• Nyala antelope, South Africa

The best time to go to South Africa

The best time to visit South Africa will depend largely on what you wish to achieve while you’re there and where specifically you want to go, as it is a vast country. Overall, South Africa has a fairly agreeable climate year-round with a good amount of sunshine and Austral seasons which run opposite to the northern hemisphere. Wildlife safaris, the garden route and whale watching for example all have their own distinct optimum times when planning your trip. Below we have highlighted some of the key regions, but generally speaking the seasons may be summarised as follows:

Spring - September & October
Summer - November - February
Autumn - March & April
Winter - June - August

Cape Town Views, South Africa

when to go by Region

Northern, Central & East

This area, including the key wildlife destinations of Kruger National Park and Madikwe Game Reserve, experiences summer rainfall, with long, hot summers that are punctuated by short, sharp thunderstorms, with an average daily temperature of 28 – 35 .  The rains ensure that the landscape is verdant allowing for sustenance for an abundance of wildlife. The northern interior of the country is generally the driest, with much of the landscape semi-arid desert. Those looking for a safari in Kruger and the surrounding game reserves, should consider planning a visit during the drier months from May to October, as the visibility is far better (particularly from August), with more predictable game movements as animals congregate at the water holes.

The KwaZulu-Natal and Wild Coast regions enjoy more of a sub-tropical climate, with humid summers along the coast and more rain during these months than the winter months, which can be fine and warm in the daytime, with cooler evenings.

Cape Region & Garden Route

These winter rainfall areas are usually much greener in winter and less so in the summer months, and have a climate that is sometimes compared with the South of France, with summer months between October and April. The late summer months of February to April can be an ideal time to visit, when conditions are dry and less windy, whilst the winter months from May to September are usually the wetter months, with lower average temperatures. However, if you want to enjoy whale watching off the Cape coast, this is best between July and October.

Black rhino

When to go if you want to see…

Big Cats – May to October in the direr season when there is less foliage for the cats to employ as canny camouflage.

Black and White Rhino – Year-round in the rolling Zululand hills of Huluwe – Umfolizi National Park.

Southern Right Whales – July to October along the coast from Cape Town and Plettenberg, and most notably in Hermanus.

Wild Dogs – The highly endangered wild dog is best viewed between April and September in Madikwe Game Reserve.

African wild dogs, South Africa | © Nikhil Malik

South Africa Monthly Overviews

Read more about each month on the following pages:

Sardine Run, South Africa

When to go to South Africa if you want to experience…

Annual Sardine Run - For one of the most impressive events in the world's oceans head to South Africa's east coast mid-May to mid-July.

Cape Town at Night - Hike up Lions Head at full moon for cool views of Robben Island and the Atlantic seaboard.

Greatest Train Journey - This epic 15-day train journey between Cape Town and Dar Es Salaam has just 4 departures a year between July and October.

Walking safaris in Kruger - April to September – when the vegetation is less dense.

Wild flowers - In August and September the Cape Wild Flowers bloom, transforming the arid areas of the Cape West Coast and Namaqualand into a multi coloured floral wonderland, considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world.

Wildlife beach combos - Happily combining Cape Town, a Safari in in Kruger and Mauritius works year-round.

Cheetah, South Africa

Your Next Steps

View our South Africa safaris, or talk to one of our specialists for more details on travelling to South Africa. Please note we recommend a budget of from £7,000 / $10,000 USD per person for our style of trip to this destination.