South Africa is the best opportunity to mix a vacation with a truly exotic journey into one unforgettable trip! Traveling to South Africa is a special experience for nature and wildlife. There are a large number of national parks and private reserves where travelers may observe wild animals at close range. During a safari in South Africa, you have the best opportunity to see the whole "big African five" — elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, and leopard. Of course, tours to South Africa are not cheap, but those travelers who may afford it do not regret the expenditure of their finances. Get ready for your trip, Africa is waiting!
South Africa is the best mix of ancient African cultures and modernity, unusual nature, penguins living side by side with antelopes and crocodiles, the fantastic Dragon Mountains, the legendary Cape of Good Hope and beautiful nature reserves.
Weather in South Africa
South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that the seasons here are the opposite of ours. Summer lasts from December to February, and winter is from June to August.
Visiting South Africa in winter
Most travelers arrive in the local summer, which is December, January and February. During this time, the winter weather is the best and the average temperature in Cape Town is +25 during the day and +18 at night. The water in the ocean is warm, and it rarely rains. The climate of South Africa is more continental in the country's north, with daytime temperatures reaching +30 and frequent severe thunderstorms. Durban during the winter season is very hot. The provinces of Gauteng (Johannesburg and Pretoria) and Kruger Park are hot and rainy. It is advisable not to plan a travel trip for the second half of December or early January. During this period, there are more travelers than locals, and prices are much higher, especially in Durban and on the Indian Ocean coast.
The season from December to February has the best weather. It is a great time for a travel trip to South Africa, especially to Cape Town and the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts.
Visiting South Africa in spring
April, May and June are the South African autumn. The rains are on the wane in Kruger Park. Durban is still hot, and Cape Town still has good weather. It is the best time to visit the Karoo and Kalahari deserts.
Visiting South Africa in summer
July, August and September is the local South African winter. It is not the best time for travel trips because of the weather. The temperature in Cape Town ranges from +15 to 17, and at night it can drop to near zero. Some trees, such as oaks and birches, drop their leaves. It rains a lot. Snow is rather rare here, only in the mountains it falls quite a lot. In Gauteng, the rainy season is over, while in Cape Town and Durban the weather becomes wet. In the Kalahari, the temperature is moderate. In Karoo, the weather is dry, not hot. In the northern parts of the country, such as Johannesburg and Pretoria, winter, on the other hand, is the dry season. Everything around turns yellow and dries out, becoming dusty.
Summer is the best time for traveling in Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga reserves, including Kruger Park.
Visiting South Africa in autumn
Autumn in South Africa is the best time for a travel trip in the Namaqualand Plateau and KwaZulu-Natal province in full bloom. The weather is hot in the Karoo and the Jacaranda tree in Pretoria, with its beautiful lilac flowers in full bloom. All the main streets of the city are lined with these trees. In Gauteng, the rain season starts. The weather is sunny, but not hot, and it rarely rains in Cape Town. The whale season begins from late July to mid-November. During this time, the whales come very close! From the shore near Cape Town, travelers may see them flapping their fins and sometimes even jumping out of the water.
Festivals and events in South Africa
In South Africa, festivals are appreciated and loved. Not just for the numerous weekends! South Africa celebrates both national and traditional holidays as well as global festivals. An abundance of all kinds of music and theater festivals certainly won't get you bored! Every province has local festivals with good wine, songs, dancing, and the best shows. Carnivals and theatrical parades through the streets are also constantly held in every South African city.
Many South African festivals are held during the summer months (winter by Southern Hemisphere standards) because of the best weather conditions. In the first month of summer, the province of the Western Cape hosts the famous National Arts Festival. It's a ten-day non-stop showcase of the best films, plays, and music from local bands.
There are lots of colorful festivals in South Africa: the Whale Festival, the Meeting of the Vernal Equinox, the Fearful Africa Music Festival, and the Festival of Dionysus.
July opens with an oyster festival in the town of Naizne, also in the Western Cape. This coastal South African town is famous for its seafood, mussels, and oysters. In addition to seafood tastings, the festival features an abundance of entertainment — sports competitions, sailing, and canoe races.This festival is the best time for travelers to experience something new. Due to the names and contents of the programs of celebrations, the people of South Africa have an extremely rich imagination and an innate love of fun! Therefore, the festivals and holidays of South Africa are always so vibrant and incendiary!
Beaches of South Africa
South Africa boasts some of the best beaches in the world, from the pristine shores of Cape Vidal to the Wild Coast, from Boulders and its penguin colony to sunny Camps Bay. The Eastern Cape is famous for the beautiful beaches of Port Elizabeth and East London, popular among the surfers, as well as the beautiful beaches of the "Wild Coast", known for its rocky landscapes and raging sea. It is one of the best beaches in South Africa. KwaZulu-Natal enjoys warm and sunny weather throughout the year, so the beaches of this province are in great demand and often crowded. The fact that there is probably one of the best beaches in the country - Cape Vidal, with its snow-white sand - adds to the popularity of KwaZulu-Natal. In the Western Cape, the trendy Clifton Beach, the unofficial nudist Sandy Bay, Long Beach, and the penguin beach of Boulders are worth checking out.
The best destinations to visit in South Africa
The Eastern Cape, not yet a well-known travel destination, has a hilly landscape and a beautiful coastline riddled with lagoons and rocky cliffs. There are many national South African parks here: Tsitsikamma, Neches Valley, Donkin, Mkambati, Mount Zebra National Park, and Addo Elephant National Park. The local tourist center, the city of Port Elizabeth, is famous for its warm, sandy beaches. This state is one of the best destinations for travelers.
