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WWith our year-round temperate climate, your decision about the best time to visit South Africa shouldn’t be based on the weather, but on the kinds of experiences and adventures you wish to have.
If you’re looking for the Big Five, South African winter (June, July and August) is the ideal time for a safari. These are the driest months in the country, with the exception of the Western Cape which has winter rainfall. The dry climate draws the animals to watering holes, making for spectacular game drives as different species gather in one place. Don’t worry if the watering hole is a bit dry. There’s also less foliage in winter, making it difficult for game to hide.
But depending on the experiences you seek, there may be another time that's more suitable to visit South Africa's magnificent game parks. If you want to see newborn animals, then September/October is your best bet.
The Western Cape, particularly Cape Town, is well-known for its lovely weather, beautiful beaches and many outdoor adventures. This means that holidaymakers flock to these parts in the summer months to take full advantage of the weather, sights and activities. However, winter in the Western Cape can be equally as charming and there’s still plenty to do.
VVisiting the Cape Winelands during winter is a special treat. Autumn, winter and spring are also ideal times to visit the Northern Cape’s national parks, known for their diverse fauna, flora and wildlife. This is also an ideal time to go on an animal tracking adventure with the Kalahari Bushmen, as the summer months make this outdoor activity a bit too hot to handle.
If you’re looking for a winter beach holiday, Durban in KwaZulu-Natal is the place to go with its year-round T-shirt weather and warm Indian Ocean. Take advantage of the warm ocean currents with activities like scuba diving or, if you’re brave enough, shark cage diving.
Hiking in the Drakensberg mountains is also a fantastic year-round activity. Be aware that temperatures can drop below freezing in winter at night and snow can sometimes be found in the higher reaches. During the summer, hikers should also be aware of afternoon thunderstorms.
There are some adventures in South Africa that can only be experienced at specific times. If you want to experience the world-famous Namaqualand daisies, then September (our spring) is the best time to visit. The Sardine Run, when millions of sardines travel up the east coast of South Africa causing a feeding frenzy that attracts thousands of sharks, dolphins, whales, birds and other ocean predators. This unique natural phenomenon only occurs between May and July.
If you love hiking, spring and autumn are the ideal times to hike as temperatures are not too hot or cold. Spring and autumn are also the best times to visit for fly-fishing in South Africa.
For those seeking to explore South Africa’s rich heritage, cultures, and fascinating political history, you can visit any time of year. Unless of course your interest is in a specific event like the Zulu reed dance, which takes place in September every year.