Don’t expect to endure freezing temperatures and the possibility of blizzards in South Africa during the winter. Although the mountainous regions may get a dusting of snow. Between June and August, it’s wintertime in the Southern Hemisphere. You’ll find pleasantly warm temperatures throughout most of the country for enjoying all sorts of activities. While in the Western Cape, home to Cape Town, the surrounding winelands and much of the Garden Route. You may see some rain, with temperatures ranging from lows in the mid-40s to highs in the mid-60s Fahrenheit. In places like subtropical Durban temps range from lows of around 50 degrees to highs in the lower 70s.

Whether your goal is to see exotic wildlife, hike or explore wine country, you can do all of the above fairly comfortably in the winter. And, outside of the popular national parks like Kruger, you’re likely to find fewer tourists and enjoy discounted accommodation rates too.

When planning your itinerary, these are the top South African destinations to experience during the winter.

Durban
Durban

Durban

The coastal city of Durban is often referred to as South Africa’s best-kept secret, and it’s especially ideal in the winter, with mild temperatures, low humidity, little rain and few crowds. Highly influenced by Afro-Indian culture, you can taste it in the delicious cuisine with delicacies like bunny chow, hollowed-out bread filled with curry. It also has an interest mix of colonial and modern African design and Victorian buildings housing Indian markets. Arguably the top draw is its golden sand beaches. Take advantage of the idyllic weather by strolling the four-mile-long span of wide pavement known as the Golden Mile that spans from Durban Harbour to Blue Lagoon South for spectacular ocean views or spend the day surfing.

Whale watching ranks high as one of the area’s must-do activities, especially in the winter when migrating southern right whales can be spotted, although humpbacks and other species can be seen throughout the year. If you’re here earlier in the season, June or July, you can witness a feeding frenzy along the shoreline with the famous sardine run bringing millions of sardines to the Durban coast, with birds, sharks and fishermen all fighting for the catch.

Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Winter is the best time for wildlife viewing in Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s best-known game reserves. It’s home to 145 different mammal species, including the Big Five: rhinos. Elephants, lions, leopards, and buffaloes. As this is the dry season, there is little vegetation to get in the way of viewing, and the animals will be gathering around the waterholes making them easier to spot. In addition to game drives, you can enjoy outstanding birdwatching along the Mahonie Loop. Lower Sabie Road or Kanniedood Dam. Golfing enthusiasts won’t want to miss teeing off at the Skukuza Golf Course where leopards, hyenas, baboons, elephants and impalas can be spotted.

Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is known for its wine routes, rich culture and history. Located in South Africa’s renowned wine region, the Cape Winelands, it’s an ideal area to visit in the winter, bringing picturesque views of endless vineyards. On a dreary day one can enjoy touring and tasting with local sommeliers without the hordes of tourists. At Anura Vineyards, sip a tasty red complemented by cheeses next to the warmth of a cozy fireplace. Chocolate lovers won’t want to miss Waterford Estate which offers red wine and chocolate pairings. If you’re visiting in July, you can attend the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, enjoying classical music while sipping. The Franschhoek Wine Tram offers hop-on, hop-off tours that bring views of scenic landscapes while exploring the various wine estates.

Cape town
Johannesburg

Cape Town

Stunning Cape Town offers a mix of diverse cultures, overlooked by its iconic symbol, Table Mountain. While winter can be a bit unpredictable, it’s a great time to explore without the crowds. If you want to summit Table Mountain via the aerial cableway without waiting in a long line, this is when you’ll want to go while enjoying the added bonus of lush, green landscapes. You can also take advantage of the winter wind for outstanding kitesurfing at Cape Point, Witsands or Muizenberg, or the powerful winter waves for surfing at Glen Beach, Long Beach and Llandudno. Feed your appetite afterwards by delving into the thriving food scene, sampling traditional dishes like Bobotie.

Johannesburg

The largest city in South Africa, temperatures in Johannesburg will be warm enough to enjoy outdoor activities and one of the many festivals that are hosted during the season like the three-day Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival in late June. A month later the Good Food & Wine Show, Africa’s largest culinary event, will be held. Don’t miss the Mandela house, Nelson Mandela’s former home turned museum, as well as the various apartheid landmarks.

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