May 21, 2020
Best Time to Visit South Africa

South Africa has more than 20 well-managed national parks, more than 90 beaches, and around 100 museums. The sheer number of attractions makes it a great tourist destination. The rich wildlife and cultural diversity add further layers of appeal to this extraordinary country, attracting tourists from all walks of life. There are safaris experiences on offer to all of the Southern African national parks and game reserves. How you get to experience them depends on the type of park, public or private, which also has a cost implication. There is so much choice that every type of explorer with a range of budgets will be able to get out into the wild and spot animals.

While many travelers visit the country for wildlife, there are some who come to experience the culture, other outdoor activities, beaches & relaxation, or the festivals throughout the year. The best time to visit South Africa depends on the region of South Africa you are planning to visit and what you plan to do. To give you an idea of the average weather conditions for each season we have created this handy little table to show you the season-to-season variation.

Seasons in South Africa

Seasons in South AfricaMonthsAverage Weather Conditions
SummerDecember to FebruaryMost regions in South Africa experience some rainfall during the summer season. The temperature is high throughout the summer season.
AutumnMarch to MayWe see a gradual decrease in rainfall during March and April and it is warm. By May it is pretty warm and dry, with chilly evenings.
WinterJune to AugustJune to August is the dry season and is an excellent time for a wildlife safari and sightings on game drives.
SpringSeptember To NovemberSeptember marks the beginning of spring and an increase in overall temperatures. Rain starts in October and continues through the rest of spring and into the summer season.

Popular National Parks in South Africa

Now that we have seen the average weather conditions for South Africa, we have listed below the best time to visit the top five national parks in South Africa.

Popular South African National ParksBest time to visit National Park
Kruger National Park and surrounding national parksApril to September
Addo Elephant National ParkMay to September
Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game ParkMay to September
Kgalagadi Transfrontier ParkMarch to May
Mapungubwe National ParkMarch to May
Marakele National ParkMay to September

Perks of Visiting South Africa

Let’s take a look at the perks of visiting South Africa in both the wet and dry seasons.

Wet Season (October To April)

  • You get to observe the amazing lush scenery of South Africa’s national parks right after the rains.
  • Apart from some quite heavy rainfall during the summer season, South Africa sees only short bursts of showers in the afternoons for the months of October, November, March, April, and May.
  • December to January is school holidays so it will be peak time and parks will be crowded. You can’t get the most out of the safari experience with a huge crowd hanging around. More exclusive private reserves have limited numbers, but higher prices.

Dry Season (May To September)

  • May to September is the ideal time to visit a South African national park. With vegetation drying out, it’s easier to spot the wild animals grazing and gathering around the waterholes.
  • Visitor numbers are low, which provides a unique opportunity to experience the wildlife without distractions.

About author

MD and Co-Founder. Born in Zimbabwe, Robin has a long history in Africa, and safaris in general, from running lodges to marketing. He is always on the look out for new ideas and products from around the safari world.

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