South Africa

South Africa

South Africa has a vast range of attractions from the stunning city of Cape Town to the thrill of an African safari.

Cape Town

Cape Town

Nestled at the foot of the majestic Table Mountain and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town is consistently voted amongst the top cities in the world to visit.

The Greater Kruger Park

The Greater Kruger Park

Home to the Big 5 of the African bush - lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo - the Kruger Park is definitely one of the world's great wildlife destinations.

The Garden Route

The Garden Route

There are plenty of things to see and do along the Garden Route that will keep you busy during a stay here.

Eastern Cape Safaris

Eastern Cape Safaris

The safari lodges of South Africas Eastern Cape offer a malaria-free safari experience close to Cape Town and the popular Garden Route.

When Is The Best Time To Visit South Africa?

Weather and Climate

South Africa is a great year-round destination, with plenty of reasons to visit at any time of year, although the climate of this vast country does vary greatly by region and by month.

Generally speaking the Western Cape area has a more Mediterranean style climate with hot, dry summers from November to March and cooler wetter winters from May to August. The areas around Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape Game reserves are similar to the Western Cape, although the winters are not quite as wet. As you head further north, the rain pattern changes and we find regions with hot, humid and occasionally very wet summers, and cooler drier winters - this pattern is particuilarly noticable around Kruger, Johannesburg and the game reserves of Madikwe, Pilanesberg, and the Waterberg.

Northern regions that are at higher altitudes such as Johannesburg or the Giants Castle area of the Drakensberg Mountrains will see quite large variations between average high and average low temperatures during the winter months, and it is not at all uncommon to find temperatures around freezing over-night and then warm enough for shorts and T-shirts in the middle of the day.  This variation in temperature during the course of the day is also an issue for visitors to the games reserves where it can feel very chilly on early morning and later afternoon games drives but much warmer in the middle of the day.

The Western Cape

Around Cape Town, Hermanus, the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route, average daytime temperatures in the South African summer months are very pleasant, ranging between 14°C up to 26°C. On most days you will have 11 hours or more of sunshine, extending into warm evenings with the occasional rain shower. The summer south-easterly 'Cape Doctor' wind, however, can blow into an uncomfortable gale, especially near the coast.

In the winter months (June to August), average daily temperatures typically range between 8°C to 18°C, but the bracing sea breeze can make the temperature feel cooler and this is also the main rainy season.  Temperatures along the Garden Route do not vary quite as much between summer and winter as we see closer to Cape Town, and the rains are also spread more evenly throughout the year with more summer showers and fewer winter storms.

Although the appeal of visiting these areas in the South African summer is fairly obvious, we would suggest that these areas are still worth considering even in the milder winter months.  There is a huge amount to do in Cape Town that is not dependent on the weather, and the winter is when the whales come into the bay near Hermanus which is one of the world's best whale watching destinations.  You would still expect to see a fair amount of sun in Cape Town even in winter, and average daily highs of 18°C are not really that cold.  Finally, you will find that hotel rates tend to be a little lower in Cape Town during the winter, and visiting South Africa in the winter will also mean that you could visit the Kruger area during the best months for a safari there.

Cape Town Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F26167860Jan26167860Feb25157759Mar23137355Apr20106850May1896448Jun1886446Jul1886446Aug20106850Sep21116951Oct23137355Nov25157759Dec

Cape Town Average Rainfall (mm)

05010015020025024Jan25Feb30Mar74Apr117May143Jun131Jul126Aug70Sep55Oct31Nov27Dec

Knysna Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F25167760Jan25167760Feb24157559Mar22137155Apr21116951May1986646Jun1986646Jul2086846Aug20106850Sep21126953Oct23137355Nov25157759Dec

Knysna Average Rainfall (mm)

05010015020025059Jan51Feb62Mar69Apr66May63Jun62Jul82Aug69Sep78Oct64Nov54Dec
 

Port Elizabeth and The Eastern Cape Game Reserves

Port Elizabeth claims to have the best climate and more sunshine than any other coastal resort in the country, and average highs reach the mid-high 20s °C in the November to April summer months, and even in winter average daily highs remain around 20°C.  The coastal setting also stops the evenings getting too cold there is only moderate rainfall throughout the year.

