The Best time for a South Africa safari

best time to go on safari
South Africa is home to 19 national parks

Even to seasoned travelers, South Africa possess an allure that few other popular tourist destinations can claim. Part of its incredible charm is its diverse wildlife, which, according records, stands at 297 different mammal species.

The other is its incredibly beautiful landscapes which range from the Table Mountains to the Blyde River Canyon, Cape Point, and Kruger National Park.

In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the best times to go on safari in South Africa, the top destinations, and some unique experiences you can enjoy during your journey. 

But first, 

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Key Takeaways

  • Experience the best of South Africa’s safaris with two unique seasons: dry season (May – October) and wet season (November-April)!
  • Explore iconic Kruger National Park, luxurious Sabi Sands Game Reserve & malaria-free Eastern Cape Reserves for an unforgettable experience!
  • Plan your perfect safari tailored to personal preferences, budget considerations & travel goals for a once in a lifetime adventure!

South Africa’s Safari Seasons

South Africa offers two distinct safari seasons: the dry season that runs from May to October and the wet season from November to April. Each season provides unique experiences and wildlife sightings, making your safari adventure a one-of-a-kind experience. Which place are you planning to visit? What is the best time to go there? We’ll delve into the unique highlights each season has to offer.

Dry Season (May – October)

The dry season is considered the prime time for game viewing in South Africa. With limited water sources and thinner vegetation, animals are easier to spot as they congregate near waterholes. The dry season also brings pleasant daytime temperatures, making it comfortable for wildlife enthusiasts to spend hours on game drives. Some of the popular safari destinations during this time include Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, and Eastern Cape Reserves.

If you’re eager to witness the iconic Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo), the dry season is the perfect time to visit Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Game Reserve. So, ready your binoculars and camera for a memorable wildlife experience in the dry season!

Wet Season (November – April)

While the wet season may present some challenges for game viewing, it offers its own set of exciting advantages. The landscapes transform into lush, green havens, providing a picturesque backdrop for your safari adventure. This is also the time when many animals give birth, offering adorable sightings of newborns exploring their new world.

Birdwatching enthusiasts too will be thrilled during the rainy season, as migratory birds arrive in South Africa, flaunting their vibrant breeding plumages. Although game viewing may be more challenging during this time, the wet season holds its own charm and unique experiences for those who choose to embrace it.

Top South African Safari Destinations

best time for safari
South Africa is home to some of the best tourist destinations in the world

Having covered the seasons, we now turn our attention to some of the prime safari destinations in South Africa. Each location, including the stunning Victoria Falls, offers a unique combination of diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, ensuring an unforgettable wildlife viewing experience for every traveler.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is renowned for its incredible Big Five sightings and stunning vast landscapes, ranging from savannahs and woodlands to riverine forests.

But beyond the savannahs and the Big Five, Kruger National Park also houses a rich diversity of other wildlife species, such as giraffes, zebras, and various types of antelopes.

Best Time to Visit

The dry season, from May to October, is the best time to visit Kruger National Park, as animals are easier to spot around water sources, and the risk of malaria is lower.


Sabi Sands Game Reserve

Sabi Sands Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park, is known for its luxurious lodges and exceptional leopard sightings. This exclusive private game reserve offers year-round game viewing opportunities, making it a top choice for safari-goers who seek a more intimate and upscale experience.

The reserve is home to a vast array of wildlife, including:

  • The Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo)
  • Wild dogs
  • Hyenas
  • Hippos

It also plays host to a stunning variety of landscapes, ranging from dry river beds to low veld woodlands, watering holes,and the Sand Rivers.

Eastern Cape Reserves

Eastern Cape Reserves, such as Addo Elephant National Park and Shamwari Private Game Reserve, offer malaria-free safaris, making them an attractive option for families and health-conscious travelers. These reserves boast a variety of wildlife, including the Big Five, as well as unique species like whales and the great white sharks.

Best Time to Visit the Eastern Cape Reserves

The dry season (june to october) is the best time to visit Eastern Cape Reserves, as game viewing is optimal, and the weather is more predictable. Whether you’re hoping to spot the majestic African elephant or capture the beauty of the coastal landscapes, the Eastern Cape Reserves provide a rich and diverse safari experience.

Unique South African Safari Experiences

In addition to the traditional safari game drives, South Africa offers a plethora of unique experiences that cater to various interests. From whale watching along the Southern Cape coast to witnessing the breathtaking wildflower blooms in the Western Cape, there’s something for every nature lover in Southern Africa.

