Top 10 Ways to Experience Masai Mara Safari on a Budget


Have you been thinking about going on a Masai Mara safari but thought it would not be affordable? Well, the good news is that you can go on a safari on a budget. Safari holidays especially in East Africa can be quite expensive but fortunately, there are tips you can use to ensure your Masai Mara safari is not expensive. 

The main reason of going on a safari is to experience the wildlife in their natural habitat, everything else is just an add on to make the experience memorable. If you’re willing to compromise on some luxuries to just focus on game viewing, your Masai Mara Safari could cost a lot less.

Having said that, let’s explore tips to stretch your safari budget further.

Get Cheaper Accommodation

Most lodges and resorts located inside the Masai Mara conservancy are often luxurious and at the highest end of the scale. Accommodation take up the highest portion of the overall safari cost so it makes sense to compromise on accommodation to reduce costs drastically. 

Here are ways to get cheaper accommodation for your Masai Mara safari;


Most national parks in Kenya have camping sites and some are set up with basic camping amenities like a bathroom, electricity, water and barbecue facilities. Some camps will require you to bring your own tent while others will hire it to you per night so its best to check these things with your safari operator before travelling. 

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Stay Outside The Masai Mara Reserve

There are a couple of budget friendly  accommodation outside the Masai Mara reserve which caters to those looking to experience the Masai Mara on a budget. This gives you a wider choice of accommodation because you can stay outside the park and drive in early in the morning or the entire day.

Bring Your Own Food & Drinks

Hotels and lodges in the Masai Mara are expensive if you’re not on an all inclusive package. A bottle of wine could costs twice the regular price. Normally, you will not find shops in the park except for the hotel gift shops which tend to sell items at exorbitant prices. If you’re staying in one of the hotels in the park, you can choose a half board package or dinner only. That said, it’s advisable to plan your meals to cut down costs. 

You can also leave the park and eat at any of the hotels located outside the park as they tend to be cheaper. If you are camping, stock up at one of the local supermarkets before arriving at your camping site. 

Travel During The Low Season

The time of year you go to Masai Mara will affect the price of your safari. The low season in Kenya which is typically March to June, coincides with the rainy season and the cost for safari packages and hotel accommodation drops.

This makes the perfect time to go on a budget safari to the Masai Mara, you can also get luxurious accommodation at lower rates which saves you a lot of money. 

Another advantage of travelling during the low season is that there are fewer visitors which means there will be fewer people in the lodges and park making it a great time to have a personal experience.

Whilst you save on costs during the low season, you might need to compromise on visibility. This is because the heavy rains promote growth of shrubs and long grass which makes it difficult to spot animals. At this time of the year, most animals are scattered because there is abundance of food and water. 

Consider A Self Drive Safari

You have the option to rent a 4X4 vehicle and drive yourself in the reserve, however, it’s mandatory to get a guide. Guides are experienced and understand the seasonal movements of the animals, the cost for a guide can range anywhere between $25 to $50. 

The best thing about taking a self drive tour is that you create your own itinerary and can change it whenever you like. You also get to choose when and where to stop, and how long you wait at a waterhole for game to appear. 

Choose A Local Operator

Local safari operators offer cheaper rates than international safari operators. It’s advisable to book with a local operator to keep costs down. Expert travellers advise to book your Masai Mara safari a week before travelling. This way you stand a higher chance of bagging a bargain due to last minute cancellations. 

Before booking with a local operator, it’s important to explain what you’d expect on your safari and check what their itinerary looks like.

Photo Credit: Trip Advisor

Hire A Driver – Guide

A driver guide is the another cost effective way to experience the Masai Mara on a budget. The driver guide always accompanies you and has indepth knowledge about the wildlife and culture of the local communities. The best thing about hiring a driver guide is that they know the reserve really well and will take you to the best spots where you can get a closer view of the wildlife. 

Travel As A Group 

Find other people who are looking to go on a Masai Mara safari and travel as a group. Some hotels in the Masai Mara offer discounts to group travellers so that might be a quick way to save money.  A group safari also provides an opportunity to interact with other safari enthusiast and this could give you an idea for your next safari destination.

The only drawback of travelling as a group is that you have to follow a strict itinerary which is restrictive.


Did you know that you can negotiate the prices offered by the tour operators? This is easier especially when you’re travelling as a group of three people or more. Here are tips to help you negotiate for a better deal.

  • Before settling for a tour operator, contact different safari tour operators with your budget and a list of things you would like included in the safari
  • Get the quotes from different tour operators for various camps and lodges then contact the lodges to find out how much they charge for accommodation.
  • Once you have gathered this information, you can then ask the tour operators to validate the prices they quote versus the prices you have found elsewhere. This will help you have a bargaining power and get a better deal.

Check For Offers

It’s wise to keep your eyes open for Masai Mara safari deals. This does not mean scouring the internet for safari deals but it can be something as simple as signing up for email newsletters for lodges located in the Mara or safari tour companies.

During the low season, most lodges and tour companies often run promotions as demand is usually low so this is a good opportunity to get a great offer at a low cost. 

Opt For Long Stay Rates

Booking several nights with the same lodge or camp could reward you with better rates. Some lodges offer a whole day discount for example stay for 5 nights pay for 4, this is a great way to reduce costs for your Masai Mara safari.

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