Without a doubt, what makes South Africa one of Africa’s top tourist destinations is that no matter what time of the year you choose to visit, you will be richly rewarded. There truly is something here for everyone. The safari experience is of the best that Africa has to offer with an astonishing range of wildlife roaming freely across massive unfenced game reserves such as the world famous Kruger National Park.

From a geographical point of view, the landscape will delight you with its ever-changing scenery which allows for a range of activities. From the Karoo and Kalahari semi-deserts to the misty heights of the Drakensberg range, the diverse coastlines, the massive Blyde River Canyon, the slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain and settling into the  picturesque Cape Winelands, it is no wonder that the country was declared one of the 17 mega-diverse destinations in the world by Conservation International in 1998.

The ‘Rainbow Nation’ is made up of multicultural inhabitants who are influenced by a fascinating mix of African, Asian and European cultures. The people are known for their friendliness and hospitality and, chatting to locals, you will learn that despite the heart-wrenching past, there is great pride and love for the country. English is spoken widely and is one of 11 official languages.

The gourmet restaurants are right up there with world class standards, and if food is your focus, Ikewana even offers the chance to fill your days with dining at the country’s crème de la crème.

South Africa's Climate

South Africa’s temperatures are not excessive. This combined with a comparatively low average annual rainfall and plenty of sunshine, make it is a major drawcard for visitors in search of a holiday destination. In summer, the average daytime temperatures range from a minimum of 15°C (59°F) to a maximum of 28°C (82°F). While in winter, daytime temperatures range between 19°C (66°F) and 23°C (73°F). This is the result of the country’s subtropical location, the fact that it has an ocean on three sides, as well as the altitude of its interior plateau. Maximum temperatures often exceed 32°C in the summer and reach 38°C in some areas of the far north.

Temperature and rainfall patterns vary in response to the movement of a high-pressure belt that circles the globe between 25° and 30° south latitude during the winter and low-pressure systems that occur during the summer. It is interesting to note how small a difference there is in average temperatures from the south to the north, in part because the inland plateau rises slightly in the northeast. This is evident when you compare the average annual temperature in Cape Town at 17°C, and in Pretoria, at 17.5°C, even though these cities are separated by almost ten degrees of latitude.

But when comparing east and west, the climatic conditions vary noticeably. This is caused by the warm Agulhas Current which sweeps southward along the Indian Ocean coastline and the cold Benguela Current which sweeps northward along the Atlantic Ocean coastline. As a result, air temperatures in Durban on the Indian Ocean, average nearly 6°C warmer than temperatures at the same latitude, on the Atlantic Ocean coast.

South Africa is a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464 mm. Rainfall generally occurs during the summer (November through March), although in the southwest, around Cape Town, rainfall occurs in the winter months (June to August). We recommend that you look at the different weather conditions for the provinces that you will be visiting prior to travelling, to assist you when you pack.

  • A playground for adventure seekers Due to its abundance of sunshine, wide open spaces, mountains, sea and rivers, the range of experiences offered by Ikewana will thrill you – think shark cage diving, hiking, horse-riding, cycling, walking safaris and surfing for some ideas.
  • Safari & responsible tourism The country boasts some of the greatest game-viewing opportunities, stylish and luxurious private reserves and is considered a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism.
  • Abundant wildlife The country has more than 290 conservation parks and is home to almost 300 mammal species, around 860 bird species and 8 000 plant species. The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent and the annual sardine run is the biggest migration on the planet.
  • An impressive trans-frontier park South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique are tearing down the fences between their game parks in order to create a 13 500 square mile game park (that's around 35 000 square kilometres) which will become the largest conservation area in the world.
  • The Big Five Viewing the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros – both black and white species – elephant and Cape buffalo) is a common occurrence in most game reserves and wonderful opportunities for photographic enthusiasts.
  • The third most bio-diverse place on earth With two oceans, the country’s topography and prevailing winds, the variety of life permeates the resulting environment, inhabiting everything from lush forests to open savannahs and even deserts.
  • A spectacular country for a road trip Self-drive holidays in South Africa are a pleasure due to the country’s great infrastructure, and it’s worth remembering that they drive on the left-hand side of the road.
  • Sunshine! South Africa’s climate records an average of 8.5 hours a day and falls in the top ten countries in the world when comparing the average number of sunny days per annum.
  • World class wine South Africa is famous for its wines and has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean. The so-called Cape Winelands have around 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers with the majority of its vineyards located just outside the city of Cape Town. Included in this region is Route 62, which is considered the longest wine route in the world.
  • Spectacular daisies Look out for the explosion of colours when the daisies come into flower in Namaqualand on the west coast.

