South Africa > When to Travel & Seasons

South Africa

  • Dear Michele and Bill, I just wanted to say how fantastically the whole trip went and thank you for your impeccable organisation and advice leading up to it. All the practical arrangements worked seamlessly. However the greatest praise goes to Nottens Bush Camp where we had the most amazing 4 nights, 8 game drives and 2 bush walks. Everything was perfect: the welcome; the accommodation – spacious, comfortable, clean and perfect for our family; the staff who were so friendly and helpful; the company of David Notten and his cousin Dale at the evening meals; the food (in particular the amazing cakes at high tea!); the roaring fires to keep as warm whilst socialising with other guests at night; the hot water bottles and blankets to keep us warm on the early game drives; the atmospheric oil lamps that lit the camp and our rooms at night; the superb driver and tracker who took us out for the 4 days (Teniko (spelling?) and Fox) and who gave us so much information about the game and the natural environment. Then of course there was the game viewing which was absolutely outstanding – we had seen the big 5 in the first 24 hours and went on to see so much more, often following the day to day lives of particular animals e.g. the hungry leopard that we saw one morning, we saw make a kill the next evening, we then saw her eating the next day and then finally the hyenas who had stolen the remains of the kill, fighting over the last mouthfuls…absolutely fascinating. We got so close to the animals that our breath was taken away on several occasions. Thank you for recommendation to go to Nottens – it really was a trip of a lifetime.

    Richard, Nicky, Cara and Gemma went on safari in the Kruger region of South Africa
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.