African hunt budgeting covers all the possible costs surrounding the hunt. Once you have chosen your hunt and think you know what it is going to cost, there are all the additional items to factor in which may or may not apply to you and your specific hunt.
"To determine the precise cost of a safari before the fact is rather like figuring out the length of a piece of string with only one end in sight." Peter Hathaway Capstick
You should have a list of all the available animals with their individual prices which are payable at the conclusion of the hunt. The fee is payable even if you wound and lose the animal. Usually the presence of blood or other tissue will indicate the wounded animal and even if it is not found, you will still have to pay.
Trophy fees are usually payable in US$ cash or traveller's cheques before you leave the hunting camp. If you intend paying in traveller's cheques there may be a 3-5% surcharge added to your bill. Always check with your outfitter how he prefers payment sometimes it will be cash only because they can't handle traveller's cheques locally.
You may find it uncomfortable to carry so much cash around, especially for example, if you are intending to do a full bag hunt in Tanzania where trophy fees can mount up to tens of thousands of dollars. In some cases, the outfitter will take an advance payment into his account. However, this may be problematic in countries where cash is the usual mode of payment and he must pay the Government game fees in cash. The outfitter will usually have to pass his own bank charges on to you, whether moving the cash from his account or transferring any excess amounts back to you.
In fact, paying a proportion of the trophy fees at the time of booking a hunt, has become the norm now with several companies, in Tanzania, for example. Depending on your hunting licence length, the outfitter will ask for a trophy fee lump sum ahead of the hunt. If you don't get all the trophies, reaching that trophy fee amount, the outfitter will refund you. Of course, if you exceed the trophy fee pre-payment sum, the excess will need to be paid at the conclusion of the hunt in cash, as normal.
You will need to pre-plan your trophy fee budget, bringing enough money for all the trophies you really want and perhaps an 'emergency' fund in case you can't resist an unplanned trophy animal. You will need to exercise a modicum of restraint in your hunting when working to your budget, unless you have previously agreed with the outfitter that he will take a bank transfer mid-hunt. It is highly unlikely that an outfitter will agree to you transferring more money once you get home, to cover your excess spending.
There is another expense related to trophy fees that it is important to know about and have a contingency plan for. If you are hunting in a country that has strict Government hunting trophy criteria of animal size and sex, like Tanzania, there will be a hefty financial penalty if a game law is broken. Regardless of whether it was an unintentional or not, if the 'wrong' animal is killed or wounded, the fine will be the trophy fee x 3 total with the option that the Government may (though unlikely) or may not seize the trophy. Not an inconsiderable amount if an animal like an elephant is involved!
This can be quite a major expense especially if you are hunting in a wilderness area where there are a lot of camp and hunting staff involved with your hunt. Take the advice of your outfitter or PH as to what is expected by the way of tips. The subject of tips or gratuities always seems to cause some consternation with hunters so will be discussed further.
Some hunting camps offer items for sale like their own range of clothing or African souvenirs. If you think you might buy this sort of thing, budget for a few hundred dollars more on top of your trophy fees, as again these items will be payable in cash or traveller's cheques and added to the final bill. Occasionally you'll find one of the camp staff is running his own African souvenir 'business' and in this case, cash will be the only form of payment. It is a good idea to bring small denomination notes for these purchases.
You should already know whether alcoholic beverages of all types are included in your hunt price, whether some drinks are included like beer and wine but spirits and champagne are not, or whether all alcohol is at extra cost. If alcohol is not included or partially included, be prepared for a bar bill at the end of your hunt. Again this will be payable in cash or traveller's cheques before you leave. Prices will vary, depending where you hunt. For example in Tanzania, imported brands of alcohol are more expensive and there will be the additional costs of bringing it in to a remote camp either by air or truck. In southern Africa, alcoholic beverages are generally cheaper. You will be charged per bottle rather than per glass. A good outfitter will also ask you prior to your arrival, what your drink preferences are. If you don't specify what you want, don't expect the very finest vintage wine or best malt. It is a good idea is to buy any special brands duty free and bring them in with you.
When alcohol is included in your hunt price, you may see that the outfitter has optimistically added 'in moderation'. Be realistic, if you do intend to drink heavily, please advise your outfitter so he can plan for this, otherwise, especially in remote areas, the drink may run out.
Another quick word on alcohol - it is not advisable to hunt and drink alcohol. Most reputable outfitters will not carry alcohol on the hunting truck. There may be the odd can of beer but nothing else. Do not expect to be allowed to hunt after you have consumed a half bottle of whisky with lunch.
The costs of transfers by road from the main or local airport to your hunting camp may or may not be included in your hunt price. If it is not, check with your outfitter for the exact cost.
A not inconsiderable part of your hunt budgeting, especially if you are travelling a long distance. Getting a good flight deal will be up to you but do not incur extra baggage charges inadvertently - remember your firearms and ammunition are included in your baggage weight allowance. If you are transiting or have a lay-over en route, remember possible additional hotel, meals, taxi, portering costs. Check whether any airport taxes are pre-included on your ticket and are not payable in cash at the airport on departure.
These flights can be booked when you make your international flight reservations. Ensure all your flights are ticketed together so that your original baggage allowance applies to all your flights. This is particularly important for hunters from USA where they start with a 60kg allowance and a domestic flight in RSA, for example, only allows 20kg.
Assuming these are not included in your hunt price, the air charter costs will be itemised separately on your hunt invoice for advance payment and are booked by the outfitter. There may be a proviso that the cost may alter, usually due to potential fuel cost increases. Air charter costs are usually charged per aircraft, not per person - double check this with your outfitter if you are not sure. The costs are based on the size of aircraft and the distance travelled.
There is also an additional per person tax for landing, departure, safety and navigation. Depending on the country, this is a small US$ cash payment made at the charter terminal. Usually, for convenience, the good outfitter will add it to your invoice and pre-pay it, rather than have you delayed at the airfield. Check if this is the case.
This African hunt budgeting item is based your choice of accommodation standard, though your outfitter may make recommendations and the reservations on your behalf.
If you prefer not to bring your own your firearm for any reason, the outfitter can usually offer to rent you one. There is generally a rifle rental charged daily or for the hunt duration and you will be charged for ammunition per round used or per box. The ammunition charge may be higher than you are used to paying in your home country, especially for good quality, large calibre rounds because they are more expensive in Africa.
Depending on the country you are hunting in, there may be a fee per firearm to obtain your import permit. Where there is a charge, check whether it is included or not in your hunt price - some outfitters may include the fee for 1 rifle and charge you extra for subsequent rifles that you may want to bring. Other outfitters may exclude the fee from the hunt costs and just add it to your hunt invoice as a separate item. In South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe the issue of firearm import permits is free.
The necessary 'meet & greet' service in countries like Tanzania are usually included in your hunt price. The company representative has your firearm permit with him.
In RSA, for example, you can either organise your own permit documentation or use a airport assistance company who will get your permit in advance and help you through without queuing. This expense is purely optional but useful as the documentation is quite involved and time-consuming especially if you have a tight onward flight connection.
This is payable on arrival in some countries like Tanzania. It is a Government duty imposed on any amounts of ammunition exceeding 100 rounds. It will have to be a US$ cash payment.
This important African hunt budgeting item may incur an increased premium rate for your hunting trip as hunting is considered a 'hazardous sport'. Also you may need to buy extra travel insurance cover for direct medical evacuation from the bush. Consider buying special hunting insurance and make sure your firearms are fully covered.
Unless you don't intend to keep your trophies, taxidermy expenses are a major cost component of a hunt budget. Do plenty of research to find the company that will suit your budget whether in Africa or in your home country.
Another major African hunt budgeting expense where shopping around may be called for. However, go with the trophy shipping company that is most reputable and knows how to deal with animal products. Cutting corners and pennies here can result in disastrous consequences of delays, lost or impounded trophies.
Africa is the home of the finest quality precious stones in the world. Wouldn't tanzanite or a diamond be an ideal gift for the most important person in your life? Worth extending your African hunt budgeting plan, don't you think?