Lying at the southernmost tip of the African continent, South Africa is a large country, with regional climatic variations, influenced by the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
Generally, the climate is mild and sunny throughout the year. Summer months are from September to April, with winter from May to August. Summer temperatures average between 20-35°C.
Cape Town and the Western Cape region has a Mediterranean climate, with warm, dry summers (often quite windy), and colder, wet winters.
KwaZulu Natal has a sub-tropical climate. Summers are very humid, and winters are mild.
Gauteng has hot summers with afternoon thunderstorms. The winters are cold, dry and frosty.
The Mpumalanga Lowveld (Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand) has hot summers with afternoon thunderstorms, but winters are mild.
When to Go
South Africa really is a year-round destination, and the best time to visit depends on what you want to do on your holiday.
Beach holidays: The southern beaches of the Cape are best enjoyed in the summer months, with beautiful blue-sky days, warm waters (although not the Atlantic coast!) and low summer rainfall. KwaZulu Natal beaches are great throughout the year and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean offer year-round swimming.
Safaris: If you are planning a safari in the north of the country (Sabi Sand, Kruger Park, Waterberg Plateau), winter is the best time of year (May to August), when rainfall is low and the bush is drier, which makes game viewing easier. Safaris in the Eastern Cape are great in the summer months (December to April).
Photography: The intense mid-summer light tends to be quite harsh, and photographic safaris and holidays are better through late summer and autumn (March/April) and in spring (September/October).
Botany: Namaqualand is without a doubt the “place to go” for visitors interested in botany. This spectacular annual floral display draws thousands of visitors between late July and early October, when the arid desert of the Western and Northern Cape is transformed by winter rains into an iridescent multi-coloured carpet of wildflowers.