Situated in a subtropical location, moderated by ocean on three sides and the altitude of the interior plateau, South Africa has a warm temperate climate making it a popular spot for foreign visitors.
South Africa is a relatively dry country and is well known for its sunshine. With an average annual rainfall of only 464mm, the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter; the rest of the country is in general a summer-rainfall region.
Temperatures in South Africa are inclined to be lower than in other countries at similar latitudes – Australia for example – this is mainly due to greater elevation above sea level.
On the interior plateau the altitude – Johannesburg lies at 1 694 meters – keeps the summer temperatures around 28 degrees Celsius. In winter, for this reason, night temperatures can drop below freezing point.
South Africa’s coastal regions are warmest in the winter months. But there’s a big difference between temperatures on the East and West of South Africa, due to the warm Agulhas Current that runs along the east coast, and the cold Benguela, fresh from Antarctica, that runs up the west coast.
Being in the southern hemisphere, our seasons stand in opposition to those of Europe and North America so the hottest weather is in December to March.
Best time of the year to travel to South Africa depends on what you want to do. The flowers are at their best in August and September. The best time for game viewing is in the late spring months of September and October. The Southern Right Whales are off our coasts from about mid-June to the end of October.
The diving is best in most of the country outside of summer, and so is the surfing – but that certainly doesn’t limit either activity to those times.
River rafting is better in the Cape at the end of winter, and in KwaZulu-Natal in the height of summer. In Mpumalanga and Limpopo, its good at all times of year and not better at any one specific time.
Of course, if you want to lounge around on the beaches; mid-summer is the best time – though everyone else will be there too and beaches can de frighteningly busy, especially in the Durban and Cape Town areas, however the beaches of northern KwaZulu-Natal are warm and sunny even in midwinter and a little quieter!..