The Company’s Gardens date back to the 1600s and are the raison d’etre for Cape Town. Looking for a way to the East Indies - the source of spices, silks, tea and porcelain for Europe - the Dutch East India Company chose a route around the tip of Africa. The journey took months and sailors were at severe risk of scurvy from a lack of fresh produce. So the Company sent some employees to the Cape of Storms and told them to start a vegetable patch. More than three centuries later, that ‘vegetable patch’ is now a green lung in a cosmopolitan city that bustles with workers, sightseers, squirrels and hadedahs (what South Africans calls sacred ibises). Easily walkable in a morning or an afternoon, there is plenty to see and do in and around the Company’s Gardens.
As the northern hemisphere sinks into the short, cold, dark days of winter, Africa stretches its arms out wide in a warm welcome. December in Africa is when summer gets going and many places are at their best. The climate is mostly hot and sunny while the occasional rains that do fall in the interior cool things down and green’ things up.
November in Africa and the sun is setting later and rising earlier - summer is on its way! Now is the time to plan a beach vacation because Africa’s Indian Ocean island destinations – like the Seychelles, Mauritius and Zanzibar - are stunning in November. If you’re thinking of a November safari, choose your destination carefully: the start of summer also means the start of the rainy season in many African safari destinations.
Dawn on an African savannah and the impala are cautious. Ears swivelling, the wide-eyed antelopes move closer together, staring at the tree line where shadowy figures lurk. The reason for their distress is suddenly clear. Streaking out from the trees come Africa’s most efficient predators, putting the impala into instant flight.
We’re often asked by travellers what they should be booking by when to avoid disappointment. There’s nothing worse than having your heart set on doing a southern Africa safari with your kids for the Easter holidays and thinking you have oodles of time to arrange it all, only to find that all the best accommodation was booked up months previously. It’s no fun staring at the four walls of your living room when you could’ve have been watching endangered wild dogs take down an impala or a leopard snoozing peacefully in the branches of an acacia tree…
October in Africa and the weather is in charge. In East Africa the short rains have begun and the landscape replies with a blanket of fresh green grass. South of the Zambezi, however, it has barely rained since May and animals mill around the remaining waterholes, eyes wide and ears flicking at every snap of a twig.
September in Africa see temperatures climbing steadily and many safari destinations across the continent rapidly approaching their annual best.
The Green Season is a specific period in Africa that falls between or after the annual rains. Wildlife spreads out from waterholes and rivers, making the most of the abundant surface water and, most importantly, taking advantage of the fresh grazing that turns the dry savannah into lush rolling grasslands. This new grazing triggers the migrations of large herds of wildebeest and zebra in both East and Southern Africa.
August in Southern Africa marks the end of the region’s short-lived winter and the welcome return of warmer temperatures. Down in Cape Town, the last few winter storms wring themselves out and the days get longer, while up in safari country the weather is pretty perfect: sunny, warm and dry.
Famous for its Kalahari setting, Botswana is generally a place of empty blue skies and dazzling sunshine. It does have a rainy season however - often disarmingly called the Green Season - but don't worry too much about that word 'rainy'. The absolute wettest part of the country records as much precipitation in a year as London or Melbourne do, while the rest of the country gets about enough to fill a coffee cup. You're not going to need to pack an umbrella. And besides, nearly all the rain falls between December and April with soggy February accounting for the bulk of it.