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Penguins on Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

When is the best time to visit South Africa?

The best time to visit South Africa is from May to September, as the cooler winter months in the northern regions bring superb conditions for viewing big game. It can be rainy from November to February, but this is the best time to travel for birding, and temperatures remain warm at 22°C-33°C.

However, South Africa is a year-round destination, with varying regional climates and wildlife opportunities.

The Cape has beautiful, hot, dry weather in its summer months (between November and February), with temperatures between 23°C and 26°C. The best time to visit the Cape for whale watching is between July and November.

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South Africa Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
The Battlefields 27°C 124mm 27°C 109mm 26°C 79mm 24°C 44mm 22°C 15mm 19°C 9mm 19°C 10mm 22°C 20mm 24°C 41mm 25°C 85mm 26°C 105mm 27°C 127mm
Cape Town 26°C 28mm 26°C 28mm 25°C 35mm 23°C 83mm 20°C 134mm 18°C 153mm 17°C 143mm 17°C 134mm 19°C 81mm 21°C 61mm 23°C 37mm 24°C 33mm
The Drakensberg 24°C 175mm 23°C 152mm 22°C 124mm 19°C 51mm 17°C 21mm 15°C 11mm 15°C 12mm 17°C 29mm 20°C 50mm 21°C 90mm 21°C 123mm 23°C 156mm
Durban 28°C 124mm 28°C 113mm 28°C 125mm 26°C 71mm 24°C 56mm 23°C 30mm 22°C 31mm 23°C 46mm 24°C 64mm 24°C 95mm 25°C 110mm 27°C 110mm
Johannesburg & Pretoria 26°C 138mm 25°C 107mm 25°C 91mm 22°C 61mm 20°C 21mm 17°C 9mm 17°C 7mm 20°C 8mm 23°C 27mm 25°C 74mm 25°C 118mm 25°C 123mm
The Kalahari 33°C 47mm 32°C 55mm 29°C 63mm 26°C 30mm 22°C 14mm 19°C 5mm 19°C 2mm 22°C 4mm 26°C 7mm 29°C 16mm 31°C 30mm 32°C 38mm
Knysna 24°C 69mm 25°C 61mm 23°C 71mm 22°C 75mm 20°C 72mm 19°C 64mm 18°C 65mm 19°C 87mm 19°C 75mm 20°C 85mm 22°C 72mm 24°C 64mm
Kruger National Park 33°C 103mm 32°C 106mm 31°C 67mm 29°C 35mm 27°C 15mm 25°C 11mm 24°C 10mm 26°C 8mm 29°C 21mm 30°C 33mm 30°C 77mm 32°C 92mm
Plettenberg Bay 24°C 73mm 25°C 66mm 23°C 74mm 22°C 77mm 20°C 75mm 19°C 68mm 19°C 69mm 19°C 97mm 19°C 79mm 20°C 90mm 22°C 77mm 24°C 66mm
Stellenbosch 28°C 17mm 28°C 27mm 26°C 28mm 23°C 74mm 20°C 118mm 18°C 128mm 17°C 112mm 17°C 114mm 19°C 62mm 22°C 54mm 25°C 35mm 26°C 20mm

Month-by-month guide to travelling in South Africa

Bo Kaap, Cape Town

Visiting South Africa in January

January sees hot and dry weather in the Cape, making it an excellent time of year for trips to Cape Town and the Garden Route. The Kruger and KwaZulu Natal also have high temperatures, but sunny periods are interspersed with tropical rainstorms.

Events & Festivals

  • The Battlefields in KwaZulu Natal (January): The battlefields are popular in January as it's the anniversaries of the Battle of Isandlwana and the Battle of Rorke's Drift. Read more
Knysna, South Africa

Visiting South Africa in February

February is one of the hottest months in the Cape, although coastal towns are cooled by pleasant sea breezes. It is a very popular month and hotels get booked up well in advance.

