The ‘best’ time of year to visit South Africa depends entirely on what you would like to see during your visit. South Africa has a number of activities for travelers to enjoy year round. Find the season in South Africa that’s right for you with this overview of each season’s benefits and tour highlights.
Most tourists determine the ‘best’ time of year by the weather. The temperatures in South Africa remain relatively moderate, with a highs in the 70s in February and lows in the 50s in June. The one factor that does change dramatically from season-to-season is rainfall. The rainfall peaks at 4” in Cape Town in June, then declines steadily until winter’s end in September.
South Africa’s Autumn (March to May)
Ideal for Off-Season Adventurers
If you’re a self-proclaimed ‘culture vulture’ looking for a unique vacation, consider visiting South Africa in the fall. During this time you will experience great weather and relatively little rain. Enjoy popular sights like the Apartheid Museum, Pilanesberg National Park, Table Mountain, and the winelands without the crowds of the high season.
The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, held annually in March, is the fourth largest jazz festival in the world. Known as “Africa’s Grandest Gathering,” the festival boasts five stages with 40 artists performing over two nights. With 37,000 festival goers, the event draws crowds from around the globe. If you think the leisurely pace of the off-season is your speed, check out our upcoming 10-Day Jazz, Safari, Wine and Sightseeing Vacation.
South Africa’s Winter (June to August)
Perfect for Families and Safari Bargain Hunters
Take advantage of summer vacation and take your children on an unforgettable family holiday. Plane tickets add up, especially if you’re buying them in groups of three or more. For families looking for great travel deals, winter in South Africa is still an excellent time for game viewing because the grasses are so low. While you’ll experience some rain during the winter season and cooler temperatures, it is unlikely that your days will dip below 50 degrees. Safaris are a safe, family-friendly activity and there are safaris designed specifically for those traveling with children.
South Africa isn’t lacking in cultural events in the winter. The Grahamstown National Arts Festival takes place at the end of June through early July. The festival is a ‘must see’ as the biggest annual celebration of the arts on the African continent. Grahamstown is a vibrant university city located on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The festival lasts 11 days and spans drama, dance, comedy, opera, music, visual arts, film, lectures, and crafts. There’s something for everyone.
South Africa’s Spring (September to November)
The Best Time for a Safari
Travelers who have their hearts set on an epic South African safari should visit during the country’s spring season. Not only will you be able to spot the ‘Big 5’ — lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants, and rhinoceros — but you will be treated to rare sightings of baby animals, which are born during this season.
Because this is the high season for tourism and safaris in South Africa, it’s important to plan ahead in order to secure the accommodations, especially in parks like Kruger, Sabi Sands, and Timbavati. Learn more about what you can expect on safari in South Africa here.
South Africa’s Summer (December to February)
The Best Time for a Beach Vacation
The seasonal exchange is what makes summer in South Africa the ideal time for travelers trying to escape the cold winters of the Northern Hemisphere. You can enjoy miles of pristine “Blue Flag” beaches along the coast. A Blue Flag is an international award given to the best beaches on the planet. You can find these beaches in Cape Town (Clifton 4th Beach), Port Elizabeth (Humewood Beach), Mossel Bay (Hartenbos Beach), and Knysna (Brenton-on-Sea) to name a few.
If you tire of the beaches, this is also the perfect time of year to take a scenic hike along Blyde River Canyon, a 20-mile gorge and the third largest canyon in the world offering spectacular vistas. Other adventure tours include marine safaris, cage diving with great white sharks, and magnificent hot air balloon rides over Kruger National Park. South Africa is the perfect location for a winter getaway.
For more tips, ideas, and advice for seeing all there is to see in South Africa, visit us at vacationtosouthafrica.com.