Further inland, the temperatures at the Eastern Cape Game Reserves are broadly similar to those in Port Elizabeth, however the daily highs are a little higher throughout the year, and the lows are a little lower in the winter months.  The summer months of December to March are the hottest months, with temperatures average daily temeratures close to 30°C - but short thunderstorms in the late afternoon help to cool off the heat of the day. Autumn (April and May) is pleasant, with average daily highs of about 25°C, but the early mornings and evenings can be quite cool so you'll need to take a fleece or wear several layers on your morning and evening game drives.

During the winter months of June, July and August, temperatures can get down towards zero at night and in the early mornings, but during the day the average high still reaches the low 20s. In September and October, things start to warm up again, but the evenings are still cool until summer starts to get underway towards the end of the year.

 

Port Elizabeth Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F25177762Jan26167860Feb25167760Mar23137355Apr22107150May2186946Jun2086846Jul2096848Aug20106850Sep21126953Oct23147357Nov24157559Dec

Port Elizabeth Average Rainfall (mm)

05010015020025036Jan38Feb47Mar49Apr51May42Jun41Jul54Aug52Sep58Oct54Nov39Dec
 

Addo Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F29178462Jan29178462Feb28168260Mar26137855Apr2497548May2267142Jun2267142Jul2277144Aug2397348Sep25127753Oct26147857Nov28158259Dec

Addo Average Rainfall (mm)

05010015020025028Jan33Feb45Mar36Apr36May23Jun27Jul31Aug26Sep40Oct39Nov27Dec
 

Around Kruger National Park

The summer months in the Kruger National Park (November through to April) are extremely hot and humid. Average daily highs are around 32°C, and temperatures can soar over 40°C on occasion and this is also the rainy season. Many animals give birth during the height of summer (January/February), so it is an excellent time to visit if you want to see lion cubs at play or wobbly antelope calves following closely behind their mothers.

The winter months are substantially cooler and drier, and generally better for game viewing. The bush dries back, making it easier to spot game, plus the animals are more dependent on the waterholes and permanent rivers, so game viewing is particularly good around these areas.

Visitors in the winter months should be especially aware of the variation in temperarture during the day when on safari - morning game drives will feel very chilly on the back of the moving safari vehicle until the sun has been up for a little while, and when the sun sets again in the evening the temperatures drop very quickly making the last part of the afternoon/evening game drive very chilly. You will want to have a jacket or fleece and dress in layers so you can easily adust for the changing temperature whilst on game drives.

 

Kruger Park Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F32218969Jan31218769Feb31198766Mar29178462Apr26127853May2487546Jun2487546Jul26107850Aug28148257Sep29178462Oct30198666Nov31208768Dec

Kruger Park Average Rainfall (mm)

050100150200250113Jan111Feb65Mar40Apr18May12Jun10Jul9Aug25Sep45Oct83Nov92Dec
 

Johannesburg, Sun City And The Waterberg

Johannesburg has a pleasant all year round mild climate. Partly due to its elevation of over 1,750m above sea level, Johannesburg is fortunate to have warm summer days and pleasant summer evenings, with average highs around 25°C. Although these months are also the rainy season, the weather rarely feels too humid. In the dry winter months, the daily high temperatures are around 16 to 20°C with crisp, clear nights and frosts are not uncommon.

The main attactions a couple of hours drive from Johannesberg include The Waterberg Safari Reserves to the North East and Sun City and the Pilanesberg National Park which neighbour each other to the North West.

Summer (November to end of March) is the rainy season in both the Waterberg and Sun City /Pilannesburg areas, with the highest rainfall accompanied with spectacular thunder and lightening shows. Daytime temperatures are hot and humid with an average high temperatures around 30°C. 

The months of April to September are drier, with bright, clear and warm days and cooler evenings. The mid-winter months of May through to the end of August are the driest months, but early mornings and nights can get particularly cold, with average temperatures as low as 2 or 3 degrees C and ground frosts are common.

