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South Africa Weather & Climate

The climate in South Africa ranges from desert and semi-desert in the northwest to subtropical on the eastern coast. Rainfall generally occurs during summer (mid- to late September through April), although in the southwest around Cape Town, rainfall occurs in winter (April through early September). Temperatures are influenced by variations in elevation, terrain and ocean currents more than latitude.

WINTER/DRY SEASON

During the dry winter months of April through early September, the days are warm, but the nights can become very cold! We will provide cozy comforters to keep you warm during your stay.

Many travelers assume that because they are traveling to Africa, it must always be warm. This is not the case during South Africa’s winter, however, particularly in May through September. You can expect days to be absolutely beautiful, temperate and sunny, but nights and early mornings will be chilly, possibly near freezing, so we recommend you bring warm layers you can peel off as it warms up through the day. A lightweight down jacket or fleece pullover is ideal. Gloves, hat, scarf and warm long pants are also essential at this time of year for early-morning wildlife drives.

SUMMER/GREEN SEASON

Mid- to late September through April is a much warmer period, and you will need fewer warm clothes, although you can still expect occasional rain showers. Late October is generally the hottest time of the year, with temperatures often reaching into the 100s° F.

AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURES & RAINFALL:

(In Fahrenheit and inches)

Johannesburg
Johannesburg weather chart.

Sabi Sand Reserve
Sabi Sand Reserve weather chart.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park weather chart.

CLIMATE IN CAPE TOWN

The number of hours of sunshine in Cape Town is among the most in the world. Winters are generally mild, although there is snow on the mountain ranges in the Cape Town and Natal areas during the winter months.

WINTER/DRY SEASON

Cape Town and much of the Western Cape experiences the opposite in climate with a winter season that sees greater chances of rain. It is still intermittent with beautiful, crisp days.

SUMMER/GREEN SEASON

Cape Town, in opposition to the rest of South Africa, features less chance of rain and mostly temperate weather and sunny skies in the summer months. Truthfully, Cape Town’s weather can vary greatly any day of the year, so these norms should be used only as a guideline.

AVERAGE MONTHLY TEMPERATURES AND PRECIPITATION:

(In Fahrenheit and Inches)

Capetown

Cape Town weather chart.

Please keep in mind that these are averages, and that weather can be unpredictable. Be sure to check current weather conditions a few days before your departure at: www.weather.com. Remember to check the weather for each location on your itinerary, as conditions may vary.

South Africa Monthly Weather Information and Recommendations

JANUARY

January is midsummer in South Africa and is characterized by hot, sunny weather—often with afternoon thunderstorms, which clear quickly, within the wildlife areas. The average temperature is approximately 70°F. Afternoons can be hot with average high temperatures reaching into the low to mid-80s F. Overnight temperatures are generally very mild with an average low of about 70°F. Raingear is recommended with lightweight layers to wear underneath. Travelers should be prepared for short afternoon thunderstorms—a lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket and rain pants are recommended, along with a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or zip-off pants for warmer midday temperatures. The Cape Province (including Cape Town) can be hot, dry and windy.

FEBRUARY

Summer in South Africa continues in February, which is usually the hottest month of the year with daytime temperatures reaching the mid-80s F. Typical daytime weather patterns are very similar to those in January, so travelers should still be prepared for afternoon rainfall while on safari. Cape Town is generally hot, dry and windy. Layering is key and should include a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or zip-off pants along with a lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket and rain pants.

MARCH

March brings the end of summer as autumn approaches and rainfall subsides. Daytime temperatures may still reach near 80°F, and afternoon rainfall is possible while on safari. Raingear is still recommended, and a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or zip-off pants may be necessary as temperatures increase during the day. Cape Town is typically beautiful and temperate in March.

APRIL

The weather in April is cooler than during the previous few months. Morning temperatures start to drop, and evenings can be brisk. Temperatures range from the mid-50s to the upper 70s F. Rainfall is limited, although raingear is recommended in case of afternoon showers, and a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or zip-off pants may be necessary as temperatures increase during the day. Cape Town tends to be beautiful in April—temperate to warm and dry. One may experience a variety of weather on any given day in the Cape, so be prepared to layer for warmth in the evenings.