The Free State is located in the central part of South Africa, away from the ocean coast. The town of Taba Nchu is known for its Maria Moroca Wildlife Refuge. Klokoan and Ficksburg attract travelers with an abundance of cherry orchards and unique rock paintings of the ancient Bushmen tribes. The most full-flowing river in the country, the Vaal, is also there, on which rafting, canoeing, and water-skiing enthusiasts have a lot of fun.
The province of Gauteng is the most populous in South Africa and, at the same time, the smallest in terms of territory. Johannesburg is essentially a single giant city that represents the financial, industrial, and transportation heart of South Africa. Gauteng boasts one of the most valuable UNESCO World Heritage Sites — the Cradle of Humanity limestone cave complex, where the remains of a man who lived more than 2 million years ago have been found.
The Indian Ocean's endless sandy beaches, Zululand's green hills, the majestic Dragon Mountains, and countless sugar cane plantations may all be found in KwaZulu-Natal. It is home to the Zulu Kingdom, the city of Durban and the relict Lake Santa Lucia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mpumalanga is one of the jewels of South Africa. Many mountains and hills covered with forests, mountain rivers and waterfalls, canyons, and the famous Kruger National Park make it a very popular place for active travelers.
The North West has excellent natural conditions for recreation and wildlife, as well as numerous caves, clear lakes, and streams. The region is the main supplier of diamonds, gold, and platinum in South Africa. It is also home to one of the best resorts and entertainment complexes in the world, Sun City. South Africa has the best range of entertainment for active travelers: kiting, surfing, diving, yachting, mountain biking, paragliding, hiking, sea fishing for tuna and sharks, fishing in the mountains for trout, and safaris in nearby private reserves.
The National Parks to visit in South Africa
Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is located in the northeast of South Africa. It covers 2 million hectares and stretches 340 km from north to south along the border with Mozambique. Kruger Park is one of the oldest parks not only in South Africa but also in Africa. As early as 1898, the Sabie Reserve was established on the territory between the Sabie and Crocodile Rivers, where hunting was restricted. Kruger Park was officially founded on May 31, 1926.
Kruger National Park is the largest one in South Africa. It is one of the best parks in the world.
In terms of safari, there is a distinction between Kruger National Park itself and Greater Kruger. The park itself is a public area. Travelers may enter here by paying the parking fee. In addition to the park itself, Greater Kruger includes private preserves along the western border of the park. The wildlife in the Greater Kruger is very rich. Every member of the African Great Five is here, which makes Kruger Park the best choice for travelers who want to experience the wildlife.
The national park itself has a very well-developed road network in good condition. So you don't even need a four-wheel-drive car to visit it. On the one hand, this is a plus for those who prefer self-driving. But there is also a downside — the park is always crowded with visitors. As a result, the intimate moment of communicating with the wildlife of South Africa is lost. And wild Africa, surrounded by asphalt roads and modern cars, may hardly be called "wild".
Near Johannesburg is the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve. It is an artificially created nature South African reserve next to the Sun City entertainment complex, 170 km from Johannesburg. At Pilanesberg, visitors may see all the representatives of the African Big Five. The disadvantages are the same as in Kruger Park: the large number of visitors and the lack of "wildness" of the safari.
The best time to visit the national parks of South Africa is from May to July.
If you are interested in a safari near Cape Town, one of the most popular options is Aquila Private Game Reserve. Aquila is a two-hour drive from Cape Town, so if you have only one day for safari, Akilah is the best option. South Africa offers an experience of the wildlife to the travelers. You would love it!
Madikwe Game Reserve
When talking about safaris in South Africa, it is impossible to ignore the Madikwe Game Reserve. The reserve belongs to the state but is managed as a private one. It is located in the north of South Africa, on the border with Botswana. As in any private reserve, no self-drive is allowed in Madikwe that makes this reserve the best choice for travelers who want to experience the wildlife. The animal world is very rich and diverse. There are all the representatives of the African Big Five, although it is difficult to see a leopard. The main advantage of Madikwe is that it is one of the best malaria-free reserves in South Africa.
Diving in South Africa
Diving in South Africa takes place all year round. Divers along the Atlantic coast enjoy an abundance of fish, seals, sea lions, dugongs, and diving penguins. The heat-loving corals in these cool waters are replaced by an abundance of bizarre ocean algae. The southern tip of Africa has the notoriety of a shipwreck graveyard that beckons divers.
Safety in South Africa for visitors
"Typical" precautions for South African visitors: travelers should not carry expensive items and large sums of money, or leave valuables in rooms outside the safe. Driving alone in the evening or at night in buses, minibuses, and trains is also not recommended. South Africa has very high levels of solar radiation, so protective sunglasses, SPF-creams, hats, and light clothing with long sleeves are strongly recommended. Bottled drinking water and most local soft drinks are quite safe.
No vaccinations are required to travel to South Africa. The only requirement is a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever. This certificate will be required if travelers are coming from countries where there is a risk of contracting the disease. There is a risk of malaria in some parts of South Africa on the border with Mozambique. During a long stay in the northern parts of South Africa, it is recommended to take anti-malarial pills, wear clothing with long sleeves, and use insecticides. Malaria mosquitoes are most active at dusk. Air conditioners and fans reduce the risk of mosquito bites.