Johannesburg Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F26147857Jan25147757Feb25137755Mar22107150Apr2066842May1736237Jun1736237Jul2056841Aug2397348Sep25127753Oct25137755Nov25137755Dec

Johannesburg Average Rainfall (mm)

050100150200250139Jan108Feb91Mar62Apr21May9Jun7Jul8Aug28Sep74Oct118Nov125Dec
 

Sun City / Pilanesburg Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F31178762Jan30178662Feb28158259Mar26117851Apr2377344May2036837Jun2136937Jul2467542Aug28108250Sep30148657Oct30168660Nov30178662Dec

Sun City / Pilanesburg Average Rainfall (mm)

050100150200250107Jan101Feb80Mar50Apr14May9Jun4Jul3Aug17Sep56Oct78Nov122Dec
 

The Waterberg Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F29188464Jan29178462Feb28168260Mar26137855Apr2487546May2156941Jun2257141Jul2487546Aug27128053Sep29158459Oct28168260Nov29178462Dec

The Waterberg Average Rainfall (mm)

05010015020025094Jan68Feb63Mar33Apr5May11Jun1Jul2Aug14Sep42Oct75Nov87Dec
 

Madikwe Game Reserve

Spring (September to November) is when the bush in the Madikwe Game Reserve is at it's driest after the long dry winter, and with average tempereature ranging from lows aound 12°C to highs above 30°C this is an excellent time of year to visit the reserve. In October there may be thunderstorms, and by November the chance of afternoon showers becomes greater, which means the bush begins to turn green.

The summer months (December to March) are hot, and days are often interrupted by spectacular afternoon thunderstorms that are as brief as they are intense. During December and January many of the antelope species give birth to their young, and the bush is now many shades of green. January and February are the hottest months of the year, but towards the end of March the heat is less intense and the chance of rain lessens.

In autumn (April to May) the bush begins to get dryer, the vegetation becoming less dense and the grasses begin turning brown under the sun. The temperatures start dropping at night but the daytime is still warm with highs in the mid-high 20s. Scattered thunderstorms are still occasionally experienced in the afternoon.

June, July and August are the mid-winter months, and are the coolest and driest time of the year, with average lows below 5°C and some nights where the temperatures will drop below freezing.  The sun will still warm temperatures to average highs of around 22°C, and as the lack of rain means the bush is drying out all the time and animals are more reliant on waterholes making them a little easier to find.

Madikwe Average Max and Min Temperature

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Madikwe Average Rainfall (mm)

05010015020025094Jan88Feb63Mar37Apr10May5Jun3Jul3Aug13Sep40Oct63Nov79Dec
 

Durban And KwaZulu-Natal

Durban and the surrounding coastal areas have a sub-tropical climate with hot humid summers running from November to March, and cooler drier winters with June to August being the coolest and driest months.

The far north of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline towards the Mozambique border has similar weather pattern to the Durban coastal areas, although temperatures tend to be a few degrees higher.

The way to escape the coastal heat during the height of summer is to head to the stunning Drakensberg Mountains, where temperatures at, for example, the Giant's Castle area are always few degrees cooler than at the coast (average highs 22-23°C during the Summer, but only 14-15°C in winter).  The Drakensberg has an even more marked summer-rain profile than the coast, with heavy rains falling between November and March, and in mid-winter (June and July) average low temperatures fall below freezing.

The game reserves and National Parks of KwaZulu-Natal have a subtropical climate with hot, humid, wet summers (September to April) and warm to cool, dry winters (May to August).  Daytime summer temperatures may rise above 35°C although the average is around 27°C, and winter nights rarely drop below 10°C. Rainfall occurs predominantly in the summer months from September to April in the form of magnificent late afternoon/evening thundershowers.

Durban Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F28218269Jan28218269Feb28208268Mar26187864Apr24147557May23127353Jun22117151Jul23137355Aug24157559Sep24177562Oct25187764Nov27208068Dec

Durban Average Rainfall (mm)

050100150200250124Jan113Feb125Mar71Apr56May30Jun31Jul46Aug64Sep95Oct110Nov110Dec
 

Giants Castle Average Max and Min Temperature

-5°C23°F0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F23137355Jan23127353Feb22117151Mar2086846Apr1936637May14-15730Jun15-25928Jul1936637Aug2166942Sep2297148Oct22107150Nov23127353Dec

Giants Castle Average Rainfall (mm)

050100150200250180Jan173Feb144Mar62Apr26May9Jun10Jul24Aug39Sep74Oct128Nov173Dec
 

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Average Max and Min Temperature

0°C32°F5°C41°F10°C50°F15°C59°F20°C68°F25°C77°F30°C86°F27188064Jan27188064Feb27178062Mar25157759Apr24137555May22117151Jun22117151Jul23127353Aug24137555Sep24147557Oct25167760Nov27178062Dec

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Average Rainfall (mm)

050100150200250137Jan129Feb100Mar54Apr42May29Jun29Jul41Aug67Sep110Oct117Nov102Dec