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South Africa Travel Tips: When and Where

Best Time To Go
Accommodation
Climate
Most Popular Destinations
Popular Self-drives
What to Pack


Best Time To Go
It depends entirely on your destination as South Africa has been called " a world in one country".

On the interior ( Highveld) the summers are hot and thundery and the winters bright, dry and cold with sunshine throughout the year.

At the Cape (western coastal areas) the summer and autumn months ( January to May) are the best, because of the winter rainfall.

The eastern coastal area (Kwazulu Natal) has hot and humid summers at sea level. The winters are less humid (and probably the best time to go) with sunshine throughout the year.

Accommodation
South Africa caters for a wide spectrum of visitors - from 5-star hotels to self-catering cottages.
Guest houses and B&B's have become increasingly popular with visitors mainly because of lower rates and excellent service.

National Parks and Game Reserves as well as the private reserves have their own accommodation facilities.

The major hotel groups are:

Sun International
Protea Hotels
Southern Sun Hotels
Relais Hotel group
Three Cities
City & Town Lodges
Legacy Hotels

Climate
Summer is from October to March with temperatures from 15 C (60 F) at night to 30 C ( 96 F) at noon.

Winter is from April to September with temperatures from 0 C (32 F) at night to 18C ( 66 F) at noon.

Despite regional differences, the climate is generally mild throughout the year.

Except for the Western Cape, with a Mediterranean climate and winter rainfall, the rest of the country is a summer rainfall area.

South Africa ranks very high as far as sunshine days are concerned.

Most Popular Destinations

The top tourist attractions are:

The Kruger National Park - one of the world's largest game reserves.
The Cape Peninsula - includes Table Mountain, the winelands, Cape Town and the famous Cape Point.
Sun City - like Las Vegas, but created in the bush with facilities for sailing, swimming, golfing, gambling and game viewing.
The Garden Route - a stretch of coast 200km.'s long of beaches, forests and mountains.
Kwazulu Natal Parks and mountains - various parks and nature reserves in Zululand, estuary at St. Lucia and the great Drakensberge (Mountains of the Dragons)

Popular Self-drives

5-day drives

1. Kruger National Park – Blyde River Canyon–Mpumalanga.
2. Garden Route – Cape Town – Mossel Bay – Oudtshoorn – Wilderness.
3. Durban Zululand –Lake St Lucia – Natal Game Parks.
4. Durban – Valley of 1000 Hills – Historic Battlefield Tours – Zulu Cultural Experience.
5. Pretoria – Johannesburg – Gold Mine – Sun City – Pilanesberg Game Reserve

7-day drives

1.Augrabies Falls – Upington – Kalahari Gemsbok National Park–Kimberley.
2. Pretoria – Johannesburg City Tour – Diamond Mine – Soweto – Sun City – Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
3. Cape Town –Waterfront – Bloubergstrand – Cape Point/Table Mountain – Winelands - West Coast.
4. Mpumalanga – Kruger National Park – Northern Province (Limpopo)
5. Cape Town – Table Mountain – Winelands – Karoo – Garden Route – Plettenberg Bay

What to Pack
Generally, South Africa's climate allows for a sunny holiday at any time of the year. However, your dress requirements may vary according to your particular destination.

It you intend spending a lot of time outdoors and definitely in summer, bring a hat for protection against the rather scorching sun. In the summer, lightweight cotton clothing is advised because daytime temperatures generally hover around 25-30 degrees Celsius.

For the brief period of January until Mid-March, temperatures sometimes reach 35 degrees. During this period, the nights might be just as hot. In the Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, there is no rain to cool down the air.You may or you may not want to bring a costume to swim in. There are a few topless and nude beaches in South Africa, but generally nudity is still frowned upon.

Further inland there is often an afternoon or evening thunderstorm. In fact, the rain may become quite heavy, so a raincoat is advisable. In the summer evenings, the heat usually lessens and only a light jacket is required.

In the winter months (May to October) the sun shines almost every day. Daytime temperatures hover around 17 to 22 degrees celsius. The evenings can get very cold. Temperatures have been known to plummet to below zero in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Early morning and late afternoon temperatures are rather chilly too. Still, South Africa is not a country where firs are worn. Generally, on most sunny winter days, trousers and a jersey are all that you may require. In the Mediterranean stretch along the south-western Cape, winters are very wet.

Because winter temperatures do not justify having Central Heating in buildings and homes, Europeans tourists might find the winters harsher than South Africans do. We have become accustomed to the cold around us and simply put on more layers if necessary. Only in the last couple of years have some houses installed underfloor heating. In Johannesburg sometimes during winter, and in the Cape in the afternoon a rather chilly wind blows, so bring some wind-proof clothing along.