A $20K Botswana Safari – Worth Every Penny

Like many people, I suppose, we have always dreamt of a trip to Africa. To see all those animals, in the wild, not cages, would be fantastic! The things that made such a trip seem out of reach were safety, the complexity of planning such a trip and the expense. Well, we thought, maybe someday… Hearing of the sudden deaths of a couple of friends not much older than we are, and a health scare of our own just a few years ago, made us ask ourselves: … what are we waiting for? ~seeitall

And so begins part 1 of seeitall’s outstanding 5-part report of he and his wife’s trip to three separate and unique safari camps in Botswana.

What a trip report it is. In my opinion an almost perfect blend of textual description, amazing photos, and detailed information about the planning that went into the trip and the accounting of expenses after all was said and done. Over $20K in all, but worth every penny in seeitall’s estimation.

Would I spend $20K on a trip like this? At a different point in my life, sure.

What about you? Would you spend $20K on a safari trip to Africa?

Hold off on answering that question until after you have read seeitall’s report.

Image: “On Lion’s Pond” by Steve Jurvetson. CC BY 2.0.


  1. Yes! I always say to people, they can take my stuff, my house, my cars, my property, but they can never take away my memories. I would rather spend 20K on an experience than stuff.


  2. One of the best perks of being a travel agent? Getting a $20k trip for less than a 1/4 of the price.

    Regardless, even without a TA discount, I’d pay $20k in a heartbeat for an experience like the one described above.

  3. @Sam – Well said. It’s all about the memories in the end … but I don’t want anyone taking my stuff either 😉

    @Ben – Less than $5K for this safari trip? Really? How much does it cost to become a certified TA? Might be worth the expense after just a couple of trips.

  4. @Mikel: harder than one thinks, at least for Virtuoso. Virtuoso is invite only, and for those who own their own agency, dues are in the $6k/year range (or higher). Totally worth it if that’s your actual job, but I wouldn’t suggest anyone try their hand at an ‘at home’ agency. Go get grandfathered into a Virtuoso agency if its something you’re passionate about. Don’t forget, you have to sell between $1-2mm/year to make this a six-figure salary.

    FWIW, and I’m not just talking about Virtuoso – very, very expensive trips (think Tauck, Abercrombie & Kent, Lindblad, Orient-Express/Belmond, etc) are substantially discounted for TAs (50-95%). Some hotel chains also give rooms for close to nothing, depending on your status as a TA and who you’re affiliated with.

  5. @ Ben – this is very interesting. I can’t even imagine how much work you have to put it to get familiar with all the destinations, tour companies, etc. BTW, A&K Antarctica tour looks awesome although the prices are as severe as the weather on South Pole (not even mentioning the dreaded single supplement *sigh*).

  6. @Ivan: You’re right, being a travel agent is a lot more work than most would assume (hence my advice: don’t even dare attempting one of those ‘at-home travel’ kits you can find online.

    As for getting all the tour operators straight, we literally have a whole room at the agency just dedicated to pamphlets/magazines/tour ads.

    AK is a solid company, but IMO, quite overrated. Of course, all these companies are destination specific…Greaves is better in India, Absolute is better in Iran, Tauck in Iceland, etc etc. Would never blanket recommend one above all.

  7. @ Ben – would you mind emailing me your contact info (my name should have my email address)? I don’t have a travel agent — can’t promise booking a 20K safari annually though 😀

    Speaking of that safari, if that sounds expensive to someone, I just checked updated prices on trips to South Pole and they went up to $45-50K+ (doing the poles is on my bucket list). By the time I can afford to drop that much cash, I will be too old to do a “ski-the-last-degree” and will have to cheat and take a plane 🙁

  8. Hmm… don’t think email shows up correctly as the link. It’s iyagolnikov [at] gmail [dot] com

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