National Geographic Traveler
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Africa Travel Planner Intro
North Africa
West Africa
East Africa
South and South-Central Africa
Deciding When to Go
Calculating Currency Exchange
Learning Local Languages
Determining Time Differences
Making Telephone Calls
Planning Your Safari
Taking Public Transportation
Packing Your Suitcase
Clearing Customs
Dining Out
Finding a Place to Stay
Staying Healthy
Staying Safe
Saving Money
Photographing Africa
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Scenes from a Kenya Safari

Photo: Maasai men

Staff writer George W. Stone shares photos and more from his Africa adventure.
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Africa Travel Planner

Saving Money

"High cost doesn't necessarily mean high quality—just that a lot of money is going from your pocket to theirs," says Mark Nolting, author, and founder of the Africa Adventure Company. Budget travel to Africa isn't big, but it's possible to save if you plan well. The exception—game reserves and parks. "They have high fees, but  you shouldn't miss what Africa has to offer just to save a few pennies," says Karen Cockburn, co-founder of the Africa Travel Centre. Here, money savers from our experts.

Book everything before you leave: "You will save money," says Steve Krenzen, founder of the Association of Professional Safari Guides.

Look for "budget" sections on the Web: Lots of operators' websites list so-called budget packages. Just remember that many prices don't include airfare, which can more than double the cost of your trip.

Eat at marketplaces: "Marketplaces usually offer the cheapest food," says Cockburn. "And some guest houses will include breakfast." (Only eat market fruit and vegetables that you peel yourself.)

Take public transportation: It's cheap in method, but costly in time. Bring a good book.

Visit during the off-season: Go to Kenya and Tanzania in April and May; Botswana from December to March; and Zimbabwe and Namibia from November to June.

Consult backpacker networks: Experienced backpackers and hostel-hoppers have made cheap travel an art form. (go to the Gauteng Backpackers Association.)

Stay in a hostel: YMCAs and the Peace Corps can recommend good ones. "They often give you a good sense of whether the facility is clean, safe, and well-located," says Lawson. (Visit Hostelling International.)

Volunteer: The International Volunteer Association, Volunteer Abroad, and Volunteer International take you worldwide . . . free.

Ask for hotel upgrades: "In many cases, it is only a few dollars more to upgrade from a tourist class hotel to a first class in Africa," says Nolting. "It's well worth it."

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