Weather & Climate – South Africa

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

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

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author of 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.

Climate Chart South Africa

Climate Chart Nelspruit – 676m / 2,221ft

© chart: SafariBookings. All rights reserved / source data: Wikipedia

South Africa has a lovely, temperate climate with plenty of sunny, dry days. The main factors influencing conditions are altitude and the surrounding oceans. The east coast is on the Indian Ocean, which has a warm current. The west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with a cold current. South Africa experiences winter and summer at opposite times as compared to Europe and North America and they correspond to the Dry and Wet seasons (except for the Western Cape).

Nelspruit's climate compared to South Africa's parks

Nelspruit is situated next to Kruger, South Africa's most popular park. This region is, in fact, the main wildlife area of the country. The town's climate is largely representative of a lot of the parks, including the private reserves in Sabi Sand and other areas surrounding Kruger. The parks in KwaZulu Natal have similar temperatures but tend to get more rainfall in summer. Kgalagadi in the northwest of the country is a desert area with high temperatures and very little rainfall.

Dry season May to September – Winter

There is virtually no rainfall during the whole winter and humidity is very low. When water becomes scarce, wildlife will gather around predictable water sources. The Western Cape has winter rainfall and will be cold and wet. Since this isn't a wildlife area, it won't be included in the rest of the descriptions.

  • May – This month brings the end of summer. Temperatures are relatively cool, typically 10°C/50°F in the morning and 26°C/79°F in the afternoon.
  • June, July & August – Morning game drives in open vehicles will be cold, so it's advisable to pack warm winter clothing. The average morning temperature is 6°C/42°F. Afternoons will be pleasant with temperatures around 23-25°C/73-77°F.
  • September – The heat gradually builds to about 28°C/82°F in the afternoons, and the first rains bring relief from very dry conditions. Mornings are pleasant as well, around 12°C/53°F.

Wet season October to April – Summer

The summer rains are usually afternoon storms, and it can be uncomfortably hot on the Indian Ocean coast, with temperatures up to 30°C/86°F and high humidity. At this time, it is unbearably hot in the Kalahari Desert area where temperatures can climb up to 40°C/ 104°F.

  • October & November – It gets warmer and starts to rain more often, mostly in the afternoons. Temperatures are between 15°C/59°F in the morning and 28°C/82°F in the afternoon.
  • December, January & Februay – These are the wettest months, characterized by torrential downpours in the afternoon. Afternoon temperatures are around 29°C/84°F and the humidity is high.
  • March & April – Rainfall will decrease, and it slowly gets colder. This continues in April, which has lovely, clear weather and few clouds. The nights get a bit colder but are still pleasant at about 15°C/59°F. Daytime temperatures are around 28°C/82°F and humidity drops in April.

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