When is the best time to visit South Africa? Our destination experts share an overview.
Since South Africa is a very large country, the climate varies from place to place. The good news is that you can travel to South Africa at any time of the year! Spring is recommended for a wildlife safari tour.
The impressive whale calves thrive from June to the end of October on the coast, while humpback whales have a season from August to December.
Many South Africans like to travel in their own country. From mid-December to late January, holidaymakers flow from the cities to the many national parks and resorts. You should, therefore, plan your trip to South Africa around the opening hours of national parks and school holidays.
It’s summer in South Africa. With warm temperatures and pleasant days, January is one of the best times to visit South Africa. It is also a very busy month for local tourists so plan your trip well in advance. Kruger and surrounding regions experience warm weather along with a reasonable amount of rainfall making it a low season for wildlife viewing.
- Head to the stunning Cape Point Peninsula
- Say hello to penguins at Boulders Beach
- Join the revelry of the Kaapse Klopse festival in Cape Town
Favorable weather continues with plenty of sunshine and warm weather. It is the hottest month in Cape Town with average temperatures in the mid-70s. February continues to be peak tourist season due to favorable weather conditions.
- Take a cable car ride up to Table Mountain
- Enjoy the sun and the sand at the charming village of Paternoster
March is yet another great month to visit South Africa. Day time highs in Cape Town are around 77°F. Kruger is green and full with slightly reduced rainfall levels.
- Drive down the picturesque Garden Route
- Wine and dine in Cape Winelands
- Soak in the sun all day at one of Cape Town’s many beaches
April is considered a shoulder season as the country moves from summer to autumn. Temperatures dip slightly across the country. Chances for spotting wildlife start to improve as Kruger sees a drop in rainfall.
- Hike the breathtaking Drakensberg Mountains
- View creative art installations at the AfrikaBurn Festival in Tankwa Karoo National Park
May is a quiet time but with warm, dry days, it is still a good time to visit. Nighttime temperatures start to drop a bit. Cape Town and Johannesburg see average temperatures around 60°F. Wildlife viewing season starts as rainfall levels drop even further and animals are forced to come out to watering holes to quench their thirst.
- Trek the Blyde River Canyon for unforgettable panoramic views of the mountains
- Bask under the warm sun on the beaches along the KwaZulu-Natal coast
June is the wettest month of the year in the Western Cape. Day time temperatures drop to 64°F in Cape Town and the low 50s in Johannesburg. It’s prime safari season as June and the next few months experience little or no rainfall. While average daytime highs in Kruger are in the mid-70s, temperatures can drop to the 50s in the night so it’s advisable to pack some warm layers.
- Head to the Western Cape for some world-class surfing
- Go on enriching bushwalks with local guides
It’s the start of whale watching season in the Western Cape. It continues to be cloudy and rainy in Cape Town while it’s the driest month of the year in Kruger and surrounding regions.
- Seafood lovers, make a trip to Knysna’s Oyster Festival
- Hop on a 4X4 for an exhilarating night safari drive in Madikwe
August is characterized by sunny, dry days and cold, chilly nights across most parts of the country. The Western Cape region, however, continues to experience some rain with the average day time temperatures in the mid-60s.
- Visit Namaqualand as it is transformed into a carpet of flowers
- Catch sight of the Big Five at Kruger National Park
The sight of wildflower-covered landscapes and newborn animals make September a very attractive month to visit South Africa. Mornings and nights continue to be chilly. Weather in the Western Cape region starts to improve with day time highs now touching 70°F while average highs in the Kruger are hovering in the mid-80s. It’s the last good month for safaris before the rains set in.
- Set off to on a whale watching adventure to Hermanus
- Unwind in the multicultural vibe of Durban
October offers visitors pleasant temperatures and thin crowds making it an excellent time to visit South Africa. It’s warm and toasty across the country with average highs around 84°F though Kruger, and surrounding regions see an increase in rainfall levels.
- Stroll under a purple canopy of jacaranda flowers in Johannesburg
- Be awed by the rock formations of the Cederberg Mountains
It’s the beginning of the South African summer as temperatures start to rise steadily and locals head to the beach. Cape Town and the Western Cape region is sunny and dry while Kruger sees an increase in rainfall levels.
- Head to Mkhuze Game Reserve for some fabulous bird watching
- Discover the natural wonders of Karoo
The festive spirit sets in and it’s the busiest time of the year along the Garden Route and the beaches of Kwa-Zulu Natal. It’s the wettest month of the year in Kruger. Cape Town, the Garden Route and the Kwa-Zulu Natal region sees temperatures range from 77°F – 82°F while readings in the Kruger region are in the high 80s.
- relax at a summer concert in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
- Watch the Kalahari transform into a green oasis
- Get into the holiday spirit as you watch the twinkling lights of Adderley Street in Cape Town
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Best time to visit South Africa by season
Spring: August – October
Summer: October – February
Autumn: February – April
Winter: May – July
What to pack for your South Africa holidays
Pack things you would normally wear in a warm climate. In the parks and resorts, clothing is generally casual. Essentials to take along are: Sunhats, sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, sandals, sturdy shoes for walking, shorts, long pants (jeans), a warm jacket or a thick sweater and a torch for camps in nature reserves. Cool sundresses and light suits are recommended for the summer months.
From May to September warm clothes are indispensable, particularly in the Cape Region and in the Kruger area. Good camera equipment with a telephoto lens and binoculars are recommended for observing the wildlife.
South Africa is truly awe inspiring! Whether it is spotting the Big 5 in Kruger, driving down the Garden Route or exploring the stunning coastline of this country, a vacation in South Africa is filled with unforgettable experiences.
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