When to go to South Africa
South Africa is a large country with a wide variety of habitats and biodiversity. The northwest of the country borders Namibia and is a desert, which becomes semi-arid as you head south. The northern and eastern part of the country is dominated by savanna and grasslands. In the Western Cape, there is the rare fynbos vegetation, this is the only place in the world it exists. The diversity of the landscape is staggering, there are mountains, forest, rivers, lagoons, deserts, and wine lands. To understand the weather patterns is helpful to split the main destinations into two parts; Northern South Africa (The Kruger Park, Madikwe Game Reserves and Johannesburg) and Southern South Africa (Cape Town, The Garden Route and the Eastern Cape Game Reserves).
December - February
The ideal time to explore the Western and Eastern Cape, including Cape Town, Hermanus, the Garden Route, and Eastern Cape Game Reserves, is during the summer season, with sunny days and temperatures around 30°C, perfect for beach and outdoor activities. In the North and East of the country, it’s the rainy season, characterized by heavy afternoon thunderstorms and temperatures around 35°C. While it may be more challenging to spot animals in Kruger and Madikwe due to dense vegetation and dispersed wildlife, it’s a great time for birdwatching and witnessing the birth of baby animals if you don’t mind occasional rain.
March - May
This is a great time to head to the Eastern and Western Cape, the summer wind has reduced, and the peak season crowds have gone. The cooler weather is perfect to hike up Table Mountain or do one of the many hiking trails along the Garden Route. Temperatures are in the mid to low 20s and there is the odd rain shower as you head into winter.
Towards the end of Fall, the vegetation in Kruger and Madikwe has started to dry out and rain has mostly stopped. This time of year the game viewing can still be tough but it’s a much quieter time of year.
June – August
This is the peak season for the northern safari parks (Kruger and Madikwe), the reserves are dry so the animals are congregating around the permanent water supplies. The bush is sparse so it is much easier to spot the animals when you are out on a game drive. Temperatures peak at a comfortable 26c and there is almost no rain.
In the Western and Eastern Cape, the whales are starting to arrive and there is outstanding whale watching. During the winter months, this area does have rain and much cooler temperatures, around 20c. You still have plenty of lovely warm days where you can explore and the prices come right down in winter, there are some great special offers avalible.
September – November
The Western and Eastern Cape starts to warm up as they come out of winter, temperatures will climb to the mid-20s and the rainy days become less frequent.
Towards the end of spring, the Kruger and Madikwe Reserves start to come to life after the dry summer. The animals have a tendency to get very excited when the first rains come and you can watch the park transform and become green. The vegetation is not too thick yet so it does not impede your wildlife spotting.
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