Africa & Middle East - 16 min read

Best Time to Visit South Africa (for Great Climate & Wildlife)

Nicole Abbott

Nicole Abbott, Updated September 23, 2022

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South Africa is the southernmost country on the continent of Africa. It is known for its cultural diversity, natural beauty, and topography. With all of this in mind, South Africa is made one of the top traveling destinations.

The best time to visit South Africa is from May to September, during the cooler winter months that bring conditions great for viewing. From November to February, it can be rainy, but it is the perfect time for birding and experiencing warmer temperatures. With that being said, it’s a lovely destination for climate and wildlife.

If you’ve added South Africa to your list as a top getaway, you’ll be curious when the best time to visit is. While on your vacation, you’ll want to know about the weather and any activities to add to your daily list. Let’s dive into the best time to visit South Africa.

What are the Best Parts of South Africa to Visit?

Credit: ModernNomad

The best time to visit South Africa depends on which part of the country you plan on traveling to and what activities you have planned. Let’s dive into the different areas.

Western Cape

Credit: Michaeljung

If you’re a huge fan of surfing, the best time to visit Western Cape in South Africa would be between November and February which is the summertime. In the summer, the waves are at their largest which draws in many surfer fanatics.

Along the Western Cape, the weather is still normally dry so rain will be the least of your worries.

Harvest Season

Credit: Bernard Pieterse

If you’re visiting South Africa for its taste in wines, the best time to visit South Africa would be between February and April. February and April are the harvest season in South Africa. You’ll still be able to participate in different wine tastings and tours outside that will show you how wine is made.

Northern Areas of South Africa

Credit: Kanuman

If you’re wanting to view the wildlife in South Africa, the best time to visit is between May and October. May and October are considered to be the dry and cool seasons of this region. The drier the conditions and cooler the weather, the more wildlife viewing you’ll experience.

This happens because of the wildlife congregation around the water sources so they are very easy to spot. In addition, the vegetation won’t be as dense during the dry season which will give you better visibility. The daytime temperatures can be very enjoyable, but the evening and nighttime temperatures are much colder.

Worst Time to Travel to South Africa

Credit: Nejah

When traveling to South Africa, you’ll want to take into consideration the current season and climate conditions. The worst time to travel to South Africa is from November to March because of the busy season.

South Africa attracts its most visitors from November to March, during its summer months. The cities are more packed and the beaches are more crowded during this time. If you’re looking for warmer days, the worst time to travel to South Africa would be from May to August, as this is considered the winter season.

If you plan on visiting Western Cape, the weather will not be ideal because of the number of outdoor activities there are. Activities such as hiking or surfing would not be as enjoyable during those colder months.

When is the Cheapest Time to go to South Africa?

The cheapest time to visit South Africa is in May. May is considered to fall within South Africa’s winter months. You can save almost R2000 when you fly in the winter, rather than in the summertime.

Now that you know that the cheapest month to fly is in May, you should know how far in advance to book the cheapest flight and accommodations. The cheapest time to book your flight is from 3-6 months before you fly. This will allow you to save up to fourteen percent on flights.

You can also save the same amount on rentals and accommodations. If you book six to twelve months in advance, you can save up to forty percent of the cost.

What Time of Year is the Best Weather in South Africa?

When planning your vacation to South Africa, you’ll want to go when the weather is permitting and deals are at their lowest. Below, we discuss the weather by month so that you can choose the best time to visit for you and your family.

January: Spier Arts Festival

Credit: Aleksey Matrenin


Temperatures average 78 degrees during January in South Africa
. January is the warmest month in South Africa with humidity staying at 69%. As for rainfall, rain falls for around 16 days of the month with 5 inches of accumulation.

Since January is the warmest month of the year, you’ll want to pack lightweight clothing. During this month, South Africa has their Spier Arts Festival. The Spier Arts Festival is a premier arts festival that has local and international opera, classical, and jazz music.

The Spier Arts Festival is an annual event that began in December of 2018. You’ll have loads of fun, get to eat delicious food, and taste award-winning wines. This month is also great for a River Cruise.

When booking a River Cruise, you’ll be able to explore South Africa’s once-in-a-lifetime and luxurious comfortable lodge that gives off the look of nature. You’ll even embark on a unique route cruising along Africa’s largest man-made lake. While on land and water safaris, you’ll be able to experience some of the deepest treasures of South Africa.

  • Spier Arts Festival
  • River Cruise
  • Wildlife Safari
  • Scuba Diving

February: Dance Umbrella

Credit: ra2 studio

Temperatures average 66 degrees during February in South Africa. In February, South Africa still has semi-warm temperatures with the humidity being 70%. As for rainfall, it will rain for around 11 days out of the month seeing around three and a half inches of rainfall.

If you’re traveling during this month, you can pack lightweight clothing, along with a light sweater or jacket for evenings. During this month, South Africa has Dance Umbrella. Dance Umbrella is a platform for only the best contemporary choreography and dance.

