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- South Africa In December: Explore The Best Of This Safari Paradise In Winter 2023!
23 Mar 2023
South Africa is known for it’s all year natural beauty and is also a very popular tourist spot. There is no particular season pattern you should follow while planning a trip to South Africa as every season has something beautiful to offer. There is always something to see in every season in South Africa. December is a perfect period to visit South Africa if you love the winter and want to go around places without the heat being a problem. So, what are you waiting for? Get packed & Go!
Things to do in South Africa in December, 2022
Here is the list of enticing things you can do when you visit South Africa in December. Keep scrolling down and read along!
1. Visit The National Parks
There are many national parks around this place like west coast national park, Table Mountain national park, Karoo national park, Kruger national park , Addo National Park, and many more. The main attraction of Addo national park is the huge number of elephants that reside in this park. Apart from that the Kruger national park is the largest national park in terms of size and is home to many animals.
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2. A Beautiful Experience In Franschhoek
This narrow valley is nestled between the mountains and is filled with beautiful wine lands. This is the prettiest wine lands region. They carry out a Franschhoek Cap and Champagne festival in December which takes place at Huguenot gardens and it is a huge and very popular affair.
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3. Kayak With Crocodiles
If you feel a little adventurous and want to try something new then this is the sport for you. You can kayak through the river of St. Lucia among the crocodiles. It is a fun experience and tourists should try it out. The river is filled with 1200 crocodiles and 900 hippos that will be lurking around as you kayak.
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4. Wildlife Safari On A Horse
If you feel bored going around sanctuaries without really getting a close look of many animals, then this African safari in December is your answer. In this wildlife safari you get to experience animal watching in a better and closer way. You will love this if you love watching and playing around the animals. Even the animals are quiet friendly and you will have a great time moving around with the animals.
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5. Visit The Cango Caves
These caves are the oldest and the most loved South African tourist attraction and have great cave service. There are two tours and you can choose depending on your preference. First there is a standard tour where you can just walk leisurely around the caves and get a better view at different cave formations around this place. Then there is an adventure tour which takes you through the narrow pathways which have opening that are about 26 centimeters apart.
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6. Diving With White Sharks
For all the adventure junkies this is a great sport. If you are not hydrophobic and love sharks, then you must try this. There is cage diving also which is also very popular. This is really safe and experts take great care that no harm is caused to you. Even if you don’t know diving or even swimming you can try the cage diving.
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7. Garden Route Safari
If you know something about South Africa, then it has to be the diverse natural vegetation that is beautiful and has a great abundance of various animals and birds. Garden route is one part of South Africa which is beautiful and stunning in its own way. There are chances that you might spot the Big 5 animals while going through the garden route safari.
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8. Take A Canopy Tour
There are many adventurous activities that are available in South Africa. The natural beauty has always been the greatest attraction but the various unique sports are also something you can look forward to. Canopy tours are around many places in South Africa. There is a zip lining place in garden route towards the south which is a perfect place for beginners.
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9. Turtle Watching
With the abundance of great beaches that are beautiful and spectacular, the marine life of South Africa is also a great reserve to this country. Turtles are small and beautiful but some species of turtles are getting extinct and South Africa has some beaches where there are groups which work towards saving these species.
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10. Enjoy The Boulder Beach
If you need a day off relaxing on the beach, then this is the perfect place for you. The giant boulders on this beach are the reason why it is called the boulders beach . These boulders are around 540 years old. Another attraction of this beach are the African penguins that reside here, there are about 2000 penguins in this beach. This is a safe and immaculate beach where you can relax and have a great time just watching the penguins.
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So are you excited to explore this land of wildlife safari on your winter vacation? If yes, then plan your African holiday with TravelTriangle and experience an adventurous ride while in this country!
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Please Note: Any information published by TravelTriangle in any form of content is not intended to be a substitute for any kind of medical advice, and one must not take any action before consulting a professional medical expert of their own choice.
Frequently Asked Questions About South Africa In December
Is December a good time to visit South Africa?
South Africa is an all-year round destination and the climate varies from various climate conditions. The region experiences a dry and hot weather in the summer months which lasts from November and February. Thus South Africa weather in December is is perfect to have a good time to experience the summer season in South Africa.
Is Cape Town safe for tourists?
Cape town ranks at 110th out of the list of 162 most dangerous cities around the world, due to its increased crime rates and level of crime in the area. But in the last few years, the city has been made safe for the tourists with increased safety measures and law.
What are best places to visit in South Africa in December?
Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Kruger National Park are some of the best places to visit in South Africa in December.
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Best Time To Visit – South Africa
Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.
Philip lives in South Africa and has authored many Africa guidebooks, including the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.
Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.
Philip is author of the Rough Guide to Game Parks of South Africa.
Kruger & Around
- Lush scenery and great birding
- Lovely warm evenings
- Peak of the Wet season, hot and humid during the day
- Wildlife viewing is not as good as in the Dry season
- It can be crowded, especially during school holidays
- Beautiful scenery
- Excellent birding with migratory species present
- Wildlife viewing is better in the Dry season
- Wet season, hot and humid days, lovely evenings
- Green environment
- Great birding with many migrants present
- Past the peak of the Wet season, rain diminishes
- End of the Wet season, lovely mild weather
- Stunning landscapes after the rains
- Wildlife is still dispersed, more difficult to spot
- Migratory birds leave
- Good wildlife viewing
- Little rain
- Chilly nights and mornings
- Morning game drives in open vehicles can be chilly
- Excellent wildlife viewing
- Dry conditions
- Cold nights and mornings
- Morning game drives in open vehicles are cold
- Very dry conditions
- Wildlife viewing is excellent
- The bush gets drier as the winter progresses
- Excellent wildlife viewing as the bush is dried out
- The end of the Dry season brings lovely mild daytime weather
- Evenings and early mornings are less cold than in mid-winter
- Good wildlife viewing but animals start to spread out
- Beginning of the Wet season, the first rains bring relief
- It starts to heat up
- Great birding
- Wet season, it’s hot and humid
- Wildlife viewing is better in the dry winter months
- Wildlife viewing is less productive than in the Dry season
- It gets hotter and more humid as the Wet season progresses
Cape Town & Around
- Warm and dry weather
- Lovely time on the beach
- Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is always good
- It is high season and it can be crowded
- Lovely warm and dry weather
- Great time for beach activities and general sightseeing
- Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is good all year
- Mild and dry weather
- Excellent weather conditions for general sightseeing
- Few visitors around except during Easter holidays
- It cools down at the end of summer
- Low season with few visitors around
- Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is good throughout the year
- Cold conditions throughout the region
- Regular rainfall in Cape Town
- There are few visitors around
- It is chilly throughout the region
- Cape Town sees plenty of rainfall
- Morning game drives in open vehicles are very cold
- Low-season prices are available
- Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is excellent
- The whole region is relatively cold
- Cape Town sees regular rainfall
- Morning game drives in open vehicles are bitterly cold
- Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is good
- It rains regularly in Cape Town
- Mild weather with occasional rain
- Mild weather with little rain
- Beginning of summer, but nights are still chilly
- Lovely conditions to explore the beaches and other attractions
- Lovely weather
- Excellent time to enjoy the beaches and other attractions
The best time to visit South Africa for a wildlife safari is from May to September. During these winter months, the east of the country (where the main parks are located) experiences its Dry season. Wildlife is easier to spot during the Dry season because vegetation thins, and animals gather around waterholes and rivers. The ‘Kruger & Around’ sections below relate to the parks and reserves in Greater Kruger and in the KwaZulu-Natal Province .
Cape Town’s Dry and Wet seasons are opposite to those in Kruger. Therefore, the best time for visiting Cape Town and surrounds is during the dry summer months of November to March. The ‘Cape Town & Around’ sections below apply to the entire Western Cape and nearby parks .
Pros and Cons - Kruger & Around
May to September – Dry Season – Winter
- Wildlife is easier to spot because there is less vegetation and animals gather around rivers and waterholes
- Little to no rain and most days are sunny
- Few mosquitoes
- Low season and parks are not crowded, except for Kruger during school holidays
- It gets cold at night and in the mornings
October to April – Wet Season – Summer
- After the first rains, the scenery turns green and all looks fresh
- Best time for bird watching, and migratory birds are present
- Rains are mostly short afternoon showers and seldom interfere with your trip
- Wildlife viewing can be quite slow since the bush is thicker and wildlife is more difficult to spot
- It gets very hot in December, January and February, and parks get crowded during the main school holidays in December
Pros and Cons - Cape Town & Around
May to September – Wet Season – Winter
- Although it is the Wet season, there are many sunny days
- Wildlife viewing in the Cape Region parks is good year-round
- It is cold for beach and general holiday activities
- Game drives in open vehicles are bitterly cold
October to April – Dry Season – Summer
- Pleasant warm weather with little rain
- Best time to enjoy Cape Town and the Garden Route
- It is less cold on game drives
- It gets busy in high season
Best Time To Go by Major Park
Most parks offer year-round wildlife viewing, but they are at their best during the Dry season when wildlife is easier to spot. Kgalagadi gets extremely hot during December to February and is best visited in cooler months.
- Hluhluwe-iMfolozi GR Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve Fair "> Jan J Fair "> Feb F Good "> Mar M Good "> Apr A Excellent "> May M Excellent "> Jun J Excellent "> Jul J Excellent "> Aug A Excellent "> Sep S Good "> Oct O Fair "> Nov N Fair "> Dec D
- Kruger National Park Kruger National Park Fair "> Jan J Fair "> Feb F Good "> Mar M Good "> Apr A Excellent "> May M Excellent "> Jun J Excellent "> Jul J Excellent "> Aug A Excellent "> Sep S Good "> Oct O Fair "> Nov N Fair "> Dec D
- MalaMala Game Reserve MalaMala Private Game Reserve Fair "> Jan J Fair "> Feb F Good "> Mar M Good "> Apr A Excellent "> May M Excellent "> Jun J Excellent "> Jul J Excellent "> Aug A Excellent "> Sep S Good "> Oct O Good "> Nov N Fair "> Dec D
- Phinda Game Reserve Phinda Private Game Reserve Fair "> Jan J Fair "> Feb F Good "> Mar M Good "> Apr A Excellent "> May M Excellent "> Jun J Excellent "> Jul J Excellent "> Aug A Excellent "> Sep S Good "> Oct O Good "> Nov N Fair "> Dec D
- Sabi Sand Game Reserve Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve Fair "> Jan J Fair "> Feb F Good "> Mar M Good "> Apr A Excellent "> May M Excellent "> Jun J Excellent "> Jul J Excellent "> Aug A Excellent "> Sep S Good "> Oct O Good "> Nov N Fair "> Dec D
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20 best places to visit in South Africa this December holiday
South Africa is dynamic for its wide array of holiday vacations for both local and international visitors. The best places to visit in South Africa are a beauty to behold. The country has a welcoming climate, which is not easy to find, making it a dream destination for many. If you have been looking for such, then this article is a must read!
