South Africa has a lot to offer.

The best time to visit will depend on where you want to go and what you want to see.

The climate in South Africa is warm in the north and cold in the south. Depending on where you are in the country, the weather on the coast can be different than it is in the country. Cold fogs and hot desert winds can still roll in, even though the weather on the Atlantic coast is milder.

Cape Town and the Western Cape have rainy seasons in the summer and winter. In the south of the country, the rains arrive in November through March, but they rarely last for long. South Africa's vibrant festivals and the annual migrations and breeding seasons for the country's diverse wildlife populations are more important than the weather. Here is a guide to the best times to come.

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A man dressed in a white suit with a red, white and blue sash with the words
Tons of festivals take place during South Africa's warm peak season © Gallo Images / Getty Images

The high season months (November to March) are full of festivals

There is a lot of humidity in South Africa during the winter months. You need to plan ahead if you want to visit during this time of year. It's possible to book accommodations months in advance in coastal areas and national parks, and popular vacation spots can see their prices go up by 50% or more.

Festivals and events can be enjoyed if you have the budget to travel during the high season. A massive international music festival that draws artists from all over the world will kick off in December. The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival is a high-spirited street parade with important links to overcomingapartheid and South Africa's long history of slavery.

The Cape Town Pride Festival is held in February or March and the Cape Town Cycle Tour is held in March. One of the largest arts festivals in South Africa takes place in the Western Cape.

April, May, September and October mean lower prices and great wildlife watching

Smaller crowds and important festivals can be found in South Africa. Wildlife-watching is a big attraction in the fall as the weather gets nicer. Cetacean encounters can be had in September and October. Depending on the weather, blooms can appear from July to October if it isn't too hot.

Low season (June to August) is the best time for budget travelers 

Lower prices and smaller crowds can be found during the winter season in South Africa. There is still a lot of sunshine in Cape Town and the Western Cape, despite the rainy season. In the country, the winters are much warmer, and it's a great place to go for a safaris. The National Arts Festival in the Eastern Cape takes place in the winter.

Do you want to get some help? You can let Elsewhere plan your trip.

Two leopards on a tree in Kruger National Park
The winter is the best time for wildlife encounters, but animals can be spotted year-round © moodboard / Getty Images

South Africa's game reserves are best in the winter months

If you are on savanna, the rain will most likely affect your travels. During the South African winter, the Kruger National Park is usually dry. Wildlife is easier to spot because the vegetation dies back and animals congregate around water holes.

During dawn game drives, you'll need to bring layers to keep you warm as the nights get chilly. The busy Christmas period and summer school holidays coincide with the dry summer months in the Western Cape.

Peak whale-watching is in September and October

The peak cetacean-spotting months are September and October. Between June and November, southern right whales and Humpback whales migrate to and fromAntarctica to breed and have their babies in the warmer waters off the coast of Africa. In May to June there is a huge run of sardines that attracts whales, dolphins, sharks and sea birds.

While on a whale-watching boat, whales can be seen from the shore. The town of Hermanus is one of the top whale-watching destinations in the world and can be seen as early as April. The world's bottlenose dolphin capital is Gqeberha on the Eastern Cape, which is often seen during the winter and summer months.

Augrabies Falls where the Orange river drops down into a narrow gorge, Karoo, South Africa
The rainy season in Cape Town and the Western Cape creates some impressive waterfalls © Franz Aberham / Getty Images

January is vacation time for local schools

South Africans travel to the coast and national parks for the summer school holidays in December and January. It's a good idea to book accommodations and transportation far in advance. There is a peak season for accommodations in the winter.

There are key events in Cape Town.

February has hot weather

The summer season lasts through February, with hot weather, crowds on the southern beaches and dramatic lightning storms in Jo'burg. The four-day Up the Creek Festival is held in Swellendam in the Western Cape, where you can float along the Breede River while bands play.

The key events are Hands-on-Harvest and Up the Creek Festival.

March is suitable for hikers

There are still days in the Cape that are bright. The landscape of the Lowveld is warm and lush, while the Highveld is cooler. The Western Cape is a great place to walk and bumming during this time of year. There are cultural and music festivals in the area.

The key events are the Cape Town cycle tour and the international jazz festival.

April marks the end of the rainy season

Accommodations need to be booked in advance for the two week school vacation around Easter. The days are warm. The end of the rainy season is a time when rivers are full and flora is lush. The bushveld is a more attractive place to watch wildlife due to the dry weather. The rutting season for impala starts in April with displays of dominance increasing as the days get shorter.

The key event was AfrikaBurn.

Trekker on a ridge in Drakensberg-Ukhahlamba National Park
The months immediately after the rains are a great time for trekking in the Drakensberg mountains © Gallo Images / Getty Images

May is the first official month of winter

Tourism slows down in May. There is still snow in the highlands of South Africa, but it is not as bad as in the beach areas. The end of the rains in most parts of the country will lead to better conditions in the wilderness.

The Franschhoek Literary Festival is a key event.

June's temperatures are cooler across the country

There is a good chance of rain in the Western Cape during winter. The daytime temperature in June is 16C (60F) and the nighttime temperature is 4C (40F). In the dry north, the safaris are still good.

The National Arts Festival is one of the key events.

July is the middle of the low season

There is a chance that you will get snow, but there will be plenty of days with sunshine. Boat trips to Robben Island, the former political prison just off Cape Town, are less pleasant due to the rough winter seas.

Northern areas have sunny days and clear nights. The mornings can be cold but afternoons can be warm. This is the middle of the June to September low season, but winter is a great time to go hunting.

The J-Bay Open is one of the key events.

August is the best time to see wildflowers in bloom

There are signs of spring in August. The best time to see wildflowers is in August and September. The soccer, rugby and cricket seasons usually start in August in Kruger National Park.

The key event was the flowers.

September is an ideal time to spot whales

The rainy season in the Western Cape ends in September and Jo'burg and the north get their first big rains. In Cape Town and Jo'burg, temperatures are mild and cherry trees bloom in the south. There are a lot of baby animals in the spring. Demand for accommodations increases during school holidays. It's a great time to watch whales at Hermanus.

The Festival of Motoring is one of the key events.

Aerial view of Durban beach where people are playing in the waves
Join the crowds in South Africa and head to the beach as the weather warms up © Diriye Amey / 500px

October is mostly sunny

You will avoid the worst of the summer crowds and peak prices in October. The 10-day South African school holiday begins in late September and ends in October. At this time of year, whale-watching can be great.

The macufe african cultural festival is one of the key events.

November means more crowds and higher prices

The end of whale season and the peak time to see grassland wildflowers in the Drakensberg mountains are in the spring. During the third week of November, Ficksburg has a cherry centered festival.

The rain and humidity starts to increase in the area. The temperature in the desert of the Karoo National Park is not as cold as it used to be, but it is not as hot as it used to be. The high season starts in November.

The Ficksburg Cherry Festival is a key event.

December is festival season

The South African summer officially starts cooking in December. The perfect start to the city's music festival season is the music festival AFROPUNK in Johannesburg.

The key events are the Afrikan festival and the street food festival.

The article was first published about a year ago.