Affordable Chobe holiday
Travellers lucky enough to be armed with strong international currencies should be able to explore Chobe in perfect comfort (sometimes top-end comfort) for a reasonable price – but do remember this is a destination where low-volume, high-income tourism is promoted. As such, some may need to look for ways to keep costs down.
Most lodges and camps in Chobe Riverside, Savuti and Linyanti are all-inclusive, which means that once you’ve paid the lump sum, you theoretically won’t need to touch your wallet until it’s time to tip the staff and say goodbye. But not all seasons are equal, and this is where one can make considerable savings. Great deals can be had in shoulder season (around May and November, when the weather and animal activity is less predictable) and the “green season” (December to March, when it’s hot and humid, and wet weather can make road travel tricky – but for some fans the nicest time of the year). As an example, one high-end brand’s high-season lodge rates are $1,000 per person per night in 2019; their low-season special is $580 and shoulder season rates $750. This does not include a single supplement.
For those determined to get close enough to the wilderness to hear buffalo chewing at night in, say, Savuti, a mobile safari operator is an option. These cater for varying budgets, but the better options will take the trouble to pack good bedding and quality foods, and guests can enjoy a deluxe camping experience. Guests will sleep in large dome or walk-in tents with stretcher beds and good linens, and water will be warmed for hot showers, plus short-drop toilet facilities provided rather than a spade and a loo roll. Better mobile safaris may even have “en suite” tents. Guests usually travel in an appropriate game viewing vehicle, while a second vehicle hauls the gear and sets up camp. This has the advantage of getting one deeper into Chobe without flying, and having that authentic safari experience so many yearn for. Of course, affordable options mean travelling with a group of other people. As an example of costs, one “mini” seven day mobile safari with a top-end outfit is from $3,540 per person in low season to $6,050 per person in high season. This is based on a group of six.
For pure exclusivity, one needs to book a private guided safari, and that, unfortunately is not within everyone’s budget.
Although the private concessions of Linyanti and Selinda are generally more high-end and thus possibly only an option in green season, there are a few simple yet quality options that are easier on the budget. Check with your Discover Africa expert.
The Chobe Riverside lodges and camps can work out more reasonable than those deeper in the park, especially the concessions. The Western Chobe Riverside can be more expensive than the east. Also check accommodations over the Chobe River, in Namibia.
Another possible way to save is to look at newer lodges opened by the excellent safari lodge brands: these sometimes offer lower prices as they are becoming established.
Tipping can be an awkward subject. There is no obligation to tip for poor service, and it is always voluntary. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the manager about the camp’s policy – some lodges will have this information in the info packs in your room. As a general guide, tip only at the end of your stay. Consider first tipping your guide, who you will spend a lot of time with and who may become a friend. From $10 a day is suggested for group guides and $20 a day for private guides. Then most camps have a “staff tip box” or envelope for the general staff, from cleaners to chefs and waitrons. Here, we recommend giving a lump sum that is divided equally between the staff, based on around $5 per guest per day.