South Africa is a large and diverse country with a climate that varies from region to region. Generally, South Africa’s summer lasts from about December to March before winter takes over from June to August. Cape Town and the Western Cape experience winter rainfall and a largely dry, hot summer. Most of the rest of the country, including the Kruger Park area, have summer thundershowers and a dry winter. The Garden Route and Eastern Cape can experience rain at any time of year.

Summer Winter
Months December to March June to August
Average Temperatures 25°C / 77°F 17°C / 63°F
Rainfall Short and sharp thunderstorms around Johannesburg, Kruger and KwaZulu-Natal Mostly in Cape Town and the Western Cape
Highlights Beach holidays in Cape Town, Garden Route and Eastern Cape Game viewing in Kruger, Madikwe, Pilanesberg and KwaZulu-Natal
Choosing the best time to visit South Africa depends entirely on what you want to see and do:
Experience Best Time
South Africa safari May to October
Cape Town beach holiday November to March
Cape Winelands tours All year round
Garden Route holiday All year round
Whale watching July to November

The drier winter months (about May to October) are the best time for game viewing on a South Africa safari in the Kruger, Madikwe, Pilanesberg and KwaZulu-Natal. Animals are concentrated around water sources and are easier to spot in the thinned-out vegetation.

For a Cape Town beach holiday, you simply can’t beat the hot summer months between November and March. Note: if you want to visit the Mother City over Christmas or New Year, book your accommodation well in advance.

The KwaZulu-Natal coast has year-round sunshine, a beautifully mild winter and warm ocean temperatures – so any time is a good time to go.

If you want to see whales along South Africa’s Whale Coast, then visit between June and November – numbers are usually at their highest in September.

South Africa Safari: High vs Low Season

High or Peak Season Low or Green Season
About June to August About November to April
Highest rates Lowest rates
Need to book well in advance No need to book too far in advance
Cool and dry weather Hot and occasionally wet weather
Animals are easy to spot Animals are not as easy to spot
Not many baby animals around Lots of baby animals around
Most crowded Least crowded
Great photography conditions Beautiful lush and green landscapes with the best light of the year for photography