Best Time to Visit – South Africa

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many Africa guidebooks, including the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.

Philip is author of the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.

Kruger & Around

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Dec
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Cape Town & Around

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The best time to visit South Africa for a wildlife safari is from May to September. During these winter months, the east of the country (where the main parks are located) experiences its Dry season. Wildlife is easier to spot during the Dry season because vegetation thins, and animals gather around waterholes and rivers. The ‘Kruger & Around’ sections below relate to the parks and reserves in Greater Kruger and in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Cape Town’s Dry and Wet seasons are opposite to those in Kruger. Therefore, the best time for visiting Cape Town and surrounds is during the dry summer months of November to March. The ‘Cape Town & Around’ sections below apply to the entire Western Cape and nearby parks.

Best Time
Travel Seasons
Weather

Kruger & Around

Best Time May to September
(Best wildlife viewing)
Travel Seasons High season: October to March
(Crowded during school holidays)Low season: April to September
(Uncrowded)
Weather Best weather: April to May and September to October
(Mild weather)Worst weather: June to August
(Dry but cold)

Cape Town & Around

Best Time November to March
(Pleasant weather)
Travel Seasons High season: October to March
(It can be crowded, especially during school holidays)Low season: April to September
(Few visitors)
Weather Best weather: November to March
(Warm and little rainfall)Worst weather: June to August
(Cold and wet)

Pros and Cons - Kruger & Around

May to September – Dry Season – Winter

  • Wildlife is easier to spot because there is less vegetation and animals gather around rivers and waterholes
  • Little to no rain and most days are sunny
  • Few mosquitoes
  • 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
  • Best time for bird watching, and migratory birds are present
  • Rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom 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

Pros and Cons - Cape Town & Around

May to September – Wet Season – Winter

  • Low season with few visitors around
  • Although it is the Wet season, there are many sunny days
  • Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is good year-round
  • It is cold for beach and general holiday activities
  • Game drives in open vehicles are bitterly cold

October to April – Dry Season – Summer

  • Pleasant warm weather with little rain
  • Best time to enjoy Cape Town and the Garden Route
  • Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is good throughout the year
  • It is less cold on game drives
  • It gets busy in high season

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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