How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari?

Are you thinking of planning / going on the ultimate African safari getaway, trip, adventure experience or holiday but you’re not exactly sure where to start? We’ve got you covered! However, before you can get to the fun and thrilling part of planning your trip to Africa, determining / deciding when you want to go and how far in advance you should / need to book your African safari trip is crucial.


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari

As with any once-in-a-lifetime trip, there are several important factors that affect how far in advance you need to plan and book your bucket-list worthy trip to Africa. For example, if you are dead set on / will-not-otherwise-be-persuaded / highly specific about certain factors / elements surrounding your trip, including but not limited to, a particular destination, country, set of dates, type of accommodation, range of safari experiences, adventures, and activities, as well as the number of people you want to take along on your trip, it can all have a significant impact on how much time is required to both plan and book your perfect safari trip to Africa. Not to mention how far in advance you’ll need to start the planning process – especially if these factors are deemed non-negotiables. If this is the case, the amount of time required is far more compared to travellers that are flexible and have no set of rigid must-have travel demands and guidelines.

Deemed the epitome of lavish luxury, tranquillity, and exclusivity, planning a trip to Africa is vastly different and considerably more complex and intricate compared to planning a trip to any other ‘popular’ global travel destination or leading city with hundreds of hotels and accommodation options to choose from. This is in stark contrast to Africa where most of its highly sought-after and top destinations, reserves, camps, National Parks, and safari lodges only have a handful of luxury suites and lavish private villas available for guests. Not to mention, each African country / destination only boasts a limited number of safari lodges.

Offering travellers the best of the best, accommodation in Africa is set within the heart of the African bushveld and positioned to provide true away-from-it-all indulgence with panoramic views of the spectacular wildlife, stunning savannah, and magnificent surrounding wilderness. The only ‘interruptions’ you’ll encounter are wandering elephants, curious giraffe or, if you’re lucky, a lion basking in the midday sun. What more could you possibly ask for?

This means, if you’re looking to plan the ultimate African safari trip that ticks all your boxes (plus a whole lot more), you should start your planning and booking process well in advance.  Ideally, we suggest you plan to book between 8 and 12 months ahead of when you want to travel / embark on your trip to your chosen African safari destination. This will warrant 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.

South Africa

“South Africa is the most beautiful place on earth. Admittedly, I am biased but when you combine the natural beauty, and the fact that the region is a haven for Africa’s most splendid wildlife, then I think we have been blessed with a truly wonderful land.” – Nelson Mandela


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - South Africa

Often described as ‘the world in one country’, there is no denying that South Africa is one of those glorious countries that just ‘HAVE-IT-ALL’ – A total enigma, and we just can’t get enough – and clearly neither can the rest of the world as South Africa is regarded as one of the most popular (if not THE most popular) countries / destinations in Africa to travel to among tourists, holiday-goers, globe-trotters, thrill-seekers, wildlife enthusiasts, travelers, explorers, and visitors from across the globe.

Breathtaking, bold, vibrant, exhilarating, colorful, captivating, and brimming with diverse cultures, languages, religions, and ethnicities, South Africa is a country unlike any other – There truly is nothing quite like it!

Not to mention its vast, varied, and beyond astonishing array of spectacular landscapes and destinations – From the most beautiful beaches and coastlines in the world, majestic mountains (including the globally acclaimed Table Mountain – one of the ‘7 Natural Wonders of the World’) and magnificent mountainscapes, the captivating Cape Winelands, vibrant cities, sensational secret spots, spectacular hidden gems, and of course the unspoiled, untouched, and untamed African bushveld – it’s safe to say South Africa has it ALL!

With so much to offer it’s no surprise that the beautiful, vibrant, lively, gloriously diverse, and wildly exciting country of South Africa has captured the hearts of travelers from all around the world.

NOW FOR THE CATCH! Due to South Africa’s soaring popularity as one of the most desirable and highly regarded, must-visit global travel destinations among foreign travelers, it may demand / require more lead time to plan and book a trip to this beautifully diverse, wildly exciting, vast, vivid, and vibrant African country.

If you plan on visiting any of South Africa’s leading / most sought-after destinations / locations such as Cape Town, especially during its peak season (December & January), leaving your booking to anything less than nine months in advance could make it extremely challenging to find any availability or accommodation options in the Mother City’s preferred and / or most desirable areas – Whether it be a blissful beach breakaway, charming Cape Winelands escape, or lively go-go-GO inner-city adventure.