South Africa is home to a variety of flora and fauna. The best places to visit in South Africa have both making it even more exciting for any traveler. Both local and foreign visitors have a range of options to choose from. These may include nature trails, sightseeing, marine diving, safari trips, and walks.
Places to visit and see in South Africa
From the sandy beaches of the east coast to the historic town of Cape Town on the west coast, South Africa is a hotspot of tourist destinations. The country is bestowed with amazing natural beauty which is attractive to anyone.
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It is said you can see the entire planet here owing to its different climates and weather. Places to visit include Johannesburg, which hosts the largest slum in Africa, Soweto.
- A hike in the Cape Peninsula
You can never run out of vacation places in South Africa. The country's landscape is a sight to behold. Some travel places in South Africa include Cape Town, a dynamic city in the country, the Cape Peninsula, where the Cape of Good Hope is located.
- A tour to the apartheid museum
History lovers will find this place amusing as it takes them through the rich country's history and independence from the White colonial rule.
- A hike in the Kruger national park
This is home to South Africa's big five animals. It is perfect for sightseeing, especially for children. What a wonderful way to have your little ones spend their holiday!
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- A drive in the city of Pretoria
It is another administrative City in South Africa. It is famous for tree-lined streets given its nickname' Jacaranda City'. Pretoria has incredible attractions that are worth seeing.
Best holiday destinations in South Africa
South Africa is home to Durban which is the second-largest city in South Africa.
Places to visit in Durban
If you love a walk on the beach, Durban offers one of the best experiences like the Golden Mile.
- A walk on the Golden Mile
One enjoys clean white sand beaches as well as the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which hosts international sports and music concerts for music lovers.
- A visit to U-Shaka theme park
The children get wild in Durban's theme park. Here you can go shopping and eat out in amazing hotels. Children will enjoy the water slides, see the animals, enjoy kid's playgrounds, and visit museums.
- A visit through U-Shaka marine world
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You can find U-Shaka wet and wild, U-Shaka sea animals encounter islands, U-Shaka beaches, and U-Shaka village. This is the perfect combination of fun activities to do on the sea coast.
- A drive through Sani Pass
It is perfect for road trip enthusiasts. Sani Pass is a mountain pass located west of Kwa Zulu Natal in Durban.
Best places to see in South Africa
- A holiday in Cape Town
Cape Town is a must go destination for travel enthusiasts. The city is mixed with both European and African way of life. Here you learn the South African way of life, its origins and enjoy some of their most treasured traditions.
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- Sightseeing in Hermanus
This is home to the Southern Right Whale. The sea animals visit it between June and December every year. Seeing these magnificent sea animals is a delight for many tourists.
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- A tour to the Robben Island prison
This place is for lovers of history. It was a prison for politicians like Nelson Mandela. It is 6.9 kilometers away from the West Coast of Cape Town. Here, the struggle towards freedom becomes personal as prisoners were sentenced to life in prison for basically fighting for freedom.
- A visit to South Africa's constitution hill
This place tells the story of South Africa's walk to democracy. The constitution hill is a testament to South Africa's walk to freedom.
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For the best holiday trip, South Africa should be your stop-over destination.
Places to visit in Johannesburg
- A drive to Johannesburg
Johannesburg should be on every visitor’s bucket list. The fight for freedom began here in the Soweto townships. The town has a story to tell and this is why, you should visit the city.
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- A visit to the Gold Reef City
The city has a historical past where people sought for gold, known as the gold rush. Also, it is a home to one of Africa's richest mines, which are not in use.
- A visit to the Soweto townships
This is the birthplace of the freedom struggle in South Africa. It was the settlement of black people who worked in the city. The famous Soweto Uprisings started here in a bid to overthrow the Apartheid government.
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Best places to visit in South Africa
South Africa's eco-system is a paradise for tourists.
Places to visit in Cape Town
- Tasting wine in Stellenbosch and the Winelands
This is home to South Africa's nascent wine industry. Visitors come here to enjoy the diverse wines.
- An adventure in the Cape of Good Hope
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This is a perfect destination for hiking lovers.
- Visit to the Table Mountain National Park
One of the most visited mountain regions that boasts of a chain of Table Mountains. It is a world heritage site. Visitors can see the mountains from the cable cars, which makes it a thrilling experience.
- A visit to the Cape Town stadium
This was the first stadium to be built for the 2010 World Cup. It is the common playing ground for the local football and rugby clubs in South Africa.
Travelers have a variety of best places to visit in South Africa. These are dream places for many tourists. Travelers around the world love its subtropical and summer weather due to its close proximity to the sea.
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Source: Briefly News
The best times to visit South Africa
Sep 9, 2023 • 5 min read
You'll find something exciting to do in South Africa at any time of year © pixdeluxe / Getty Images
From dynamic Cape Town and cosmopolitan Johannesburg to wildlife-filled expanses of wilderness such as the Kalahari and the Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa is rich with adventures. The best time to visit will depend on where you want to go and what you want to do when you get there.
In general, the climate in South Africa is warmer in the north and cooler in the south. You'll also find different weather on the coasts compared to the elevated plateau that makes up most of the country, where it tends to be drier. Usually, the Indian Ocean coast feels more tropical, while the weather on the Atlantic coast is milder, though cold fogs and hot desert winds can still roll in.
Cape Town and the Western Cape are unique, weather-wise, in having their rainy season in the winter (June to August). In the rest of the country, the rains arrive during the southern hemisphere summer (November through March), but the deluges rarely last for long (and there's the chance of a photogenic thunderstorm).
For many visitors, the weather is less of a factor than South Africa's vibrant festivals and the annual migrations and breeding seasons for the country's diverse wildlife populations. Whatever draws you to South Africa, here's a guide to the best times to come.
November to March is peak festival season, with peak prices
November to March is summertime in South Africa, with daytime highs reaching 32°C (90°F), often with quite a lot of humidity. If you’re looking to visit during the peak season, you’ll need to plan ahead. Accommodations in coastal areas and national parks can be booked out months in advance, and popular vacation spots see accommodation prices rise by 50% or more.
That said, if you have the budget to travel in the high season, you can enjoy a host of festivals and events. AFROPUNK , a massive international multi-day music festival that draws artists from all over the world, kicks off in December. Held annually on January 2, the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival (known locally as Kaapse Klopse) is a high-spirited street parade dating from the mid-1800s with important links to overcoming apartheid and South Africa's long history of enslavement.
Cape Town’s Pride Festival is held in late February or early March, followed by the Cape Town Cycle Tour , which brings in cycling enthusiasts from all over the globe. March also sees the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees , one of South Africa’s largest arts festivals, held at Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape.
The Lowveld – made up of open grassland and woodland areas between 150m and 610m above sea level – is steamy and warm, and the landscapes are lush and green; the Highveld, at a higher altitude, is slightly cooler. This time of year is especially good for walking and beach bumming in the Western Cape.
April, May, September and October mean lower prices and great wildlife watching
South Africa's shoulder seasons see smaller crowds and several important festivals — including April’s Splashy Fen Music Festival in Durban. The big lure in the fall (April–May) is wildlife watching, as the tail end of the dry summer weather brings wildlife out into the open. The rutting season for impala — one of South Africa’s most abundant antelopes — begins in April, with displays of dominance (like the clashing of horns) increasing as the days get shorter.
The spring months of September and October bring the best chances of cetacean encounters, including in whale-watching centers such as Hermanus . Wildflower season peaks in late August in the north and early September in the south, but blooms can appear from July depending on the rains, and the spectacle continues into October if it’s not too hot.
June to August is the best time for budget travelers
The South African winter from June to August brings lower prices (except for safaris) and smaller crowds. This is the rainy season in Cape Town and the Western Cape, but there’s still plenty of sunshine around. Look out for pocket-friendly winter deals at Cape Town restaurants.
Elsewhere in the country, winters are much drier, and conditions are ideal for a safari. Be prepared, though, for chilly nights and cold early morning game drives. Top winter festivals include the National Arts Festival (June) in the Eastern Cape and Knysna’s 10-day Oyster Festival in June or July.
South Africa's game reserves are best in the winter months
Rain can be an obstacle to your travels if you plan to go on safari. Northern game reserves such as Kruger National Park are driest from May to September, during the South African winter. While you might not have the lush backgrounds to your photos that you would in the spring and summer, wildlife is often easier to spot because the vegetation dies back and animals congregate around water holes.
The chilly winter nights also mean fewer mosquitoes, but you'll need to bring layers to keep warm during dawn game drives. For safaris in the Western Cape, the South African summer months are drier, but this coincides with the busy Christmas period and South Africa’s summer school holidays.
Peak whale-watching is in September and October
Though whales and dolphins can be seen year-round off South Africa’s southern and eastern coasts, September and October are the peak cetacean-spotting months. Between June and November, southern right whales and humpbacks migrate to and from Antarctica to breed and have their babies in the warmer waters off Mozambique and Madagascar. May to June also sees a massive run of sardines that attracts whales, dolphins, sharks and sea birds ( Durban is an excellent base to watch the spectacle).
While you’ll see more from a whale-watching boat, whales often come close enough to the shore to be spotted from land. This is particularly so near the town of Hermanus , celebrated by the World Wildlife Fund as one of the world's top whale-watching destinations, where whales can be seen as early as April. Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth or PE) on the Eastern Cape is known as the world bottlenose dolphin capital, and pods are frequently seen between January and June.
This article was first published March 2021 and updated September 2023
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When is the best time to visit South Africa?
- The Cape Peninsula
There isn’t one best time to visit South Africa. It’s a year-round destination due to its varying regional climates and wildlife opportunities.
For wildlife spotting, head to the northern regions. While it can be rainy from November to February, this is also the best time to go birding. Alternatively, you might prefer to visit in winter (May to September), when the cooler conditions are ideal for viewing big game.
You could also head south to experience whale watching on the Cape between July and November. If you’d rather enjoy warmer temperatures, head to the Cape between November and February (their summer) when it’s hot and dry, with temperatures of 73°F to 79°F.
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Month-by-month guide for traveling in South Africa
Visiting South Africa in January
January sees hot and dry weather in the Cape, making it an excellent time of year for trips to Cape Town and the Garden Route. The Kruger and KwaZulu-Natal also have high temperatures, but sunny periods are interspersed with tropical rainstorms.
Events & Festivals
- The Battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal (January): The battlefields are popular in January as it's the anniversaries of the Battle of Isandlwana and the Battle of Rorke's Drift. See our excursion to The Battlefields
Visiting South Africa in February
February is one of the hottest months in the Cape, although coastal towns are cooled by pleasant sea breezes. It is a very popular month and hotels get booked up well in advance.
