South Africa has something wonderful to offer at any time of year
South Africa experiences distinct seasons. Their influence affects different parts of the country in different ways.
So, the best time to visit South Africa really depends on whether you’re a shade seeker or a sun worshipper.
|Best||Jan, Feb, Mar, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec|
November - February
Summer in the southern hemisphere
The Western Cape’s Mediterranean climate dictates hot, sunny days with minimal rainfall. In the coastal towns and cities such as Cape Town, you’ll enjoy a cooling sea breeze to take the edge of the heat. The settled conditions are optimal for a great white shark cage diving experience. Or get involved with the grape harvest during a Cape Winelands tour.
For much of the rest of the country away from the south-western corner, this is when the annual rains fall. While the rains can be heavy at times, they are usually not prolonged or disruptive.
This is the time when the bush turns lush and green, the light is spectacular and the colours are amplified by returning migratory birds. Many animals choose to give birth to coincide with the abundance of food.
March - May
Warm and dry across most of the country
These transitional months see the return of more comfortable temperatures and most days are still reliably dry. This is arguably the best time to combine different parts of the country and avoid extremes of weather.
It’s a lovely time to visit Cape Town and the surrounding area as autumn colours take hold. This is particularly noticeable among the vines of the Cape Winelands. Greens are replaced by shades of amber, burnt orange and auburn, all enhanced by the less bleaching, autumnal light.
In the game reserves of the north, the picture is equally pretty with trees and shrubs retaining their leaves after the summer rains. As the days start to shorten, you may even get an extra hour in bed before the wake-up call for your morning game drive.
June - August
Winter months bring peak safari viewing
If you are planning a South Africa family safari and prefer to avoid the heat then this is the very best time to visit South Africa. The dry conditions mean the wildlife is most active and easy to spot.
On a malaria free family safari in the Madikwe Game Reserve you will enjoy cool nights and pleasantly warm days. The same is true of much of the north and interior of the country. Fantastic conditions for Drakensberg hiking tours or a South Africa Battlefields tour.
Cape Town gets its fair share of wet and windy weather at this time of year. The wind can impact maritime activities as well as the Table Mountain Cable Car. However, accommodation is significantly cheaper and many visitors will enjoy bright crisp mornings and mild days with fantastic visibility.
The returning southern right whales herald the start of whale watching tours from Hermanus. It’s also a great time to get to know the locals at events such as the Garden Route’s Knysna Oyster Festival.
September - October
Transitional months with wonderful wildlife sightings
The Western Cape sees the return of more settled weather although September can remain squally. The whale watching season is in full swing from Hermanus. The more settled conditions make for better sightings and less bumpy boat trips.
Further north it’s starting to warm up before the rains come in November. The end of the dry season is optimal for game viewing in northern reserves. Particularly so in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and Phinda Game Reserve.
As the vegetation browns and withers, the animals are easier to spot. The prolonged absence of rain means that animals – and their predators – congregate around the few remaining water sources. This can make for some thrilling sightings.