Best time to travel to South Africa

Safari in South Africa

The impressive biodiversity of South Africa will give you the opportunity to experience the best wildlife safari of your life

Best time: May–September

Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari
Safari

South Africa is an excellent destination for wildlife spotting. The vast variety is not limited to the iconic Big Five (elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions, and leopards). Numerous game parks and reserves offer everything from huge predators and mammals to reptiles, amphibians, and colourful insects. We'll skip the more commonly found species, and focus on the exclusive ones.

You might be able to spot two critically endangered species—De Winton’s Golden Mole and the Riverine Rabbit. Other endangered animals you might encounter are the African Wild Dog and the Mountain Zebra. Some of the most prominent endemics include the Cape Elephant Shrew, Cape Grysbok, Cape Mole-rat, Cape Kudu, Bontebok, Springbok and the Cape Horseshoe Bat. The endangered Samango monkey should also be added to your must-see list!

Great biodiversity is also observed among reptiles and amphibians. The endemics that can be spotted include the Geometric Tortoise, Southern Adder, Speckled Padloper, Cape Legless Skink and Giant Girdled Lizard. Some can only be found in South Africa, namely the Table Mountain Ghost Frog, the Mistbelt Chirping Frog, and the Knysna Spiny Reed Frog.

Birdlife and marine wildlife are also abundant but the seasons differ from general wildlife observation, which is during the dry period in May to September when wild African residents stick around the water sources. Moreover, visibility is better due to the scarce vegetation. Some of the most popular game-viewing places are located in the north-east of the country. These are Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand GR, Phinda Game Reserve, Mala Mala GR, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi GR, iSimangaliso Wetland Park (for the rarest Samango monkey amongst all), Tembe Elephant Park, as well as Drakensberg, Umdloti and Durban.

Practical info

What is the ideal time of year for a safari trip in South Africa?

During the dry season spanning from May to September, the best time to visit South Africa for a safari is. During this season, animals tend to cluster around water sources, making it convenient to observe them in their natural habitat. Additionally, with less abundant vegetation, visibility is enhanced, making it easier for tourists to spot creatures from a safe distance. Show more

Where in South Africa are some of the endangered species natives?

South Africa is home to two critically endangered creatures, the De Winton's Golden Mole and the Riverine Rabbit, both of which are found within the Western Cape Province. Depending on where you visit, you might also view endangered species such as the African Wild Dog and the Mountain Zebra while looking out for birds like the Knysna Spiny Reed Frog and Table Mountain Ghost Frog, particularly in reserves to view game like Kruger National Park. Show more

Which reptiles and amphibians are unique to South Africa and visible during a safari?

In South Africa, reptiles and amphibians are amongst abundant species and include the Geometric Tortoise, African Rock Python, Mountain Dwarf Chameleon, Cape Legless Skink and Giant Girdled Lizard. Some of the rarest creatures you might come across include the Southern Adder, Knysna Dwarf Chameleon, Cape Platanna Frog and Mistbelt Chirping Frog along with others. Show more

What months offer the best viewing of marine life and bird species in South Africa?

The best months for viewing marine life along the coastline are generally during the winter and dry season, ranging from June to November. When it comes to observing birdlife, the summer months from November to March are the most appropriate. Nevertheless, this could differ based on the region of South Africa, and the type of bird or marine species desired to be observed. Show more

Which are most suitable locales for game-viewing in South Africa?

To catch a glimpse of some of South Africa's finest wildlife, head, to Kruger National Park, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Phinda Game Reserve, Mala Mala Game Reserve, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, iSimangaliso Wetland Park or Tembe Elephant Park. Additionally, good viewing areas include the Drakensberg, Umdloti and Durban. Except for iSimangaliso Wetland Park which is closed during December and January, these venues are open for tourists to visit around the year. Show more

Ask a question
Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin