Budget Africa

West Africa: A Budget and Spending Summary

Although it probably shouldn’t be a surprise, the one thing I have been asked more about travel in Africa than anything is the cost.  Well, the truth is there is no set price or budget.  Every country changes, every city is different, and of course each person has their own standard of living that they require.

Like a good budget traveller, I’ve been keeping tabs on my spending throughout Africa.  However, it wasn’t until a recent comment on the blog here that I realized that what I’ve been spending on average would be of interest to you.  Thus, I’m spilling the beans.  This is my budget for West Africa (Senegal to Nigeria).  There are some minor holes that I had to go on memory, but for the most part this is what I spent in each country along the way.

Budget Africa

In general, I aim for an average of 45USD a day no matter where in the world I travel.  Now, that number was actually a little bit higher in West Africa, mostly due to the cost of visas as well as the lack of the ability to cook for myself.  That being said, had I really wanted to, if I was willing to sleep in really rough accommodation and eat nothing but local street grub, I could have spent less than I did, much less.

At the end of the day, I have found that the idea that Africa is an expensive place to travel is a myth.  I haven’t missed out on nearly anything due to high costs and my budget has been about the same as it was in South America, a famous budget travel spot.

Anyways, on to the numbers!  Click the title of each country to be brought to that page:

map of west africa


  • It is possible to travel West Africa on a backpacker’s budget.  Even with the visa fees and occasional high cost of a tour or hotel, it’s completely possible.
  • Local vs. Expat.  I could easily drop my food budget in every country to $7 a day or less if I ate only local grub.  However, I tend to splurge too often on expat meals.
  • Mid-Range Accommodation.  What I like about West Africa is the availability of mid-range rooms.  In most places your options are dorms ($10-15/night) or private ($50-100/night).  However, in West Africa you can get private rooms for midrange ($10-25/night) prices.  Also, if you are willing to really rough it you can spend as little as a dollar or two a night on a room.  You can also couchsurf to save money.
  • Activities. I thought that this would be a larger chunk of my spending, but the few safaris there are in West Africa are really reasonably priced.
  • Internet. In the English-speaking countries, there is very little wifi and I had to rely on USB internet which is expensive because you need to by the stick and the pay by the megabyte.  Wifi isn’t as available as I expected.
  • What are people waiting for?  I think that my trip through West Africa proved a lot of things: 1) there are worthy sights, 2) it is safe for tourists, 3) it can be done on a budget.  So get you there and travel West Africa!