When going on safari it’s important to consider the seasons of the country you’re going to be visiting. The weather and environment will play a big role in your safari experience as you’ll be out in the elements most of the time. South Africa seasons can range vastly in terms of severity, depending on when and where in the country you’re travelling.
South African Seasons
South Africa has incredibly diverse landscapes and ecosystems, making it an ideal holiday destination year-round. It’s a beautiful country, located in the Southern hemisphere. Many factors influence the weather patterns and seasons in South Africa, such as the different ecosystems, terrain and subtropical zone.
It’s typically a sunny country, with minimal rainfall year-round. However, the weather is also incredibly unpredictable. It has hundreds of national parks and private game reserves where wildlife sightings are second to none. Read on to get a better idea of what you can come to expect from the four seasons in South Africa.
The Summer in South Africa
Summer falls between December and February in South Africa. It is also South Africa’s peak season and one of the most popular seasons for tourists to visit, so it can get exceptionally busy in popular cities such as Cape Town. Average temperatures are about 25 degrees Celsius, while they can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius. The days are warm and long, allowing for ample time to participate in fun activities. Summer is one of the favourite seasons in South Africa for good reason.
The Autumn in South Africa
Autumn in South Africa falls between March and May. It is still relatively warm in March, however the temperature drops in April and May. It’s a great season to visit South Africa as it isn’t too hot nor too cold. Average temperatures are around 21 degrees Celsius. However, it’s warmer in March and cooler in May as it gets closer to winter. The days are warm and there are fewer crowds around if you prefer a quieter time to visit popular destinations in South Africa.
The Winter in South Africa
Winter months in South Africa are from June through to August. Winter consists of cooler, shorter days. However, South Africa generally experiences milder winters, and more so in the Eastern Cape province. Average temperatures reach about 16 degrees Celsius but differ significantly between provinces. Winter days are sunny and cool and the nights tend to get quite cold too. It’s a great time to travel to South Africa as it typically falls in low season in various areas. National parks and reserves are quieter and thus allow for privacy and exclusivity.
Wildlife activity is also easier to spot, thanks to sparse vegetation, as well as drier weather, drawing animals out to the waterholes. It’s seen by many as the best time to visit safari destinations in the country.
The Spring in South Africa
Spring falls between September and October. It is a wonderful time of year to visit South Africa as the temperature picks up and flowers start to bloom. The average temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius, making the weather extremely pleasant. The days are warm in the spring and tend to get a bit longer as the months go by. In terms of wildlife and safaris, many babies are born in spring, making it a special time of year to visit the national parks and private reserves of the country.
For a different perspective on the ideal time to travel to South Africa, check out Safari Consultants’ South Africa Seasons & When to Travel.
South Africa and Its Provinces
Seasons in South Africa vary significantly, depending on the province in the country you intend to travel to. However, it is a wonderful country to visit in the summer, autumn, winter or spring. The country has several provinces to choose from, as well as a plethora of things to do and see in each. In terms of scenery, we’ve listed what each province is known for below.
The provinces of the country are:
- Eastern Cape – Lies on the south-eastern South African coast and has plenty of untouched wilderness and natural beauty, cliffs and the Indian Ocean, not to mention ample wildlife.
- Free State – A province dominated by farmlands, blue skies and mountains. Towns are widely scattered. The Vaal and Orange rivers flow through the Free State.
- Gauteng – Referred to as the concrete jungle in South Africa, it is the economic hub of the country with the biggest population. Plenty of high rise buildings make up this province.
- KwaZulu-Natal – This province has lush, green scenery, the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains and gorgeous beaches along the Indian Ocean.
- Limpopo – This province is predominantly bushveld. Bordering on Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe, it boasts stunning scenery, wildlife and insightful culture.
- Mpumalanga – One of the most popular destinations for tourists, it is filled with abundant wildlife and breathtaking scenery.
- North West – This province also borders Botswana and is home to the Cradle of Humankind, farmland and wildlife reserves.
- Northern Cape – The largest province in the country, albeit with the smallest population. Semi-desert land, rock art and the annual display of spring flowers make this province in South Africa unique.
- Western Cape – This diverse province has so much culture, history and beauty. The city of Cape Town, known as the Mother City, the Garden Route, with pristine beaches and an indigenous forest, are all found in the province.
The South African weather varies based on the geographical locations of these provinces, as well as the biomes within each province.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Shamwari?
Shamwari Private Game Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape in South Africa and experiences a moderately warm climate. The best time of the year to visit would depend entirely on the guests’ preferences: whether you enjoy the summer weather and busy crowded times or you’d prefer the cooler weather and privacy during your stay in South Africa.
The Eastern Cape enjoys a blended climate, combining sub-tropical and Mediterranean weather. The eastern parts of the province tend to experience high humidity levels and rainfall in comparison to the western parts, which have far drier weather conditions. In the off-season (i.e. winter) the temperatures range between 7-22°C, while summer temperatures can range between 16-36°C.
