The best time to visit South Africa is from May to September. The country is incredibly diverse, offering experiences that range from safaris to wine valleys, beaches, and cities perfect for romance and adventure.
With so many possibilities, South Africa is an exceptional destination to visit year-round, but each month offers different opportunities. From an ideal time for family-friendly exploration to the best time of year for a honeymoon, the seasons may dictate how you discover the wildlife, wilderness, culture, and cities.
Plan your visit according to your travel desires, noting the ideal time of year to go on safari, find the best wines, or capture the outdoors. The following highlights ideal seasons and months in which to create your South African memories.
Best Months: May • June • July • August • September
Consider visiting the South African bush for the ultimate safari experience in the drier, cooler months of May to September.
As the days become milder and the nights bring stillness, your chances of spotting animals on game drives and safari walks are enhanced. The landscape’s sparse vegetation sees wildlife moving toward waterholes and rivers, making it easier for your guides to pinpoint their location.
The best time to go on safari in South Africa reveals big, bright night skies that add to the vastness of the parks and reserves, with early morning and late afternoon safari adventures elongating the length of your days under a crisp African sun, possibly revealing the top animals to see during your safari experience.
Best Months: November • December • January • February • March
Discover the vibrant colors and calls of South Africa’s magnificent birdlife, its glory highlighted at the beginning and end of the year.
The rain falls and brings a lushness to safari parks and game reserves around the country, with early mornings alive with sounds and sights.
From starlings to lilac-breasted rollers, hornbills to the spectacular Narina trogon, a safari during these summer months highlights South Africa as a major destination for birds and bird enthusiasts.
Best Months: January • February • March • April • September • October • November • December
The best time to go to South Africa is from January to April and September to December. It is known as a world in one country and as such, visiting is inviting year-round, but in the Southern Hemisphere’s summer to fall and spring to summer, certain areas stand out with scenery and wildlife.
The African sun brings with it warm days and clear skies in key cities like Cape Town and the nearby Winelands from November to March, while the safari regions warm up in the drier months of July and August as the winter cool sets in.
Plan your visit based on whether outdoor activities or safaris are your focus or whether city culture and cozy wine tasting may be the highlight of your trip as you explore the top things to do in South Africa. Despite these specific months appealing weather-wise, South Africa never reaches extremes, making it perfect to explore at any time of the year.
Best Months: February • March • April • May • September • October • November • December
The best times to travel to South Africa for sightseeing and other highlights that brim with natural beauty and lively culture are from January to May and September to December.
Capture incredible sunsets over Table Mountain in Cape Town during the summer months from December through the end of February or hike on trails along the Garden Route that blossom with spring beauty in May, always finding more to add to your list of the best places to visit in South Africa.
Best Months: April • May • June • July • September
Summer sees cities like Cape Town and Durban buzzing with life as visitors and locals flock to sunny beaches and take to breathtaking coastal roads. Restaurants, bars, and popular sites are busy between October and March.
Consider visiting South Africa in the late spring and early fall, when safari-goers have left the dry, game-filled regions in the northeast. June through August is the ideal time for a safari, which brings in many enthusiasts from around the world. Take to the open road as the summer heat subsides in April or early September.
Plan your South African adventure in months that don’t teem with events, such as Cape Town in March or group touring season, typically in October and November, or head out early in the day or visit specific venues just before closing time.
Best Months: June • July • August • September
A family safari to South Africa is undoubtedly an exciting and unique adventure, and knowing when to embark on this journey is a key element of the planning process.
Step away from the heat of a Northern Hemisphere summer and enjoy the quiet of the cool winter months between June and September to witness wildlife the entire family will enjoy. The sparse foliage and dry landscape make it much easier to see the animals in their natural habitat.
A safari in South Africa can be entertaining and educational, with the dry, cooler season offering more comfortable weather in which to witness the spectacle of the animal kingdom.
Best Months: May • June • July • August • September • October • November • December • January • February • March • April
From intimate safari adventures to romantic coastal escapes, South Africa sets the scene for an unforgettable adventure that can be enjoyed throughout the year, with late fall to late spring presenting the most ideal time.
For an inspiring and romantic South Africa safari encompassing nature walks and game drives combined with luxury accommodation, the drier winter months of June to August bring with them the opportunity to cozy up under a crisp African sky. Whether a South Africa honeymoon or a couple’s escape, enjoy crackling fires and lazy days in some of the country’s most spectacular locations.
Take a walk along the promenades in cities and towns scattered along the coastlines and disappear in the wonderful hills of the Cape Winelands, all enjoyed as seasons turn from spring to summer and summer to fall.
Best Months: April • May • June • September • October • November
Experiencing South Africa’s incredible destinations as a senior is a treat at any time of year. However, focusing on a time when crowds are few and safaris and city sightseeing is easy to enjoy at a leisurely pace can make all the difference.