Visiting South Africa in March
March is a popular time to visit South Africa; particularly if the Easter break falls within this month. The weather is warm, and although there may still be some rainfall in the north, it is easing off. On safari in Kruger the bush will be thick and rivers full as this is the end of the rainy season.
Visiting South Africa in April
April is also busy, but gets quieter toward the end of the month. The weather is warm and dry throughout the country, making it a prime time to combine regions.
Visiting South Africa in May
By the time May comes around the peak summer crowds have died down, but it is still a lovely time of year to visit the country if you are not seeking particularly hot weather. The weather is warm and dry across the regions, although with chilly evenings, and safari is often superb.
Visiting South Africa in June
Midwinter in the Cape sees cooler temperatures and roaring fires in the Winelands , and although it's never really cold during the days, the tops of the mountains do occasionally see a dusting of snow. When the sun comes out, the weather is usually beautifully mild.
Visiting South Africa in July
July is the start of the whale watching season along the coast of the Western Cape; southern right whales can be best viewed from Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay as they come close to the shores to give birth. The weather can be cool and drizzly in the Cape. Warmer and drier temperatures are in the north and east of the country and this is a superb time for game viewing as animals congregate around water holes.
- Whale watching season (July to November): This is the best time to see southern right whales off the coast after their migration from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa, where they will have their young.
Visiting South Africa in August
August is the start of spring and flowers start to bloom across the Western and Northern Cape. Namaqualand in the Northern Cape becomes carpeted in colorful flowers and people travel from near and far to see them. The Cape is chilly at this time and early August sees the cable car for Table Mountain closed for annual maintenance. KwaZulu-Natal is the best region to visit in August, offering warm temperatures and plenty to see and do.
- Wild flowers on the West Coast (August to October): During spring, the dry and dusty landscape is transformed as a carpet of colorful wild flowers spreads across South Africa's west coast, creating stunning scenery. This is an ideal time to visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Visiting South Africa in September
In September the beautiful wildflowers on the West Coast are often in full bloom and temperatures start to rise throughout the country; although early mornings and evenings are chilly. This is a good time to combine regions throughout the country. The animals are out in full force, with many giving birth this month in the bush and whales often spotted along the coast.
Visiting South Africa in October
October is a beautiful month — temperatures start to heat up throughout the country but the rains are yet to come in the north. Flowers can still be found in bloom until the end of spring. This is one of the best months to combine regions.
Visiting South Africa in November
It heats up across the country and the rains start in the Kruger and KwaZulu-Natal. Late afternoon thunderstorms clear the air and can be spectacular. The Cape sees the last month of the whale season and this is a great time to visit inland areas such as the Karoo before the temperatures soar.
Visiting South Africa in December
The festive season is extremely busy in South Africa and gets filled up quickly. Restaurants and excursions need to be booked well in advance. The Cape is dry and hot and the north and KwaZulu-Natal can experience some rain. Early December is great for travel as it is still quiet before the rush of school vacations.
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South Africa in December: Weather, Tips & Beach Fun
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If you are looking to fly south for winter and soak up some sun, you might be interested in traveling to South Africa in December. With spring having just left the land bursting with greenery, this is a great time to take in the sights and sounds of local flora and fauna. South Africa’s weather in December is a combination of hot and often dry days and cooler, balmier evenings.
- Michael Hinz
South Africa Weather in December
It is summertime in South Africa in December, which means bright days and lots of sunshine. The mercury can rise as high as 25°C in certain parts of the country, whereas in the coastal regions of Cape Town, temperatures can hover anywhere between 14 to 26°C, thanks to refreshing ocean breezes. However, keep in mind that December is also one of the wettest months of the year, although the average rainfall is around 20mm spread out over the month.
If you are planning sightseeing tours in the country, it is best to stick to coastal regions that have lower temperatures. Despite higher temperatures, national parks like Kruger offer impressive safari experiences primarily because the lushness of spring is yet to fade. If you are heading to Johannesburg , make sure to carry an umbrella with you to avoid short downpours that occur during the afternoon.
Check out our seasonal overviews on our tour guide for the best time to visit South Africa .
Weather in South Africa in December - Rainfall and Temperatures
Why visit south africa in december.
From seasonal events to animal adventures and more, there is a lot to love about South Africa. Below we have listed a few reasons why you should book your flights to the country for this time of year.
- Christmas on the beach: Celebrating Christmas on a gorgeously sunny beach is a great reason to travel to South Africa in December, especially if you are from the Northern Hemisphere.
- Fewer crowds: If your trip to South Africa falls in the first week of December, you will experience fewer crowds, especially in popular destinations across the country, as the peak tourist season tends to kick in from mid-December.
- Lush vegetation: The remnants of spring are still present in December, primarily in South Africa’s countryside and nature reserves. Make sure that you enjoy them before they are scorched by the summer sun.
- Turtle-tracking season: December is the perfect time to see loggerhead and leatherback turtles nesting on the shores. And some of the best turtle-viewing in the world can be done on the country’s far northeastern coast. Book a nighttime tour if you wish to avoid the heat.
- Durban Jazz Festival: Looking for some festivities by the beach on Boxing Day? Then the Durban Jazz Festival is right up your street. Enjoy post-Christmas celebrations in a unique, laid-back atmosphere during this event.
- Hit the beach: Thanks to gorgeous weather conditions in South Africa, you will get ample opportunities to kick back on the beach during your trip in December. Chill on golden sands, paddle in the water or grab a board and hit the waves.
Where to go and what to do
If you’re visiting South Africa in December there are a lot of great things to do and see including getting the adrenaline pumping with the world’s highest bungee jump. Located along the popular Garden Route , the bungee jump and accompanying swing are nestled in a canyon with lush vegetation on both sides, making December the perfect time of year to take it all in.
Adrenaline not for you? Take some respite from the South African summer heat and indulge in a wine tasting. South African wines, especially those from Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine regions, have long been celebrated.
All that wine tasting leaving you hungry? Check out the Soweto Food Festival in mid-December and enjoy the blend of flavors, cuisines and experiences on offer. While you’re in the area, go on a scenic, multi-day drive through the beautiful Garden Route.
Looking for gorgeous views? Why not check out the world-renowned Table Mountain National Park and take in the breathtaking vistas of Cape Town.
What to bring
Although summer in South Africa conjures images of constant sunshine, you need to make sure that you carry a couple of items while heading for the country. High humidity and impromptu rainstorms mean that you are going to want clothes that dry quickly and are lightweight. Sunscreen is a must to protect your skin from the intense sun. Carry an insect repellant just in case a bug might come nipping while you are in the bush or on the Garden Route.
Flying to South Africa in December should be on your bucket list if you want to enjoy a vacation in the sun. Looking for a South Africa itinerary that has everything you want? Why not contact our local travel experts here? They can prepare a customized itinerary for you based on your requirements.
For more inspiration, check out our South Africa tours in December .
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Visiting South Africa in December
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What can you expect when visiting South Africa in December?
December to mid-January is South Africa’s busiest period, with local holiday-makers packing the beaches, and the campsites and game parks full. In many ways, it’s a bad time to visit – prices are higher, traffic is worse, and the best accommodation is harder to find.
That said, it’s a shame not to experience South Africa at its most summery and relaxed. The crowds flock to the coast for good reason. The weather in the Cape and Garden Route, is hot and clear, the evenings are long, and there’s a general holiday mood wherever you go. Durban and surrounds can be very humid and hot, but that hardly matters if you spend the whole day in the sea or swimming pool. The busy national parks are perhaps best avoided, especially as high season rates return for a month from mid-December. The whole of the interior, from Kruger National Park to the West Coast is particularly hot and anyone not at the coast usually heads for whatever river, pool or dam they can find.
The week between Christmas and New Years’ Eve is taken as holiday by most South Africans. Christmas itself can be very quiet on the streets, with locals spending time at home with family. The 26th is traditionally a beach day on the coast and by the end of the week the party is back in full swing. Johannesburg is probably at its quietest during this period, with many residents away on holiday and those that remaining enjoying the lighter traffic and afternoon thunderstorms.
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South Africa Weather and Events in December
Nestled within the vast Southern Hemisphere, South Africa beckons travelers with its enchanting landscapes and a rich tapestry of cultures. Distinguished by its diverse climate, the country boasts a myriad of weather conditions that shift throughout the year. Delving into the intricacies of these weather patterns not only aids in planning the perfect vacation but also allows you to make the most of your South African adventure.
What’s the weather like in South Africa in December?
As the year nears its conclusion, December marks the commencement of summer once more in South Africa. The nation joyously welcomes the festive season, as travelers from around the world embark on an enchanting journey to discover the country’s stunning beaches, captivating game reserves, and vibrant cities. Warm temperatures beckon everyone to embrace the spirit of celebration, creating lasting memories amidst the splendor of South Africa’s natural wonders. To make the most of this festive period, planning ahead is crucial, as popular attractions may witness an influx of visitors.
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In Cape Town temperatures hit a max of 26.7°C (80°F) while in Johannesburg they reach 26.1°C (79°F), and in Kruger National Park they reach 32°C (78.8°F). You’ll also find rain during this time, with an average of 11mm in Cape Town, 105mm in Johannesburg and 95mm in Kruger National Park.
Are there any events in South Africa in December?
The Mother City Queer Project in Cape Town is a masked costume ball celebrated in mid-December. It features around 10 dance zones and costumed teams celebrating the vibrant and creative gay culture of Cape Town, making it the best party of the year.
The Appletiser Summer Sunset Concerts in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town, mark the start of the new season. Arrive early (by 4:30 pm) with a picnic to secure a prime spot on the lawn before the concert starts at 5:30 pm. The program runs until March.
The Vortex New Year’s Eve Rave Party near Grabouw, in the Cape Town surrounds, is an almost weeklong nonstop camp-out party. Cape Town’s hippest hippies gather to pay homage to the beat from dusk to dawn, making it an unforgettable New Year’s celebration.
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- When is the best time to visit South Africa?
The best time to travel to South Africa depends on which parts of the country you want to visit and your interests. The Cape has warm, dry weather in its summer months (November to February), for instance, but the prime whale-watching season is September and October. If you’re trying to decide when to go on safari in South Africa, the game-viewing conditions are excellent in the cooler winter months (May to September).
Weather in South Africa
Best month to visit south africa, when is the best time of year to go on safari in south africa, festivals in the south africa.
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Here is our month-by-month guide to visiting South Africa. We look at detailed weather patterns and suggest how these might affect any sightseeing plans, getting around, outdoor activities, and festivals taking place throughout the year. All this will help you to work out when is the best time to visit South Africa.
