As simple and easy as our team of Travel Experts make it seem, planning an African safari isn't always a walk in the park. With a wide variety of factors that need to be considered when curating our guests' holidays, it can be a complicated endeavour. As with most things, with the right amount of time, almost anything is possible, and an African safari is no exception. With that in mind, here's our guide to how far in advance you should book your African safari.
The Inside Scoop
When planning your trip, it's important to take into account the various factors that may affect how far in advance you'd need to plan. Things such as how specific you are about the destination, accommodation, experiences or dates can dramatically affect the arrangements and the time required to plan your safari.
If any of the above are non-negotiables, it can seriously affect how far ahead you need to start planning and booking. Even the number of people you're travelling with is important, as many lodges can accommodate couples or single travellers at a shorter notice than a larger group.
It's important to remember that planning an African safari is not the same as planning a trip to a leading city with hundreds of hotels to choose from. The smaller, more sought-after camps have only a handful of suites, and each region has limited camps. Ideally, travellers should plan to book between nine and 12 months ahead of when they want to visit their destination. This gives about enough time to secure availability and ensure you're at the front of the queue for the most sought-after experiences Africa has to offer.
As one of the most popular African destinations for foreign guests, South Africa can require more lead time when booking your visit.
If you plan to visit destinations like Cape Town during peak seasons, such as December and January, leaving your booking to anything less than nine months in advance could make it extremely challenging to find availability in the region's more popular accommodation options and activities.
With this in mind, we recommend booking anywhere between nine months to a year in advance.
Much like South Africa, Botswana is extremely popular among travellers to Africa. And with good reason. Captivating wildlife and some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere on Earth make it a dream destination for those passionate about our continent. However, due to the vast wild spaces and small intimate nature of properties in Botswana, accommodation options are much more limited.
This means the best properties are booked out far in advance, especially during peak season. For this reason, we recommend you book your trip to Botswana between 12 to 18 months in advance.
As one of the prime safari destinations, Kenya is always in high demand. With so much to see and do, there really isn't a bad time to visit, and our guests are always blown away by their experiences. But perhaps the most famous attraction in Kenya is the Great Migration. Near the top of almost every African travel enthusiast's bucket list, this once-in-a-lifetime experience is a must-see.
But as you might imagine, demand for a front-row seat to nature's greatest journey is overwhelming at the best of times. Therefore, guests wanting to visit Kenya to see the Great Migration should plan to book at least a year in advance to secure their spot.
For those who aren't as focused on the Great Migration, booking anywhere between six to ten months in advance should be suitable. However, this is only if you plan to travel outside of the peak season between June and October.
Perhaps the best place to witness the Great Migration is in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park. And similar to Kenya, it's a hot commodity when it comes to African travel. Planning a trip to see this natural phenomenon should start a long time in advance, with bookings needing to be made at least a year ahead of your travel dates.
And whilst it's spectacular, the Great Migration isn't all there is to see in Tanzania. Visitors hoping to see Ngorongoro Crater, Zanzibar, Lake Manyara and other Tanzanian attractions could book a mere six to eight months in advance and still secure space.
However, keep in mind a full itinerary would inevitably include the Serengeti. So, again we would err on the side of caution and advise planning one year in advance, at least, for the full circuit.
Zambia is often overlooked as a safari destination, but this hidden gem is quickly becoming a favourite among our guests and Travel Experts! The iconic Victoria Falls are inevitably the headline of most itineraries, but seasoned safari-goers swear by the delights of the Kafue, Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa National Park.
If you're planning to visit in July or August, booking at least a year in advance is wise, as this is the peak safari season for travel to Zambia. If you want to include Victoria Falls in your itinerary, you can safely plan to book between six to nine months in advance.
Zimbabwe is home to some fascinating destinations for the African travel enthusiast. Lake Kariba, Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls are regular fixtures on our guests' itineraries. And as you'd expect, the amount of time required to book in advance is much the same as mentioned for Zambia when visiting Victoria Falls.
We'd advise avoiding visiting in December when Victoria Falls is at its lowest and the African summer heat is in full effect. At other times of the year, we suggest booking your trip to Zimbabwe at least nine months in advance.
Rwanda is arguably the best destination to see gorillas. But not just anyone gets an opportunity to see these incredible creatures up close. Permits to go gorilla trekking are limited, making them difficult to obtain.
However, a trip to Rwanda can be planned much shorter in advance than most African destinations. When planning a Rwandan itinerary, we ensure our guests have booked a minimum of four months ahead of when they will travel. However, the further ahead you plan, the better your chances will be of creating a truly unforgettable experience in the heart of the African rainforest.
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If you ask us when the ideal time to book an African safari is, we'd say right now! But for those of you needing a little more notice, it's important to make sure you plan far enough in advance to get the most out of your travel to our continent.
Our team of Travel Experts are on hand to help make sure your African safari dreams come to life. Get in touch with us to start planning your adventure!
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