South Africa Holidays
When to Go to South Africa
Summer: December to February
Warm and sunny, summer is a fantastic time to visit South Africa, particularly Cape Town and the eastern coastline. With temperatures in this part of the country averaging around 20°C (with the potential to heat up to 40°C), this is the best time to enjoy the beaches in South Africa. In terms of a safari, this is considered the wet season with afternoon storms a common occurrence and temperatures unbearably hot in the north and west of the country.
Best places to visit in summer:
Autumn: March to May
If you’d like to experience both the coastline and the countryside in one trip, then autumn is a fantastic time to do so. Offering warm temperatures without the summer crowds along the coastline, temperatures average around 16°C in Cape Town. It’s also a good time to explore the winelands as the foliage changes colour and days are relatively free of rain.
Best places to visit in autumn:
- Northern Cape
- The Garden Route
Winter: June to August
Winter marks the beginning of the dry season for north and central South Africa. While temperatures during this time are cool, they are also dry and thus one of the best times to go on a safari in parks like Kruger National Park. Dry conditions mean local wildlife is more likely to congregate around the water holes, making them much easier to spot. While winter is a great time to go on safari, it’s not the best time to visit Cape Town and the Western Cape with bursts of rain and gusts of wind quite common.
Best places to visit in winter:
Spring: September to November
Much like autumn, spring is a great time to visit South Africa to enjoy both the coastline and the national parks. During this time temperatures are mild, which means the conditions are perfect for hiking and seeing wild flowers, particularly in the Northern Cape. Going on a safari is also ideal at this time of year with temperatures reaching up to 29 degrees in Kruger National Park and sightings of new born wildlife common.
Best places to visit in spring:
Things to Do in South Africa
- Go on a South African Safari
- Travel the Garden Route
- Experience the good life in Cape Town
- Go Whale Watching
- Venture into KwaZulu-Natal to take in the epic Drakensburg Mountains
Picture “Africa” and most people will conjure up images of golden sunsets dipping below dusty savannah grassland silhouetted by Acacia tress, possibly sprinkled with a few Widebeest or other large game. Almost everyone venturing to the Rainbow nation wants to experience this scene, ideally after a successful game drive with the accompanying sounds of an ice cold Gin and tonic fizzing away quietly on an adjacent table. The opportunity to view Lions, Leopards, Cheetah, Rhino, Elephants, Hippos and other animals synonymous with Safari is often the main draw when visiting this vast country at the Southern tip of this fascinating continent. For this reason an African Safari is number one on most South Africa Itineraries and, indeed, this list of things to do in South Africa. South Africa has an incredible wealth of National Parks which makes going on an African Safari conducive to all itineraries.
Kruger National Park
Let’s start with the best known National Park in South Africa and, perhaps, the entire continent – Kruger National Park. This UNESCO protected expanse of nearly 2 million hectares (roughly the size of Wales) offers some of the best game watching opportunities on Earth. It’s high density of wild animals and well-connected road network makes viewing Africa’s Big 5 (Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Buffalo and Elephants) highly likely. Not only this but the Sabie River in the more popular Southern part of the park mean that game viewing is possible all year round. Between the wildlife and the landscape your inner Attenborough will be well and truly satisfied.
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant national park can be easily accessed from Port Elizabeth is most famous for, you guessed it, its Elephants. It is home to more than 500 Elephants meaning that sightings are guaranteed. This park is an excellent addition to most Garden Route itineraries.
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Not as famous as the Kruger or as accessible as Addo, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a great addition to an itinerary for those that like their safari viewing slightly more ‘off-the-beaten track’. Here you can view seasonal migrations of antelope and wildebeest followed closely by predators such as Lions, Cheetahs and Hyena against the uniquely spectacular backdrop of the Kalahari desert.
Pilanesberg Game Reserve
Three concentrically ringed hills outline the Pilanesberg Game Reserve and hem in approximately 10,000 large mammals in ecologically diverse surroundings. Visits to this Game Reserve are easily twinned with a visit to Sun City and supplemented with activities such as hot-air ballooning.
The term ‘The Garden Route’ refers to a 300 kilometre length of South Africa’s Southern Coast that runs between Mossel Bay and Storms river. As the name suggests this area is blessed with extraordinary natural beauty as a result of its geographical features and exceptionally mild climate. The mild climate is a result of moist air coming in from the Indian Ocean and precipitating over inland mountain ranges. Most often this route is driven and clients can stop off at places which match their unique travel tastes, from quaint seaside towns to national parks brimming with wildlife through to wineries paired with lazy seafood lunches.
Wilderness national park
This national park is a symphony of lakes, mountains and lush farmland and houses some stunning birdlife such as the Kingfisher, Heron and Egret.
