Best Time to Visit – South Africa

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

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The best time to visit South Africa is from May to September. This is the Dry season and animals congregate around waterholes and rivers. This is, in fact, the low season for tourism. South African school holidays should be avoided. The main holidays are in December. It is winter, so the mornings and nights are cold. May and September are wonderful because it is less cold and, especially in September, the wildlife viewing is excellent.

Best Time May to September (All parks)
High Season October to March (Won't feel overly crowded, except for main camps in Kruger during school holidays)
Low Season April to September (This coincides with the best wildlife viewing months)
Best Weather April-May and September-October (Pleasant temperatures and afternoon storms rarely interfere with the safari)
Worst Weather June to August (Cold in the morning and at night)

May to September Dry Season – Winter

  • Wildlife is easier to spot because there is less vegetation and animals gather around rivers and waterholes
  • There is little to no rain – the skies are clear with most days sunny and fewer mosquitos
  • This is the low season and parks are not crowded, except for Kruger during school holidays
  • It gets cold at night and in the mornings

October to April Wet Season – Summer

  • After the first rains, the scenery turns green and all looks fresh
  • This is the best time for bird watching, and migratory birds are present
  • Rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom really interfere with your trip
  • Wildlife viewing can be quite slow since the bush is thicker and wildlife is more difficult to spot
  • It gets very hot in December, January and February, and parks get crowded during the main school holidays in December

Wildlife Photos

Best Time to go to South Africa by Major Park

Most parks offer year-round wildlife viewing, but they are at their best during the Dry season when wildlife is easier to spot. Kgalagadi gets extremely hot during December to February and is best visited in cooler months.

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