South Africa is on the whole a dry, sunny country. When it does get cold you feel it, since everything is geared to fine weather. Midwinter in the southern hemisphere is in June and July, when temperatures can drop below zero in some places. Be prepared for average minimums of 4°C in Johannesburg, 7°C in Cape Town and 11°C in Durban. At the other end of the spectrum, midsummer is during December and January, when the country shuts down for its annual holiday and popular coastal and inland resorts quickly fill up.
When considering when to go to South Africa, you need to take into account the country’s distinct climatic zones. In Cape Town and the Garden Route coastal belt, summers tend to be warm, mild and unpredictable. However, rain can fall at any time of the year and winter days can be cold and wet. Subtropical KwaZulu-Natal has warm, sunny winters and tepid seas. In common with the Lesotho highlands, the province’s Drakensberg range has misty days in summer and mountain snow in winter.
Johannesburg and Pretoria lie on the highveld plateau and have a near-perfect climate. You can expect hot summer days frequently broken by dramatic thunder showers, and dry winters with chilly nights. East of Johannesburg, the lowveld, which includes Kruger and much of Swaziland, is subject to similar summer and winter rainfall as the highveld. However, its considerably lower altitude results in far greater extremes of temperature.
What is the rainy season in South Africa?
The rainy season in South Africa varies depending on location. While rain can fall any time of the year across the Cape, showers typically hit Cape Town and the Western Cape from June to August. On the other hand, the northern regions tend to be rainy from November to February and dry from May to October – the best time of year to visit South Africa for safari.
The best month to visit South Africa depends on whether you’re heading west or the east. The west is wonderful in the summer months (November to April), while the eastern flank of the country is better suited to the cooler months (May to October).
The best time of year to visit South Africa is also influenced by your interests. The Garden Route is warm and dry from November to February, for instance, but prime whale-watching season is September and October.
November to February is when to go to South Africa for birdwatching in the north of the country, if you don’t mind occasional rain showers. Safari-goers are best travelling to South Africa in the cooler winter months (May to September), when game-viewing conditions are superb.
All things considered, September is the best month to travel to South Africa to experience a combination of all the country has to offer. It is still warm in much of the country, plus you have the highest chance of seeing breaching whales and wildlife with their young.
Visiting South Africa in winter
South Africa’s midsummer is December and January, when resorts in popular tourist destinations are often booked up months in advance. Reserve a room at least a few months before your travel dates, possibly more if you’re heading to Cape Town and the Garden Route.
Weather in South Africa in December — February
The hot, dry days make midsummer the best time to visit South Africa’s coast or national parks, but the downside is inflated prices and jam-packed accommodation. Be sure to book accommodation, tours and excursions early for December or January, especially if you’re staying over Christmas and the New Year.
With the exception of the festive holidays, December and January is a good time to explore Cape Town and the Garden Route, when the weather is warm and dry. The mercury rises in February along the Cape, though an ocean breeze cools the coast. It is also hot in Kruger and KwaZulu Natal, but sunny spells are often broken by tropical storms.
Visiting South Africa in spring
The Easter school holiday is an extremely busy period for tourism in South Africa, making it extremely hard to find any available rooms, and you can forget about bargains.
Weather in South Africa in March — May
March to May is usually warm and sunny in South Africa, and while you may have occasional showers in the Northern Cape , these tail off as the rainy season draws to a close.
March, at the end of the rainy season, can be a rewarding time to go on safari in Kruger as the bushveld will be lush and the rivers full. April is drier the length and breadth of the country, so you could perhaps combine a city break in Cape Town with wildlife adventures in the north. Chilly evenings creep in from May, though days remain warm and dry, and the summer hordes have usually dissipated.
Visiting South Africa in summer
June to August is the best time of year to visit South Africa for wildlife-watching. July is the start of the whale-spotting season, though the weather can be a dampener on your holiday – drizzly and cool.
It is warmer and drier to the north and east, and it is a good time to visit Kruger or Addo Elephant national parks to see herds gather around watering holes.
When August arrives in spring, wildflowers begin to blossom across the Western and Northern Capes, painting the dry, dusty landscape in bold colours.
August is also the beginning of the sports season, with the opportunity to potentially watch South Africa play an international football, cricket or rugby game on their home ground.
Weather in South Africa in June — August
Come June, the weather is becoming cooler in Cape Town and the Western Cape; however, the chill is mainly noticeable at night. When the sun is out, it is pleasant, though you may experience light misty rain.
Visiting South Africa in fall
September and October are the best months to visit South Africa for whale-watching, when the majestic mammals migrate from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa; the best spots are Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay.
The wildflowers are in full bloom by September; visit Namaqualand to see its vast arid expanses carpeted with bright flowers.
Cricket fans may like to try to catch South Africa compete in an international test or one-day series between October and March.
Weather in South Africa in September — November
September and October are on the whole sunny, with temperatures rising as the year goes on. November sees the start of the rain in the Kruger and KwaZulu Natal, often followed by spectacular afternoon thunderstorms. This is when to visit South Africa’s arid areas such as the Karoo, before the heat becomes unbearable.
The best time to visit South Africa to go on safari is the dry season, from May to October. The grass is low, visibility is better and the dry conditions mean you'll find more wildlife congregating around the watering holes. The temperatures are also much cooler than the sticky, hot summer. That said, the summer months (November to April) are often cheaper, the lush vegetation is spectacular, and baby animals can make an appearance.
It can be rewarding to choose when to go to South Africa so that your visit falls on the date of one of its lively festivals. South Africa has no shortage of cool events, from annual music festivals to concert series in city parks. Although Johannesburg and Cape Town tend to monopolise the event programme, the country’s biggest cultural event – the National Arts Festival – takes place in the far-flung towns of Grahamstown.
Here are some festivals and events to consider when deciding when to visit South Africa:
- Cape Town Pride Pageant (Late Feb)
Series of LGBTQ-themed events over a week, kicking off with a pageant at which Mr and Miss Cape Town are crowned, and taking in a bunch of parties and a street parade.
- Dance Umbrella, Johannesburg (Early March)
The country’s leading contemporary dance festival showcases a variety of local dance forms.
- Cape Town Carnival (Mid-March)
A Rio-style street extravaganza centred on Green Point’s Fan Walk, with floats, parades and general euphoria intended to celebrate Cape Town’s cultural diversity and richness.
- Cape Town International Jazz Festival (Late March)
Africa’s largest jazz festival attracts big stars like Courtney Pine, Herbie Hancock, and African greats such as Jimmy Dludlu, Moses Molelekwa, Youssou N’Dour, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.
- Afrika Splashy Fen Music Festival Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal (Mid-April)
South Africa’s oldest music festival draws thousands of punters to a beautiful farm in the Drakensberg foothills, with a spread of mainstream and alternative rock and pop, trail running and glamping.
- Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival Knysna, Garden Route (Late April)
Gay pride celebration of parties, contests, cabaret, drag shows and performance over a long weekend in South Africa’s oyster capital.
- Franschhoek Literary Festival Franschhoek, Western Cape (Mid-May)
Three-day celebration of books, writers and wine in the Winelands food capital, featuring leading local and international writers, editors and cartoonists.
- National Arts Festival Grahamstown, Eastern Cape (Early July)
Africa’s largest arts jamboree, with its own fringe festival – ten days of jazz, classical music, dance, cabaret and theatre spanning every conceivable type of performance.
- Knysna Oyster Festival Knysna, Western Cape (Early July)
Ten days of carousing and oyster eating on the Garden Route, kicked off by the Knysna Cycle Tour and closed by the Knysna Forest Marathon.
- Jive Cape Town Funny Festival, Cape Town (Early August)
Month-long comedy festival at the Baxter Theatre, beginning in mid-July and attracting both local and international names.
- Arts Alive Johannesburg (September)
September is the best month to visit South Africa for culture, when Joburg’s largest arts event features a month of dance, theatre, poetry and music at venues in Newtown.
- Hermanus Whale Festival Hermanus, Western Cape (Late September)
To coincide with peak whale-watching season, the town of Hermanus stages a weekend festival of arts and the environment.
- Joy of Jazz Johannesburg (Late September)
Joburg’s flagship jazz festival offers three days of varied music, including big names such as Abdullah Ibrahim and Salif Keita.
- Franschhoek Cap Classique and Champagne Festival Franschhoek, Western Cape (Early December)
Popular two-day bacchanalia of bubbly sampling – a vast selection of local and French sparkling wine is on hand – and gourmandizing in the Cape Winelands.
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- South Africa in December
Africa's best authentic tailor-made safaris
Johannesburg and the highveld is hot by day, cool at night and receives regular rainfall often in the form of afternoon thunderstorms.
Johannesburg and the Highveld are hot by day, cool at night, and receive regular rainfall, often in the form of afternoon thunderstorms.
Cape Town and the Western Cape are hot by day, cooler at night, and dry.
The Kruger Park and its surroundings are hot by day, warm at night, and dry.
- December is an ideal time for beach holidays anywhere along the South African coast, though Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal coast to its north can be swelteringly hot.
- Game viewing in the Kruger Park and other reserves can be relatively challenging as animals are dispersed away from water sources, and thick vegetation tends to reduce visibility. This is arguably compensated for by the lush green condition of the bush and clearer skies (better for photographic safaris ). Many resident species come into breeding plumage during December, and this transitional month also heralds the arrival of large numbers of intra-African and Palaearctic migrants.
- December is the peak nesting season for loggerhead and leatherback turtles along the beaches of iSimangaliso, and turtle-tracking tours can be undertaken in the evening.
- Accommodation along the coast and other popular tourist areas tends to be full during the school holidays starting in early December.
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Our Top Destinations For African Travel in December
December means warm summer weather in the Southern Hemisphere, which also coincides with some of the best safari, beach and holiday times. Africa is home to some incredible places to visit and as most of Africa’s top destinations book out over a year in advance, such is the huge demand and limited availability of African travel, booking well in advance is always a good idea. So if your travel bug is itching – here are our top 5 destinations for African travel in December.
1. Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park – South Africa
The pinnacle of South Africa’s safari offering, this private reserve shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park and offers the best wildlife experience in Southern Africa. The Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve is famed for its intimate leopard sightings, if these elusive spotted creatures are on your sightings list, there is nowhere else better on earth to witness them in all their glory.
Our favourite property: Londolozi
The Sabi Sand has an embarrassment of award-winning lodges, and you would be hard-pressed to find better anywhere. Among our personal favourites is Londolozi.
Londolozi’s name comes from the Zulu meaning “protector of all living things”. This reserve truly embraces its namesake’s philosophy as one of South Africa’s pioneers in long-term nature conservation. Home to the Big 5 and renowned as a predator’s paradise, Londolozi allows guests to observe wildlife on bush walks and twice-daily game drives. The different camps and lodges cater for a variety of guests from honeymooners to families. Greet the day with a yoga class in the bush or wade in swimming pools overlooking the landscape beyond. Dine al fresco while the canopy of stars in the night sky twinkles overhead.
2. Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Gorilla Trekking is a once in a lifetime opportunity and Volcanoes National Park is the “birthplace” of gorilla trekking. Rwanda is home to over half of the world’s mountain gorillas and possibly the best place to view these animals. Planning a trip to Rwanda would normally have to be done between eight & twelve months in advance – due to the high demand and the low volume of trekking permits that are issued. Take advantage of this unique opportunity and book your gorilla trekking now!
Our Favourite property: One&Only Gorilla’s Nest
One&Only Gorilla’s Nest provides enriching experiences and enchanting escapes; immersed in raw, Rwandan beauty that awakes a wild spirit of adventure. An intimate collection of free-standing forest lodges and spacious suites sit suspended over sprawling, fragrant gardens – enticing sleepy explorers. Attractive amenities range from inviting fireplaces, viewing decks, al fresco showers and standalone baths; to secluded gardens, large lounges, private catering kitchens, personal chefs and even a butler! Breathe easy as you enjoy a seamless connection with the natural world from your own secluded sanctuary. Amongst the swaying eucalyptus trees, framed by atmospheric volcanic vistas – you will find that the One&Only Gorilla’s Nest is more than just a place to sleep.
3. Cape Town, South Africa
Among the very best places for African travel in December is Cape Town. This magical destination is the playground of leisure-lovers, adventurer seekers and jetsetters alike. Famous for its flat-topped mountains, white sandy beaches, bountiful vineyards, waddling penguins and bustling waterfront, it’s not hard to see why the Mother City is consistently ranked among the world’s best cities. There is so much to see and do in Cape Town that every stay leaves visitors longing to return.
Our favourite property: Camissa House
The options are endless, but our favourite is undoubtedly Camissa House . Winner of South Africa’s Leading Design Hotel in the 2021 World Travel Awards, it boasts possibly the most captivating views of Table Mountain, the Atlantic Ocean and the city of Cape Town.
A truly extraordinary luxury boutique hotel, Camissa House celebrates the true essence of Cape Town, the unique floral diversity and natural beauty it holds. Nothing has been overlooked in designing this modern masterpiece. Camissa House has eight rooms with a maximum of 16 guests, so you can be assured an intimate, secluded affair. Guests have a dedicated butler, tour desk, pool, roof-top bar and opulent high tea – you could be forgiven for not wanting to leave the hotel at all. The true spectacle, however, is found in Cape Town’s lauded diversions; majestic Table Mountain at your doorstep, the idyllic beaches, award-winning restaurants and scenic Winelands Region.
4. Zanzibar, Tanzania
The superb beaches and warm, tranquil waters of Zanzibar await you. With a range of luxury seaside resorts to choose from, it creates the ultimate island getaway. Made up of a chain of islands off the coast of Tanzania this is a tropical paradise. Centuries ago, the island was an important area for the spice trade, before falling under the rule of Arab sultans who reigned over the islands for several years, integrating with the local Swahili. This mix of cultures creates a fascinating essence that you can feel in the cuisine, architecture and local customs.
Stone Town, littered with Indo-Arabian architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When not languidly lounging on the island’s impeccable beachfront, visitors can wander the narrow labyrinth of streets that make up the town. Or venture to the Forodhani Gardens’ night market on the waterfront across from the House of Wonders, and taste the local street food.
Our favourite property: Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa
Situated on Paje Beach on the Zanzibar’s east coast lies Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa . Unwind in the warm Indian Ocean waters and walk along pristine beaches that run along the length of the resort.
Nature abounds, both above and below the waves, in lush forests and vibrant coral reefs. Choose to snorkel, kite surf or swim in the waves. The hotel’s luxury facilities include spa treatments, a swimming pool and a children’s playground.
5. Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
Tucked away in the northern reaches of South Africa, Tswalu Kalahari offers a safari experience unmatched anywhere in the world. With clear blue skies, golden and crimson sunsets, green grass and intense ruby dunes, a trip to Tswalu in December is what dreams are made of. All bookings for December will receive their own private guide and safari vehicle. If you are dreaming of an exclusive & intimate safari experience, nothing comes close to Tswalu. The diversity of wildlife on offer at this private reserve is something you won’t find at other parks. Here you can find the black-maned Kalahari lions, meerkats, Cape foxes and pangolin as well as other traditional safari animals.
Our favourite property: Tswalu Motse Lodge
Tswalu Motse Lodge is an oasis surrounded by vast open spaces and red desert soil. Guests spend days searching for the wildlife that inhabits the reserve, including lesser-known species such as the snow wolf, pangolin and aardvark, which are regular visitors.
Tswalu Motse accommodates guests in nine ‘Legaes’, which is a Tswana word meaning “small house”. Built from stone, red sand clay and thatch, each « Legae » boasts an en-suite bathroom, an open fire, a private terrace with stunning views of the Kalahari.
Enjoy African travel in December with Rhino Africa
There is no better time to travel in Africa than now. And enjoying African travel in December is the perfect way to explore some of the world’s most remote and beautiful places. Our travel experts are on hand to make your safari dreams a reality, contact them today to start planning.
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About the author
Born and raised in Johannesburg, Luke ventured to a small town in the Eastern Cape, Grahamstown, where he studied at Rhodes University. Clearly not having studied enough, he then completed a finance degree just for fun - who even does this? Luke is passionate about travelling and was lucky enough to work in the USA for almost 2 years. However, his love for Africa was too strong and he returned home and moved to the spectacular city of Cape Town to pursue a career in the travel industry. Having once been a competitive swimmer, Luke can often be found doing laps in the pool. He is, however, a general fitness junkie and can be found doing anything from cycling, running, mountain biking, triathlon, tennis, squash or anything that gets the heart rate up.
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- Where to go in Africa in December
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As the northern hemisphere sinks into the short, cold, dark days of winter, Africa stretches its arms out wide in a warm welcome. Summer gets going in Africa in December and many destinations are at their best. The weather in Africa in December is mostly hot and sunny, while the occasional cooling rains in the interior 'green' things up.
Great wildlife migrations are taking place now as fresh grasses begin to cover Africa's rolling plains from the Serengeti to the Kalahari Desert. The herds attract predators in great numbers and travellers on an African safari in December usually enjoy plentiful sightings of big cats in action. Migrant birds arrive to fill the air with colour and song, and Africa’s trees stand in full-leafed glory, casting welcome shade over December safari picnics.
Beach holidays are excellent at most Indian Ocean destinations, too. Whether you're planning a safari or a beach vacation (or a combination of both), keep in mind that Africa in December can be busy. Beaches are at their sunniest and the traditional Christmas and New Year summer holiday season is in full swing.
If you live in the northern hemisphere and you're thinking about visiting Africa in winter, December is a wonderful and festive time of the year – here are our best recommendations for where to go in Africa in December:
1. South Africa
With some of the finest Big 5 game viewing on the continent, plenty of opportunities to combine bush and beach holidays, and well-developed infrastructure that makes it easy to get around, South Africa in December offers unforgettable holiday experiences – no wonder it's one of the best places to visit in Africa’s in December!
Continually voted as one of the world’s top cities to visit, Cape Town remains one of the best places to visit in Africa in December. With picturesque mountains, bottle-green wine valleys and gorgeous beaches all within easy reach, the 'Mother City' is one of South Africa ’s best-loved travel destinations and at her prettiest in December.
The weather is hot and Martini-dry, the beaches buzzing and the mood infectiously cheerful – perfect for Christmas in Africa. We recommend hiring a private villa to have a prime position at the best beaches , exclusive use of swimming pools and parking, plus housekeeping and 24-7 security.
Our Favourite Places to Stay in Cape Town:
Cape cadogan boutique hotel.
From $165 per person sharing
Activities travellers enjoyed:
- Restaurants within walking distance
More Quarters Neighbourhood Hotel
From $160 per person sharing
Table Bay Hotel
From $145 per person sharing
The Garden Route
Arguably the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Africa, the Garden Route in South Africa runs from a couple of hours outside Cape Town to just after the seaside town of Plettenberg Bay. It’s a firm family favourite for a holiday in South Africa in December, and the ideal way to explore all the Garden Route’s sandy beaches, rocky shores, quaint towns and indigenous forests is to rent a car and drive yourself.
Our Favourite Places to Stay on the Garden Route:
From $150 per person sharing
Knysna Hollow Country Estate
From $105 per person sharing
- Bird watching
- Boules / Petanque
Manor House Boutique Hotel at Fancourt
- High tea on offer
- Jogging trails
- Fine dining experience
Further up the coast, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) offers a sunny subtropical beach experience, complemented by Big 5 game reserves, wetland parks and coral reefs. KZN is one of the best warm places to visit in South Africa in December for top bush-and-beach safari combinations that bring together the indulgence of a safari lodge with the barefoot-chic of a beach resort.
This beautiful province is ideally experienced as an easy paced self-drive journey, leaving King Shaka International Airport in Durban and exploring the garden province.
Our Favourite Places to Stay in KZN:
The oyster box.
From $245 per person sharing
- Beach activities
- Local village visits
Phinda Vlei Lodge
From $750 per person sharing
- Animal tracking experience
- Game drives
- Guided walks
- Horse riding
- River cruises
- Scenic flights
- Scuba diving
- Specialist guides
- Guided walking safaris
- Deep sea fishing
Thonga Beach Lodge
- Boat excursions
- Cultural Visits
- Dune walks & drives
With plenty of top predators – it’s where to see African wild dogs, lion, leopard and hyenas – and abundant plains game, a Botswana safari is guaranteed to be one of the best African winter holidays you’ll ever have. Aside from being one of the top big game safari destinations, Botswana is also one of the safest countries in Africa to explore.
This semi-arid sandy savannah extends over Southern Africa and covers an area almost 1.5 times the size of Texas. The Kalahari occupies most of Botswana and offers safari-goers a choice of three incredible parks: Nxai Pan National Park, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.
Travel to Botswana’s Kalahari region for a December safari and you won’t believe your eyes. Green grass covers the once-baked earth and watering holes, which were powder-dry just a month prior, brim with birds and beasts. November to April is Green Season in Botswana and if you can put up with the odd afternoon thundershower (you may even get no rain at all), then a Kalahari safari in December is not to be missed.
Make sure you pack plenty of extra camera batteries, because the Kalahari’s annual show is taking place. Thousands of zebras arrive, snorting and braying their way to the lush fresh grazing. Springbok antelope herds give birth en masse, covering the landscape in wobbly-legged lambs just as herds of wildebeest and even buffalo arrive. And with all this 'T-bone on the hoof', the Kalahari is where to go in Africa in December for bitter-sweet predator action as beautiful black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas take advantage of easy prey.
Our Favourite Places to Stay in the Kalahari:
From $1,700 per person sharing
- Private game-drives
- Fly camping
Leroo La Tau
From $600 per person sharing
- Night drives
From $640 per person sharing
- Full-day safaris
- Star gazing
Ready to Plan Your Trip to Africa in December?
