What does a Safari Cost? Now that I have your attention, there is a lot more to going on any Safari or hunting trip them meets the eye or wallet. In order to go anywhere for an extended, or even short period of time, you need several things to click. First of all there is time, and a job that lets you be gone, motive, opportunity, money, a cooperative wife, and maybe above all, health. If you have green lights on all these items, you can pretty much plan on going, but have even one caution yellow, or certainly one “red” light, and the buck stops now. You might even factor in your parents or children’s health, because if they are not well, you may have to stay home. Have you thought about who is going to take care of your dog and cat when you are gone? If a husband and wife both go, the pets need to be looked after somewhere. This is the number one reason I don’t have a dog. We have two cats that can go to our daughter’s house for a while. Cats are more independent than a dog is so they do well when left alone, but I just could not board out my best buddy “Spanky” as he must be looked after everyday with play time. The worst thing of all would be to put him in a kennel as that would break his heart, and mine too. To them it would be an eternity as they don’t understand that you will be back in a week or two. They just think you have abandoned them. Opportunity... Sometimes people have to be offered a chance to do these trips. All people are not the book it on their own and go do it type. Some just need to have a partner to look after them. Unless they are helped to work out the deal and time, they just will not go. There are those husbands and wives that just want to go with another couple, and not by themselves. Some just love the group atmosphere, while some folks (like myself) just prefer to be alone with my wife in camp. “To each his own”, as the saying goes. Speaking of “group” hunts, many years ago a booking agent gave me the best advice I’ve ever received. He said to plan on going alone, as you will likely never find a partner or couple to go when and how you want to go. He has had 3 or 4 couples come in to book a hunt, and leave two hours later not speaking to each other, as no way could they find 10 days that all 8 people could be gone. Each time they think they found solution, somebody had a conflict by a day or two. I’ve gone alone once, and it is not nearly as much fun as going with a partner. So beware that putting a group together could be a headache to say the least. Most folks just can’t “write the check” for 2 week African hunt, while others think nothing of going for a month. Some folks save for years in order to have enough money to make that “once in a life time trip”. Some drive old cars, live in old houses, and take their lunch to work each day in order to save money. They also might do their own lawns and change their own oil, just to save any buck they can so they can go. Some have even been known to “give up” smoking, drinking, bowling, fishing, casinos, and trap or skeet shooting to some extent. Maybe one needs to give up going out to eat every weekend, and/or stopping for breakfast every morning on the way to work. There are those that work an extra job, volunteer for Saturday overtime, and work nights and holidays just to get that little extra money. There are as many ways to save money as to make it. Combine them and soon you have enough to go. Not only will a plane ticket cost you close to $2,000, but then there is that long - looooong awful airplane ride of 17-18 hours. That alone is a deterrent to some folks. Now here is the part you have been waiting for, money. One has to factor in the cost of passport photos and the passport itself. Also don’t forget the cost of paying the neighbor (or trading services) to have your yard and house looked after while gone. Remember the pets that need looking after? It is going to “cost” you one way or the other, either in flat out cash and/or gifts or trading services again. Gifts and souvenirs can be a huge expense on some trips. Remember, “You buy it, you carry it”. I’ve seen folks get on the airplane to go home with all sorts of carvings, and large vases and bowls. Just do yourself a real favor, don’t buy anything for anyone, simple as that. What about a good camera? Even if you have one, there is the cost developing & printing the pictures off the chip. Most folks don’t need special clothes or boots as they have them already, but you are going to need a very good airline idiot-proof gun case. The cost of the hunt is what you and your outfitter decide and agree on. It can vary from a simple 7 day package hunt in Namibia or South Africa, to a full blown 21 or 30 day Big Five hunt in Tanzania. It just depends on how much time and money you have to spend. Odds are you will not need a new rifle as most any Deer and Elk rifle we have now will do just fine for a plains game hunt. Another cost to consider, is a Medical or Evacuation service like Med Jet or Global Rescue. These soon can cost another $500 too, BUT I assure it is worth it and I will not go without it. One more final “cost” and that is tipping. It is the most controversial topic I have folks ask me about. There are usually several trackers, camp help, skinners, and not to mention your PH and sometimes a Gov’t Game scout. They all will have their hand out when it is time to go home, and it can easily amount to $500+ in a hurry. The rewards are far more than just the hunt. We have made many friends in Africa that are very dear to us. There is far more than just the hunting, so take the time to enjoy the view and “smell the roses”. Every dawn provides a new experience. Should you decide to have your trophies either mounted in Africa, or have the capes and horns shipped home and done here, this can be a major expense. Several thousand dollars are involved getting the capes home alone plus the taxidermy work, so be sure you know what is involved before you decide to bring them home. Some folks just take pictures and don’t bring anything home, it’s your choice. In closing, each person must do their own thing. Each must decide if it is important enough to them to give up what needs giving up in order to go. Sometimes I ask myself if the “price” is worth it, but when I am finally there and can put my feet up and look at the Southern Cross, listen to the sounds of the night and not see another light or hear a car, it is worth it. I will always remember what my dad told me: “Son, when I had the time, I had no money”. “When I had the money, I had no time, but when I had the time and the money, I did not feel good.” My dad never got to go, but told me to go while the going was good. I was reminded of that recently when my best hunting friend died of a heart attack at 56, he never got to go either. Feel free to write us anytime if we can help with any questions about going on your “First” or “21st” Safari.