Cost of Hunting: South Africa

Many U.S. hunters would love the opportunity to go hunting in South Africa. However, many incorrectly assume that they cannot afford such an opportunity due to misconceptions about the cost. 

Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to break your bank account to hunt in South Africa. In fact, African hunting packages for several species of plains game costs about the same as a guided elk hunt in most states. The sheer variety and quantity of game you’ll encounter on a South African hunt is outstanding and almost incomparable to any other place in the world. 

So, when you consider the cost of this excursion, you can unequivocally say that this is one of the best hunting bargains out there. In this guide, we’ll cover all the costs associated with hunting in South Africa, proving how affordable such a trip actually is.

Travel Expenses

You may hear stories of hunters or travelers using travel methods such as chartered aircraft or helicopters. While this is quite luxurious, such methods of travel tend to run up the bill. Thankfully, there is a much cheaper option for the average hunter. Depending on the time of year you’re hunting, round-trip economy-class airline tickets to Africa generally cost between $1,000 and $2,000. South Africa is usually the fastest and least expensive destination on the continent to reach from the United States. You can find plane tickets to Johannesburg on the lower end of the scale.

In South Africa, June to September is the optimal travel season for a hunter. Depending on the hunting areas, a traveler can be picked up at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg by their safari company. If the hunting camp is more than a few hour’s drive from the airport, there can be a destination charge anywhere from $200 to $500 for the round trip. In some cases, the total expenditure for a hunting trip can be under $5,500, even if you add in airfare to O.R. Tambo Airport (of course this is subject to change based on the type of game you hunt).

Trophy Fees

The total price of most South African hunting packages is made up primarily of two factors: daily rates and trophy fees. In this section, we’ll focus on the latter. 

A trophy fee is the price you’ll pay for each individual animal taken on the hunt. That being said, the South African government fully understands the benefits of hunting and has truly embraced it as an important aspect of wildlife conservation. 

For this reason, South Africa has very reasonable prices for their large populations of plains game. These “cheaper” plains game hunts consist of non-exotic species such as gazelle, wildebeest, zebra, warthog, etc. Still, the trophy fee does depend on the game you wish to pursue, so the cost is subject to go up. Hunts for dangerous game like buffalo and leopard cost more than plains game, but still, it’s not expensive as you may guess. On the other hand, more rare and exotic species such as elephant, bongo, and sitatunga are considerably more expensive.

The good news is that you usually only pay for animals actually taken or wounded. So, a 5-10 day South African hunting safari package for the most popular species of plains game normally costs between $3,000 and $7,000. 

Below, you’ll find a general breakdown of trophy fee averages based on a multitude of different outfitters. These prices will likely be about 35% lower if you purchase a package of animals rather than buying each one a la carte.

Average Plains Game Trophy Fees in South Africa: 

  • Impala – $355
  • Com. Springbok – $350
  • Blesbok – $395
  • Gemsbok – $950
  • Lechwe – $1,950
  • Cape Eland – $2,050
  • Blue Wildebeest – $910
  • Black Wildebeest – $790
  • Waterbuck – $1,950
  • Nyala – $2,100
  • Red Hartebeest – $700
  • Warthog – $500
  • Kudu – $1,750
  • Sable – $3,900
  • Roan – $2,800
  • Ostrich – $550
  • Burchell’s Zebra – $980
  • Steenbuck – $370

Average Dangerous Game Trophy Fees in South Africa: 

  • Leopard – $22,750
  • Lion – $53,000
  • Hyena – $4,560
  • Cheetah – $5,000
  • Cape Buffalo – $11,900
  • Giraffe – $2,300
  • Elephant – $31,000
  • White Rhino – $30,000
  • Crocodile – $5,200
  • Hippo – $8,200

Daily Rates

As we mentioned, daily rates make up a large portion of the hunting package. Daily rates cover aspects such as food, lodging, and the services of a guide and trackers. 

For a plains game hunt, daily rates typically cost around several hundred dollars per day and this price does go up if you’re hunting dangerous game. Most outfitters usually offer a cheaper 2×1 guide deal (2 hunters with one guide). For example, a 1×1 guide can cost around $430 whereas a 2×1 guide is around $380 per day. To get the total cost of daily rates, simply multiply the daily rate by the number of days in your hunt for the total daily rates.

Taxidermy and Shipping

 You’ve got two options with taxidermy: do it in South Africa or ship the unfinished hides, skulls, and horns to a taxidermist in the United States. Labor is cheaper in Africa, so taxidermy prices are typically correspondingly lower. 

However, it costs more to ship finished trophies home. Still, it is overall less expensive to do taxidermy in South Africa, even taking into account the increased shipping charges for finished trophies. Plan on spending anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 in shipping costs.

 Conclusion

As you can now gather, a South African hunting trip costs much less than you probably assumed, especially in the case of plains game. All things considered, few other hunting opportunities offer such a tremendous experience at such a reasonable price as a hunt in South Africa.

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