When to GoSouth Africa's seasons are the reverse of the northern hemisphere.
- Spring is September - October
- Summer is November - March
- Fall is April - May
- Winter is June - August
Summers can get quite hot especially around Durban and KwaZulu-Natal where summer rains make it humid and muggy. The winters are generally mild with perhaps a dusting of snow on higher elevations. Click here for today's weather forecast and average annual temperatures.
There's not really a bad time to go to South Africa but depending on what you would like to do, some seasons are better than others.The best time to:
- Go on safari is June to September (dry season)
- Visit Cape Town is November to March (summer)
- Go rafting is December to February (rainy season)
- See flowers is August to September (spring)
- Go whale watching is June to December
Note: Most South Africans will plan their vacations during the long school holiday from mid-December to the end of January so hotels, tours, and lodges book up quickly during that time.
Getting To South AfricaBy Air
Most tourists fly in to South Africa. There are three international airports but the one most people arrive at is the Johannesburg International Airport. It is a large modern airport, very easy to use and there's lots of transport available to get in to town.
If you are lucky enough to and have the time to travel Overland (or if you live in a neighboring country) there are several borders you can cross. Border posts are open daily, the main ones are as follows:
- South Africa / Namibia Vioolsdrif 24 hours
- South Africa / Mozambique Komatiepoort 07:00 22:00
- South Africa / Botswana Tlokweng 07:00 22:00
- South Africa / Zimbabwe Beitbridge 06:00 20:00
- South Africa / Swaziland Oshoek 07:00 22:00
There are several luxury bus services that run from South Africa to Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. One such company is Intercape Mainliner.
It is possible to travel to South Africa by train from a number of countries. Perhaps the best option is the Shongolo Express which travels between South Africa , Namibia , Mozambique , Botswana , Swaziland , Zambia and Zimbabwe. It's a tourist train and a bit like going on a cruise except you don't have to deal with the waves.
The Rovos Train is another luxurious train which offers regular trips from Pretoria to Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe/Zambia).
Getting Around South Africa
Domestic flights are numerous and connect most of the major towns and cities. It's a good option if you don't have a lot of time to see the whole country. South African Express offers 13 South African domestic flights and several regional destinations including Namibia, Botswana, and the DRC. Airlink offers mainly domestic flights within South Arica but is starting to branch out regionally as well. They offer flights to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Madagascar. Airlink has replaced Swaziland's national airline. Kulula is a low-cost airline operating domestically as well as regionally. Routes include Cape Town, Durban, George, Harare and Lusaka. Mango Airlines launched in December 2006 and flies to several destinations within South Africa including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. 1Time offers low-cost flights within South Africa and to Zanzibar.
There are several bus companies servicing the main towns of South Africa. They are generally very comfortable and luxurious and cheaper than flying. A reputable company is Intercape Mainliner their site has routes and prices as well as a route map. The Greyhound Bus company is also a good option, although their web site isn't quite as easy to use.
For budget travellers, the Baz Bus is an ideal way to get around. The company offers passes where you can get on and off whenever you want. It drops you off and picks you up at your hostel door.
The Blue Train is the ultimate in luxury train travel, the kind of experience which includes five forks and five knives in the place settings at breakfast. You have to book well in advance since this train ride is truly a legendary experience. It is certainly not about getting from A to B, the train has one basic route, from Pretoria to Cape Town.
The Shosholoza Meyl is an excellent option to get around the country. A luxury train with many routes to choose from it is safe and inexpensive to boot.
South Africa is an excellent country to rent a car and plan your own trip. The roads are good, gas stations have gas and there are plenty of hotels and lodges to stay at along the way. Find out more about renting a car in South Africa by clicking here. You need a valid driver's license (get an international one if yours is not in English), and a major credit card.