Experience the Best on a Budget: Cubs Expeditions – Your Gateway to the Ultimate Tanzania Safari

Best Budget Safari in Tanzania – Cubs Expeditions

It’s possible to plan a budget safari in Tanzania, and still experience the best the country has to offer! Get the luxury of a private safari, with the cost-savings of camping accommodations with Cubs Expeditions Tanzania. We paid $1800 per person for the two of us, plus tip for our amazing guide and cook. We negotiated this rate, and this is definitely a lower price than usual due to Covid-19. Please don’t expect the price to be this low once the pandemic is over. Already tourism is bouncing back in Tanzania, especially on safari.

What is a Budget Safari Tanzania Like During Covid-19 2022?

Read more about it here: A First-Hand Experience of Safari in Tanzania During Covid-19 2022

Best Tanzania National Park Guide

Our guide, Amani, has worked as a game drive guide in Tanzania for for over ten years. Many of those were spent under the wing of large, luxury companies, but now he works for the small company, Cubs, under the ownership of his friend Humphrey.

Owner of Cubs Expeditions Tanzania- The Best Budget Safari in Tanzania

Humphrey, the owner of Cubs Expeditions, is a professional Tanzanian with a positive spirit and accommodating attitude. He arranged our airport pick up for us, which was included in our package. He also kindly allowed us to postpone our safari by one day, as we needed a day to recover from some residual food-poisoning from Uganda. Humphrey went out of his way to make sure we were happy and comfortable while in Tanzania! I would definitely recommend booking with his company.

Best Safari Cook in Tanzania

Once we got onto the road with Amani, we were introduced to our cook, Issa. He is a tall and charming young man who kept us wonderfully nourished during our trip. Every meal came with at least 3 options, and it was always a literal feast! It’s amazing you can be on a budget safari in Tanzania (one of the most expensive countries in Africa!) and get this type of luxury treatment.

BEST 8 Day Tanzania Safari Itinerary

Day 1 Arusha, Taranguire
Day 2 Ngorogoro/ Serengeti
Day 3 Serengeti
Day 4 Serengeti
Day 5 Serengeti
Day 6 Serengeti/ Ngorogoro
Day 7 Ngorogoro
Day 8 Manyara, Arusha

Budget Accommodations in Serengeti and other National Parks

Best Budget Lodge in Mto Wa Mbum, Tanzania

Our first night was spent at a lovely lodge in Mto Wa Mbu called Jambo Lodge and Campsite. It had a large dining pavilion, a few hotel style buildings, a field for tents, and a swimming pool that seemed closed for the season. Although we booked a camping safari, we were upgraded to a very nice hotel room as during covid we were the only guests in the entire lodge.

Camping in the Serengeti

In the Serengeti on our budget Safari in Tanzania, we stayed at Nyani campsite. There are about 10 campsites in South-Central main area in the Serengeti (called Seronera )
The campsite has a covered kitchen building, a dining building, and a washroom with basic showers and toilets.
Our tent was the same as all the other safari companies: a thick green canvas tent with comfortable foam pads and sleeping bags. The gear has probably been used for a few decades, but it’s in decent shape and kept us warm and dry even through two nights of torrential downpour. I brought along a silk sleeping liner and used my clothing packing cube as a pillow, and slept like a baby. It can also be noisy in camp early in the morning and late at night as there are lots of cooks working to cater for everyone, so bring ear plugs.

Camping at Ngorogoro Crater

At the Ngorogoro crater we stayed at the only public campsite, the Simba Campsite, on the edge of the crater. Camping is the #1 way to build a budget Safari in Tanzania, and it’s a super fun way to experience the parks! The high altitude makes it a little chillier and windier, but this is welcomed in the summer warmer dry season. This campsite is substantially more luxurious than the Serengeti camp, with cleaner washrooms with toilet paper, hot showers and sink water, and an large enclosed building for dining with a little cafe selling fresh espresso, ice cream, liquor, and snacks. Unlike the Seronara camp, this site had an entry gate with armed park rangers. Amani says the Serengeti camp has a ranger station within 15 minutes driving with armed rangers. From my understanding, the weapons are to protect campers from elephants (by shooting in the air) and protect from other wild life incidents, as well to ward off poachers

Food on Game Drives in Tanzania / Serengeti

Our awesome chef Issa provided us with very nice, Tanzanian style meals, often with an American twist. Every meal included a coffee and tea service. Breakfast usually consisted of a few options including crepe, omelette, hot dogs, potatoes. Lunches really varied in options- packed lunches included things like fried chicken, sweet potato, cookies, fruit, sandwich, and juice box. Sit down lunches we had things like pizza, potatoes, meat skewers or stews, and fried fish. Most dinners included a lovely plate of buttered popcorn, fresh buns and hot soup (the best part in my opinion! It’s amazing Issa can make us fresh buns and bread at camp), a few entrees (usually a meat stews, vegetables, potatoes, rice, or pasta), a salad, and a fruit plate. Note that East African food tends to be very salty, so if that’s not your preference be sure to tell the chef and they can accomodate you.

Issa, our chef, was along for the ride with us going from park to park, and he’s a very cool guy. He grew up in Mto Wa Mbu (the first stop near the Manera park gate) which is a hub for all the tribes in Tanzania to sell their wares to tourists. Though he’s not Masai, Issa speaks the Masai language as well as 6 others. When we were on our first game drive, we learned that the Baobab tree has fruits that are sold at the market. When I mentioned I would love to taste one, he quickly volunteered to take us along on his walk to the market and bought us one, as well as showing us around and describing the different types of fruits and veggies. He’s a great guy!

Budget Safari Game Drives in Tanzania

While on the Game Drive with Cubs Expeditions, we had the whole 7-passenger Toyota Land Cruiser safari vehicle to ourselves. Its roof pops open to allow standing and panoramic view. It’s seats have extra cushions and blankets and there are many places to hold on as it can be a rough, bumpy and muddy ride (“African massage”). Sometimes we went on game drive all day from 7am-6pm, bringing a packed lunch, and sometimes we broke it up with a couple hour break for lunch at camp. Amani was a great driver, navigating through seemingly impossible terrain. Thanks to Amani’s skilled driving and also a bit of luck, we never got stuck in the mud or had any break downs. Amani was vigilant to get our vehicle into a good angle for wildlife viewing, and promptly shut off the car to reduce vibration for the cameras.

Amani also cheerfully provided us with facts about the animals and the park, and answered all of our questions thoughtfully. Amani is not a super talkative guy which is peaceful, but if you prefer extra facts about the animals I suggest you tell him that you love extra facts. Amani is very accommodating and I’m sure he would gladly dish out some extra information. He’s an all-around enjoyable guy to spend a safari with!

If you have any questions about our budget safari in Tanzania, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!

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