The True Cost of an African Safari

leopardMy African dream animal is a leopard. If I ever had the chance to go to Africa and take one animal, that would be it. I’ve always thought, somewhere in the back of my head, that I’d get to do it someday, so I started to look up the true cost of an African safari. What I found was very disappointing. Like a lot of things, the hunt is the cheapest part of the equation.

A leopard hunt in Africa, at the low middle range, can run anywhere from $9,000 (Namibia) to really the sky’s the limit, but I found one for $84,000 in Mozambique. I know that if I worked hard and slugged away a little bit here and there I could come up with the money to hunt leopard in Namibia, but that wouldn’t even get me half way when the true costs are added in. 

The hunt itself in most African packages is generally around two weeks in this price range (from 12 to 18 days). It does include some plains game chances and when you are in camp all lodging, food, laundry etc. However, if you get a trophy, than you must be aware of trophy fees. The trophy fee for that Namibian leopard (that goes with my $9,000 hunt) is $6,000 dollars, but a quick web search shows that generally leopard trophy fees average between $12,500 and $25,000 in most places.

Don’t forget that whether or not you bag your dream animal, you also have to shell out tips for your professional hunter, and a team of local hunting and camp help. Most of these people depend on tips for their living. Considering that tips should be 10-12% of your daily rate to your professional hunter, and daily smaller tips (ask your professional hunter what is appropriate) to your hunting team, and camp team, this can get pricey. You can expect additional costs in the thousands or more if your team goes above and beyond to make sure you get your kill.

If you get to go, keep cash for tipping and any services. Credit cards will add anywhere from 5 – 7% on your bill in Africa. Although most safari outfits take American money, it must be the new bills (most places won’t take our older currency), and it’s wise to keep small bills around as you probably won’t be able to get change. 

Once you have paid for your hunt, your trophy fees and your tips, you still have a lot of costs coming your way. I know I’m not leaving the country without my leopard hide, so I have to pay to have the hide dipped, packaged and shipped. I have to pay the country’s tax on my hunt, and custom’s fees in both Africa and the U.S, and since I want to preserve my hunt for a long time, I have to tan my hide and have it mounted or rugged. Once all is said and done, my cheap $9,000 hunt will cost me a minimum of $20,000-25,000. 

Now when I go back for my Cape buffalo….