The best time to visit South Africa is the milder winter months, from May to September. These months especially September, are ideal for wildlife safaris, particularly in the northern regions.
South Africa’s climate ranges from the tropical Indian Ocean shore to the drier raised plateau, and the timing of the rainy season varies by region.
Summer typically lasts from November to March, and winter from June to August. Winters in Cape Town and the Western Cape are rainy, whereas summers are often dry and hot.
The country’s east, where the significant parks are situated, suffers from the dry season throughout these winter months. Because of the thinning of the foliage and the gathering of animals around waterholes and rivers during the dry season, wildlife is easier to spot.
There are many regional temperatures and wildlife opportunities in South Africa. Temperatures between 23°C and 26°C are typical throughout the Cape’s summer months. July through November are perfect for whale viewing trips to the Cape.
South Africa offers an all-year-round amazing travel experience for visitors. The best time to visit will depend on where you want to go and what you want to do when you get there.
After thorough research conducted by our travel experts and speaking to frequent travellers to South Africa, we will share with you the best time to travel to South Africa based on the different events and the weather to expect all year round.
Festival and Concert (November – March)
If you’re visiting South Africa for a festival or concert, we suggest mid-November to mid-December and mid-January to mid-March (outside the school holidays). This is also the best time to go to South Africa to booze up at wine festivals and outdoor concerts.
Whale Watching (June – September)
The best time to go to South Africa for whale watching around the Western Cape is from mid-June to December.
Beach Days ( December -March)
Long beach days are best experienced in South Africa between December and March. However, a word of caution—the Atlantic Ocean around Cape Town is chilly virtually all year. If you find the Cape Town beaches a little cool, the warmer Indian Ocean waves lapping the coast of Hermanus and the Garden Route are considerably more preferable for swimming.
For Wildlife Viewing( May – October)
The dry, temperate season is the best time to visit South Africa which spans from May through October if you want to see wildlife. During this period, the animals concentrate around water sources and are simpler to identify during these months. The drier and cooler weather conditions are ideal for wildlife viewing.
Additionally, you’ll have better sight during the dry season because the vegetation is less dense. Even though it can get chilly in the mornings and evenings, the days are still pleasant.
Month-by-month Guide For Travelling In South Africa
Visiting South Africa (January to March)
It’s a great time of year to visit Cape Town and the Garden Route because January brings hot, dry weather to the Cape. High temperatures are also present in the Kruger and KwaZulu-Natal. However, sunny spells are broken up by tropical downpours.
Even though February is one of the hottest months in the nation, especially in Cape Town, coastal cities are frequently kept cool by pleasant sea breezes. It’s the best time to travel to South Africa to avoid the holiday crowds, but December is still a popular month that can fill up quickly.
The summer season concludes in March. Even though different places have varying weather, it is still considered an excellent beach vacation. The dense summer vegetation is starting to thin out, making game sightings in Kruger Park and other reserves easier.
Visiting South Africa from April to June
April & May
Smaller crowds and significant festivals, such as April’s Splashy Fen Music Festival in Durban, can be found in South Africa’s shoulder seasons. Wildlife watching is a massive attraction in the fall because the last of the dry summer weather encourages wildlife to come out into the open.
June is the beginning of South Africa’s winter, which means reduced costs and fewer tourists. Although it is rainy season in Cape Town and the Western Cape, there is still a lot of sunshine to be found.
Cape Town restaurants frequently offer affordable winter specials. The weather is perfect for a safari in other parts of the country where winters are drier (be prepared for chilly nights and cold early morning game drives).
Visiting South Africa from July to September
Another excellent month for whale watching in July. After the lengthy journey from the Arctic to give birth to their young in the warmer waters, southern right whales can be seen on South Africa’s Whale Coast.
This is also when to go to South Africa for a safari in the Kruger – game viewing is superb, daytime temperatures are moderate, and the risk of malaria is very low. Top winter festivals include the National Arts Festival in the Eastern Cape and Knysna’s 10-day Oyster Festival in July.
The Western Cape and Northern Cape regions typically start to blossom their flowers in August. Witnessing the landscape transform into a tapestry of vibrant colours after the final drops of winter rain is a common reason people go up the West Coast to see the wildflowers.
Before spring arrives, Gauteng can get very cold, and the Cape can also get chilly. It’s essential to call ahead to confirm to avoid disappointment because the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway may not be open due to maintenance at this time.
The best time to travel to South Africa for a spring safari at one of the many game parks scattered throughout the country is in September, which officially signals the end of the winter season. Some of the best game viewing on the continent may be found in the Eastern Cape’s Shamwari Game Reserve, Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Phinda Game Reserve, and the Kruger National Park.
The highest chances of seeing cetaceans are in the spring, September and October. While flowers can start to develop as early as July, depending on the rains and last into October if it isn’t too hot, the wildflower season peaks in the north in late August and south in early September.
Visiting South Africa from October to December
In October, the environment is lush and getting ready for the summer months, making it a beautiful month. In the country’s north, summer rains are expected in the afternoon and evening as temperatures rise.
The best time to travel to South Africa is to make a seaside getaway and go on an inland game drive before the peak season starts.
In November, the rains begin in northern KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, while visitors to the Western Cape can experience the last month of whale season before they begin their long journey back to the Arctic. This is the best time to visit South Africa and explore inland areas such as the Karoo or the Free State.
December is a busy month across South Africa, especially along the coast. It’s a good idea to book restaurants and excursions well in advance during the festive period.