High-end safaris can cost thousands of dollars per night. Now, the millennial tech boom is making this kind of travel accessible to a whole new type of traveler.
In the 14 years, he’s been at Wilderness Safaris, which operates in seven African countries including Botswana, Kenya, and Rwanda, business development managing director Chris Roche says he’s seen an evolution in the company’s clientele.
While access to money and time has always been essential for safaris that cost an average of $8,000 for five nights, luxury safari-goers are becoming younger and more diverse.
Millennial millionaires minted by the Silicon Valley tech boom can afford luxury travel
The trend of safari-goers skewing younger can be partially explained by the influx of Silicon Valley wealth in recent years, according to Roche, who said he’s seeing more and more California tech workers coming to Africa.
“I think the millennial tech boom story has allowed younger people to make the required money faster or younger in their lives,” Roche said. “So it’s not the case now that you’ve got to be the CEO of General Motors, age 60, before you can [go on a luxury safari].”
At Wilderness Safaris, a typical safari costs $8,000 per person for a five-night stay. But costs vary by country and type of lodging, Roche says. For example, the highest-priced lodge in Botswana costs about $3,500 per person per night, while in Namibia, prices are as low as $400 per person per night.
The travel industry is becoming ‘less structured’ and more diverse
Roche said the changing profile of the typical luxury safari traveler mirrors what’s been happening in the travel industry in general.
“Everything’s become less structured and more heterogeneous rather than homogeneous,” he said.
Roche says he’s also seen an increase in solo female travelers coming on their safaris, which wasn’t common 20 years ago.
“I think many more people are prepared to travel to Africa,” he said. “Many more people have heard of safari and think of it as a viable option, whether it’s honeymoon, anniversary, or whether it’s, ‘I’ve got to escape the developed world.'”
Wilderness Safaris, which was founded in 1983 and offers customizable safaris in addition to set itineraries, fulfills one of the major desires of affluent travelers in 2019: Wealthy travelers are increasingly interested unique, tailored experiences over material goods, as Business Insider’s Lina Batarags previously reported.
As Roche put it, “You’re not going for the caviar and Champagne, you’re paying for the ability to have an exceptional, natural experience in a vast intact ecosystem that doesn’t have anyone else in it. You’re paying for the luxury of space … [and] you’re paying for the luxury of pristine nature.”