In this part, we’ll examine these unique experiences and identify the optimal times to partake in them.

Whale Watching

best time of year to go on an african safari
whale watching is optimal between June and November

Whale watching is a truly awe-inspiring experience that can be enjoyed along the Southern Cape coast of South Africa. The best time for whale watching is between June and November, where you can witness these gentle giants breaching and playing in the ocean.

Some of the best locations for whale watching include Hermanus, Gansbaai, and the West Coast National Park.

Wildflower Blooms

best time for safari
The South African landscape is stunning during the wet season

The Western Cape of South Africa, comes alive with vibrant wildflower blooms during August and September. This colorful spectacle transforms the landscape, creating stunning backdrops for your safari experience. Some of the best locations to witness wildflower blooms include the West Coast National Park, Postberg Flower Reserve, and Ramskop Nature Reserve.

As you explore the breathtaking landscapes adorned with daisies, sporries, sugarbos, and proteas, be sure to capture the beauty of these blooms with your camera.


best time for safari
Bird watching is at it optimal best during the wet season in South Africa

Birdwatching is particularly rewarding during the wet season in South Africa, as this is when migratory birds arrive and display their vibrant breeding plumages. Some of the best locations for birdwatching during this time include:

  • Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park
  • De Hoop Nature Reserve
  • Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park
  • Kariega Game Reserve

From the striking Red-billed Quelea to the fascinating Amur Falcon, South Africa’s birdlife offers endless opportunities for discovery and enjoyment. So, with binoculars in hand, set off on a birdwatching adventure within South Africa’s varied ecosystems.

Tips for Choosing the Right Time for Your South Africa Safari

Having examined the seasons, destinations, and unique experiences, we now present some tips to help you decide on the optimal timing for your South African safari.

When planning your adventure, considering your personal preferences, budget, and travel goals is paramount. Accounting for these factors will help tailor your safari experience to your specific needs and desires.

Personal Preferences

Your personal preferences play a significant role in determining the best time of year for your safari.

  • If your aim is explore the South African landscape, then you should probably visit during the wet season
  • For wildlife enthusiasts looking to discover new wildlife, the dry season is the perfect time to travel

By considering these factors, you can shape your overall safari experience to align with your preferences.

Taking the time to evaluate your preferences will ensure an unforgettable journey tailored to your unique desires.

Budget Considerations

Budget considerations can influence the timing of your safari, as the wet season often offers lower prices and fewer crowds. Accommodation costs can vary significantly depending on the type of safari and lodge you choose, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxurious experiences.

By researching and comparing prices across different seasons and lodges, you can find a safari experience that suits your budget and maximizes your enjoyment.

Travel Goals

Your distinct travel goals will significantly influence the optimal timing for your South African safari experience. For example, if witnessing the Great Migration or whale watching is a top priority for your adventure, you’ll need to plan your trip accordingly.

Aligning your travel aspirations with the ideal visitation times for specific destinations guarantees a memorably satisfying South African safari experience.


In conclusion, choosing the right time for your South African safari is essential for maximizing your enjoyment and creating unforgettable memories. By considering your personal preferences, budget, and travel goals, you can tailor your safari experience to your unique needs and desires.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your dream South African safari adventure today!

Frequently Asked Questions

All your South Africa safari questions answered. 

What month is best for African safari?

June to October is the best time to go on safari, with the dry season offering an ideal time for spotting animals searching for water sources. During these months, you can also take in the magnificent Masai Mara migration.

What is the best month to visit Kruger National Park?

Experience the Kruger National Park in its prime during the dry season from May to October for the best game viewing and walking safari conditions! The low, sparse vegetation makes animals easier to spot and track, and the permanent water sources offer a rewarding safari experience.

What is the best time of day to go on a safari?

The best time of day to go on a safari is early morning and late afternoons, between June and October during the dry season, when temperatures are cooler and animals are more active searching for water sources. Enjoy light snacks and tea or coffee with your group before heading out for the ultimate wildlife experience!

What are the top safari destinations in South Africa?

Experience the wild beauty of South Africa with an exciting safari trip to Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands Game Reserve, or Eastern Cape Reserves!

How do personal preferences, budget, and travel goals affect my safari experience?

Your personal preferences, budget, and travel goals can all help you customize your South African safari for the ultimate experience – making sure it perfectly suits your individual needs and desires.