    The people South Africans are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
  • Capital: Pretoria (administrative capital), Cape Town (legislative capital), Bloemfontein (judicial capital).
  • Language: South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
  • Currency: South African Rand (ZAR). The Rand is divided into 100 cents. There are R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 notes. Coins come in R5, R2, R1, 50c, 20c, 10c and 5c.
  • Electricity: Current is 220/240 volts at 50 c.p.s. A three-point round-pin adapter plug should be brought for your appliances (available at major airports).
  • Airports: With over 70 international airlines flying into the country, getting to South Africa has never been easier. The award-winning national carrier, South African Airways, flies to destinations all over the world and is connected to major international air routes. It’s a long-haul flight from Europe (10 to 12 hours), Asia (12 to 17 hours) and the United States (15 hours+). Most flights go directly to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, but direct flights into Cape Town International Airport are increasing. Durban’s King Shaka International Airport is South Africa’s third major international airport. Domestic airports include Bloemfontein, East London, George, Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Upington. There are also scheduled flights between Johannesburg and the privately owned Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport outside Mbombela (Nelspruit) and Skukuza Airport which serves the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga.
  • Getting around: Driving in South Africa is convenient and easy, and tarred roads are generally in good condition. In rural areas you will encounter gravel roads. A valid international driver's licence is required and driving is on the left-hand side of the road. It is compulsory to wear seat/safety belts and mobile phones may only be used in "hands-free" mode. Speed limits are generally set at 120km/h on freeways, 100km/h on secondary roads and 60km/h in urban areas. Toll fees apply on certain national roads. Petrol stations are widespread. For car rental, most global car hire firms have branches in South Africa. Luxury inter-city bus services such as Greyhound and Trans-Lux are another alternative means of getting around. Within cities, there are Metrobus buses, but they are not advisable. Uber taxis are another option.
  • When to go: South Africa offers such a great variety of things to do and see that anytime is a good time to go. However if you have to narrow it down to the best time to see wildlife and go on safari in the Kruger National Park area, we at Ikewana, would recommend going during the dry season, from May to November. Please bear in mind that as this falls during winter, the temperatures can get a little chilly especially on the early morning game drives. Layer your clothing well and strip off as the heat from the sun can be felt. One of the reasons that we recommend this time of year, is that the grass is shorter, so visibility is better. Another reason is that many of the young are born around November / December when the bush is lush and there's plenty to eat. The dry season also means fewer mosquitoes and therefore less chance of catching malaria. If you are particularly concerned about the disease, please ask us about game lodges that are malaria free. In Cape Town, there's so much going on that it really is a year-round destination. But for browsing the markets, hiking up Table Mountain and enjoying the beaches, the dry summer season is best. Be aware that local tourists love visiting this area and the winelands during peak summer season (Christmas holidays), so if you’re after something less crowded, we recommend that you visit between September and November or March to April.
  • What to wear: South Africa is an abundantly sunny country so remember to wear sunblock during the days and even in the winter months. A hat, sunglasses and comfortable walking shoes are also advised. For game viewing, a couple of neutral-toned items will be useful, but there's no need to go overboard. Layering up like an onion for those early morning game drives is essential. For the evening, if you are dining at an upmarket restaurant or seeing a show, smart-casual attire is recommended.

