During the heat and humidity of the summer months north of the equator, it is often challenging to visualize your winter getaway. It’s so easy to forget that not long after the leaves fall, the wintery mix of snow and sleet arrives. Beat the winter blues by making plans to follow summer as it drifts down to South Africa for a season.
South Africa experiences summer from November to March. While the rest of us are starting to pull out our winter coats, South Africans gearing up for beach season on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
5 Reasons to Escape to South Africa this Winter
1. South African Sunshine
The climate in South Africa is lacking in weather extremes. The average temperatures you can expect in South Africa during it’s summer months range from the high 70s to evening lows in the 50s. One weather factor that does change dramatically from season to season is the average rainfall.
For example, winter rainfall in Cape Town averages 4 inches in June then drops to 0.5” in November. The southern coast of South Africa from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth experiences cool and wet winters with hot and dry summers. To reduce your chances of a rainy day during your winter holiday, opt for a trip to South Africa during its summer season.
2. Miles of Pristine Beaches
While the Caribbean is all well and good for a beach vacation, South Africa is home to numerous “Blue Flag” beaches. A Blue Flag is an international award given to beaches that far exceed the average standards for safety, amenities, cleanliness, and environmental standards. With over 30 Blue Flag beaches, South Africa offers some of the best beach experiences in the world. A few of the beaches we recommend are:
- Humewood Beach, Port Elizabeth
- Trafalgar Beach, South Coast
- Brenton-on-Sea, near Knysna
- Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town
- Hartenbos Beach, Mossel Bay
3. Adventure Tours
The low rainfall makes South Africa summers the perfect time to enjoy some of the many adventure tours available to travelers. For a unique experience, consider a hot air balloon ride over Kruger National Park, the world’s greatest conservation area. Other activities include scenic hikes in the many parks and nature reserves. One of the most breathtaking treks is through Blyde River Canyon, a 20-mile gorge and the third largest canyon in the world offering spectacular vistas. Those interested in driving should take a trip to Aliwal Shoal, a 40-minute drive south of Durban, to see beautiful reefs teeming with fish. Here you can also participate in a shipwreck dive.
4. Marine Safaris
You’ve probably heard of South Africa’s traditional “big 5” (lions, leopards, elephants, hippos, and buffalo), the wildlife spotting checklist on every traveler’s itinerary for the traditional safaris that country is best known for. The beautiful summer weather in South Africa is a perfect time to hop on a boat and go on a marine safari to spot the “marine big 5.”
The “marine big 5” include great white sharks, southern right whales, dolphins, seals, and penguins. Many of these animals you can see from various vantage points on land. For example, the harbor town of Hermanus is known as for having the best land-based whale watching in the world. Cape Town is a great starting point for boats and tours that will take you on adventures to see all of these beautiful creatures. Here’s where you have the best chance of spotting them:
- Great White Sharks: “Shark Alley” between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock
- Southern Right Whales: Hermanus
- African Penguins: Dyer Island or Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town
- Cape Fur Seals: in abundance on the Cape Town waterfront and many nearby bays
- Dolphins: abundant year round however a great spot for viewing is Plettenberg Bay
Another option for those seeking safari alternatives would be a trip to the St. Lucia Wetland Park, the only place on Earth where “the world’s oldest land mammal and the world’s largest terrestrial mammal share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish and the world’s largest marine mammal.” A bucket-list experience for nature lovers.
5. Wine Tours and the Garden Route
You can sip a glass of red while cozied up to a warm, dry fireplace in the winter or enjoy a chilled glass on a shady patio, taking in the breathtaking mountain views of Stellenbosch. There is no dedicated season for wine. That said, South Africa’s summer does offer something special that no other season has: experiencing the country’s world-class wineries while driving along the Garden Route during its peak.
The flowers, the lush green foliage, the ocean, the mountains — spend the morning at the beach then cool off in the midday sun with a short drive inland for lunch and a flight at one of the many 5-star farm-to-table dining rooms in South Africa’s internationally renowned Winelands.
For more tips, ideas, and advice for seeing all there is to see in South Africa, visit us at vacationtosouthafrica.com.