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Cape Town

**With this in mind, we recommend booking anywhere between nine months to a year in advance.


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Botswana

Botswana is not only regarded as one of the most exclusive and widely acclaimed safari destinations in Africa, but one of the most remarkable wilderness areas on earth too. Boasting vast stretches of protected wilderness, pristine landscapes, premier National Parks, luxury safari lodges, incredible game reserves, and a glorious diversity of wildlife, as a safari destination, Botswana is hard to top. This undoubtedly makes Botswana an extremely popular safari destination among tourists, travellers, and anyone looking to discover, explore, and experience everything this glorious country has to offer.

The south and east of Botswana consist of the jaw-dropping Kalahari Desert and lunar-like pans at Nxai and Makgadikgadi. The north and west, on the other hand, comprise the dazzling water worlds of the Okavango Delta and Chobe River ecosystem. The sheer diversity of Botswana’s terrain lends itself to an endless array of things to do, see, explore, and tick off your safari bucket-list.

Whether it’s the allure of free-roaming wildlife, the rich cultural immersion, or the spectacular natural landscapes, Botswana is sure to have it in spades.

However, here’s the catch! Due to its wide-open plains and vast wilderness surroundings, Botswana only has a small intimate nature of properties, with limited accommodation options.

This means that the best properties, top lodges, and sought-after accommodation options are typically booked out far in advance, especially during Botswana’s peak season. For this reason, we recommend you book your trip to Botswana between 12 to 18 months in advance.


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Kenya

Avid travelers and wildlife enthusiasts looking to combine adventure, travel, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences with phenomenal game viewing, vast unspoiled landscapes, the magic of the African bushveld, beautiful beaches, bucket-list worthy experiences and so much more, the magnificent East African country of Kenya is a one-of-a-kind African safari destination which will undoubtedly exceed all your expectations. Home to some of the best – if not THE best – National Parks, conservancies, and wildlife reserves in Africa, people travel from all around the world to experience all of Kenya’s wilderness wonders, safari adventures, unparalleled wildlife viewing, and wild unapologetic natural beauty first-hand. With so much to offer, Kenya is in HIGH demand!

In addition to Kenya being one of Africa’s most highly acclaimed safari destinations, the Annual Great Wildebeest Migration – One of the Seven Natural wonders of Africa as well as one of the greatest wilderness spectacles on the planet – is by far its most famous and sought-after attraction. Near the top of almost every African travel enthusiast’s bucket list, this once-in-a-lifetime experience and spectacular wildlife spectacle is an absolute must-see!

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Kenya

However, as you might imagine, the demand for a front-row seat to nature’s greatest journey and wildlife spectacle is beyond overwhelming at the best of times. Therefore, guests and travellers who are eager to visit Kenya with the intention of witnessing and experiencing the Annual Great Migration first-hand should plan to book at least a year in advance in order to secure their spot.

For those who aren’t as focused on experiencing the Great Migration – the odds are certainly in your favour! In this case, booking anywhere between six to ten months in advance should be suitable (however, this is only if you plan to travel to Kenya outside of the peak season between June and October).


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Tanzania

East Africa’s second largest country, Tanzania, is deemed one of the most captivating and diverse African safari destinations. In fact, few destinations in Africa can rival Tanzania’s sheer diversity of wildlife and vast and varied landscapes. Tanzania is well-known for its exceptional year-round game-viewing, superb Big 5 encounters, which are easily spotted and highly prevalent, vast and varied landscapes, and endless array of unforgettable safari experiences and adventures. That’s certainly not all – Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is famous for being the best place in Africa to witness and experience the Annual Great Wildebeest Migration – One may call the magnificent Serengeti National Park Tanzania’s official claim to wilderness fame! And similar to Kenya, it’s a hot commodity when it comes to African travel.

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Tanzania

Planning a trip to see one of the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet as well as ‘One of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa’ in all its glory should therefore start a long time in advance, with bookings needing to be made at least a year ahead of your travel dates.

However, the Great Migration is not all Tanzania has to offer – not by a mile! In fact, Tanzania boasts an incredible array of destinations to explore and attractions to see and experience, some of which include the Ngorongoro Crater, the glorious Mount Kilimanjaro (dubbed the highest peak on the African continent at 5895 metres (19,340 feet) above sea level), Lake Manyara National Park, Zanzibar, the Mahale Mountains National Park, and Selous Game Reserve (which is intersected by the crocodile-infested Rufiji River and home to the world-renowned Stiegler’s Gorge), to mention merely a few of its top attractions. Travellers eager to discover, explore, and experience all of this and so much more could book a mere six to eight months in advance and still secure space.


