Not everyone can commit to booking a safari well in advance (usually up to a year in some cases). While it’s always advisable to plan ahead for a trip to the African continent, there are many instances of visitors wanting to simply pack up and go on a last minute safari. With Visit Africa’s immense network of experienced tour operators, we can collate your travel plans in the space of a few days, with quick, expert planning.

For travel to East Africa, it should ideally be a maximum of ten days to a month before arrival because visas need to be purchased online. Certain Southern Africa destinations offer more flexibility for last minute safari bookings, and if you’re planning on travelling to only one country, there will be fewer delays and a more seamless process. We want to share 6 last minute safari tips that will help you with spontaneous travel adventures:

1. Use an Expert to Book

Lion encounters on safari in Kenya | Go2Africa

There are many reasons to use an expert safari tour operator from first-hand experience and inside information to 24/7 on-safari support and the best flight and lodge availability, at the best prices.  It’s best to consult with your expert before booking your international flight, and to take advantage of allowing them to handle the entire trip right from the beginning to your journey back home – convenient and stress-free.

When using an expert to book, you can also benefit from exclusive access to experiences, as well as the resources that we use that the average consumer is not able to or are simply not aware of. The Africa Safari Experts at Visit Africa are some of the most well-travelled, award-winning, and knowledgeable people you will ever meet, and their sole purpose is to make sure that your entire trip is tailor-made to your specifications and far exceeds your expectations.

2. Ensure your Travel Documents & Vaccinations are Up To Date

Exterior of Jabil Ridge in Tanzania | Go2Africa
  • Check the validity of your passport and that it is not due to expire within 6 months. You need sufficient blank pages and to err on the side of caution, leave one page per country you’re intending on visiting.
  • Check if a visa is required and whether you able to get it on arrival, or if you must wait approximately a week prior to your arrival.
  • Botswana, Namibia and South Africa are countries that do not require visas for US travellers, making them excellent last minute options.
  • Before making any decisions it’s vital that you understand what vaccinations are required in Africa.
  • Consult with your local GP as soon as possible before you plan on leaving.

3. Allow for Flexibility

Elephants and lions on safari in Botswana | Go2Africa

Be open to taking expert advice and don’t focus on a specific location or lodge for a last minute safari booking. Instead, think of the type of experience you imagine having. Do you want to witness the Great Migration? Do you want a digital detox in open wilderness with just you, a guide and a mosquito net? Do you want barefoot luxury on a tropical island?

If you can dream it, your Africa Safari Expert will be able to tailor-make it, but because time is a factor, certain camps and lodges could be at capacity for your chosen travel dates. Flexibility is important and Africa has a plethora of options, some well-known, some hidden gems and some you possibly hadn’t thought possible or even existed. Another point to keep in mind is allowing some flexibility by a day on either side of your trip.

4. Simpler is Better

Luxury tented safari camp in the Masai Mara, Kenya | Go2Africa

The more destinations you include on an itinerary, the more logistically challenging it can become. If you’re travelling on a last minute safari, you should consider trying to keep things simple to avoid any unnecessary complications. African destinations are vast and spending more time in one place can be greatly beneficial. You can immerse yourself deeper into cultural pursuits, spend more time on safari and try a broader range of experiences. Many destinations, although paired perfectly with others, can stand alone and in some cases, provide a richer travel journey.

This will also work well with the nitty-gritty of travel planning. You’ll find it easier to book space at one lodge or camp for an extended stay of say four or five nights, than you would trying to find different lodges and camps for each night.

5. The Pitfalls of Peak Season

Waling with the Masai in Tanzania | Go2Africa

With any travel destination, there are peak seasons and off-peak seasons, in terms of travel budgets, peak seasons will always be more expensive and in some cases, more so if you are planning on travelling on a last minute safari. Last minute discounts are always on offer and your Africa Safari Expert will be keenly aware of all of them, but sometimes finding space at that special lodge or camp will cost you more than you expected.

6. Provide Your Expert with as Much Information As Possible

A mokoro ride in the Okavango Delta in Botswana | Go2Africa

When you are travelling on short notice, it’s imperative you be as specific as possible to be able to be presented with options that are suited perfectly for you. Take some time to research on the website, perusing tours or accommodations that you feel would be a good fit for you. This is a great springboard for an expert to work from.

It’s also important to give a timeline of more than one option and your specific travel dates for a last minute safari. The more information provided, the less stress for everyone and it saves time on going back and forth with multiple options.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you are working with an Africa Safari Expert:

  • What flights are you considering?
  • What budget are you working with?
  • How many days do you want to spend travelling and where?
  • What are your areas of interest: are you wanting a cultural experience, a conservation experience, a classic safari, or a beach escape, maybe both?
  • Are you travelling with kids? What are their ages?