Cities and towns open their neighborhoods to guided walks, while safari reserves open their gates to a world of wildlife wonder. Visiting reserves just outside of the peak safari season in July and August or key cities outside of the summer months of December and January will give seniors a chance to truly enjoy their South African visit.
Best Months: October • November • December • January • February • March • April • May
The summer months of November through February bring with them long days and a chance to spend time outdoors amid myriad thrilling activities, including paragliding, rappelling, or quad bike adventures.
The spring and fall enjoy cooler days, with opportunities for adventures such as shark-cage diving, whale watching, and hiking in cooler, drier April and May or the spring month of October, just before the heavy rainfall.
Activities that range from gorge swings to tree-top canopy experiences, hiking around canyons and atop famous mountains to sandboarding and sunbathing, planning your visit to South Africa at the right time of the year is important.
Best Months: April • May • June • September • October
Whether you are looking to spend a few days lazing in the Cape Wineland regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek or plan to visit a few wineries as part of a day excursion from Cape Town, timing your visit can enhance your South Africa wine-tasting experience.
With breathtaking scenery and delectable vintages to tantalize any palate, wine can be enjoyed at any time of the year. However, consider visiting in the harvest months of April to early June. The quiet fall season sees fewer tourists, as does the start of the vineyard planting season in the spring months of September and October.
Discover South African chenin and chardonnay as the summer months bring the year to a close or cozy up to a crackling fire in the cooler winter month of June with a popular pinotage.
Best Months: April • May • June • September • October • November • December
Often added to a safari as a pre- or post-stay, popular South African cities add urban adventure to your overall experience.
A highlight on any South African itinerary has to be Cape Town, a vibrant, cosmopolitan gem that dazzles with entertainment, culture, and charm. With a welcoming waterfront and coastal promenades, spending time here in the second half of the year, summer and late spring, is recommended.
Avoiding crowds by visiting key sights in the fall months of April and May or the early winter month of June will enhance your experience of the “Mother City”. Other towns along the Garden Route or KwaZulu-Natal’s east coast offer historical discoveries and town walks that can be enjoyed in the summer months of November and December.
Best Months: October • November • December • January
Discover South Africa’s outdoor adventures in the Mpumalanga province during the early spring months of September and early October when hiking, zip lining, and water activities are popular.
Summer in the Cape sees crowds gather on promenades and at popular waterfront restaurants, while activities such as paragliding or rappelling are popular. Sip wine on outdoor patios in the Winelands and discover long drives along the coast.
Key activities such as whale watching and shark-cage diving are highlighted at this time of year and summer sees the start of new life in the bush.
Highlights: Panorama Route Hiking • Storm’s River Zip Line • Tree-top Canopy Tours in Tsitsikamma • Gansbaai Shark-Cage Diving • Hermanus for Whale Watching • Cape Town’s Table Mountain for Rappelling and Hiking • Umhlanga Beach • Route 62 or Garden Route Drive • Stellenbosch and Franschhoek Wine Regions • Beaches
Best Months: June • July • August
Safaris are best during the drier, cooler months of June through to the end of August, the winter season bringing with it crisp days, sparsely vegetated landscape, and a chance to spot wildlife at close range.
The lead-up to winter sees a fall season that is dry, a great time for outdoor activities such as hiking or bike rides through Cape vineyards, as well as bigger adventures that include shark-cage diving and whale watching. Harvest season takes place in April and May, and sipping some of South Africa’s favorite wines after the summer crowds have left is certainly appealing.
Embark on overland trips during early winter, empty roads being most appealing and quaint towns offering cozy settings.
Highlights: Key Safari Season • Gansbaai Shark-Cage Diving Begins • Hermanus Whale Watching Begins • Harvest Season in Wine Country • Hiking
January: Birthing season, warm weather, fewer crowds
February: Height of summer, baby animals in abundance, prime bird watching
March: Rain subsiding, lush landscapes, mild days
April: Mild days, shorter grass, less crowded safaris
May: Cooler nights, shorter grass, quieter parks and reserves
June: Just outside peak season, availability is open, nights are cooler
July: Peak safari season, cooler days, dry vegetation, good game viewing
August: The coolest month, prime game viewing, much activity at waterholes
September: Warmer days, leaves return to trees, flowers bloom, safaris still good
October: Warmer weather, rains start in some areas, safaris still good
November: Green season begins, rains fall, grass gets longer, bird watching is good
December: Afternoon showers, summer in full swing, green safari season continues
South Africa is celebrated for its incredible wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture and charm. Long and winding roads, towns and villages scattered along coastlines, and mountains perfect for hiking are just a few of the reasons to visit the country, and knowing the best time to explore according to your must-see list is key.