    Area: South Africa occupies the southernmost tip of Africa and has a surface area which covers 1 219 602 km2. The country is marked by several distinct ecosystems ranging from bushveld, grasslands, forests, deserts and majestic mountain peaks, to wide unspoilt beaches and coastal wetlands. The coastline is roughly 3 000 km long and is affected by the two oceans which consist of the warm Mozambique-Agulhas current on the east and south coasts, while the cold Benguela current flows northwards along the west.
  • Eastern Cape The Eastern Cape is the "wild" province and features magnificent stretches of untouched beach, peaceful river estuaries, lush forests, breathtaking mountain vistas, and the arid Karoo Desert landscape. Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) serves as the province’s primary commercial and industrial centre and is the gateway to the popular Garden Route – a beautiful part of the country with attractions like forest walks, bungee jumping and surfing. The Eastern Cape is also home to several spectacular malaria-free wildlife reserves, including the Addo Elephant National Park. It is here where visitors get the only chance to view the Big Seven: elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard, whale and shark. The park incorporates a marine protected area where dolphins and whales migrate to between the end of May and December each year.

    Pilanesberg National Park Where the dry Kalahari and the wet Lowveld vegetation merges, a rich transitional zone comprises of fauna and flora not often found in the same areas. Situated in this ecological rich area, in an eroded crater consisting of rare rock types and structures, is the Pilanesberg National Park.

    An incredible variety of game animals, including the Big 5, wild dog, Roan, Tsessebe, Sable antelope and more than 360 bird species can be found here.

    Beautiful contrasting panoramas, interesting rock faces and the large central lake, the Mankwe Dam, are unique features in this malaria-free wildlife area.

    Sun City Sun City, located about two hours’ drive away from Johannesburg, is internationally renowned as South Africa’s premier holiday resort. It can best be described as a mini African styled Las Vegas with world-class hotels like the opulent "Palace of the Lost City" or the elegant "Cascades". As it is sits alongside the Pilanesberg National Park (an area of around 55 000 hectares), visitors have the opportunity to go on game drives to spot the Big Five, and then to return to the resort for a game of golf, perhaps some gambling, or swimming amongst the endless rolling waves at the "Valley of the Waves". There’s something for everyone to do.
  • Madikwe Madikwe Game Reserve, located in the North West Province of South Africa and on the border with Botswana, is the fifth largest reserve in the country. It offers visitors the opportunity to view the Big Five in a malaria-free zone. Madikwe’s landscape is characterised by vast grasslands, woodlands, and the rugged Tshwene Tshwene hills sheltering a host of wildlife – including a wild dog reserve. Birdlife is prolific with over 300 species including vulture, ostrich and the large kori bustard.

    Waterberg The Waterberg region is known as Africa’s Eden and something of an undiscovered secret tucked away in the Limpopo province in South Africa. It has soaring mountain peaks, ancient rock formations, expansive savannah plains, dense forests and plunging river valleys. Drive along the Waterberg Meander – a 350-kilometre self-drive route – to experience the beauty of the Waterberg Biosphere area. For safari lovers, visitors can roam among big game while on horseback or back-to-basics bush walks in the Marakele National Park. At the Welgevonden Game Reserve, you will be treated with witnessing South Africa's healthiest white rhino populations, an abundance of elephants, and its successful reintroduction of cheetahs in the area. For bird lovers, Nylsvley Nature Reserve is one of the most important and populous bird habitats in southern Africa. And if wildlife isn’t your focus, then perhaps you might enjoy a visit to the limestone caves in the Makapan Valley where you can view the remarkable quantity of ancient mammal remains and fossils of an early human-like primate which were excavated in the first decades of the 20th century.

    Durban Durban is South Africa’s third largest city and recommended for its beautiful beaches, lively wining and dining scene, and rich cultural heritage. Due to its sub-tropical climate the water is warm all year round.

Destinations in South Africa