Contrary to popular belief, wildlife or game viewing is not really affected by weather, seasons or time of the year. Shamwari is home to the Big Five as well as ample animal, bird and plant species. It is a protected area and spans 25,000 hectares and five of South Africa’s biomes, making it incredibly impressive.
Game Drives in the Eastern Cape
Whilst vacationing at Shamwari in the Eastern Cape, guests are treated to two game drives per day. A daily program is followed, allowing for the best game viewing opportunities. Professional field guides are assigned to guests and teach them about the history of Shamwari and the area, animal habitats, animal tracks, as well as all the organisms in the region that call Shamwari home. They share their knowledge and expertise with guests to ensure it is an awe-inspiring and magical experience from the safety of a game viewing vehicle.
The game drives/safaris commence in the early mornings and late afternoons due to animals being more active during these times of the day. Shamwari game drives last for approximately 3-4 hours and take you throughout the reserve. Included on the game drive is a coffee stop for the morning drive and a sundowner stop in the afternoon.
You’ll likely be on safari with fellow guests staying at the lodge, making for a wonderful opportunity to build new friendships. Summers are a busy time at Shamwari. Winters, however, are a quieter period and if you’re lucky your party may have the field guide and game viewing vehicle all to yourselves.
Regardless of the time of year in South Africa, weather can change in an instant. It’s better to be prepared when packing:
- A warm jersey/jacket for early mornings and late afternoons
- Bathing suits for the pool areas
- Cameras, lenses, and binoculars
- Light clothing for summer safaris
- Sunscreen and hats
- Walking shoes
- Warmer clothing for winter stays
As restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have been eased, Shamwari was able to reopen two of its seven luxury lodges.
Each lodge at Shamwari provides a distinct experience, ranging from exclusive tranquillity and effortless family enjoyment to the back-to-nature appeal of a luxury tented camp. All premier lodges are complemented by the very best fresh, local cuisine and thoughtful service.
Long Lee Manor
Long Lee Manor is a historically significant and beloved landmark in the heart of the African bush, offering unsurpassed luxury and comfort, as well as views of surrounding plains, which are teeming with wildlife, like Africa’s legendary Big Five.
An extensive refurbishment has lovingly restored its original Edwardian-era features and the 18 new luxury suites focus on guests’ privacy and comfort while maximising the commanding views of the area.
The interiors pay homage to the manor’s origins and give guests a luxurious “Out of Africa” experience. Interior spaces use rich leathers, fine linens and nostalgic florals. Guest suites’ walls are treated with traditional timber panelling and textured wallpaper, while bathrooms have crisp white marble floors with generous showers and bathtubs.
The generous public areas are completely focused on the views. The interiors, like the guest rooms, are designed using traditional panelling, bronze, wallpapers, rattan and statement focal pieces like the gorgeous oval bar. The original stained-glass windows and fireplace of the historic manor house were all retained and meticulously restored.
Sarili Private Lodge
Sarili Private Lodge overlooks the Bushman’s River and is ideal for a quiet family getaway. Its five modern rooms can be booked exclusively, or the lodge can be shared by families enjoying an experience in the wilderness.
Facilities include a heated swimming pool with a shallow area for children and a large central lounge area. Once you’ve booked your exclusive stay at Sarili, all aspects of your accommodation will be tailored to meet your group’s specific needs. Your tailor-made stay in the lodge will include:
- Deck overlooking the Bushman’s River
- Guided bush walks
- Indoor and outdoor dining
- In-room spa treatments per request
- Lounge with a fireplace
- Personal staff, including a House manager, private chef and field guide
- Personalised game drives with your dedicated field guide
- Pool with a shallow area for children
- Satellite TV with a selection of channels
- Selected beverages
- Visits to the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
Why Choose Shamwari?
Shamwari’s thoughtful hospitality, fine cuisine, selection of luxury accommodation and exceptional wildlife experiences will leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. With several distinct lodges offering a total of 54 luxury suites, it can host a variety of events, including intimate weddings, important anniversaries, family reunions and milestone birthdays. Safari stories swapped at sliver-service bush dinners or traditional boma braais (barbeques) will add to your trove of unforgettable memories.
By staying at Shamwari you are also participating in a highly successful conservation project, which arrested the impact of human activity and returned 25,000 hectares to the rich biodiversity for which it was originally known. Over the past 25 years, the project has restored much of the ecology and attracted or re-introduced an abundance of indigenous game and birdlife, from the Big Five to smaller creatures like the humble oxpecker.
Today the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, where sick and injured wild animals are treated before being released back into the wild, is globally recognised for its pioneering work. A long-term partnership with the Born Free Foundation provides a permanent home for rescued African big cats.
Seasons in South Africa may be varied, but you will always have a world-class experience while staying at Shamwari Private Game Reserve. Make your reservation for the upcoming festive season now to avoid disappointment.