South Africa is a vast land of overwhelming beauty and spectacular contrasts, making it one of the best safari destinations in the world. A mere 10- hour flight from the UK, South Africa is closer than you think. Most international flights depart in the evening, arriving early morning – which means after a meal and drinks, you can snooze away the miles until breakfast and landing time. South Africa''s accommodation is varied in character and style, so there is something for everyone from boutique city hotels to remote safari lodges.
SA is only an hour ahead during the UK summer and two hours during the winter – so there’s no jet-lag to disorientate you on arrival (or on your way home for that matter). Moreover, English is widely spoken and driving is on the left – ideal if you prefer to hit the open road and explore the country at your own pace. The country also has one of the highest daily sunshine rates in the world and is blessed with a wonderful climate.
Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to ours. Generally, summer stretches from October to April and over most of the country, this time of the year is characterised by hot weather – sunny days, balmy evenings and the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. This is particularly true in the Kruger National Park where the summer temperatures reach around 30°C and short afternoon lightening storms clear quickly, giving way to a warm, earthy, uniquely African smell.
May to November is the best time for whale watching along the coast and in the Kruger and Madikwe Game Reserves, winter brings crisp, dry, sunny days and cold nights, (average daily temperature 23°C) which is ideal for game viewing - the sparse vegetation makes it is easier to spot animals that are drawn to the waterholes. If you are staying at a private game lodge however, experienced rangers and trackers will ensure that you have a superb game viewing experience, no matter what time of the year you are travelling.
Spring is a time of renewal and rejoicing in the Cape when a multitude of colourful plants cover the fields in an iridescent carpet of flowers. The most popular areas of South Africa are a hive of activity over Christmas and New Year, when locals embark on annual journeys to coastal towns and beaches. February and the approaching Autumn months are ideal for travelling as little rain falls, temperatures remain mild without being too hot and the beaches are less crowded.
The Western Cape (in and around Cape Town and the Garden Route), enjoys a generally mild Mediterranean climate so the summer is warm and dry with a maximum temperature of around 26°C. Cape Town receives most of its rain during winter (June to August) but even so, winter in the city is fairly mild by UK standards, with an average temperature of 18°C.