What temperatures can I expect in South Africa?

Weather Chart

Average day temperatures in summer range from a minimum of 17°C / 62°F to a maximum of 34°C / 94°F although temperatures can get as high as 36°C / 97°F in some areas. In winter, early morning temperatures can drop below 9°C / 48°F and well below zero at night in some places. Maximum average daytime temperatures in winter are a respectable 19°C / 68°F  to 26°C / 80°, perfect for a day at the beach. A subtropical location and a high interior plateau are responsible for South Africa’s temperate conditions so appreciated by visitors.

Average annual rainfall is on the low side at less than 500mm (20″) a year, making the country somewhat dry.  Much of the rain falls in the Western Cape in the winter, differing from the rest of the country, which experiences summer rainfall. Thunder and lightning storms are common in provinces like Gauteng, North West, and KwaZulu-Natal. On the plus side, the South African climate boasts more than its fair share of sunshine, recording an average of 8.5 hours a day.

South Africa’s climatic conditions generally range from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of the country to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast. A small region in the northwest has a desert climate.

Our relatively mild and short winters do not justify the expense of central heating in many buildings and homes, which may lead visitors to think the winter is colder than it actually is.  The answer to this is dressing in layers.

For weather conditions specifically on safari, please refer to the following excerpt from an interview with Wessel Roodt, Humala’s GM, posted on our blog:

Q: When are the best weather conditions at Songimvelo Game Reserve?

Wessel: This is a tough question since South Africa has good weather throughout the year. That being said, summer months are October to March, which are normally the rainy months and humidity is higher than normal (but nothing extreme), while May to August is cold, although the temperature hardly drops below zero degrees (32 degrees Fahrenheit) – it’s mainly the wind chill factor that makes it cold. Daytime, the African sun will heat up the day. With this information, if I can recommend a time to visit Humala based on weather, it will be March to May (rain season ends and day temperatures start to drop, the grass is green and game is mainly on the plains) whilst November is our flower season with the start of the rainy period.

Q: What are the best months for game viewing at Songimvelo Game Reserve?

Wessel: Game is dependent on grazing, and their movement cycles are dictated by the availability of food – mainly grass. At the end of the dry months (also the cold months) – August to the end of September, the plains are overgrazed and all possible food (grass) had disappeared.  This is also the period when most of the animals migrated to the mountains to find food – more grass available during this period. As soon as the rain starts – normally October / November the veld turns green and the animals start to move down from the mountains (you still have animals on the open plains but the numbers are smaller). What is important to remember is that animal movements are dictated by weather patterns and the availability of food. During the period of February through May the food is in abundance (peak of the rainy season, thus rain is a regular occurrence on game drives), therefore the possibility is better to see bigger herds of animals on the plains.

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