South Africa > When to Travel & Seasons

South Africa

  • Hi Rob, just want to say thank you for helping to organise Alisha and my trip to South Africa and Zimbabwe. I must say I was a little hesitant that the trip may not live up to the memories of our Kenyan trip in 2013. Well I am happy to say that whilst this trip was different (which is what you want) it was every bit as wonderful. Umkumbe – our guide, Mauritz, was excellent and whilst animal sightings were hard to find he put in an almighty effort. Accommodation and food were great. At Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls the elephant back safari was brilliant and helicopter flight over the falls – spectacular. Finished the day with a relaxing sunset river cruise and some good animal sightings along the shore. The lodge and staff were terrific. Camp Hwange – from the minute we were picked up at the gate we knew this was going to be a great few days. Our guide Quinn was brilliant, the other staff at camp were lovely too. The food and accommodation fantastic. Really enjoyed the walking – walking up to the bull elephant was a little scary but thrilling at the same time. The birds were amazing especially the martial eagle with its genet kill. Our final morning was particularly memorable as we were woken by the male lions roaring quite close to camp and were able to catch up with them and the lionesses and cubs. Then on our drive back to the gate we came across a large pride of lionesses and their cubs (12 or more). Thanks again for all your help and advice. This trip has once again left us wanting more and I hope to be organising another adventure in the not too distant future. Botswana here we come!

    Virginia and Alisha from Australia travelled to South Africa and Zimbabwe
Franschhoek views, Cape Winelands, South AfricaKaroo Desert at Samara, South AfricaNamaqualand flowers, South AfricaSpotted eagle owl, South AfricaSpringbok sunset, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South AfricaWalking safari, northern Kruger, South AfricaWhale-watching in Hermanus, South AfricaWinelands view, Franschhoek, South Africa

South Africa

When to Travel & Seasons

South Africa is split into two main climatic zones.

The north of the country, including Johannesburg, the Kruger National Park, Limpopo Province, Kalahari Desert, Durban and northern KwaZulu Natal, is influenced by a sub-tropical climate and receives most rainfall during the warmer summer months from November to March. Temperatures can soar to 40C at this time, especially in the ‘lowveld’ areas of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu/Natal, and it can also be very humid near the coast.

It is usually ‘dry’ from April through to October, and the main winter period runs from May to August. During this time, altitude plays an important factor with temperatures. Along the coast, days are usually warm, but nights can be quite cool. On the ‘highveld’ areas (the Kalahari, areas around Gauteng, and some of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces), whilst daytime temperatures can reach the high ‘teens’, night temperatures can drop well below freezing and snow can fall on the mountains. September and October see a rapid increase in temperatures as summer approaches.

The south of the country, including Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, Cederberg Mountains, Hermanus, the Karoo Desert, Garden Route, Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape, has a more temperate climate and receives most rainfall during the winter months, from April to October. Weather can be extremely varied during this time, swinging from beautifully crisp sunny days to miserable wet and windy conditions. Temperatures are not usually too cold, but snow does often fall on the mountains and on freezing temperatures are recorded. During the summer months, from November to March, there is little rain and day time temperatures can reach 40C, particularly away from the coast in the Karoo.

The best time to visit Cape Town and the south of the country is therefore November to March, when you can expect warm, dry weather. In the north of the country, it rather depends on your interests and priorities, but the best safari season is technically during the dry season from May to October, when game-viewing conditions are really good. However, the quality of game-viewing in the private reserves of northern South Africa is much less affected by season and weather conditions than in much of the rest of Africa, and therefore it is possible to enjoy a very successful safari all year round.