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Zambia

Travelling to Zambia? Great choice! A beautiful, diverse, and vibrant landlocked country in southern Africa, Zambia is often overshadowed by Africa’s more ‘popular’ safari destinations. However, this remarkable hidden gem has finally begun to emerge, establishing itself as one of the most premier wildlife and safari destinations in Africa for avid travellers, globe-trotting tourists, and head-over-heals local and international wildlife and safari enthusiasts alike. Boasting relatively untouched and unspoiled landscapes and a vast diversity of wildlife and birdlife, Zambia should definitely be on your African safari travel bucket-list.

One thing (among many) that sets Zambia apart from other African countries is that despite its growing reputation as a spectacular and must-visit safari destination, its remote location has helped it retain its essence of true wilderness – providing an unpredictable and exhilarating safari experience to anyone that visits.

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Zambia

However, that certainly doesn’t mean Zambia comes without its fair share of sought-after attractions and stunning must-visit destinations. The world-renowned Victoria Falls – one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World & one of Africa’s most astonishing sights – not only reigns supreme as one of Zambia’s top and most highly acclaimed attractions, but is without a doubt a headliner on most, if not all, traveler’s Zambian trip itineraries.

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - South Luangwa National Park Zambia

Beyond the iconic Victoria Falls, Zambia has so much more to offer with the Kafue, Lower Zambezi, and South Luangwa National Park being merely three of several destinations you absolutely must visit on your trip to Zambia.

If you’re planning to travel to Zambia during the months of July or August, booking at least a year in advance is wise, as this is Zambia’s peak safari season.

If you want to include a visit to the mighty and magnificent Victoria Falls – it is the largest sheet of falling water in the world after all – in your travel itinerary, you can safely plan to book between six to nine months in advance.


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is one of Southern Africa’s most rewarding big game safari destinations. Authentic, untamed, and rugged, it offers visitors, avid adventurers, and eager nature and wildlife enthusiasts an off-the-beaten-track African safari experience. Boasting incredible National Parks and reserves, vast and vibrant landscapes, and an abundant diversity of wildlife, including the renowned Big 5, a trip to Zimbabwe is definitely worth it!

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is arguably one of Africa’s very best Big 5 safari destinations and National Parks. Covering a vast expanse of around 5,655 square miles/14,650 square kilometers, it is both the largest and oldest of Zimbabwe’s game reserves, not to mention one of Zimbabwe’s top tourist attractions especially among avid wildlife enthusiasts as the park is considered to have the biggest diversity of mammals out of the world’s National Parks. Its no surprise that Hwange National Park, along with several other attractions, including Lake Kariba, and the all-mighty Victoria Falls (of course) are among the top attractions and fixtures on any Zimbabwean travel itinerary.

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Zimbabwe

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 (between six to nine months in advance).

**Tip: We’d advise that you avoid travelling to Zimbabwe in December when Victoria Falls is at its lowest and the African summer heat is in full effect. During other times of the year, we suggest booking your trip to Zimbabwe at least nine months in advance.


How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Rwanda

Africa is widely renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after (or as frequently featured on the cover of travel magazines or at the very top of avid traveller’s bucket lists of must-do once-in-a-lifetime adventure experiences) as Rwanda where avid wildlife enthusiasts and thrill-seeking adventurers from across the globe have the incredible opportunity of witnessing Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. In fact, Rwanda is deemed the best place in Africa to engage in what is arguably the world’s single most enriching, exhilarating, and powerful wildlife experiences, sought-after safari adventures, and thrilling wildlife encounters – tracking mountain gorillas through the steep bamboo and forest-swathed slopes of the Virunga Mountains.

How Far in Advance Should I Book my African Safari - Rwanda

Tucked in between the renowned safari destinations of Kenya and Tanzania, Rwanda undoubtedly offers travelers some of the best primate tracking on the planet – set against the backdrop of its endless green hills and soaring mountainsides.

But not just anyone gets the bucket-list worthy opportunity of witnessing these incredible and magnificent creatures up close. Permits to go gorilla trekking are limited, making them difficult to obtain.

However, a trip to Rwanda can be planned in a much shorter period of time than a trip to most other African destinations, countries, parks, and reserves. When planning and booking your adventure-filled and beyond memorable trip to Rwanda, be sure to book a minimum of four months ahead of when you will be travelling to this African gem.

**Tip: Be sure to keep in mind that the further ahead you plan and book, the better your chances will be of creating a truly unforgettable experience in the heart of the African rainforest.