How Much Does Backpacking Africa Cost?

How much does backpacking in Africa cost, Backpacking Africa Cost

Backpacking Africa Cost: Can You Travel on a Budget?

While memories might be priceless, making them often requires a visa card.Or at least it did for me. To be honest though, my backpacking Africa cost was much less than I have spent in many other parts of the world. The cost of living while I was traveling was even less than what I spend at home in the US.

So for those wanting to go, but are afraid of how much it will cost, just relax. It can be done for a very reasonable amount of money. My exact backpacking Africa cost after seven months is here  broken down per category to help you better plan your own budget. But for general cost information, please realize that how much you will spend depends on where you go, what you do, and how you travel.

See Also:  Baby Elephant, "Hercules" Fights Off 14 Lions | Travel Motivation

Where You Go

Where you go will dramatically affect how much backpacking Africa costs. For example, I spent almost as much in South Africa as I do back home. However, I could eat a huge dinner with a beer for $1.50 in Ethiopia and perch my tent beside the lake in Malawi for only $3 a night. So there is a huge gap in expenses depending on where you land on the map.Overall, West African countries do tend to cost more than those in East Africa. Also, a country less developed will be cheaper than a more Westernized country such as South Africa.

Backpacking Africa Cost, Backpacking in Malawi, Sleeping in a Tent by Lake Malawi

Only $3 per night in Cape McClear, Malawi

What You Do

What you do you while you’re traveling will also affect your budget. For example, if you’re spending most your time laying on the beach or chilling with locals, you’ll only be spending pocket change.

If you want to do a bigger tourist attraction like a safari or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, however, then you’ll be making several trips to the ATM. Even if you manage to get a special deal on a tour, you will still be required to pay the park entrance fees which are usually a minimum of $500 USD.

Also, remember that what you do will vary in cost depending on when you go. Traveling during off season might include bad weather, but it will also come with some worth while savings.

How You Travel

The last thing that will dramatically impact your bottom line is your traveling style. Even among backpackers, comfort levels and time frames are quite scattered. Those who plan on using planes to get around, staying at hotels or renting single rooms at the lodges, and eating nicer meals will spend a considerable amount.

For the frugal traveler with plenty of time, however, a little bit of cash can go a long way by taking buses, pitching a tent, and eating somewhere hole in the wall.


Backpacking Africa Cost | Local Style Cheap Restaurant

Example of a local restaurant

Estimated Costs

As I mentioned earlier, how much you spend will depend on where you’re at. However, here’s an estimated range of backpacking Africa cost.


Mini Bus- 10-50 cents for one way across town
Big Bus- $8-30 for a 6-12 hour ride
Taxi’s- $3-15 for one way across town

Lodging Per Night

Tent: $3-7
Dorm Room: $8-15
Single Room in a Hostel: $20-40
Local Hotel: $30-45*
Westernized Hotel: $55-150

*Some local hotels in rural areas will offer a room with shared bathroom for only $5 per night

Food for One Meal

Local Food Stalls: $1
Local Restaurants: $2-4
Westernized Restaurant:$5-12

To sum it all up, there is no universal price tag on a trip to Africa. It’s dependent on so many different factors. If you need more helping planning your budget trip to Africa (or getting a cheap ticket to the continent), I can help! You’ll see how I traveled and how that influenced my total cost which should give you a good baseline. In it, I also mention my top 10 ways to minimize your backpacking Africa cost.

No matter what your budget is though, I promise you that it is worth it. My trip has enriched my life in countless ways and has been worth every penny. So whatever you have to do to get there, just do it. You won’t regret it.



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8 responses to “How Much Does Backpacking Africa Cost?”

  1. Gemma Bailey says:

    I’m very interested in back packing Africa. I’vebeen a couple of times and now I want to see deepest darkest Africa. I’m happy to camp and eat in the most rural places. I’m a female travelling alone.

