The Best Time to Visit South Africa
South Africa is slowly gaining a reputation as one of the tourism hotspots of the world, so it’s important to know when to travel there to make the most out of your trip.
A large and diverse country, it experiences different climates and conditions depending on where you go. Wildlife viewing is best in the winter, whereas if you’re looking out for a beach holiday it’s best to go during the peak of summer.
The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn present the best conditions overall when travelling to South Africa, with some of the most enjoyable weather and ideal temperatures across most of the country.
April to May: Shoulder Season
During autumn there is little to no rain, with the country still basking in pleasantly warm temperatures. Tourist numbers are dying down, meaning that National Parks are less crowded, and prices have also dropped. With the country starting to dry up, vegetation is slowly disappearing and wildlife starts to move together towards waterholes and rivers where they can find food and water, making them easier to spot. This is the best time of year to go hiking, thanks to the cooling temperatures.
June to August: Low Season
In the depths of winter, the country has completely dried up and there is almost no rainfall (except in Cape Town and the Western Cape, which sees the most rain at this time of year). It’s the best time to see wildlife across all parks, as they’re completely concentrated near to food and water sources. Spotting them is easy, as vegetation has thinned out with the lack of rain. The country enjoys sunny but chilly days and colder nights that often bring frosty mornings in the interior of the country.
September to October: Shoulder Season
During this shoulder season, wildlife viewing is similar to April and May. As the rains make their way back to the country, lush green starts to spring up across the land. This is an ideal time if you’re into bird watching, and if you love marine life it’s prime whale watching season, with the number of whales at their highest off of the Western Cape. Game has started to spread out again, meaning that any sightings may be less frequent as the season progresses towards the hotter summer months.
November to March: High Season
High tourist season in South Africa coincides with the hot and sunny summer, characterised by short afternoon thunderstorms that roll in and leave the whole country smelling fresh and earthy. Wildlife parks start to get more crowded and expensive, although animal sightings can be quite slow. The busiest time is in December, when South African schools are on holiday. Head to Cape Town from the end of January onwards, when the crowds have died down and left the world-class beaches almost deserted.
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