One common question we hear is “How far in advance should I start booking my safari?”, so we put together our recommendations for when different types of travelers should book different destinations and experiences.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are great safaris to be had all year round, but there are certainly areas and activities that are more seasonal than others. Most camps and lodges work on a tiered basis with Peak or High season rates, Green or Low season rates and Shoulder season rates in between.
Peak/High season generally indicates the “best” time of year to visit a certain area due to migratory patterns, the height of grass and density of bush, and the availability of water, but it also coincides with the highest rates, the biggest crowds and the most competition for space at camps and lodges in the best locations.
Green, Low and Shoulder season refers to times of year when less people are traveling, maybe there’s the possibility of short afternoon showers, or the wildlife is more dispersed, but the rates tend to be 20-30% lower, there’s less crowds, better availability and the wildlife and scenery are still spectacular.
Some of our favorite off-peak season destinations are:
  • Kenya in February and March
  • The Serengeti,Tanzania in November
  • Hwange, Zimbabwe from November-April
  • Botswana and Namibia in May
The other thing to keep in mind is the size of your group. With couples, we usually have a bit more flexibility, but, with small groups, more lead time is always helpful especially if family units are important.
  • For Peak or High Season at Premier in-demand camps, availability is extremely limited, and we recommend booking 12-18 months in advance to have the most flexibility, the widest selection and the best luck lining up space. Destinations in Botswana, Tanzania and Namibia are either very popular or have a very low density of camps, so space fills up fast.
  • For Small Groups of Friends and Families, 9-12 months gives us a good window to line up a diverse range of activities, accommodations and landscapes. Safaris in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe tend to offer great value for families and groups, but the camps are small, and family units are few and far between.
  • If you have a narrow travel window or if you’re interested in specific areas or hands-on conservation activities, 9-12+ months gives us time lock in priority space and secure any necessary permits.
  • Booking 6-9 months in advance is usually enough lead time to find good combinations without having to make too many compromises. Often times, connectivity is key: direct flights are limited, the routing dictates the order of camps, and with 6-9 months out there’s room to navigate the availability and find top notch options.
  • For travel within 3-6 months, there’s lots of possibilities as long as you keep an open mind. We’re probably not going to find space at the most popular camps in the most popular areas during the most popular season with a short lead time, but we can always find high-quality experiences. We also find that planning a last minute safari around limited availability can result in unique itineraries with a bit of surprise.
  • With less than 3 months in advance of travel, we’d call that a spontaneous safari, and we’d take advantage of last minute specials or focus on off-season destinations. This might not be the best fit for a first-time or once-in-a-lifetime safari, but, if a window opens up and Africa is calling, there’s always somewhere spectacular to visit and people on the ground who’ll be glad to see you!
Whether you’re ready to start planning now or if there’s a safari out there on the horizon, get in touch to start exploring the options and charting a path to the perfect safari for you.

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