Mountain zebra, South Africa

The best time to visit South Africa

South Africa is a year-round destination with each season bringing something new. From the city life of Cape Town and Johannesburg to the wildlife-filled expanses of wilderness, the best time to visit will depend on where you want to go and what experiences you want to have.

May to September is the short dry season; this is when game spotting truly opens up in beautiful conservation spaces, like Kruger National Park. It can be rainy from November to February, but this is the best time for birding and visiting The Cape.

Information & Highlights

Royal Natal National Park, KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg, South Africa

KwaZulu Natal: The dazzling safari destination

KwaZulu Natal is often overlooked as a safari destination, but in reality it provides a broader wilderness experience than merely focusing on the big five.

Read about KwaZulu Natal

Game Drive, Kichaka, Eastern Cape Game Reserves, South Africa

Safari Packing Guide

Depending on your specific trip, packing requirements will vary; make sure to speak to your travel expert about what you will need for any sections that are particularly adventurous or where equipment may be provided. We recommend considering the following.

Read our safari packing guide

Explore the best time to visit

  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec

Visiting South Africa in January

high season

This is a great time to visit around Cape Town and the Garden Route as it is hot and dry. Further north in the Kruger it is also hot, but there is a much greater chance of spectacular thunderstorms.

The Battlefields of KwaZulu Natal

Cape Town Minstrel Carnival

Visiting South Africa in February

high season

Peak season in The Cape continues; it is often the hottest time but coastal towns are cooled by a pleasant sea breeze. It is worth booking well in advance to get your preferred accommodation.

Hands on Harvest

Magnificent birdlife

Visiting South Africa in March

medium season

This is an excellent time to visit all parts of the country as the weather is still warm and the rain eases in the north. In Kruger it is lush and green after the rainy season; wildlife may still remain scattered about but guides will aim to get you to the right place at the right time for the best game viewing.

Cape Town Cycle Tour

Magnificent birdlife

Visiting South Africa in April

high season

This is the shoulder season meaning visitor numbers drop towards the end of the month. The lower temperatures make for ideal hiking conditions in the Drakensberg Mountains; it is warm and dry across the country, making it a great time to explore multiple regions. AfrikaBurn is an annual event where a community of participants come together to create art, costume, performance, theme camps, music, mutant vehicles and more. This is considered to be South Africa’s version of Burning Man festival and takes place in April.

Drakensberg Mountains

Impala rutting season

Visiting South Africa in May

low season

May is the shoulder season in South Africa so it is a quieter time of year and a good time to visit, especially if you are not looking for the balmy heat. The north, especially Kruger, enters its dry season with cooler temperatures. The weather is warm and dry across the regions, although with chilly evenings, but safari is often superb. May is still a great time to visit the Drakensberg Mountains, so despite the cooling temperatures across the country, this month can still offer a lot of variety for your trip.

Sardine run

Groves & Vineyards Summer Festival

Visiting South Africa in June

low season

Midwinter brings the rainiest time in the Cape, but it is still pleasantly mild in the day with the sun shining. The dry season in the north makes for excellent wildlife viewing as animals congregate around watering holes. June to November is a fantastic time to combine South Africa with other countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia for safari, or Victoria Falls. Each year the Eastern Cape host’s South Africa’s largest arts festival, featuring genres from art to fringe theatre. Performances take place in dozens of venues across Makhanda.

Southern right whales

Wildlife viewing

Visiting South Africa in July

high season

Clear skies and crisp sunshine dominate in the north as it is the driest month. It is low season so parks are generally quiet and it is easier to spot wildlife around the sparse waterholes.

Knysna Oyster Festival


Visiting South Africa in August

high season

KwaZulu Natal is one of the warmest places in the country in August. In the Western Cape, it is starting to dry out in time for whale watching season. August is the start of spring and flowers start to bloom across the Western and Northern Cape.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden


Visiting South Africa in September

high season

September is one of the best months to travel to South Africa if you would like to experience a combination of regions and wildlife and is one the country’s shoulder seasons. The west coast springs into life as the flowers bloom and temperatures rise across the country.

Hermanus whale festival


Visiting South Africa in October

high season

October forms part of the shoulder season in South Africa and is a beautiful month to visit. Temperatures start to heat up throughout the country but the rains are yet to come in the north. Flowers can still be found in bloom until the end of spring. This is one of the best months to combine the regions.

San rock art

Macufe festival

Visiting South Africa in November

medium season

November is the start of the rainy season in the Kruger and the north as temperatures heat up. Impressive thunderstorms become more regular in the afternoon. This is the last chance to see whales in The Cape and is a good time to see inland areas before they toast in the summer heat.

Turtles nesting in South Africa

Kruger National Park

Visiting South Africa in December

high season

Summer approaches and, with it, visitor numbers rise especially in the south. If you want to travel around Christmas and New Year you should book well in advance to secure the best properties, restaurants and excursions. Early December is great for travel as it is still quiet before the rush of the school holidays. The Cape is dry and hot and the north can experience some rain.

Cape Town festival of beer

Sensational birding

South Africa climate guide

Drag the slider to see monthly temperature and rainfall.

Maximum Temperature (°C) Monthly Rainfall (mm)
The Battlefields
Cape Town
The Kalahari
Kruger National Park
Plettenberg Bay
KwaZulu Natal

Explore South Africa

  • The Battlefields
  • Cape Town
  • Durban
  • Johannesburg
  • The Kalahari
  • Knysna
  • Kruger National Park
  • Plettenberg Bay
  • Stellenbosch
  • KwaZulu Natal

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