Graced with remarkable geographical diversity, South Africa is a year-round destination, but when is the best time to go on safari in South Africa in 2023?
Each region has something special to offer, and there is always a fantastic season somewhere in this diverse country. Between May and September is the best time to go on safari in South Africa. This is South Africa’s dry season, but it is also the low season, as temperatures fall for winter. Wildlife is more visible during these months because the vegetation is relatively low and the animals congregate around waterholes.
It is possible to visit any of South Africa’s national parks during these months but plan ahead of time if you intend to combine a safari with other activities. Consider the summer months of November to March if combining a safari and Cape Town or the Cape Winelands. You could visit the Western Cape between June and November to see whales, while KwaZulu-Natal is the best place to go for year-round sunshine and wildlife viewing.
The Best Time to Go on a Safari in South Africa is during Winter
As mentioned, the dry season, which runs from May to October, is the best time to go on safari in South Africa. The average temperature during these cooler months is 16°C (60.8°F). Dry weather, shorter grass, and fewer watering holes all contribute to better wildlife viewing.
These winter months are ideal for seeing the Big Five at South Africa’s many safari parks and game reserves, including the fantastic Sabi Sands, widely regarded as Africa’s premier game reserve and world-renowned for its abundance of game. The cold winter nights also mean fewer mosquitoes but bring layers to keep warm during morning game drives. Summer safaris in the Western Cape are drier, but they coincide with the busy Christmas period and South Africa’s summer school holidays.
Peak whale-watching is in September and October
Though whales and dolphins can be seen off South Africa’s southern and eastern coasts all year, September and October are the best months to see them. Southern right whales and humpback whales migrate to and from Antarctica between June and November to breed and give birth in the warmer waters off Mozambique and Madagascar. From May to June, there is also a massive sardine run, which attracts whales, dolphins, sharks, and sea birds (Durban is an excellent base to watch the spectacle).
While a whale-watching boat provides a better view, whales frequently come close enough to the shore to be seen from land. This is especially true near Hermanus, which the World Wildlife Fund has designated as one of the world’s top whale-watching destinations, with whales visible as early as April. Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) on the Eastern Cape is known as the world’s bottlenose dolphin capital, and pods can be seen there from January to June.
Best Value for Money
Unlike most other African countries, South African holidays are priced in rands, so — aside from a few exceptions — value for money is usually remarkable for First-World travellers with hard currency. This is especially true between April and October when visiting Cape Town, the Cape Winelands, and the Garden Route. As previously stated, these are the rainy months of winter. However, the Cape winter is similar to a European spring, with cool, wet days interspersed with warm, clear ones.
For safaris in South Africa, check out the below tours