It is an open platform that has performances by youth and other community groups. At this event, new choreographic creations are presented.

  • Dance Umbrella
  • Design Indaba Cape Town
  • Sangoma Khekheke’s Annual Snake Dance

March: Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Credit: Photo Spirit


Temperatures average 75 degrees during March in South Africa
. In March, South Africa has around 68% humidity. As for rainfall, it rains for around twelve days out of the month, seeing four inches of rain.

If you’re planning to travel during this time, you can pack lightweight clothing, a light sweater, and a few rain items. During this month, South Africa has their Cape Town International Jazz Festival. The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has some of everything best jazz talent joined by other international musicians.

At this event, you’ll be able to enjoy the glitz and glamour that feature some of South Africa’s Grammy-nominated artists.

  • Cape Town International Jazz Festival
  • Cape Argus Cycle Tour
  • Klein Karoo National Arts Festival

April: Two Oceans Marathon

Credit: Pavel1964


Temperatures average 51 degrees during April in South Africa
. In March, South Africa will have humidity that stays around 65%. As for rainfall, rain falls for around nine days out of the month and will accumulate around two inches.

If you’re planning to travel during this time, you’ll want to pack some cooler clothing as temperatures will be 15 degrees cooler than the month before. During this month, South Africa has their Two Oceans Marathon. The Two Oceans Marathon is Africa’s largest running event.

The first race began in 1970 and since then has become a national institution with local and international athletes. The event is usually held on Easter weekend and has pre-race activities and family day. You’ll experience fun and excitement, and have a unique experience for runners, family, and other spectators.

  • Two Oceans Marathon
  • Little Karoo Desert
  • Table Mountain
  • Agulhas National Park

May: The Gourmet Festival

Credit: Roman Chazov


Temperatures average 45 degrees during May in South Africa
. May is considered the last month of autumn in South Africa and has a humidity of 56%. As for rainfall, the rain will fall for around three days of the month and accumulate up to one inch.

If you’re planning on traveling during this month, you’ll want to pack warmer clothing as this is still a chilly month in South Africa. During this month, South Africa has their Gourmet Festival. At the Gourmet Festival, you can sample from some of the best chefs on budget-friendly menus.

  • Gourmet Festival
  • Cape Times Waterfront Wine Festival
  • Prince Albert Olive Festival
  • Franschhoek Literary Festival

June: Standard Bank National Arts Festival

Credit: Warasit Phothisuk


Temperatures average 61 degrees during June in South Africa
. June is considered the first month of winter in South Africa and is considered the coldest month of the year. During, rain falls for two days and accumulated up to one inch.

If you’re planning on traveling during this month, you’ll want to pack warmer clothing as this is the coldest month of the year. This month has the Standard Bank National Arts Festival. The Standard Bank National Arts Festival is the largest arts festival in South Africa that showcases performances from cutting edge to classical.

The National Arts Festival has been the main event in South Africa’s cultural calendar. Artists and visitors will gather and celebrate to showcase work that encourages range, innovation, and versatility.

  • National Arts Festival
  • Comrades Marathon

July: S.A. Fashion Week

Credit: Lev Redin


Temperatures average 62 degrees during July in South Africa
. July is another comfortable winter month in South Africa. This is the month that will experience the least amount of rainfall, raining for only one day out of the month.

If you’re planning to travel during this month, you’ll want to pack pants, t-shirts, and a jacket or sweater for colder nights. During this month, South Africa has S.A. Fashion Week. S.A. Fashion Week is a showcase of fashion talent that is African-centered.

  • S.A. Fashion Week
  • Knysna Oyster Festival
  • Mr. Price Pro Surfing Classic
  • The Sardine Run

August: Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience

Credit: Ekaterina Dema


Temperatures after 67 degrees during August in South Africa
. August is the last month of winter in South Africa and is the least humid month out of the year staying at around 46%. As for rainfall, the rain falls for only two days out of the month and accumulates around a quarter of an inch.

If you’re planning to travel during this month, you can pack a lightweight jacket, pants, t-shirts, and a good pair of walking shoes. During this month, South Africa has Jomba, a Contemporary Dance Experience. This is a contemporary dance festival that focuses on the best choreography and dance.

Jomba offers engagement of artistic talents for both international visitors and locals to enjoy.

  • Jomba! Contemporary Dance Experience
  • Namaqualand Wild Flower Season

September: Arts Alive International Festival

Credit: Jakub Cervenka


Temperatures average 73 degrees during September in South Africa
. September is considered to be the first month of spring in this region with humidity staying around 47%. As for rainfall, September will see around four days of rain with accumulations of around one inch.

If you’re planning to travel during this month, temperatures will be relatively warm so you can get away with packing shorts to wear during the day. During this month, South Africa has their Arts Alive International Festival. The Arts Alive International Festival is an urban arts festival that showcases local talent and international artists.

