• Evelyn Nakazi

10 Most Affordable East Africa Safari Adventures

The Most Affordable East Africa Safari Adventures

Affordable; (əˈfɔːdəbəl) inexpensive or reasonably priced. The adjective affordable is relative and can either mean “cheap,” or it can imply that even if it’s expensive, you have enough money to easily buy it. So let’s take a look at some the most reasonably priced East Africa safaris across Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania – the greatest safari destinations to watch wildlife at its best natural self.

  1. Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Jungle

  2. Experience The Flamingo’s Equatorial Pink at Kenya’s Lake Nakuru

  3. Dream of Africa, It’s Most Probably Masai Mara

  4. Explore Northern Kenya On A Budget Adventure

  5. 7 Days in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable & Tanzania’s Serengeti

  6. Take on Tanzania’s Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater

  7. Chimpanzee Tracking in The Primate Capital Kibale

  8. Watch The Thundering Murchison Falls & Take A Nile Cruise

  9. Take a Breath and Soak Your Feet on The Shores of Zanzibar.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Jungle

Mountain Gorillas and Masia Mara Migration Safari

mountain gorilla silverback with its family in Bwindi

The world’s attention to mountain gorillas started way back in 1967 with Diane Fossey’s research on the giant mountain apes and later became a phenomenon in 1979 when David Attenborough in association with Warner Bros and the BBC televised Life on Earth: A Natural History television series. Numbers of travelers flocked to the tiny East African corner to have a piece of David’s ‘Life on Earth’ experience with gorillas.

Today, with a dwindling number of about 1,000 mountain gorillas in the wild, the activity of gorilla tracking is considered a life fulfilling bucket list travel item and Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one to welcome you on your life fulfilling journey to see the mountain gorilla.

It’s painfully expensive to go on a gorilla safari due to the scarcity and the price of a gorilla permit (US$600, and increasing to US$700 in July 2020). But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the hike into the African jungle. 

For Later: Gorilla Trekking; Everything You Need to Know

Take a 3 Day Gorilla Tour that is most affordable. Travelers have many options to get into Bwindi; jet into Kigali, the neighboring Rwanda capital and drive 3 hours 45 minutes to Bwindi or drive 8 to 9 hours from Entebbe (near the Uganda capital Kampala) and enjoy the countryside breeze, ‘Switzerland of Africa’ branded views of western Uganda or enjoy the same views flying over from Entebbe to Kisoro and lastly, you can now take a small local flight from Kenya to Bwindi for just about US$350.

3 Day Gorilla Trekking Tour with Iconic Travels: From US$1,300 per person inclusive of gorilla permit or take a luxury gorilla trip and fly into Bwindi, stay in luxury tented camps for the US$2,734 3 Day Gorilla Safari.

Experience The Flamingo’s Equatorial Pink at Kenya’s Lake Nakuru

Experience The Flamingo’s Equatorial Pink at Kenya’s Lake Nakuru

Nakuri Falmingos

Lake Nakuru, Kenya—where the road from Nairobi descends a sharp escarpment into the Great Rift Valley, the visitor gets his first glimpse of Lake Nakuru—and sees what appear to be huge pink oil stains along the distant shoreline.

His next view comes as he nears the city of Nakuru, third largest in Kenya; the lake’s “pink oil slicks” then begin to look like acres of pink cotton. The truth dawns as the traveler approaches the water. The ear and the eye are assailed: by a strange, rhythmic muttering that sounds as though it has been amplified electronically; by a mass of quivering pink in the equatorial sun.

This brackish soda lake is home to well over a million pink flamingos, almost one‐fourth of all the flamingos on earth. They share the roughly 20 miles of shoreline with. 400 other species, including some 25,000 pelicans.

Take a 3 Day Lake Nakuru Safari with iconic for about US$250 per day per person. You’ll be picked from Nairobi and transported to stay at Lake Nakuru Spa Lodge.

Dream of Africa, It’s Most Probably Masai Mara

Dream of Africa, It’s Most Probably Masai Mara

Dream of Africa and you’re most probably dreaming of Masai Mara. This huge expanse of gently rolling grassland – specked with flat-topped acacia trees and trampled by massive herds of zebras and wildebeest – is the ultimate African cliché. But for once the reality lives up to the image and the Masai Mara, which comprises not just the famous reserve but also around a dozen community conservancies, several group ranches and numerous Maasai villages, is for many people not just the highlight of their Kenyan adventure but the very reason they came in the first place.

If you’re planning a Mara safari, consider transport,  accommodation and park fees, Masai Mara safaris can quickly add up to US $300 a day. Many of the budget options are very rough and ready, but such a safari sacrifices some comfort – getting there means up to six hours on the road from Nairobi in a safari-style van or truck as opposed to a 40-minute flight – but you still get nearly two full days in the reserve and the chance to see the “big five’ wildlife game including lions, elephants, cheetah, wildebeest, antelope and many other species. 

