So, when is the best time to visit South Africa?
South Africa is a year round destination and the different seasons have different things to offer. Here are some thoughts to help you plan.
The dryer winter months (May to October) are popular for safaris and game drives as the animals tend to gather around watering holes making them easy to find. There’s less foliage so viewing through trees/bushes is also easier. This is probably more significant if you are going on a day’s safari as part of a holiday. However, the summer months (November – April) are typically when animals give birth to their young, so if you are after cute and cuddly this is a better time. If you are working on a game reserve as part of a volunteer placement the timing is probably less important as you’ll have ample opportunity to work with and among some amazing wildlife everyday!
If you are interested in whale watching make sure you visit between June and October to witness the remarkable migrating southern right whales. Every year they return to the same place and put on an amazing display. Viewings and whale watching trips from the coastal town of Hermanus.
Our South Africa Wildlife Volunteering experiences are based around Johannesburg. These hands on experiences will allow you to work alongside some amazing animals and the projects are available throughout the year. Wildlife conservation is ongoing regardless of the weather! You’ll enjoy warm summers and mild winters. South Africa Wildlife Volunteer.
South Africa’s climate ranges from Mediterranean in the south-west corner of the country to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the north-east. A small region in the north-west has a desert climate.
Summer temperatures in South Africa range from average highs of 28°C to average lows of 8°C. Winter temperatures are cooler ranging from 1°C at night to around 18°C in the day. These are averages and there are regional variations. For example Durban in the winter can be a very pleasing 26°C. Annual rainfall is under 500mm a year. The Western Cape (Cape Town) gets most of its rain in the winter, differing from the rest of the country which has summer rainfall (typically hot sunny days interrupted by afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly).
South Africa has an amazing coastline and the more time you have the more you’ll be able to explore. Its climate and geography have attracted all sorts of beach and water sport enthusiasts. It has world-class surf beaches (including Cape Town, Durban, Jeffreys Bay and East London) and is also popular for wind and kite-surfing, sea kayaking and surf skiing. There are no less than 41 blue-flag beaches to enjoy! Visit between March – September for the best surf (although its good all year).
South Africans love visiting the beach after a hard day at work; enjoy a sun-downer by the beach while soaking up the last of the sunshine. Summer is the best time to visit the beaches. Although the beaches of northern KwaZulu-Natal are warm and sunny even in midwinter.
Spring and autumn provide the best climate for hiking. The summer can be hot over most of the country making hiking more challenging (in the Drakensberg mountain range summer thunderstorms add an extra hazard and there is a good chance of mountain snow in winter). In Western Cape, the winters are wet, so it’s not necessarily the best time for hikes.
From a currency perspective, despite the post-Brexit vote drop in the GB Pound, the exchange rate is still reasonable and you can expect approximately 17 Rand* for £1 GB Pound so spending money will go much further. (* As at February 2017)
So when is the best time to travel to South Africa? Any time, but when you get there make sure you explore and enjoy every minute of it.