    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey! Then you’ll love it. Seriously, as long as you don’t mind roughing it a little, you’ll totally enjoy Africa. I mean Africa does have a lot of luxury, but not at backpacker prices. But personly, I found camping and being a little dirty pretty fun. Which countries are you interested in visiting?

      • Daniel says:

        Hi Val!
        Amazing blog
        Thanks for encouraging people for such an experience!
        I am planning to go 3 months to africa! Half of the time will be devoted to a volunteering, and the rest to traveling around Uganda, Kenia, Tanzania and Zambia.
        Do you think it’s a good plan?
        I was planning to spend no more than 2,000usd in that 1,5 months of just travelling around these countries . (Volunteering and flight costs apart) .
        Do you think that’s possible?
        Besides, are there many backpackers in this route?
        Any tips will help!
        Thanks a lot!

  2. Laura says:

    I’m planning on spending a month somewhere in Africa in January. I’m thinking maybe Tanzania or Mozambique, but anything is possible, really. Would you recommend buying a tent, if I’m only there for a month? Seems like an awful big thing to carry around!
    Also, it’s really good to read that backpacking Africa is do-able as a girl travelling solo. I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking around most of Asia solo, so I know that a little bit of common sense goes a long way, but it’s still good to read some actual experiences 🙂

    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey Laura! Great to hear from you! And so happy to find another girl who travels solo! Africa is definitely safe & do-able for girls. I’ve heard that Africa will be a little harder– not quite as smooth and easy as Asia, but it’s definitely a good adventure. So if you have 1 month…. I recommend South Africa (lots of backpackers— great if you’re new to Africa– and you can easily travel to Swaziland, Lesotho or other surrounding countries….), but if you want something a little less touristy my favorites are Malawi (seriously a backpacking paradise!), Uganda (lots to see & enjoy, + cool culture), or Tanzania if you include Zanzibar & want to do safari + Kilimanjaro. Mozambique is beautiful, super cheap, and great marine life… but out of all the countries, I found it the one I had to be most careful in. Not just me, but a lot of other travelers had somewhat riskier situations & no matter where I was in the country I had issues with the police…. Maybe it’s changed, and I would still go again, but only go if you’re a little more guarded.

      And as far as a tent…. It’s great because you get cheaper rates & African countries are so beautiful so it’s nice to be outdoorsy. But if you’re only there for a month and you don’t care about the discount (you’d save maybe $3-5 a night)then you can skip it. You’ll have plenty of dorm options.

      Anyways, well I’m so excited for you! It will be a little different (and possibly a little smelly and uncomfortable lol), but I think you’ll really really like it! 🙂 Keep me posted! 🙂

  3. Zeina says:

    Hi Laura And Val,

    I am planning to go across few countries in Africa including Zambia,Tanzania,Mozambique..etc
    I have planned to visit 6 countries and was wondering and still am about how to get there and whats cheap and safe to do..
    anyway I just wanna say that finding two other girls who are planning or has done the same is encouraging..

    and if you have any advice please do not hesitate to write me


    • Val Bowden says:

      Hey Zeina! That’s so awesome! And I know what you mean exactly. I saw a good number of girls traveling solo with no problems. So you should be fine. Well definitely feel free to check out my ebook. That goes into lots of specific safety tips, specific crimes and scams I noticed, what I did, where I went, etc. But reallly just know that anywhere you want to go is possible via bus, and buses are pretty cheap. As long as you stay at hostels, eat at local restaurants, it won’t cost too much. And always check with hostels or other travelers about safety recommendations–because it will change everywhere you go. Like in Rwanda locals told me I could walk down a dark alley at midnight with all my valuables and I would be safe. But in Mozambique, I noticed quickly that lots of backpackers were getting scammed by police, stolen from at hostels, etc. So i was more careful there. Anyways good luck! Stay in touch! And feel free to ask me any more questions 🙂 🙂

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Are you ready for the adventure of a lifetime? Do you want to see the real Africa and make some incredible memories?

Published Date : Jan 15, 2015

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