When is the best time to visit South Africa?

Elephant baby with flowers

With our year-round temperate climate, your decision about the best time to visit South Africa will not so much be based on the weather but more about the experiences and adventures you wish to have.

For example, South Africa’s winter months (June, July, August) – which have the least rainfall, except for the Western Cape with its Mediterranean climate – is a peak time for game viewing as a shortage of water means animals gather at watering holes. Foliage is also less, which makes game spotting easier. But depending on the experiences you seek, there may be another time that’s more suitable to visit South Africa’s game parks. For example, if you want to see newborn animals, then September/October is the best time to visit.

Holiday makers flock to Cape Town and the Western Cape in the summer months to take advantage of the lovely weather, beautiful beaches, and many outdoor adventures.  Nonetheless, winter – even though the rainy season – also has its charm. Visiting the Cape Winelands during winter is a special treat. Autumn, winter, and spring are also ideal times to visit the Northern Cape’s wonderful national parks with their black-mane lions. It is also a good time to enjoy animal tracking adventures with the Kalahari Bushmen because during summer months the temperature can get unbearably hot.

For a South African winter beach holiday, Durban in KwaZulu-Natal is the place to go. With its year-round T-shirt weather and warm Indian Ocean, it is a superb venue for great water-based adventures.

Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains is also great all year round. Do be aware that in winter night temperatures can drop below freezing and snow can sometimes be found in the higher reaches. During the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms are a frequent occurrence.

There are some adventures in South Africa that can only be experienced at specific times of the year. For example, if you want to see the world-famous Namaqualand daisies, then September (our spring) is the time to visit. The famous Sardine Run – a unique phenomenon when millions of sardines travel up the east coast of South Africa causing a feeding frenzy that attracts thousands of sharks, dolphins, whales, birds and other ocean predators – occurs between May and July.

If you love hiking, spring and autumn are the ideal times to hike as temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold. Spring and autumn are also the best times to visit for fly-fishing in South Africa.

For those seeking to explore South Africa’s rich heritage, cultures, and political past, you can visit any time of year, unless your interest is a specific event like the Zulu Reed Dance, which takes place annually in September.

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