Offering a stunning diversity of landscapes and wildlife, this East African country appears on plenty lists of the best places to visit in Africa in December. Top this off with the ease with which visitors can obtain visas for Tanzania and you’ve got the formula for a fantastic time in Africa.
Serengeti National Park
The 'short rains' season from November to December relieve the dry mid-year winter in Tanzania . Clouds build up in the mornings and break in spectacular, but generally short-lived, showers in the late afternoons that are unlikely to affect game viewing.
Migrant birds return from the northern hemisphere and resident plains game give birth. The Wildebeest Migration is still heading south to the great plains and offer plentiful targets for the Serengeti’s big cats. If you’re looking for dramatic game drives, the Serengeti is where to go on an African safari in December.
Tarangire National Park
Temperatures are pleasant – it doesn’t get much above 28°C (82°F) – and game viewing is good right across Tanzania. Elephant-packed Tarangire National Park , yet to receive its main rains, is another great place to go on an African safari in December.
- Ngorongoro Crater
Created about 3 million years ago when a big volcano exploded and collapsed on itself, the Ngorongoro Crater is the largest intact volcanic caldera on Earth. It’s one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders, supporting over 25 000 animals.
While it’s mostly green and lush throughout East Africa in December, the Crater is particularly gorgeous at this time of year. Wildlife photographers are in for a treat in one of the easiest places to see the Big 5.
Nyerere National Park (Selous) and Ruaha
Second-time-round safari visitors may want to explore a little further away from the more popular destinations in Tanzania. Early rains are turning Southern Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park and the Nyerere National Park (Selous) green, and a December safari is considered good for game viewing.
Beautifully wild, enormous in size and filled to the brim with wildlife, these areas offer crowd-free safari experiences in East Africa in December.
Our Favourite Trip Ideas:
East africa's migration, safari & highlands.
From $10,500 per person sharing
- Amboseli National Park
Incredible natural beauty and unforgettable cultural encounters make Kenya a strong contender for the top spot on the list of best African holidays in December. Combining time on seemingly endless green plains with the country’s pristine beaches is the perfect way to spend a holiday in Kenya in December.
Masai Mara National Reserve
The Masai Mara is out of Migration season – November kicks off the short summer rains which trigger the last leg of the Wildebeest Migration, when the herds move south to the Serengeti to give birth.
Calving (birthing) season for the Masai Mara’s resident animals is between December and January. It’s a time when surface water is plentiful and wildebeest, zebra and antelope give birth to their calves, foals and fawns. With so much easy prey around, it’s also a good time for predators to raise their cubs and pups, making a December safari fantastic for photographic opportunities.
Thanks to the Mara’s abundant resident wildlife, temperate, climate and wide-open plains, there’s virtually always something to see, no matter what time of year you visit. But an African safari in December will also offer you low-season prices and lower visitor numbers.
Kenya Big 5 & Rhino Tracking Safari
From $5,590 per person sharing
Kenya's Family Safari - Best with Pre-teens (9-12)
From $6,400 per person sharing
Kenya's Best-Value Mara & Diani Beach
From $3,600 per person sharing
- Kenya Beaches
5. Indian Ocean Islands
Not much beats Christmas in Africa in a hammock under a gently waving palm tree. Enjoying some R&R in a tropical paradise is simply the best way to crown your African safari in December.
In some cases, you can sip coffee at your safari camp in the morning and enjoy a cocktail that same evening on a tropical beach. But choose your island carefully, as the summer rains are starting to fall across the Indian Ocean islands. It’s not day-ruining weather, but cyclone season generally starts from about January and some places are drier than others – it's always a good idea to check with your Africa Safari Expert.
Here are our recommendations for where to go on African beach holidays in December:
Home to some of the world’s finest beaches, award-winning resorts and super-stylish villas, the Seychelles weather is generally warm and beach-perfect all year round, with December to April being the hottest months.
Diving and snorkelling conditions are good and if you’re looking for unbeatable exclusivity, one of the Seychelles private island resorts is where to go in Africa in December. Furthermore, thanks to easy logistics and its location, the Seychelles is a great add-on to an East African safari in December.
Always a firm favourite for active travellers and families with children, this twinkling jewel in the Indian Ocean offers powder-soft beaches, warm waters and glorious weather year-round. The best time to go to Mauritius is from May to December when it’s cool, dry and sunny. Regular flights make Mauritius a fantastic add-on to a Southern African safari in December.
Family Kenya & Seychelles
From $7,970 per person sharing
- Mahe Island
Honeymoon Cape Town, Kruger & Mauritius
- Kruger National Park
- South Africa
Honeymoon Serengeti & Seychelles
From $10,260 per person sharing
- Lake Manyara
Thinking of Visiting Africa in December?
Africa’s most popular destinations are busy and some summer rains are getting started. But with good deals and more of the bush to yourself, Africa in December offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy a classic game-viewing safari or go off the beaten path. Several destinations are at their most enticing and there’s a sense of excitement as the end of the year approaches.
Get in touch with our team of Africa Safari Experts to help you plan an unforgettable trip to Africa in December:
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"Very nice, beautiful and amazing tour. High recommend!"
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South Africa in December 2023: Tour & Trip Reviews
"Very well organised tour."
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"Absolutely amazing tour. I would go back in a heart beat."
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Caution November 9, 2023
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Travel Advisory November 7, 2023
South africa - level 2: exercise increased caution.
Updated to reflect safety consideration when using GPS navigation.
Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest .
Country Summary: Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles, is common. There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.
Using GPS navigation can lead to unsafe routes. GPS navigation may suggest shortcuts through townships as the quickest preferred route but can lead to increased risks of crime.
Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent.
Please see our Alerts for up-to-date information.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to South Africa.
If you decide to travel to South Africa:
- Investigate Research your route in advance, stay on major highways, avoid shortcuts through townships, and avoid reliance on GPS navigation apps. When driving on city roads, the shortest and fastest route may not be the safest.
For example: The safest approach to return a rental car to Cape Town International Airport is to take the N2 highway and follow signs to Airport Approach Rd (exit 16). Alternatively, request the rental car company to collect your vehicle and subsequently arrange an airport transfer from established taxi companies or established ridesharing services to reach the airport.
- Avoid walking alone, especially after dark.
- Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area.
- Do not display cash or valuables.
- Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
- Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.
- Conserve water and follow local guidance on water use for tourists and Save Like a Local .
- Check the City of Cape Town website for up-to-date information and guidance on how to manage water consumption.
- Refer to the Nelson Mandela Bay’s website for updates on water restrictions in effect in the Eastern Cape.
- Monitor water levels at the City of Cape Town’s Water Dashboard .
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter .
- Review the Country Security Report for South Africa.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist .
- Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
View Alerts and Messages Archive
30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa..
2 consecutive empty visa pages per entry (not including endorsement pages).
No, if visiting 90 days or less.
Yellow fever at least 10 days before arrival is required for travelers originating from or transiting through WHO-designated yellow fever countries.
ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if declared; No Kruger coins.
ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if amount was declared on entry; Up to 15 Kruger coins if proof purchased with foreign currency.
Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Embassy Pretoria 877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia Pretoria 0083 South Africa Telephone: +(27)(12) 431-4000 / 012-431-4000 Fax: +(27)(12) 431-5504 / 012-431-5504 The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not provide consular services to the public. Facebook Twitter Email: [email protected]
U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg 1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall) Johannesburg 2196 South Africa Telephone: +(27)(11) 290-3000 / 011-290-3000 (Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.) Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 79-111-1684 / 079-111-1684 (from within South Africa) Fax: +(27)(11) 884-0396 / 011-884-0396 Email: [email protected]
U.S. Consulate General Cape Town 2 Reddam Avenue, West Lake 7945, Cape Town, South Africa Telephone: +(27)(21) 702-7300 / 021-702-7300 (from within South Africa) Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 702-7300 / 079-111-0391 (from within South Africa) Fax: +(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa) Email: [email protected]
U.S. Consulate General Durban 303 Dr. Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street) 31st Floor Delta Towers Durban 4001 South Africa Telephone: +(27) (31) 305-7600/031-305-7600 (from within South Africa) Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) (31) 305-7600 or +(27) 079-111-1445 / (031) 305-7600 or 079-111-1445 (from within South Africa) Fax: (+27)(31) 305-7691 / 031-305-7691 (from within South Africa) Email: [email protected]
Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
South Africa strictly enforces entry and exit requirements and other immigration laws. Failure to observe these requirements may result in the traveler being denied entry, detained, deported, or deemed inadmissible to enter South Africa in the future.
Please visit the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up to date entry and exit requirements.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/exit requirements related to COVID-19 in South Africa.
The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa is located at 3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 232-4400. Visit the Embassy of South Africa for the most current visa information.
Two Consecutive Blank Visa Pages: South Africa requires travelers to have two consecutive completely blank visa pages in their passports upon every arrival in South Africa. YOU WILL BE DENIED ENTRY if you do not have two consecutive blank visa pages in your passport. This does not include the endorsement pages.
Traveling with minors: There are special requirements for minors traveling through South African ports of entry. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up-to-date requirements for traveling with minors to or from South Africa.
Immunizations: Travelers entering South Africa from WHO-designated countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission must present their current and valid International Certificate of Vaccination as approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) (“yellow card”). See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s South Africa page .
The U.S. Department of State is not aware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of South Africa. However, South Africa has a high HIV/AIDS prevalence.
Other: Find information on dual nationality , prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.
Safety and Security
Alerts regarding important safety and security information such as demonstrations, road security, and weather events are posted on the Embassy’s website .
In South Africa the equivalent to the “911” emergency line is 10111.
- The following paragraphs provide a summary, but please read the Department of State’s most recent Overseas Security Advisory Council Country Security Report on South Africa, which provides detailed information about safety and security concerns for travelers to South Africa.
Civil Unrest: Strikes and demonstrations occur frequently. These can develop quickly without prior notification and occasionally turn violent, and may include the burning of vehicles, buildings, or tires – which may serve as roadblocks; throwing rocks or other objects; or physical attacks. Strikes and demonstrations can also interrupt traffic and the provision of electricity, water, public transportation, fuel, and other goods and services. Periodic incidents of mob violence directed against refugees and immigrants from other African countries occur in South Africa. During labor protests, strike breakers or those perceived to be strike breakers have been violently attacked. Protests involving taxis and ride hailing services can turn violent. See Travel and Transportation section below for guidance.
- Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance during your movements around the country. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
- Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
- Monitor news and Alerts .
