When Is the Best Time to Visit South Africa?

Planning your next holiday? We've got you covered with the best time to visit South Africa, whether you're planning a safari or looking for a December getaway.
Clifton Beach in Cape Town South Africa
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When is the best time to visit South Africa?

The best time to visit South Africa depends on where you want to go and what you want to do on holiday. The temperatures range based on where in the country you are visiting, with the north seeing warmer temperatures than the south of the country. The Western Cape is famed for experiencing rainy seasons in the winter, but the Indian Ocean coastline provides warmer and more equatorial temperatures. Needless to say, it's important to plan!

What are the summer and winter months in South Africa?

The summer months last from December to March, while the winter months range from June to September.

When is the rainy season in South Africa?

Cape Town experiences the rainy season during the winter months, with the wettest days ranging from June to August. The rest of the country’s rainy season occurs during the summer, with November to March having the highest precipitation levels.

Two lionesses standing among tall grass, southern Kalahari, South AfricaGetty Images

When is the most affordable time to visit South Africa?

Again, it depends on what you want to do on holiday. It is cheapest to visit South Africa during the winter months (June to September) unless you are planning a safari, as winter is peak safari season, with the drier climate making it ideal for wildlife spotting.

When is the best time to go on a safari in South Africa?

The best time to go on safari is between May to October. The winter months bring dry, clear days ideal for animal tracking, but pack some warm clothes for those cooler nights. The wildlife also tends to concentrate near reliable water sources during these months, which makes game viewing more predictable. If you’re looking for a more detailed guide, look at our guide to planning our first South Africa safari.

Humpback Whale calf playing on surface of ocean, Port St. JohnsGetty Images

When is the best time to go whale watching in South Africa?

Winter is the best whale-watching season in South Africa when most pods travel to and from the Antarctic to breed and calve off the waters of Mozambique and Madagascar. The sightings start as early as May and can last into early December, with Hermanus being a favurite for whale-watching, especially in September.

Top tip: The migration also coincides with the Sardine Run, between May and July, where the sardines spawn in the South African waters, attracting super-pods of whales and dolphins, diving birds and even sharks. We recommend setting up a tour off the coast of Port Saint Johns.

A version of this article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveller.