Best Time to Visit South Africa

What is the best time to visit South Africa?

South Africa is a beautiful destination to visit at any time of year! Generally speaking, we think the best time to visit South Africa is September and October, when the weather in Cape Town is good and the safari parks offer excellent wildlife viewing. Read on to see our guide to South Africa month by month, and ask our expert Africa travel agents for more information.

Insider Tips:

  • South Africa’s safari regions are on an opposite weather pattern to Cape Town, so the ideal time for a safari coincides with Cape Town’s rainy season.
  • Keep in mind that safari lodges book up very quickly in South Africa, especially for peak season (May to October). We recommend planning 9 – 12 months in advance to secure the best accommodations.

Aerial View of Cape Town - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in January

Aerial view of Cape Town in summer

January

What is the weather like in South Africa in January?

  • Average temperatures: 66°F – 84°F
  • Hot, midsummer days with balmy evenings
  • It’s rainy season in the safari areas, with intermittent thunderstorms

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in January

  • South African safaris are fantastic all year
  • Hot, dry summer days are perfect for visiting beaches in Cape Town and the Garden Route
  • It’s off-season for safari, so lodges are cheaper than usual
  • Migratory birds make for spectacular birdwatching

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in January

  • Thanks to abundant water and greenery, wildlife is more spread out and not as easy to spot compared to the winter months
  • Beaches will be busy
  • Watch out for mosquitos in the wet weather

Baby Elephant on Safari - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in February

Baby elephant in the bush
Image: Molori Safari Lodge

February

What is the weather like in South Africa in February?

  • Average temperatures: 66°F – 84°F
  • Safari areas are in the height of rainy season, while Cape Town is experiencing peak summer
  • Coastal areas enjoy sunny weather with balmy breezes

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in February

  • Beautiful, green landscapes in safari areas
  • It’s antelope calving season, so you can see lots of newborns
  • With plentiful prey, there’s opportunity to see thrilling predator action
  • Dramatic thunderstorms in the bush (watched from a safe distance!) are awe-inspiring and fantastic for photographers

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in February

  • With vegetation at its thickest, wildlife can be hidden and tricky to spot
  • Wet weather brings mosquitos in safari areas

Lion and Rhinos on Safari South Africa - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in March

Lion and rhinos seen on a South Africa safari
Image: &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve

March

What is the weather like in South Africa in March?

  • Average temperatures: 64°F – 82°F
  • Safari areas are coming out of rainy season, while Cape Town is nearing the end of summer
  • Layer up for cool temperatures on your morning and evening game drives

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in March

  • On a green season safari, you can see many babies for the first time
  • Migratory birds are still abundant in northern safari parks, especially Kruger
  • At the end of the month, Cape Town International Jazz Festival is an event not to be missed
  • This is one of the best times to visit the Garden Route, with sunny beaches and fewer crowds

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in March

  • The bush is still dense coming out of rainy season (especially in the north near Kruger National Park), so wildlife may be hidden
  • Tourist areas may be crowded during the Easter holidays
  • You might have mosquitos in safari parks

Views from Madikwe Safari Lodge - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in April

Panoramic views over the bush from a South Africa safari lodge
Image: Madikwe Safari Lodge

April

What is the weather like in South Africa in April?

  • Average temperatures: 57°F – 80°F
  • April brings mild weather throughout the country
  • Safari areas are transitioning into dry season; expect warm days and chilly evenings
  • Cape Town and the Garden Route are cooling down, but still warm and sunny most days

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in April

  • South Africa safari travel is fantastic year-round
  • Safari reserves offer good wildlife viewing and lower rates than peak season
  • Toward the end of the month, crowds disperse from Cape Town
  • On the Eastern Cape, beaches and snorkeling are great in April
  • Excellent opportunities to photograph migratory birds before they head north

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in April

  • Wildlife may be tricky to spot if the bush is still dense
  • The beginning of the month sees lots of tourists, especially if the Easter holidays fall in April

Rhinos on a South Africa Walking Safari - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in May

Rhinos seen on a South Africa walking safari
Image: Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa

May

What is the weather like in South Africa in May?

  • Average temperatures: 50°F – 77°F
  • Cape Town and the southern regions are beginning to enter rainy season
  • Safari areas in the north are entering the dry season, but still experience cool mornings and evenings
  • Temperatures are mild throughout the country

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in May

  • Wildlife viewing is great all year
  • In Kruger National Park and other northern regions, vegetation begins to thin and wildlife is easier to see
  • As water sources dry up, wildlife begins to gather at remaining waterholes
  • Safari parks are not yet in peak season, so availability and pricing are good
  • Mild temperatures are ideal for walking safaris

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in May

  • Weather in Cape Town is somewhat unpredictable; you may experience wind and rain
  • Morning and evening game drives can be chilly, so we recommend bringing warm layers
  • National parks may be crowded during South Africa’s school holidays

Mother and Baby Cheetahs on Safari - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in June

Mother and baby cheetahs seen on safari
Image: &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve

June

What is the weather like in South Africa in June?

  • Average temperatures: 42°F – 73°F
  • As South Africa enters its winter, the days are warm, but evenings can be quite chilly
  • Dry season (and peak wildlife viewing) begins for South African safari parks

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in June

  • This is one of the best months for a South Africa safari, as game begins to gather around dwindling water sources
  • Animals are easier to see since vegetation is less dense
  • Safari parks have few mosquitos
  • Photo opportunities are abundant, with impressive numbers of wildlife in safari areas along with lush, green scenery in the Western Cape
  • Whale watching season begins in Hermanus and the Garden Route

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in June

  • Availability is limited; we recommend booking your safari lodge about 12 months in advance
  • With cool and rainy weather, it’s not an ideal time for outdoor activities in Cape Town (but wine tasting, fantastic restaurants, and museums will keep you busy!)

Whales on the South African Coast - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in July

Whales with calves off the coast of South Africa
Image: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

July

What is the weather like in South Africa in July?

  • Average temperatures: 42°F – 73°F
  • South Africa’s winter brings warm, clear days and cool nights
  • It’s the best time of year for safari game viewing, at the beginning of dry season
  • Cape Town and the southern regions are in the drizzly wet season

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in July

  • July is one of the very best months for a South Africa safari
  • Enjoy exceptional photo opportunities as wildlife clusters around remaining waterholes
  • With vegetation scarce, animals are easy to see
  • It’s prime whale watching season in the Western Cape; watch southern right whales with their newborn calves from the shores of Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay
  • Near Cape Town, you can catch the rare sight of Great White Sharks breaching above the ocean’s surface

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in July

  • Safari-goers should book far in advance to secure their preferred accommodations
  • If you’re keen on exploring Cape Town’s Table Mountain, you may want to consider visiting another time; Table Mountain tours may be cancelled due to weather

South African Wildflowers - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in August

Wildflowers blooming in the Western Cape
Image: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

August

What is the weather like in South Africa in August?

  • Average temperatures: 48°F – 77°F
  • This is a great time to see wildlife while still enjoying mild temperatures
  • Cape Town is nearing the end of its rainy season and heading into spring
  • Pack plenty of layers to transition from warm days into chilly nights

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in August

  • This is an excellent month for wildlife viewing; the Big 5 are easy to see on safari, while whales are gathered on the coast
  • On safari, visibility is clear and waterholes attract impressive numbers of animals
  • Gorgeous flowers are blooming in the Western Cape

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in August

  • Since ideal safari conditions attract travelers from around the world, safari lodges are priced at a premium
  • Travelers should consider private game reserves and book well in advance to avoid crowds
  • The Table Mountain cable car closes for maintenance in August

Elephant Guarding a Waterhole on Safari - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in September

Elephant seen on safari guarding a waterhole from zebras

September

What is the weather like in South Africa in September?

  • Average temperatures: 53°F – 80°F
  • Temperatures are rising, but mornings and evenings can still be cool
  • Northern and eastern safari parks are hitting peak dry season
  • It’s spring in Cape Town; pack a light jacket for possible rains

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in September

  • September is a fantastic month for a South Africa safari
  • Well into dry season, water sources in the safari parks have largely dried up; animals gathering at the remaining water make for incredible photo opportunities
  • Sparse grasses make wildlife easy to see
  • The Western Cape is alive with colorful spring flowers
  • It’s a great time to see southern right whales in their breeding season

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in September

  • Great weather around the country means lots of tourists are around
  • You’ll want to secure your preferred safari lodges in advance

Leopard in a Tree on a South African Safari - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in October

Leopard seen on safari in South Africa
Image: Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

October

What is the weather like in South Africa in October?

  • Average temperatures: 57°F – 80°F
  • Weather is warming up around the country
  • Safari areas are nearing the end of dry season; in some areas, the rains are starting to come
  • Cape Town and the Garden Route are gearing up for summer

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in October

  • It’s one of the very best months to combine several regions in South Africa
  • Wildlife viewing is spectacular, especially in the hot, dry days leading up to the first rains
  • Many mammals will have newborns
  • Cape Town has gorgeous, sunny weather and wildflowers are still in bloom in the Western Cape

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in October

  • It’s peak season in Kruger National Park, so prices are higher than usual
  • Temperatures can be uncomfortably hot in safari parks during the day

Baby Cheetahs on Safari South Africa - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in November

Baby cheetahs running in the grass
Image: Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve

November

What is the weather like in South Africa in November?

  • Average temperatures: 63°F – 80°F
  • Entering into summer, temperatures are heating up
  • In the northern and eastern safari parks, the rainy season is beginning
  • On safari, expect warm days with possible afternoon thunderstorms
  • Hot, sunny weather in Cape Town is perfect for hitting the beach

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in November

  • Safari parks become green and lush with the arrival of rain
  • Wildlife sightings are still excellent, and safari lodges are priced lower outside of the peak season
  • Baby animals and abundant predators make for great photographs
  • November is an ideal time to visit Cape Town’s beaches and hike up Table Mountain
  • Enjoy the last month of whale watching season in the Cape

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in November

  • Cape Town is entering peak season and hotel rates may be higher than usual
  • The strong wind known locally as “Cape Doctor” may hinder a Cape Town beach day; visit the Clifton Beaches to enjoy some sun away from the gale
  • As the rains come in safari regions, wildlife becomes more spread out and can be tricky to spot
  • You might be bothered by mosquitos

Elephants Around a Waterhole on Safari - Best Time to Visit South Africa - South Africa in December

Elephants gathered around a waterhole on a South Africa safari
Image: Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

December

What is the weather like in South Africa in December?

  • Average temperatures: 65°F – 83°F
  • Weather can be hot and humid during the day
  • Evenings are cool and comfortable
  • It’s rainy season in the safari areas

Highlights of traveling to South Africa in December

  • South Africa safaris offer great wildlife sightings all year
  • Landscapes come to life with bright green vegetation
  • Cloudy skies provide dramatic lighting for photographs
  • It’s a spectacular time for birdwatching, with many migratory birds around

Drawbacks of traveling to South Africa in December

  • Cape Town and Kruger National Park will get a lot of visitors during South Africa’s school holidays
  • As water is readily available, animals are no longer congregating around a few water sources
  • The wet weather means mosquitos may be a nuisance