The Kruger and legendary ‘Sabi Sands’ are the home of South Africa’s finest ‘Big Five’ safari, but the country’s malaria-free reserves cater well for families. Do take a look at our Top 4 parks in South Africa.
Best time to visit South Africa
Known for its diversity of experiences and its varied weather conditions, South Africa has always been considered a year-round destination. As when you will visit depends entirely on what you want to see and do, we’ve highlighted the advantages and disadvantages of ‘When to Go’ for each month below. However, our advice would be to aim for September for the wildlife safari (both Big Five and whales), December for an incredible winter-sun holiday, and April for driving through the Winelands and Garden Route.
January - Best month to visit South Africa
- January in South Africa is a midsummer month, characterised by hot days and afternoon showers. Cape Town and the Winelands are hot and dry, as this part of the country receives rain in the winter months.
- As there’s a lot of water available in parks, vegetation is dense, meaning wildlife is harder to spot in some safari areas.
- January is brilliant for birdwatching, due to the prevalence of many migratory species.
- Kruger National Park is less busy than it is during December, as the school holidays in South Africa have ended by January.
- Travellers to KwaZulu-Natal can mark the anniversary of two famous battles – Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.
Max Temp 29 C
Great birding month
A few bugs about
February - Best month to visit South Africa
- February in South Africa is when the bush is at its thickest. This month brings heavy downpours, yet wildlife highlights abound, including calving season.
- Keen birders can look out for all sorts of specials, including crowned crane, saddle-billed stork, and the lovely lilac-breasted roller.
- National parks and reserves contain plenty of water, so in some reserves wildlife tends to disperse throughout safari regions rather than congregating around the permanent water sources.
- February is an unpredictable month, weather-wise, but some downpours can be very heavy.
- Temperatures are especially high in the Cape, but towns along the coast benefit from cool sea breezes and dry weather.
Max temp 29 C
Book in advance
March - Good month to visit South Africa
- March sees South Africa emerge from the green season. Landscapes are lush due to previous months’ wet weather.
- Availability of properties can be low due to South Africa’s Easter holidays, and it can end up being quite busy.
- Iconic South Africa safari in parks such as the Kruger can yield fewer wildlife sightings where the bush remains dense.
- This is one of the best months for experiencing the Garden Route, as well as snorkelling on the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal.
- Big cats are more visible during the daytime, as lower temperatures make for reduced need to find shade.
Max temp 29 C
Some chance of rain
A few mosquitoes about
Consider some beach time
April - Good month to visit South Africa
- South Africa in April offers a nice balance between the dry weather in the safari regions and sunny days in the Cape.
- The green season is approaching its end, so there’s less rainfall, especially in reserves in the north and east of the country.
- There are quite a lot of travellers about, but availability of safari properties is generally good, becoming better towards the end of April.
- April is a great month for birding as migratory species gather in readiness for flying to the Northern Hemisphere.
- Trees are fully fruiting and leaves are dropping in the Kruger National Park, creating a gorgeous array of colours
Max temp 27 C
Typically dry days
Good month for hiking
A few mosquitos
May - Good month to visit South Africa
- The weather in May in South Africa is very pleasant, where the days are clear and bright. If you like warmth but without high humidity, it’s a great time to visit.
- This month sees many safari parks and reserves in the north on their way towards the dry season – travellers to northern parts of the country can enjoy particularly good sightings of wildlife.
- Early morning and evening game drives can feel chilly for some travellers.
- As the bush thins and water sources decrease, wildlife begins to cluster and visibility improves.
- Availability of properties is good, as it’s still low season; however, South Africa’s school holidays start this month, and the Kruger can book up pretty quickly.
Max temp 25 C
Rain in the south
Good for fly fishing
June - Best month to visit South Africa
- June in South Africa is the start of the dry season and one of the best months for a safari, especially in the Kruger National Park and surrounding reserves.
- Temperatures are cooler than May, and decreasing throughout the month. Mornings and evenings can feel pretty cold.
- Impressive concentrations of wildlife around waterholes make for amazing photo opportunities.
- It’s worth booking in advance to ensure you’re able to stay at your first-choice accommodation
- Rain can put a dampener on seaside activities in Cape Town and parts of the Garden Route.
Max temp 23 C
Small chance of rain
While migration in Hermanus
Epic wildlife photography
July - Best month to visit South Africa
- July is superb for game drives and walking safaris in South Africa, with excellent visibility and wildlife clustering around waterholes.
- Although it is the dry season, it is also winter, where temperatures reach approximately 15 degrees by midday, dropping to zero overnight.
- On the coast of the Western Cape, the whale-watching season is in full swing – sightings of southern right whales are particularly good from Plettenberg Bay and Hermanus, as pregnant females approach the shores to give birth.
- Many safari properties book up quickly, so we advise booking in advance
- Water temperatures can be a bit nippy for snorkelling, shark cage diving, and other aquatic activities.
Max temp 23 C
Whale watching in full swing
Cold mornings and evenings
Super safari month
August - Best month to visit South Africa
- August in South Africa is the height of the safari season, with amazing visibility as animals congregate around scarce water sources.