If you visit during the great wildebeest migration (approximately July – October) the Zebra, Wildebeest and Antelope herds cross from the Serengeti into the Mara triangle and make several high-risk river crossings. This is that moment you don’t want to miss when the predators like crocodile, lion, cheetah and hyena easily pick from the vulnerable herds.

There are splendid camps nearby that include meals in the price and don’t miss Kenya’s Tuskar beer for the evening campfire. Add on a night’s stay at a guesthouse in Nakuru town and a game drive in the beautiful Lake Nakuru national park, famous for its flamingos but where many other animals can be seen, for an extra $130.

6 Day Masai Mara Migration & Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda by Iconic Travels for US$7300 per person is ideal for savvy travellers. The trip includes the gorilla permit and air transfers between Kenya and Kigali in Rwanda.

Recommended for later: Four Memorable Experience to Have in East Africa

Explore Northern Kenya On A Budget Adventure

Explore Northern Kenya On A Budget Adventure

Adventure into Kenya’s safari dream with a 10 day Northern Kenya camping safari that explores Kenya’s impressive wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, including Africa’s second highest mountain, Mount Kenya, and the world’s largest desert lake, Lake Turkana. 

You’ll take a long drive to Ol Pejeta conservancy in the foothills of Mount Kenya, stop at the semi-arid Samburu National Reserve, home to the three big cats – lion, leopard and cheetah – as well as the other big three; elephant, buffalo and hippo. 

Cross the volcanic terrain and the baked earth of the Chalbi desert and spend two nights at Lake Turkana – a world heritage site featured in the famous hollywood film, The Constant Gardener. Turn and head back to the south, an afternoon camel safari in the foothills of Mount Nyiro, then a stop at Lake Baringo, renowned for its rich birdlife, huge numbers of hippos and crocodiles. 

Accommodation on this budget Africa safari is basic. You’ll be sleeping in dome tents, and much of the driving is off-tarmac: which means it’s not for the faint-hearted, but this safari is sure to leave your travel emotions explored.

This is a custom made safari by Iconic Travels at $1,650 per person, including all park fees, transport from Nairobi with driver-guide, camping equipment (dome tents and foam mattresses), all food (prepared by a cook travelling with the group) and selected activities.

Another great read: Another Great Read: 10 Things You Should Pack For Your African Safari

7 Days in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable & Tanzania’s Serengeti

7 Days in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable & Tanzania’s Serengeti

Hiking through Bwindi Impenetrable forest

Few people forget their first encounter with the Serengeti. Perhaps it’s the view from Naabi Hill at the park’s entrance, from where the grasslands appear to stretch to the ends of the earth. Or maybe it’s a coalition of lions stalking across open plains, their manes catching the breeze. Or it could be wildebeest and zebra migrating in their millions, following the ancient rhythm of Africa’s seasons. Whatever it is, welcome to one of the greatest wildlife-watching destinations on earth.

Now, mix that wonderful idea with a hike into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park jungle. As names go, there’s hardly a more evocative African destination than the Impenetrable Forest of Bwindi. This swath of steep mountains covered in thick, steamy jungle is just as magnificent as it sounds. The 331-sq-km World Heritage–listed Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is one of Africa’s most ancient habitats, even surviving the last Ice Age as most of the continent’s other forests disappeared. And is home to about half of the last remaining endangered mountain gorillas.

A mix of these two giant destinations is just what the safari doctor ordered. You’ll start this impressive journey from Entebbe and head into the gorilla jungle to meet the patriarch silverback and his family, spending close to an hour in their presence. You’ll then drive into Rwanda’s capital Kigali and spend a few hours exploring the modern cultures in the city. Take a flight to Arusha or drive to Bukoba to catch a ferry to Mwanza that will connect you to central Serengeti. Explore serengeti and end the trip in Arusha where you’ll catch a flight back home.

7 Days Serengeti and Uganda’s Gorillas Safari by Iconic Travels for about US$4900 per person. Includes the gorilla permit, park fees, transportation and accommodation.

Take on Tanzania’s Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater

Take on Tanzania’s Serengeti and the Ngorongoro crater

A Cheetah protects it’s cubs in Serengeti

You can watch every documentary on Youtube and troll dozens of Instagram photos, but nothing can quite prepare you for the reality of what it’s like to go on safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro. It’s simply impossible to imagine the vastness of the landscape; a sea of uninterrupted grassland (save for the occasional acacia tree or ancient rock formation) that seemingly stretches to infinity against a brilliant blue sky. 