Crime: South Africa has a very high level of crime Violent crimes occur where people live, work, while in transit or out and about. Violent residential crimes include armed home invasions by organized criminal groups resulting in assaults, rapes, and murder. Popular tourist destinations and major hotel chains employ their own security that largely minimize such incidents on their properties. Armed robbery, rape, kidnapping for ransom, carjacking, mugging, and "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles affect visitors and residents alike. Extra vigilance at traffic lights and on/off ramps where cars slow or stop is warranted. To avoid robbery outside higher end stores when buying jewelry or electronics, many vendors will deliver your purchase to your home or hotel for a fee. Crime can occur anywhere and anytime, including in and around Kruger National Park, and U.S. government staff and visitors have been robbed in the immediate vicinity of our diplomatic facilities. You should exercise particular caution in the central business districts (CBDs) of major cities, especially after dark. Crime victims have also been followed from the arrival hall of OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and then robbed once they reach their home or hotel.
Theft can be bold and in broad daylight. Travelers and U.S. diplomats report having cell phones stolen from their hands, as well as purses or wallets taken off counters while paying for goods at stores. Car theft and hijacking continues to plague the country, particularly in large cities. Travelers should choose secure parking options and double check locked doors before leaving a parked car.
Throughout South Africa, U.S. citizens should:
- Avoid walking alone especially after dark.
- Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area. Please note that U.S. mission staff are required to use fully armored vehicles when visiting many townships in and around the Cape Town area and visiting hours are restricted to between 0700-1500 hours.
- Do not display cash and valuables.
- Avoid cash-in-transit vehicles both on the road, as well as ATMs when being refilled. Armed criminal gangs frequently target cash-in-transit vehicles while stopped at customer sites, but also ambush cash-in-transit vehicles while on the road. Such violent armed attacks involve automatic weapons, explosives, and gangs of criminals. Criminals frequently use remote jamming and signal interceptors with success.
- Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
- Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location.
- Avoid driving during periods of load shedding (rolling blackouts) as the roads can become extremely congested due to a lack of traffic signals. These traffic jams and slow-moving traffic can provide opportunities for smash and grab robberies.
Student Groups: There have been instances of student groups being robbed while conducting outreach and service visits in townships. On these occasions, student groups coordinated with officials to conduct service visits and upon arrival were held and then robbed by armed perpetrators.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events.
- Demonstrations can be unpredictable, avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
- Past demonstrations have turned violent.
- Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.
Internet romance and financial scams are prevalent in South Africa. Scams are often initiated through Internet postings/profiles or by unsolicited emails and letters. Scammers almost always pose as U.S. citizens who have no one else to turn to for help. Common scams include:
- Romance/Online dating
- Money transfers
- Lucrative sales
- Gold purchase
- Contracts with promises of large commissions
- Grandparent/Relative targeting
- Free Trip/Luggage
- Inheritance notices
- Work permits/job offers
- Bank overpayments
Travelers need not surrender their credit card to any vendor. They will bring a credit card machine to customers.
ATM and Credit Card skimming is common and visitors should be cautious about using ATMs outside of banks and reputable hotels. Skimmers have also been found on machines used to pay parking tickets at shopping malls and office buildings. Paying parking fees with cash avoids this risk.
See the FBI pages for information.
Victims of Crime:
U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault or domestic violence should report crimes to the local police at 10111. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .
The U.S. Consulates General in South Africa can:
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Terrorism Threat: Extremists with ties to international terrorist organizations, such as al-Qai’ida, al-Shabaab, and ISIS, historically have used South Africa as a logistical hub to conduct recruitment and financial facilitation. There has been increased activity by ISIS sympathizers and supporters locally, including the placement of incendiary devices and kidnapping for ransom operations. South African authorities have periodically arrested individuals and charged them with terrorism related crimes. The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has publicly designated ISIS members operating in South Africa who have provided technical, financial, or material support to the terrorist group. Check the Mission’s website to review Alerts to U.S. citizens, and register with the U.S. Mission to South Africa to receive new Alerts by email during your travels.
Game parks and outdoor safety: Visitors have been injured and killed by wild animals in South Africa. It is dangerous to leave your vehicle in game parks outside of designated areas. Observe all park regulations and follow the instructions of guides. Be mindful of sharks when swimming. Rip tides are common and very dangerous. Do not swim alone in isolated areas or dive into unfamiliar waters.
Hikers must be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions and ensure they have proper clothing and supplies. Many areas, especially in the Western Cape province, experience brush fires during the summer months (December-February). These fires can burn for several days. Monitor local media and follow fire crew instructions regarding road closures and evacuations.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules regarding best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas and activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to arrive on the scene and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .
Infrastructure: Currently, periodic scheduled blackouts (known locally as “Load Shedding”) are common throughout the country. These controlled rolling blackouts are employed to safeguard the country’s electrical grid and has resulted in nationwide outages of up to six hours or more without power daily. These electricity outages negatively impact businesses which do not possess an alternative power supply (e.g., diesel generators) including hotels. Additionally, during periods of load shedding, traffic lights will cease functioning creating traffic jams which provide opportunities for smash and grab crime. Load shedding can also impact water availability and safety, cell phone signal, fuel pumps (and therefore fuel availability), and residential security features especially in rural areas.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be deported, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities, prior to practicing or operating a business.
Furthermore, some crimes are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website .
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. Consulate in South Africa immediately . See our webpage for further information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report
- Human Rights Report
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTQI+ Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in South Africa. [ER1]
See our LGBTQI+ Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights Report for further details.
Travelers with Disabilities: South Africa law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but these laws are rarely enforced. Some tourist attractions, and restaurants near tourist attractions, are equipped with ramps and other options to facilitate access. Conditions vary significantly across the country.
The law in South Africa prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual and mental disabilities, and the law is enforced unevenly. Social acceptance of persons with disabilities in public is as prevalent as in the United States. Expect accessibility to be limited in public transportation, lodging, communication/information, and general infrastructure.
Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips .
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers .
Special Circumstances: Parts of South Africa may face drought conditions, water scarcity, and rainfall patterns that may be erratic. Water supplies in some areas may be affected. Water-use restrictions may be in place in the affected municipalities.
Please visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on entry/ exit requirements related to COVID-19 in South Africa.
For emergency services in South Africa, dial 10111 .
Ambulance services are
- not widely available and training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards;
- not present throughout the country or are unreliable in most areas except in major cities and may;
- not be equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
- We do not pay medical bills. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. Healthcare providers, including ambulances require payment in cash before services are performed.
Private medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks but limited elsewhere. Private medical facilities require a deposit before admitting patients. Pharmacies are well-stocked, but you should carry an adequate supply of prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. HIV and AIDS is a major public health concern.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans .
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Embassy of South Africa to ensure the medication is legal in South Africa. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.
The following diseases are prevalent:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
- African Tick-bite Fever
- Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever
- Rift River Valley
- Avian/Bird Flu
- Tuberculosis (TB)
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For further health information:
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Health facilities in general:
- Adequate health facilities are available in urban areas but health care in rural areas may be below U.S. standards.
- Public medical clinics lack basic resources and supplies.
- Hospitals usually require advance payment or proof of adequate insurance before admitting a patient.
- Psychological and psychiatric services are limited, even in the larger cities, with hospital-based care only available through government institutions
- Exercise caution when purchasing medication overseas. Pharmaceuticals, both over the counter and requiring prescription in the United States, are often readily available for purchase with little controls. Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients. Medication should be purchased in consultation with a medical professional and from reputable establishments.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
- In many areas, tap water is not potable. Bottled water and beverages are generally safe, although you should be aware that many restaurants and hotels serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested. Be aware that ice for drinks may be made using tap water.
General Health Language
- Use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers even for short stays.
- HIV/AIDS is prevalent in South Africa and by some estimates as many as 1 in 7 South African residents are infected. Infection rates are even higher (1 in 5) among younger residents.
- Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Resources for Travelers regarding specific issues in South Africa.
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions are generally good in South Africa, but the road traffic death rate is nearly three times higher in South Africa than in the United States. The high incidence of road traffic mortality is due to a combination of poor driving, limited enforcement of traffic laws, road rage, aggressive driving, distracted driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol. Use extreme caution driving at night. U.S. government employees are discouraged from driving after dark outside of major metropolitan areas, except for highway travel between Pretoria and Johannesburg. Traffic lights are frequently out of order.
Traffic Laws: Traffic in South Africa moves on the left, and the steering wheel is on the right-hand side of the car. Under South African law, all occupants of motor vehicles equipped with seatbelts are required to wear them while the vehicle is in operation. Texting or talking on a cell phone without a hands-free unit while driving is illegal. Treat all intersections with malfunctioning traffic lights as a four-way stop.
South African law does not require an international driver’s license. A valid driver’s license from any U.S. state or territory that has the signature and photo of the driver is valid to drive in South Africa for stays of less than six months.
Please refer to the Road Safety page for more information. Also, visit the websites of South African Tourism and the South African National Roads Agency for more information regarding local transportation trends and laws.
Taxis: The use of individual metered taxis dispatched from established taxi companies, hotel taxis, and tour buses is recommended. U.S. government personnel are not allowed to use minibus taxis or hail taxis on the street or use a taxi stand. Minibus taxi drivers are often unlicensed and drive erratically.
Transportation Network Companies: Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber, also operate in South Africa. U.S. government personnel may only use TNCs with a dispatch application that provides vehicle description, license plate number, and the driver’s name, picture, user rating, and the ability to share trip information. The user should verify the information provided by the company, such as the vehicle make/model, license plate number, and driver’s name/picture, prior to entering the vehicle. TNCs should not be used to travel outside major metropolitan areas. Pick up and drop off should not be done near a traditional taxi stand due to tensions between rideshare and taxi drivers that have resulted in altercations.
Rail Service: The long-distance rail service, Shosholoza Meyl; the rapid rail Gautrain in Gauteng Province; and luxury rail services, such as Shosholoza Meyl Premier Classe, Blue Train, and Rovos Rail are generally safe and reliable, though mechanical problems and criminal incidents do sometimes occur. U.S. government personnel are not allowed to use the Metrorail commuter rail service because of safety and crime concerns. There have been recent reports of fires being set on Metrorail train cars.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards for oversight of South Africa’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page .
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to South Africa should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospace Intelligence Agency (select “broadcast warnings”).
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories .
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook .
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in South Africa . For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA ) report.
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10 Places Around the World That Are The Warmest During the U.S. Winter Months
Posted: November 8, 2023 | Last updated: November 8, 2023
- Escape the cold and head to warm winter destinations like Lima, Peru, with its vibrant colonial center and beautiful beaches.
- Namibia on the southwestern coast of Africa boasts surreal landscapes and diverse wildlife. Visit from November to April for the hottest weather.
- The Maldives in the North-Central Indian Ocean offers high-end bungalows over turquoise waters. Enjoy white-sand beaches and spectacular snorkeling.
Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Michigan are some of the coldest US states between December and March, with temperatures in Alaska reaching -30 °F. Winter certainly has its charm anywhere in the country, from family fun in the top-rated ski resorts in Maine to invigorating snow activities in Vermont to exciting stays at luxury hotels in America for an unforgettable Christmas celebration in Colorado or New York City.
Nonetheless, a winter vacation could also mean ditching those biting temperatures for a milder climate. So, snowbirds may be asking themselves, "Where is the warmest in winter?". From Lima to Sydney to the Maldives and beyond, these are some of the warmest destinations during winter in the US that are at their hottest and most welcoming when snow covers a lot of America.
Related: Warm Up This Winter At The Best Hot Springs In New York State
A bustling colonial center, tantalizing food tours, and colorful Inca markets
Since Lima, the capital of Peru , is in the Southern Hemisphere, the best months to visit for warm weather are from December to April.
Chilling at a café in the suburb of Barranco, sunbathing or riding the waves at San Bartolo or Playa Costa Verde, visiting the museums, and touring the historic center are typical activities.
- Average temperature in February: 24 °C/75.2 °F
- Scenic View: Bell tower of Santo Domingo, a 16th-century basilica; Miraflores District for Christmas festivities
- Best Beachside District: Playa Punta Hermosa
- What to Eat and Drink around Christmas: Panetón (bread-cake), hot chocolate, tamales
- Activities: Kiteboarding, paddleboarding, surfing, Peruvian cooking class and local fruit tasting (from $65)
Namibia, Southwestern Coast of Africa
Surreal landscapes, diverse wildlife, and indigenous meat-based gastronomy.
November to April is considered Namibia ’s hottest season; it’s the ideal period to spot newborn wild animals, enjoy greener scenery, and best of all, pay lower fees.
Popular activities include hopping on a tailor-made safari; meeting the Himba and Herero tribes in Opuo; and exploring Sossusvlei, one of the most spectacular desert landscapes in the world .
- Maximum Temperatures in January and February: 30-35 °C/86-95 °F, reaching 40 °C/104 °F in the desert
- Most Beautiful Cities: Windhoek, Swakopmund, Lüderitz
- Best Tours: Windhoek Day Tour ($34), 4-Day Sossusvlei & Swakopmund camping with a guide and full board ($899)
Related: These U.S. Towns & Cities Experience The Most Extreme Winters In The Country
Madagascar, Southeastern Coast Of Africa
The fourth-largest island in the world is home to 800 species of butterflies.
Madagascar caters to adventure seekers , wildlife lovers, and visitors looking to lounge on a beach hammock and enjoy one of the best places with warm weather in the winter.
The island’s fauna and flora are distinctive and diverse; its signature animal is the lemur, and it boasts 6 of 9 species of Baobab trees in the world. Bird watchers might even catch a glimpse of the elusive long-tailed ground roller.
- Highest Temperature in January: 33 °C/91 °F, especially in the south
- Best Activities: Off-road driving, diving, Lemuria Land Park ($10/adult), Baobab Avenue, Antananarivo City Sightseeing tour (from $48/adult)
- Most Touristic Area: The smaller island of Nosy Be ( Eastern Nosy Be tour from $61)
- Scenic Beach: Manafiafy for snorkeling, canoeing, and whale-watching
A vibrant city with a mix of neoclassical, art deco, and neo-gothic styles against the backdrop of the mighty andes mountains.
Santiago is Chile’s capital and largest city, a cosmopolitan hub with various architectural styles and coastal and lakeside beaches.
It’s also surrounded by mountains, much to the delight of tourists looking to escape the cold for a warmer and drier climate.
- Highest Temperature in January: 30 °C/86 °F
- Best Activities: Lastarria District for foodies and art lovers, Historic Center, Bicentenario Park, Private City Half-Day Tour (from $47), Concha y Toro Vineyard Tour (from $40)
- Scenic Spots: San Cristóbal Hill for panoramic views, Las Condes and Vitacura for South America’s biggest skyscrapers
- Eateries and Nightlife: Bellavista District
Related: Top 10 Things To Do In Chile's Lake District
The capital of new south wales is so much more than its opera house.
Australia is another one of the warmest winter destinations for those in the Northern Hemisphere, as this season is summer Down Under. Sydney is one of the most popular cities in Australia to visit, which makes it a great choice for travelers looking to enjoy the country's combination of nice weather, urban city appeal, and iconic attractions.
There are so many things to do in Sydney that capture the essence of that vibrant and cosmopolitan city , such as visiting the Opera House, exploring the Harbor Bridge, petting koalas at Taronga zoo, sampling local and international delicacies, or riding the waves at Bondi Beach.
- Average Temperature in January: 29 °C/84.2 °F
- Other Activities: Sydney Festival (three weeks in January; free and paid performances and exhibitions); Art Gallery of NSW; weekend brunch at Bondi, Liverpool St, or Dunning Ave; Sea Life Sydney Aquarium (from $33/adult)
- Scenic Day Trip: Full-day Wine Tour with lunch in Hunter Valley (from $156)
Online tickets to the Sydney Aquarium cost 20% less. Prices listed on Australian websites are in AUD, not USD.
Cape Town, South Africa
Known as the mother city, it is shielded by the massive table mountain national park.
Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city , with a vibrant mix of glistening high rises, scenic beaches, booming nightlife, rolling vineyards, canopy walkways, and culinary delights.
It's another one of the warm destinations around the world for winter, so it’s a thrilling place for Americans looking to escape the cold months.
- Highest Temperature in January: 32 °C/89.6 °F
- Scenic Activities: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden ($12/adult); Table Mountain National Park (from $18/international visitor)
- Scenic Beach: Boulders Beach on False Bay, known for its massive boulders and private coves
- Central City Spots: Greenmarket Square for shopping, Woodstock for art galleries, The Gardens for picnics
Buenos Aires, Argentina
A bustling capital with stunning neoclassical, art nouveau, and art deco buildings.
Known for its sizzling tango dancing shows and its Avenida Corrientes’ thrilling nightlife, Buenos Aires, the Argentinian capital , is a popular choice for travelers in the Northern Hemisphere seeking warm-weather destinations for winter.
This city not only boasts a vibrant music and dance scene, but Buenos Aires also offers world-famous gastronomic delights, ranging from steak to empanadas .
- Highest Temperature in January: 29 °C/84.2 °F
- Architectural Landmarks: Palacio Barolo, inspired by Dante’s Comedy; Teatro Colón, a seven-story theater ; Casa Rosada, where Eva Perón gave her famous balcony speech; Cementerio de la Recoleta, a cemetery with incredible marble mausoleums
- Scenic Attractions: Parque 3 de Febrero, open 24 hours; Caminito, a colorful street museum; Paseo del Rosedal (Rose Garden Walk, open 10 AM to 6 PM)
Entry charges for attractions and tours are often changed to reflect the rate of inflation.
Fiji, South Pacific Ocean
An idyllic island country with secluded, all-inclusive resorts for visitors looking to recharge.
Fiji is famed for its picturesque all-inclusive resorts for a secluded retreat, especially for tourists in the Northern Hemisphere looking for warm-weather vacation destinations in the winter.
Fiji is an island country in Melanesia whose economy relies mainly on tourism and the sugar industry. It’s a popular wedding, golfing, surfing, diving, and sailing destination with hot temperatures perfect for snowbirds.
- Average Temperature in February: 31 °C/87 °F
- Scenic Activities: The Coral Coast’s palm-lined beaches; the Botanic Garden of the Sleeping Giant ($11); 3, 4, or 7-night Blue Lagoon luxury cruise of Yasawa and Mamanuca Islands (from $2595); Denarau Island for golfing
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Home of the flamboyant rio carnival that attracts 2 million visitors daily.
Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second-largest city that offers warm weather during winter.
Rio is renowned for its yearly carnival, white-sand beaches, tropical Tijuca forest, samba shows in Lapa, its historic Santa Teresa District, and Maracana Stadium for soccer lovers.
- Average Temperature in February: 31 °C/87.8 °F
- Scenic Spots: Tijuca National Park (8 AM to 5 PM; free); Art-Deco Christ the Redeemer statue for panoramic views
- Top Activity: Rio Carnival, starting 51 days before Lent (from $17 for seated areas)
- Famous Beaches: Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon
Related: 10 Things To Do In The Death Valley National Park Region: Complete Guide To The Hottest Place On Earth
The Maldives, North-Central Indian Ocean
Asia's smallest country is home to high-end bungalows extending over clear turquoise waters.
The Maldives is an archipelagic country in South Asia spanning 120 square miles of land.
It is considered one of the most picture-perfect honeymoon destinations around the world , but uncommitted travelers also flock there for its white-sand beaches, spectacular snorkeling and diving opportunities, luxury resorts, laidback guesthouses, and romantic sunset pier dinners.
- Average High Between November and March: 31 °C/87.8 °F
- Driest Months: January to April
- Best Activities: Scuba-diving, dolphin watching, surfing, Snorkeling Safari from Malé (from $100), 2-Hour Maldives Submarine Tour from Malé (from $80)
- Scenic Dive: Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve for some of the largest coral reefs in the Indian Ocean
The country follows Islamic laws, so tourists are asked to be respectful of residents' values. Long skirts and dresses and pants instead of shorts and short skirts are recommended outside the resorts.
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Here’s how you can get the most of your December public holidays. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Turn 3 days into 10! How to maximise your December public holidays
December public holiday fun: Here’s a clever hack into turning 3 annual leave days into 10, and 8 leave days into 18!
The silly season is fast approaching, which means winding down and taking a well-deserved break from work. And with several public holidays on the December calendar, many South Africans are expected to close up shop earlier than expected.
To add extra festive cheer, there’s a clever hack to maximise your annual leave…
ALSO READ: ‘People must not be fooled’: SA rejects December ‘public holiday’
ANNUAL LEAVE: HOW TO MAXIMISE YOUR PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
If you haven’t already filled out your December annual leave form, here’s a way you can get more for less.
If you take just three days after Christmas, you could score yourself a ten-day holiday.
ALSO READ: Robbed of a public holiday? Why Cyril chose 15 December for celebrations
To go on holiday from Saturday, 23 December 23, and return to work on Tuesday, 2 January 2024 (10 days), book these dates:
- Wednesday, 27 December
- Thursday, 28 December
- Friday 29, December
DON’T FORGET 15 DECEMBER!
With Cyril Ramaphosa throwing in an “extra” public holiday on Friday, 15 December thanks to several sporting achievements, including the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup win, there’s now an even more extended leave option.
If you can spare eight annual leave days, you could bag an 18-day holiday, returning to work on Tuesday, 2 January.
Book these days
- Monday, 18 December
- Tuesday, 19 December
- Wednesday, 20 December
- Thursday, 21 December
- Friday, 22 December
ALSO READ: Dashed dreams: 5 Reasons why President’s public holiday won’t happen soon
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