  • Arts Alive International Festival
  • Gauteng Tourism Authority
  • Whale Festival
  • King Shaka Day Celebrations
  • Zulu Kings Reed Dance

October: Shembe Celebrations

Credit: Khaya Ngwenya


Temperatures average between 52 degrees and 75 degrees during October in South Africa
. October’s temperature stays very similar to September with the average humidity staying around 56%. As for rainfall, October will see around ten days of rain with accumulations of around three inches.

If you’re planning to travel during this month, you’ll want to pack a combination of warm and lighter clothing, in addition to a few rainy day items. During this month, South Africa has their Shembe Celebrations. The Shembe celebrations celebrate Shembe, the fourth successor of the first prophet.

At this celebration, Shembe presides over a congregation of thirty thousand people who come together to hear him speak and lead them in prayer. These celebrations are for the last three weeks in October.

  • Shembe Celebrations
  • International Festival of Sports
  • Cape Wine
  • Sanlam Cape Town Marathon

November: Turtle-tracking in Maputaland

Credit: Tommy Daynjer


Temperatures average 76 degrees during November in South Africa
. November is the last month of spring and is a moderately hot month with humidity staying around 65%. As for rainfall, it rains for around sixteen days of the month with accumulations being around five inches for the month.

If you’re planning to travel during this month, you’ll want to pack lightweight clothing, sneakers, a pair of sandals, and your rain gear. During this month, South Africa has Turtle Tracking. Turtle tracking takes place every year from November to January.

During this time, the rare loggerhead and leatherback turtles come back to the beaches where they were first born. They come back to the nest and lay their eggs in the sand. You can have views of this event at Rocktail Bay and Mabibi lodgings.

  • Turtle Tracking
  • Cape Town Beer Festival
  • Helderberg Wine Festival
  • The Swartland Revolution

December: Million Dollar Golf Challenge

Credit: Pakorn Khantiyaporn


Temperatures average 77 degrees during December in South Africa
. In December, the temperatures stay around the same as November as a relatively hot month, with humidity staying around 66%. As for rainfall, it will rain for around fifteen days of the month with accumulations of around four inches.

If you’re planning to travel during this month, you’ll want to pack lightweight clothing for hot temperatures and your rain gear. During this month, South Africa has their Million Dollar Golf Challenge. This event is a high-stakes tournament that attracts some of the world’s best golfers.

  • Million Dollar Golf Challenge
  • Appletiser Summer Sunset Concerts
  • Vortex New Year’s Eve Rave Party

What is the Best Time to Visit South Africa With Family?

Credit: Lucian Coman

Have you been thinking about wanting to travel to South Africa, but are unsure if it’s a great place to bring the whole family? Not only is traveling to South Africa with family possible but there are many activities and outdoor adventures you can take. The best time to visit South Africa with family is between September and October.

The best time to visit with family during this time is because it is the perfect time for activities such as safaris, vineyards, whale watching, and more! Families love activities such as visiting safaris because they are very family-friendly. During this time, temperatures are cooler, which leaves for dryer conditions and shorter grass that make it easier to spot wildlife.

Safaris

Credit: Carcharadon

These months are great for visiting multiple safari camps that include Sabi Sands. Sabi Sands is South Africa’s known game reserve that is best known for the abundance of leopards. You can also visit Kruger National Park which is known for having one of the oldest and largest wildlife reserves ever in the world.

Wildflowers

Credit: Artur Sniezhyn

This time is particularly great for families to view the wildflowers. During this time, temperatures are right where they need to be, which also makes it perfect for whale watching and other regional trips. This time is also when you’ll see temperatures start to rise as it is the beginning of the spring season.

Whale Watching

Credit: Andrea Quartarone

This period is also great for families to dive into whale watching. During this time, the whales migrate from the Antarctic to South Africa for calving. In late September and early October, you’ll also be able to view the whale festival where you can experience live music, food, and craft markets.

When is the Best Time to Avoid Crowds in South Africa?

Credit: Luke Schmidt

The best time to avoid crowds in South Africa is from November to April because summer is considered the low season. Since it is the low season for this part of Africa the area is less crowded and a great option to avoid those huge crowds.

In addition, since this is the off-season, you can find great deals on tours and other excursions without booking too far in advance. Even though this time is less crowded, it is not the right time for any wildlife viewing. For the Western Cape, the low season is from May to August so they will also see less tourism.

If you don’t mind the colder temperatures and are looking for discounted rates, visiting Western Cape during this time might be a great option for you.

When is Cyclone Season in South Africa?

Credit: Lavizzara

The cyclone season normally runs between November and March in South Africa. South Africa’s cyclone seasons span over many months, but they are anything but prepared for storm season. Just in 2022 alone, they’ve been hit by storms and have experienced intense flooding.

If you ever visit South Africa during cyclone season and a storm arrives, make sure you follow proper safety precautions and directions from your hotel staff.

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