World famous in the surfing world ‘J Bay’ is home to some of the most board-conducive waves in the world. Get yourself a wet suit and learn on some of the gentler spots that surround Jeffrey’s Bay. If you don’t want to get churned around in the surf then you can still enjoy some of the surf-vibe by sauntering through surf shops, seaside restaurants and laid-back bars.
Tsitsikamma National Park
This protected area in the heart of the Garden Route is home to some of South Africa’s best hiking routes. The Otter trail, Waterfall Trail and Blue Duiker Trail all will be a feast for the eyes. The highlight of this park is the Storms River suspension bridge which spans 77 meters and hovers above where the water from the Storm river pours into the Indian Ocean.
Commonly shortened to “PE” this city has undergone a rejuvenation in recent years and is emerging as a multi-cultural hotpot of vibrant music and shisha nyamas (barbeques).
South Africa’s second largest city and legislative capital is in the top 10 multicultural cities in the world and offers a breath-taking array of activities for tourists. Cape Town represents a coming together of cuisines, cultures and oceans under the almost overwhelmingly dramatic backdrop of the world-famous table mountain. In Cape Town everything is possible and can be experienced in one day, although, obviously, we advise taking longer. Visit the Penguins on Boulders Beach, watch whales from the front of restaurants, sample some of the world’s best wines surrounded by lush rolling farmland and admire the view from the top of one of Africa’s most iconic landmarks.
Wherever you are in this great city you won’t be able to escape from the view of this magnificent landmark. Admire the view from the country’s most photographed attraction the using the visitor’s cableway. Interestingly more than 2000 species of plant can be found at Table Mountain’s peak many of which are endemic.
In a similar way to Alcatraz, Robben Island is a former island prison, an inescapable fortress reserved for only the worst offenders. Amongst those offenders the most famous is Nelson Mandela. He was incarcerated here for 18 of the 27 years he served during Apartheid. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, a tour of the island is a must-do on any Cape Town itinerary.
Great White Shark
Cape Town is one of the best places in the world to get up close and personal with one of nature’s most prolific and fearsome predators – the Great White Shark. There are many options for viewing them but none that are as adrenaline fuelled as cage diving. Secure a tour as part of your itinerary.
Boulders beach is one of the best places to see African Penguins. Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, you are reading that correctly. Formerly called Jackass penguins these birds reside in the waters of Southern Africa and Western Namibia but Boulders beach is the best place for intimate encounters with these adorably photogenic animals.
Between June and November whales traverse the Southern Ocean from their icy feeding grounds to the warmer waters off the coast of South Africa. A variety of whales – from the leviathan southern right to the barnacled humpback – can be seen breaching, blowing and spy hopping off the shores of South Africa.
Whilst whale watching is possible from most locations in South Africa it’s best enjoyed from a select few locations. Near Cape Town, False Bay, from the coastal Victoria road or the town of Hermanus on the Southern Coast are best for spotting whales. Mossel Bay on the garden route is the best spot and in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal humpbacks, Bryde’s, minke and killer whales can be found in Algoa Bay and Sperm whales can be seen near Port St. John’s.
The state of KwaZulu Natal is found on the Eastern coast of South Africa and is roughly the size of Portugal. This eclectic region is rugged and rustic in equal measure and serves up some of the best beaches and dramatic landscapes available in South Africa. This province has a subtropical climate which is ideal for lazing on some of the numerous beautiful beaches such as Umhlanga Main Beach, Golden Mile or Zinkwazi Beach.
Closing the Central African plateau the Drakensberg escarpment provides a rugged and spectacular backdrop to KwaZulu Natal and a perfect place to experience the great outdoors. Hike areas such as the Amphitheatre, Giants Cup or Lower Injisuthi and, if you are that enjoys the rush of adrenaline, try white water rafting or white water Kayaking.
South Africa Travel Advice and Ideas
More About South Africa
Capital city: Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein
Currency: South African rand
Language: Afrikaans, English
Flight time: London to Cape Town flight time is 11 hours 30 minutes.
Visas: British Citizens do not require a visa for leisure or business visits up to 90 days.
Vaccinations: Make sure your boosters are up to date – particularly Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio – and we also recommend the Hepatitis A vaccination. Book your vaccinations at our in-store Travel Clinic.
Why Book Your South Africa Holiday with Flight Centre
We know South Africa: Many of our Travel Experts have either visited, lived in or are from South Africa, and can easily craft a tailor-made trip to suit your needs and budget.
Local knowledge: Flight Centre has stores located throughout South Africa, giving us access to local insider knowledge and up-to-the-minute travel information.
Flexibility: We offer flexible deposits, the opportunity to pay the balance of your holiday just 10 weeks before departure and fixed change and cancellation fees.
Travel Butler and 24/7 Emergency Assistance service: When you book a holiday to South Africa from our range of tailor-made Journeys, you’ll also enjoy access to our inclusive Travel Butler concierge and 24/7 Emergency Assistance services.