzania is worth the visit? You've come to the right place to get answers.
Tanzania's park fees are the highest there are in the safari-world, however this has important implications & reasons.
Tourism is a big source of income for Tanzania, yet a big part of the park fees go towards wildlife conservation. Tanzania's national parks are the most renowned amongst safari destinations, named UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Natural Wonder of the World. High park fees help to prevent the parks from being overcrowded, harming both flora and fauna.
Here are some example fees (2021):
Serengeti Park Fee: 70 USD per person per 24 hours (excl. 18% VAT)
Ngorongoro Crater Service: 300 USD per vehicle
Camping Fee: 30 USD per person to overnight in one of the national parks
Full Park Fees can be found here on the website of the Tanzanian government.
Building a hotel is a huge investment, so imagine building a hotel in a remote location with little access to water, electricity and food supplies. Accommodating your clients in a national park requires more money, so the prices are higher as well. Top notch resorts invested a lot to get the service and level of comfort they want to offer, yet you'll see it in the price.
You can choose different accommodation levels and pay a price according to your comfort
Camping: basic tents with mattresses and sleeping bags. Shared washroom and dining hall on the campground
Tented lodges: luxury fixed tents with actual beds and private washroom
Lodges: luxury hotels within the national parks
Besides the park fees per vehicle mentioned above, the cost of maintenance and gas is also high. It shouldn't be a surprise that driving on rough roads in untamed nature brings along very high garage costs. A safari vehicle is often checked on a daily basis.
The drive from Arusha to Serengeti National Park takes 6 hours. Those with little time often opt to fly there. These flights are private so quickly add on to the overall cost.
What about local wages?
The salary of your guide or driver will hardly make a dent in the price of your safari. Local tour operators often make less than the park fees, which is still good business according to the cost of living. If you book locally, you'll save a lot of money.