When is the best time to visit South Africa?

South Africa family holidays can be enjoyed year round

When is the best time of the year to visit South Africa?

South Africa has something wonderful to offer at any time of year, as it 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.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Best Jan, Feb, Mar, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
Good Apr, May,
South Africa family safari holiday Cape Town
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.

South Africa family safari holiday The Waterberg
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.

South Africa family safari holiday Madikwe Game Reserve lion
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.

South Africa family safari holiday Garden Route Hermanus whale watching tour
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.

Talk to us about your next big adventure.
Call: +44 (0) 1242 908 720  or   Request a quote
Talk to us about your next big adventure.
Call: +44 (0) 1242 908 720  or   Request a quote
Unmissable South Africa family holiday experiences

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Why travel with Coral Tree?

We are the specialists in luxury Africa family safari holidays

We are Africa experts and also parents. We understand what makes a memorable family adventure.

Our knowledge and connections are unsurpassed

We have been living and working in African tourism for over two decades.

Every journey is tailored with your specific wishes in mind

No off-the-shelf packages or cookie-cutter itineraries. Unique family safaris.

Each trip funds grassroots conservation and girls education projects

You pay no more for the privilege, we support causes close to our hearts.

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Talk to Tess & Mike about your next big adventure
Call: +44 (0) 1242 908 720
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