When is the best time for Safari?
In South Africa, the Safari parks and lodges are open year-round. You can therefore go whenever you want, but to truly get the experience of an Africa Safari, the best time for Safari in South Africa (according to Kruger National Park), is to go May through September.
But while the dry season is recommended for Safari, going on Safari during the wet season can be pleasant as well. Here’s what you can expect throughout the year for a Safari in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
May through September is the dry / winter season in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. (There are other Safari locations but for a truly authentic Safari experience, this is where you will want to journey.)
During the Limpopo and Mpumalanga winters, there is virtually no rain and humidity is very low. The grass is short and there is less vegetation. This means that it will be easier for you to spot the animals.
With no rain, the animals will migrate towards the water. This means the dams, rivers, and water holes become a hive of activity. You are more likely to spot animals in the evening and morning as they come for a drink of water.
The temperatures are also more moderate during the Limpopo/ Mpumalanga winters. Nighttime temperatures range between 45-50º Fahrenheit and 7-10º Celcius. However, it can get colder, so it’s best to pack accordingly.
This is the end of summer in South Africa. The temperatures are relatively cool. You can expect anywhere from around 50°F / 10°C in the morning to 79°F / 26°C in the afternoon.
June - August
The morning game drives in the open vehicles will be cold. You’ll be best advised to pack accordingly.
You can expect an average morning temperature of around 42°F / 6°C. However, the afternoons will be a little more pleasant with temperatures going up to 73-77°F / 23-25°C.
During September you can also expect colder mornings with temperatures around 53°F / 12°C. Later in the afternoon, it can build to around 82°F / 28°C. There may be some rain, which will be a pleasant relief from the very dry conditions in this region.
Because this is the rainy season, it does rain a lot but it seldom rains all day. The pattern is to have afternoon storms. The rain fills the rivers and waterholes, resulting in lush bushveld.
With it being so lush, game viewing can be a little more difficult because the vegetation is dense.
However, a fun part of the wet season is that towards the end of November and early December, the Safari parks in South Africa are filled with newborns. Also, the summers are a great time for birding. This is when the summer migrant birds arrive.
During the wet season, it can get uncomfortably hot and humid. During the summer (December to February), temperatures can reach over 104°F / 40°C. However, the average daytime temperatures go to about 90°F / 32°C with high humidity. If you are planning to visit during the summer, be sure to stay in air-conditioned accommodation and travel in an air-conditioned vehicle because it can get unpleasant.
October to November
At this time of the year, it gets warmer and starts to rain more often, mostly in the afternoon. Expect temperatures around 64°F / 18°C in the morning and 88°F /31°C later in the day.
December to February
These are the months of the South African summer, so they are the hottest of the year. These are also the wettest months, characterized by high humidity and torrential downpours in the afternoon.
Expect afternoon temperatures around 90°F / 32°C. However, the temperatures can soar up to an uncomfortable and unbearable 104°F / 40°C.
March to April
Summer is over and it is starting to get cooler. The rainfall decreases and the humidity drops.
April days are usually lovely with a few clouds but generally clear weather. Expect daytime temperatures to be around 64°F / 30°C. The nights are a little colder compared to the summer, but still pleasant. You can expect nights to be around 61°F / 18°C this time of the year.