Climate of South Africa
Where is the country of South Africa located? South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent. South Africa has different climatic zones. The north, west and large parts of the central part of South Africa have to do with relatively warm climate zones such as a warm desert climate (northwest), warm steppe climate (north), cold desert climate (west and parts of the center of the country) and a cold steppe climate (southern interior). The types according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classifications are BWh, BWk, BSh and BSk.
In the east and along the coast you will mainly find land and sea climates, such as the temperate savanna climate (type Cwa), the temperate China climate (type Cwb) and to a lesser extent the cool China climate (type Cwc). Along the coasts you will find sea climates of the types Cfa (warm) and Cfb (temperate). Large parts of South Africa are lumped together by many other sites and described as subtropical climate. This is not entirely justified, because in large parts of the interior the temperature in the winter months is too low to meet that characterization.
Traveling around South Africa
If you want to see more of South Africa, a round trip is an ideal means. You can plan your own tour, rent a car and then book accommodations, but you can also participate in an organized tour. Go on safari, discover the wine regions of South Africa, visit Cape Town and do the Garden Route – everything is possible in versatile South Africa.
Because South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to ours. When it’s summer with us, it’s winter in South Africa. Autumn with us is spring in South Africa and vice versa. In our cold winter months it is summer in South Africa. As a winter sun destination, South Africa is therefore an excellent choice. However, if you want to go on safari, you should take into account that it is wetter and greener in most nature parks during the local summer months. The trees and shrubs are full of leaves and the grasses can grow so high that many animals are difficult to spot.
The winter season in South Africa runs from June to August. These are the coolest and, with the exception of the southwest (the Cape), the driest months. Inland, frost and snow are possible at night, especially in the higher areas. During the day, however, temperatures usually rise again to values of around twenty degrees. In the northeast it is warmest in winter. The Kruger Park still has average maximum temperatures of around 26-27 degrees in the coolest months. At night it can cool down quite a bit, up to a few degrees above freezing.
If you want to have a beach holiday in South Africa in winter, you have to rely on the coastal towns of the KwaZulu-Natal region. The warm Gulf Stream keeps the seawater here pleasantly warm, with temperatures between 21 and 24 degrees. The air temperatures of over twenty degrees and a large number of hours of sunshine also make a stay along this coast during the African winter a pleasant holiday.
The summer season in South Africa runs from December to February. It is then hot in the northwest. In the desert area bordering the eastern side of Namibia, daytime temperatures easily reach 34 to 38 degrees. It can also get quite hot in the far north, near the border with Zimbabwe. The Kruger Park is also very warm during this period (over thirty degrees during the day) in combination with a reasonable chance of rain and a fairly high relative humidity. During this period, the malaria mosquitoes are also active in eastern South Africa. The malaria season runs from October to May and covers the eastern strip from the border triangle of Botswana-Zimbabwe-South Africa to the midway point of the coastal area between Swaziland and Durban.
You don’t have to be afraid of hurricanes in South Africa. Hurricane activity in the region never actually reaches South Africa. Tropical storms and depressions are absorbed by Madagascar or reach the African mainland north of South Africa, off the coasts of Mozambique and Tanzania.
Tornadoes are a possibility. In the summer months (November, December and January), the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng regions have a reasonable chance of these devastating vortices.
The west coast of South Africa is affected by a cold Gulf Stream from the southwest, the Benguela Current. The supply of relatively cool seawater from the colder parts of the Atlantic Ocean moderates the temperatures along the coasts around the Southern Cape and increases the chance of precipitation in the local winter months.
Along the east coast is a warm Gulf Stream from the north. The Agulhas Current carries relatively warm seawater along the coasts of Mozambique to South Africa. In the KwaZulu-Natal region it is therefore still pleasantly warm in the winter months.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Maximum temperature||Minimum temperature||Hours of sunshine per day||Days of rainfall per month||Water temperature|
Best time to visit South Africa
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to South Africa? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. The southernmost country of the African continent is aptly named South Africa. Its location between 22 and 34 degrees south latitude ensures a fairly large diversity in the weather that you can expect. Much of South Africa consists of a plateau that is about a thousand to two thousand meters above sea level. That tempers the temperatures somewhat. The coastal areas in turn have to deal with a relatively cool sea current. That is why you will find penguins, seals and whales in the wild here. They are perfectly happy with the climate of South Africa. The weather in South Africa has different rhythms. For example, the coastal areas have their dry period especially in the summer, while in the interior it is drier in the winter, while the warmer summer can be considerably wetter there. The question of what the best time to travel to South Africa is, therefore, is not so easy to answer. For example, it is best to visit the famous Kruger Park when it is winter in South Africa, while Cape Town, the wine regions and the Garden Route are best visited during summer. That coincides with our winter, because South Africa has opposite seasons due to its location in the southern hemisphere.It is difficult to find a good compromise for the whole country. We would first recommend the months of September and October for those who want to make a tour through a large part of the country, visiting both the north and the south. You then avoid the cooler winter months on the plateau and take advantage of the spring-like temperatures on the beloved south coast. October is also a great month for whale watching at Hermanus.
For a safari, dry conditions are best. The roads are more passable and the chance of heavy rain and thunderstorms that can ruin the experience is smaller. As the dry spell continues, it becomes easier to spot the wildlife in the national parks. They become more visible due to the deteriorating landscape and the animals tend to migrate to the scarcer water sources, which makes them easier to find. Therefore, look carefully at each park that you want to visit when the dry period falls. Usually that is during our summer, so their winter.
South Africa during the school holidays
If you want to go on holiday with the family, South Africa is one of the dream destinations. It is not for nothing that the country is a popular holiday destination to discover during the school holidays. The summer holidays are a pleasant travel time for those who mainly want to discover the nature of South Africa. For many nature parks, this is a drier and well-traveled travel period. The Christmas holidays are ideal for those who especially want to discover the beautiful southwest of the country such as Cape Town, the beaches, the Wine Route and the Garden Route. At that time, the drier and pleasantly warm summer prevails here. If you want to spot whales and don’t mind flying all the way to South Africa for 1 week, you can opt for the Christmas holiday.
The May holiday is perfect for a combination of the Kruger Park, Pretoria, Johannesburg and other areas in the central part of South Africa. It is then fairly dry and not as warm as during the local summer. The animals are a bit more difficult to spot than later in the safari season.