- It’s necessary to book well in advance – August entices a lot of travellers to South Africa and rates are high.
- This is the best month for viewing the Big Five in safari areas such as Kruger National Park, and marine life off the coast of the Western Cape.
- Clear conditions create amazing photo opportunities, especially for capturing big game species.
- Cape Town’s Table Mountain cable car closes in August, for its yearly maintenance.
Max temp 25 C
Super safari month
High rates, low availability
Wild flowers aplenty
September - Best month to visit South Africa
- September is one of the best months to visit South Africa. It boasts great visibility, with grasses grazed down in safari areas and wildlife gathering around a few water sources.
- Rates in Cape Town begin to rise this month as there are lots of other travellers in all safari and coastal destinations.
- It’s still dry season in northern and eastern regions. It can feel chilly during early mornings and evenings, whereas days feel pleasant.
- It’s a terrific time to visit the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and to look out for black-maned lions.
- The Hermanus Whale Festival takes place in September in celebration of the migration of southern right whales and other marine wildlife.
Max temp 27 C
Blooming Western Cape
Hermanus Whale Festival
October - Best month to visit South Africa
- October heralds the beginning of the rains, characterised by the return of greenery to reserves and the start of birthing season.
- Temperatures increase throughout the month, and certain areas can even feel uncomfortably hot.
- As it’s high season, some parts of South Africa (such as the Kruger National Park) can get a bit busy.
- October is fantastic for visiting several different destinations, such as the Cape, which features gorgeous cloudless skies and beautiful floral displays.
- Overall, days are warm – but there can be a day or two of heavy rain, which can present a nuisance.
Max temp 27C
Great game viewing
Dramatic photography subjects
November - Good month to visit South Africa
- Days in November are warm and humid. It is the beginning of the green season, so it becomes rainier in most regions of South Africa.
- Availability of properties here is good, and rates decrease in northern and eastern safari parks and reserves.
- Whale enthusiasts can take a terrific trip to the Cape, as this is the last month of the year for watching the majestic mammals from the coast.
- It’s a fantastic time to enjoy a beach break before or after your safari – Cousin Island in the Seychelles is particularly good at this time, as November heralds the start of turtle hatching season.
- Sightings of young wildlife and predators are good during November, before the bush becomes dense.
Max temp 27 C
Add some beach time
Last whale watching month
Rain brings mosquitoes
December - Best month to visit South Africa
- December is often busy in South Africa, with many holiday destinations filling up with locals and tourists alike.
- Winter sun seekers should book well in advance for a chance to visit over Christmas.
- Wildlife disperses throughout national parks and reserves, as availability of water is much improved.
- Birding is brilliant, as this month is almost in the middle of the migratory bird season running October to April.
- Mosquito populations rise with the rainfall.
Max temp 28 C
Great birding month
Superb photo opportunities
Mosquito populations sour
The top national parks to explore on your South Africa safari
Sabi Sand Reserves
Sabi Sand has both fantastic game viewing and an unparalleled level of luxury accommodation. It is an exceptional destination for 'Big Five' safari, without any doubt one of the best on the entire continent.
Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park is one of Africa’s largest and finest safari regions. Home to the Big Five and a truly epic concentration of general game, one of the very best parks on the continent.
Timbavati Private Game Reserve
Timbavati is a private reserve bordering Kruger National Park, a location guaranteeing great game viewing. Combined with the Sabi Sands, Timbavati is the region's second most famous reserve.
Luxury South Africa safari lodges and camps
The sheer quality of the accommodation on offer in South Africa is hard to beat. With superlative accommodation that offers the highest standards anywhere plus excellent guiding in the safari camps, there is something for everyone.
Mala Mala Main Camp
Situated within the largest of the Sabi Sands’ private reserves, MalaMala offers some of the finest wildlife viewing in the entire region!
Leeu Estates comprises a grand manor house and cottages set in 68 hectares of grounds, just outside the charming town of Franschhoek. It is a very luxurious base from which to explore the Winelands, offering fine dining and a wine-tasting studio!
RockFig Safari Lodge
Named for one of the Timbavati’s beautiful female leopards, RockFig provides a luxurious base for exploring this wildlife-rich reserve! All children are welcome, and the lodge can be booked for exclusive use.
Top South Africa safari trip ideas
Combining Cape Town and the Winelands with a Big Five safari in a private reserve has the makings of a great South Africa holiday. However, with so many lodges and safari areas, planning a trip can be confusing. Here we’ve provided some sample ideas.
South Africa Highlights
This trip provides an exciting overview of South Africa, starting in Cape Town and finishing in the wildlife-rich Sabi Sands! Both properties we use are very well located and offer a great range of activities.
Guide Price £3,706 per personView trip details >>
Cape Town, Winelands & Sabi Sands
This trip includes the iconic city of Cape Town, the stunning Winelands, and the wildlife-rich Sabi Sand Game Reserve! We use small and intimate safari camps, and altogether this is an ideal option for travellers seeking a broad range of experiences.
Guide Price £4,168 per personView trip details >>
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