Unimaginable, the sheer number and myriad wildlife species you’ll encounter, that includes everything from the big five (African elephant, Cape buffalo, lion, leopard and rhino), acting out their impulses with National Geographic-style theatricality, as safari van passengers stare agog, to rare, colorful species of birds, packs of sprightly warthogs and hyenas, cheetahs, hippo, and the hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra as they make their way on the famed great wildebeest migration.

A four day safari in these parts would include multiple game drives and a visit to Ngorongoro crater, the three-million-year-old extinct volcano that herds of tourists descend into to see herds of wildlife on the crater floor.

Iconic Travels would take you for $1,530 per person, including transfers from Arusha, three nights full-board accommodation, game drives and park fees.

Chimpanzee Tracking in The Primate Capital Kibale

Uganda Wildlife Safari

“Hey man”, “don’t bother me”. chimps in Kibale forest

Mountain gorillas take all the limelight in Uganda and Rwanda but Kibale National Park, 4:50 hours outside Uganda’s capital Kampala, is made up of dense tropical rainforest, within which dwell enormous numbers of primates. If you can’t afford the lavish cost of mountain gorilla trekking, then visiting one of the five habituated groups of chimpanzees here is a very worthy substitute, not to mention a far less financially draining one.

Larger but rarely seen residents include bushbucks, sitatungas, buffaloes, leopards and quite a few forest elephants. There are also an incredible 250 species of butterfly and 372 species of bird here.

Best of all, the cost for this whole package, which includes a day of tracking chimpanzees through the thick rainforest floor, a nature walk, and two nights in a comfortable forest lodge with full board, still costs just about the same as a single gorilla trekking permit ($700) in Bwindi.

3 Day Chimpanzee Tracking in Kibale by Iconic Travels from US$800 per person, including transport from Entebbe, two nights full-board accommodation, park and chimpanzee tracking fees.

Watch The Thundering Murchison Falls & Take A Nile Cruise

Watch The Thundering Murchison Falls & Take A Nile Cruise

Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s best-known and biggest nature reserve, and its impressive animal populations and superb activities are further augmented by its location, which straddles the Victoria Nile as it makes its way through multiple rapids and waterfalls (including the enormously impressive Murchison Falls) to Lake Albert. This is an exceptional place to see wildlife and a trip along the Nile should not be missed, not least in order to see the powerful Murchison Falls up close, a simply unforgettable experience.

This trip starts from Entebbe through Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, where you’ll track Rhinos on foot with a ranger, and then have a picnic overlooking the falls and a night in a great safari camp. The safari will take you on a morning game drive in the Park’s Nile Delta to see the Big game like Lion, elephant and Giraffe, followed by a boat cruise on the Nile to the foot of the thundering Murchison Falls.

3 Day Murchison Falls Safari by Iconic Travels from $790 per person, including all park fees and activities, two nights accommodation in shared safari camp and transport to and from Kampala. 

This one too for later: 7 Best Places To Visit On Uganda Safari

Take a Breath and Soak Your Feet on The Shores of Zanzibar.

An inimitable Indian Ocean island, off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar is the quintessential destination that affords glorious historical, cultural, exploratory and eco-tourism beach experiences in East Africa. It seems to have everything that any like-minded sightseer might look for. It has a distinct, ethnic history that is a remarkable combination of the many travelers that passed through it for centuries. Arabs, Indians, Persians, European and even a trace of Chinese, each left an indelible mark in the form of architectural styles and culture that now contribute to its charm. Side by side is the rise and fall of many empires that left behind ruins and other remnants, but their presence is still felt in the blood of the traditional Zanzibarian.

Along with strong Swahili influences, the Zanzibar you see today is unique in every respect from their cuisine to semantics, fruit and spices, furniture styles, the fabrics, the gorgeous hand-crafted artifacts and jewelry you find in their small duka stores and of course, the natural wonders that set it apart from any other island seaside destination in Africa. 

Think Zanzibar and you cannot help but ponder the virgin beaches with their unspoilt, pristine white sands, scintillating turquoise blue of the Indian Ocean and the lush tropical vegetation that create a spell of beauty and tranquility. Even as alluring is the captivating marine life flourishing under the tepid waters of the ocean or the fauna of the Jozani Forest Reserve with its red colobus monkey denizens and many more.

This highly affordable four-day tour zips between land and sea, with snorkelling trips to the magnificent coral reefs of uninhabited Chumbe Island and walks through two forest reserves, one primate-laden and the other home to rare antelopes. There’s also a trip to Prison Island, where land tortoises creep along the beach, and a stop to watch bottlenose and humpback dolphins frolicking in the waves.

Travel with Iconic to Zanzibar for just about $820 per person, including all transfers within Zanzibar, three nights bed and breakfast, and all tour and park fees

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