MAY

May is the beginning of winter in South Africa, and it can get quite cold with temperatures dipping as low as the mid-40s F. Travelers will want to be prepared for the cold nights and early mornings with warm sleepwear, a windproof outer jacket, a fleece or heavy sweater, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. As the days warm up, you will want to shed these layers, and you should be prepared with lightweight clothing including a short-sleeved shirt. High temperatures will be in the upper 60s to mid-70s F, so shorts may not be necessary, although zip-off pants are great since they give you the option if needed. The cooler, rainy season begins in Cape Town in May, with a mix of sunny, overcast and wet days. It can be warm when the sun is out, but it may also be quite cool. Layering is key.

JUNE

Winter extends into June, and temperatures continue to drop. Nighttime temperatures can be surprisingly cold (in the mid- to low 40s F and sometimes even colder). Travelers will want warm sleepwear, a windproof outer jacket, a fleece or heavy sweater, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. Highs will be in the upper 60s to mid-70s, so you will want to be able to remove layers as daytime temperatures get warmer. The Cape Province (including Cape Town) often experiences lovely sunny but cool weather during this period. June is also the rainy season in the Cape—while some days can be wet and windy, these are usually interspersed with beautiful, sunny days. A rain jacket is recommended for travelers visiting Cape Town this time of year.

JULY

July is typically the coldest month in South Africa, with lows dipping into the low 40s F. Days are normally sunny and pleasant with occasional cold snaps and windy spells. Travelers will need warm sleepwear, a windproof outer jacket, a fleece or heavy sweater, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf. Highs can reach into the lower 70s F but most likely will hover in the mid- to upper 60s F, so you will want layers that can be peeled off, depending on what the day brings. The rainy season continues in the Cape, so expect some days to be rainy and cloudy while others are sunny and warm.

AUGUST

August is the last month of winter, and the weather is much the same as during the past few months. Days are normally sunny and pleasant with occasional cold snaps and windy spells. Low temperatures are generally in the mid-40s F while highs remain in the mid- to upper 60s and possibly low 70s. Travelers will still need warm sleepwear and a windproof outer jacket, a fleece or heavy sweater, a warm hat, gloves and a scarf for chilly evenings and early mornings. The rainy season continues in the Cape, so expect some days to be rainy and cloudy while others are sunny and warm.

SEPTEMBER

Spring in South Africa is celebrated with warmer days and the occasional cool morning and evening. Conditions can be windy for short periods after the winter rains have stopped in Cape Town, but sunny, calm days become more common as the month progresses. Daytime temperatures rise to the mid-70s F. It can still cool down at night into the upper 40s F, so travelers should bring warm layers for evening and early morning activities.

OCTOBER

Beginning in October, days become very warm and sunny, and evenings are also warm. Although this is not the rainy season, expect to experience some sporadic rains, which typically clear quickly. High temperatures are likely to be in the mid-70s F. Raingear, short-sleeved shirts and shorts or zip-off pants are recommended along with a wide-brimmed hat and plenty of sunscreen. Cape Town becomes drier and is warm and pleasant.

NOVEMBER

November is typically warm and sunny with highs in the mid- to upper 70s F and lows in the mid- to upper 50s. We recommend layering with short-sleeved shirts, shorts or zip-off pants and plenty of protection from the sun, including a wide-brimmed hat, during the day.

DECEMBER

Summer begins in December and with it the green season in most of the country. Days on safari are warm to hot and are often accompanied by heavy afternoon thunderstorms that clear quickly. Daytime temperatures are likely to reach the upper 70s to mid-80s F, and nighttime and early morning temperatures remain in the upper 50s to low 60s F. As it is likely to rain in the afternoons in the wildlife reserves, we recommend raingear that includes a lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket and rain pants. Layering works best with a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or zip-off pants to make you comfortable as temperatures warm up by midday. Rain is less likely in the Cape Province (including Cape Town).

Header Credit: Denise Ramsey
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