It can be hard for a beginner to calculate a budget for an African hunting adventure. Some of the prices seem too good to be true, others may sound prohibitively expensive. Most outfitters list only “daily rates” and “trophy fees”, sometimes a “package tour”. There’s a long list of things that are “not included” in these costs, and some that are not even mentioned there (like air fare). How much will these “other costs” come down to? The answer to this question, of course, is highly individual. But we do have a few ideas, based on an extensive study commissioned by PHASA (The Professional Hunter Association of South Africa).
The first question you’ll have to consider is whether you’re going to be hunting solo, or come with a family member or two. Most of the 350+ hunters who visited South Africa and answered the questionnaire that provided raw data for the study, chose the latter option, and the average expenses in the report imply a trip for two, a hunter and a non-hunter.
But before we come to “extra costs”, let’s break down the “main cost” of the hunt. It includes two main parts: the daily rate and the trophy fees. In layman’s terms, “daily rate” is the money you pay to the outfitter just to hunt and stay with them, per day. It usually includes meals, sometimes drinks, the services of the PH, the gas for the trucks or ATVs, and other costs of operation. If you’re coming with a family member or two, add in the “non-hunter” daily rates. The trophy fee is the amount you pay for each animal you harvest.
Outside of the cost of the hunting, the biggest expense is travel. The average price of air fare for two, return, to South Africa reported by hunters amounted to $5,000. Another aspect of travel, which isn’t usually included in the price of the package tour, is the transfer to the lodge. It averaged $600 per hunter. Here you have the option to let the outfitter arrange it for you, or handle it yourself. The latter may be more convenient if you want to combine a hunting trip with some other tourist activities.
There’s much more to South Africa than hunting. Especially if you plan on making this a family vacation as well as a hunt. Visits to historic sites, wineries, etc. could be interesting in themselves, so most hunters allow an additional three days stay in SA. During these three days they spent, on the average, $150 on food, and $600 on non-hunting related tours and travel costs.
In camp, the you may have some expenses in addition to daily rates and trophy fees. An average hunter spent $70 on ammunition, $140 on clothes, and $230 on “other hunting gear”. Game licenses and such averaged $512. The delicate category of “tips” was not mentioned in the survey, but we’re sure this cost was covered under some other headline, such as “aspects not in the daily rate” ($630) or “other” ($386) . Tips are voluntary and at your discretion but are a big part of the PH’s and staff’s compensation. It is good to ask the outfitter about tips and tipping procedure, as well as number of your hunting party and staff, prior to your hunt.
Most hunters would like to preserve the skins and heads of the animals they’ve harvested as mementoes of their journey and experience. This is another highly individual expense item, as the total depends not only on the number of trophies, but also the type of mount you choose, and whether you decide to have your taxidermy handled by South African outfits, or “dip and ship” to your trusted expert near home. For an average hunter in South Africa, processing, packaging and delivery of the trophies, including dealing with the paperwork required to make them legal, cost about $2,800.
When you sum it up, the total may sound striking. Even before the cost of the hunt, the average price of the South African trip in 2016, according to the study, was about $11,300. Now if you have always dreamed of Africa, don’t let that discourage you. After all, these are only statistics; the average is swayed of course by people who travel first class, stay only at 5-star accommodations, eat only at best restaurants, and so on. If you know what to expect, you’ll also know where to save. Our friend Ron Spomer is running a good series of articles on low-cost African adventures, and if you know how to pick the best deal, you can cut the price considerably. Stay tuned for our tips on how to make the wise choice for you, and don’t put off your personal discovery of Africa!
If you liked this story, you may also like:
- How to choose a hunting trip to Africa
- Three reasons to hunt in South Africa
- In the shadows of the ancients: Chasing eland in South Africa