At any wildlife safari holiday, jungle safari drives are the epicenter of tours. How many safari to do, where to do the safari are some important points on which we pay more attention than how to reach and where to stay. Due to increasing interest of society in nature tourism, wildlife tourism is gaining momentum. Introduction of social media sites to share pictures has further hyped the competition of doing photography in all fields. Due to this hype, wildlife tourism has been benefitted as it offers many photographic subjects during safari drives. All this has emphasized the importance of jungle safaris in our holiday plans. Now with the consistent increase in jungle safaris, it is important to know the safari cost, during tour planning phase to estimate tour budget and then only proceed further. As substantial percentage of total tour cost goes only in jeep safaris thus we must understand the concept of jeep safari cost. Due to lack of knowledge, safari cost is always a matter of dispute and doubt between customer and safari service provider. Here we will explain the reasons that raises confusion and doubts and how we can avoid such bad experiences.
Many times we may think that why we are required to pay for jungle safaris as forest need no maintenance cost as everything is naturally gifted. It is just one side of a coin. If we will see the other side of coin then we will realize that national parks do need maintenance and vigilance on regular basis. Here we will find that a large team of experts are involved in maintenance of national parks. They are officials at different level, playing different important roles. In addition to this huge expenditure goes on infrastructure management like making and maintenance of safari trails, arrangement of electricity in forest patrol camps, providing amenities in patrol camps, digital supervision, gadgets use, elephant camps management, compensation unit handling compensation related cases etc. In order to maintain such services, equipments, vehicles, management needs fund which arranged through safari charges.
Here we are discussing about jeep safari chages. Earlier it was collection of 3 main ingredients i.e. permit fee, vehicle fee and guide fee. Here permit fee and guide fee is under direct control of forest department where as jeep fee is decided by local jeep union, in consultation with park field director. These 3 charges are mandatory in exclusive safari rides. Now recently, safari jeep union introduced pick and drop fee as a separate fee. It is not mandatory but optional because if guest is residing any such resort which is a walkable distance from safari ticket counter then guest may walk to ticket counter and avoid this fee. It is basically for those tourists who are residing at resorts which are at long distance from ticket counter thus for pick and drop from hotel, this fee is charged. Here its amount varies as per distance from ticket counter thus overall safari fee may vary as per distance.
Permit is a entry ticket issued by park management in Madhya Pradesh national parks. At present, two types of permit fee slabs have been prevailing in state. First is weekdays fee which is applicable from Monday to Friday and second one is weekend fee, applicable in Saturday and Sunday. Similarly permit fee varies as per nationality of visitors. Rates for Indian nationals are less where as rates for foreign nationals are just double. If any member in group is foreign national then rate of foreigner category will be applicable. This makes major difference in safari cost.
While doing jeep safaris, vehicle cost is included in safari cost, on mandatory basis. These vehicles are registered with forest department thus outside vehicles are not allowed. Here we would like to clarify that rate is decided by forest department but its rate is not mentioned in safari permit. Many time tourists get confused with safari rates.
Taking safari guide in each safari vehicle is mandatory. It clearly means, we can't reject guide service even though we know better than guide. Here in Madhya Pradesh, guide service is not seen as a service to visitors. It is also seen as a way to generate job for local villagers who left there fore father's land for save of tiger reserve development. Thus despite of some knowledge constraints, foerst department offers them job.
As we know that mandatory charges for jeep safari are permit fee, guide fee and vehicle fee. All other charges are optional. It means, after paying these charges, we are eligible for a jeep safari in national park area. Now question of pick and drop fee comes then your resort location is little or far away from ticket counter, where all safari vehicle have to report and start there safari drives. As per rule, tourists have to assemble at ticket counter and from here safari vehicle will start his duty. This rule is for both non-sharing mode and sharing safari mode. Now traveling from hotel to ticket counter and vice versa is not an easy task for all tourists as many times, they don't have vehicle facility to travel from hotel to counter and return back. Thus in order to help those tourists, pick and drop service is offered to tourists having non-sharing permit.
Convenience fee is like a service charge against rendered service. Safari booking is a task of responsibility and takes time and labor. Thus when any travel agent, safari agent or hotelier gives the service of safari booking for tourists, he charges a fee against this service and thus we call it convenience fee or service charge. While asking for the safari booking service, tourist may ask his/her agent to clarify there service charge so that they can take decision accordingly. When tourist get the safari booking done through agent or hotelier, they should be mentally prepared to pay this charge. If they don't want to pay any additional service charge then they should must inform it in advance, to there agent and do the safari booking by own.
Cost calculation in single seat or sharing safari mode is not easy to understand for tourists. Thus here we are sharing this information. In single seat mode of safari, we book our permit through online safari booking channel. This entitles us for reservation of our seat in safari vehicle. In addition to safari permit fee, we have to pay our share for jeep or vehicle and guide. As it is a sharing mode of safari to we will pay our share. Calculation of this share is possible when we know how many sharing partners we have, at the time of entry at safari counter. As number of sharing partners information is not available with us or agent in advance thus total safari cost can't be estimated in advance and it is know to us when we reach ticket counter for safari drive. Thus here we should wait, for cost estimation, till we reach ticket counter, with our permit and submit it to concern window of ticket counter building. Concern officer will check the actual number of sharing partners, approached them for safari drive, in your safari vehicle. Accordingly they will calculate your share and let you know the amount. If nobody reaches for sharing safari vehicle then full amount of jeep fee and guide fee will be payable by that guest who appeared for safari. Understand this point clearly as many time tourists creates dispute with official person on this point clearly. It is possible that some tourists have booked the permit but due to some reason, they don't appeared for safari and thus whole shared cost burden is shifted on tourists present for single seat safari. Thus we need to carry payment as per this worst case scenario.