Lions, Greater Kruger Park

Visiting South Africa in March

March is a popular time to visit South Africa; particularly if the Easter break falls within this month. The weather is warm, and although there may still be some rainfall in the north, it is easing off. On safari in Kruger the bush will be thick and rivers full as this is the end of the rainy season.

Bull elephant, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Visiting South Africa in April

April is also busy, but gets quieter towards the end of the month. The weather is warm and dry throughout the country, making it a prime time to combine regions.

Rhino, Waterberg

Visiting South Africa in May

By the time May comes around the peak summer crowds have died down, but it is still a lovely time of year to visit the country if you are not seeking particularly hot weather. The weather is warm and dry across the regions, although with chilly evenings, and safari is often superb.

Vineyard near Stellenbosch

Visiting South Africa in June

Midwinter in the Cape sees cooler temperatures and roaring fires in the Winelands, and although it's never really cold during the days, the tops of the mountains do occasionally see a dusting of snow. When the sun comes out, the weather is usually beautifully mild.

Southern Right Whale

Visiting South Africa in July

July is the start of the whale watching season along the coast of the Western Cape; southern right whales can be best viewed from Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay as they come close to the shores to give birth. The weather can be cool and drizzly in the Cape. Warmer and drier temperatures are in the north and east of the country and this is a superb time for game viewing as animals congregate around water holes.

Events & Festivals

  • Whale watching season (July to November): This is the best time to see southern right whales off the coast after their migration from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa, where they will have their young.
Southern Right Whale

Visiting South Africa in August

August is the start of spring and flowers start to bloom across the Western and Northern Cape. Namaqualand in the Northern Cape becomes carpeted in colourful flowers and people travel from near and far to see them. The Cape is chilly at this time and early August sees the cable car for Table Mountain closed for annual maintenance. KwaZulu Natal is the best region to visit in August, offering warm temperatures and plenty to see and do.

Events & Festivals

  • Whale watching season (July to November): This is the best time to see southern right whales off the coast after their migration from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa, where they will have their young.
  • Wild flowers on the West Coast (August to October): During spring, the dry and dusty landscape is transformed as a carpet of colourful wild flowers spreads across South Africa's west coast, creating stunning scenery. Read more
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa

Visiting South Africa in September

In September the beautiful wildflowers on the West Coast are often in full bloom and temperatures start to rise throughout the country; although early mornings and evenings are chilly. This is a good time to combine regions throughout the country. The animals are out in full force, with many giving birth this month in the bush and whales often spotted along the coast. 

Events & Festivals

  • Whale watching season (July to November): This is the best time to see southern right whales off the coast after their migration from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa, where they will have their young.
  • Wild flowers on the West Coast (August to October): During spring, the dry and dusty landscape is transformed as a carpet of colourful wild flowers spreads across South Africa's west coast, creating stunning scenery. Read more
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa

Visiting South Africa in October

October is a beautiful month - 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 regions.

Events & Festivals

  • Whale watching season (July to November): This is the best time to see southern right whales off the coast after their migration from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa, where they will have their young.
  • Wild flowers on the West Coast (August to October): During spring, the dry and dusty landscape is transformed as a carpet of colourful wild flowers spreads across South Africa's west coast, creating stunning scenery. Read more
Eland, De Hoop Nature Reserve

Visiting South Africa in November

It heats up across the country and the rains start in the Kruger and KwaZulu Natal. Late afternoon thunderstorms clear the air and can be spectacular. The Cape sees the last month of the whale season and this is a great time to visit inland areas such as the Karoo before the temperatures soar.

Events & Festivals

  • Whale watching season (July to November): This is the best time to see southern right whales off the coast after their migration from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa, where they will have their young.
Lion in the Reserve

Visiting South Africa in December

The festive season is extremely busy in South Africa and gets filled up quickly. Restaurants and excursions need to be booked well in advance. The Cape is dry and hot and the north and KwaZulu Natal can experience some rain. Early December is great for travel as it is still quiet before the rush of school holidays.

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