South Africa’s Eastern Cape is home to contrasting coastlines lapped by Indian Ocean waters, the mighty Drakensberg and verdant Amathole mountains as well as numerous game reserves and quirky towns. It has long drawn surfers to its shorelines, nature lovers to its reserves and cultural aficionados to its towns and cities.
The province sustains seven distinct biomes, from sweeping grasslands to dense thickets, allowing it to sustain a wide variety of wildlife. The sought-after Big 5 and a plethora of other wildlife can be found in numerous reserves and the famous Addo Elephant Park is a must-see on your trip. The Sunshine Coast is renowned for being the temporary and permanent home of many whale and dolphin species while the Wild Coast’s beaches and waves draw surfers and water sports enthusiasts.
Port Elizabeth, one of South Africa’s largest cities, is sprawled across Algoa Bay and offers a wealth of accommodation and activities while its airport acts as the gateway to the Eastern Cape’s reserve’s and attractions. Nearby Grahamstown is brimming with university students and attracts hordes of creatives during its annual Arts Festival – the 2nd largest on the continent. The Eastern Cape is an excellent destination to pair with a self-drive itinerary through the Garden Route.
We've taken the liberty to answer everything you may need to know about visiting The Eastern Cape
Any time! South Africa is a year-round destination. However, if you plan to combine a few areas where weather patterns vary, you should note a couple of things when looking for the best time to travel to South Africa for your specific itinerary.
South Africa's Seasons
South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, so it's the summer season here when it's winter in Europe and North America (from November to February). Therefore, it's the ideal destination for anyone wanting to escape the cold weather on that side of the world.
Average temperatures in summer generally range from a minimum of 19°C (66.2°F) to a maximum of 29°C (84.2°F). In winter, it can be anything from 6°C (42.8°F) to 23°C (73.4°F). So, although it can get quite chilly at night, it's nothing like the northern hemisphere winters!
If you're planning a safari, there are two weather patterns to consider. The Cape Peninsula in the south has a Mediterranean climate, which means that it's hot and dry in summer (from October to May) and wet and cold in winter (from June to Sept). However, you can still experience some of the most beautiful days during a South African winter!
The rest of South Africa, including the safari destinations, has an African rainfall that is dry and hot in winter with cool mornings and evenings. In summer, you can expect rain and, in some areas, thunderstorms. The wet weather causes the bush to turn into lush greenery, a spectacular sight!
Best Time for a Kruger Safari
If you're visiting South Africa predominantly for a Kruger safari, winter is generally the best time to visit South Africa. However, if you want to add on a beach holiday, you want to find the "sweet spot" in-between seasons.
Best Time for Cape Town
Cape Town's best seasons are spring, summer and autumn (between September and May). In spring, southern right whales visit the coastline, and the flowers are in full bloom. Autumn offers respite from the summer heat, and the Cape Winelands' vineyards are starting to change colour.
Best Time for KwaZulu-Natal
When visiting the KwaZulu-Natal coast for a beach holiday, winters are ideal as average temperatures hover around 26°C (79°F), whereas you can expect high humidity in summer.
Our Travel Experts will help you find the optimal time to visit South Africa for the best possible experience.
South Africa safaris are special and world-famous for many reasons! There are plenty of game reserves and national parks like Kruger to choose from, including family-friendly and malaria-free destinations, as well as private game reserves for a more exclusive luxury safari. With some of the world's prime wildlife viewing, including the Big 5, wide-open diverse landscapes, unique activities in the bush, and many luxury lodges, it's the ideal safari destination.
Of course, the animals are the real stars of the show. Best known for the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo), you can also see giraffe, warthog, zebra, cheetah, various antelope species, plenty of birdlife, and many more! South Africa safaris also allow you to see some of the rarer endangered wildlife like black rhino, pangolin and African wild dog.
Of course, South Africa has more to offer than the bush, with sea safaris being a popular highlight! On your ocean safari, you can see whales (seasonal), dolphins, sharks, seals, and other marine wildlife. Boulders Beach in Cape Town is also famous for its penguins that made the shore their home.
South Africa safaris are special because of the wide range of vistas, and you'll feel like you've entered a new world at every second turn! From the arid Klein Karoo to the dense bush, indigenous Fynbos vegetation, dramatic mountain ranges towering over the ocean, rolling green hills, red Kalahari dunes – the list goes on and on.
Unique safari activities
A safari in South Africa also allows you to partake in unique safari activities, especially when you stay in a private game reserve like Sabi Sand. For example, you can go on bush walks, sleep-outs under the stars, day and night game drives, cultural excursions, photo safaris, and more adventures. The luxury lodges also offer plenty of onsite activities such as wellness treatments, wine experiences, gin tastings, child-friendly programs, and more.
South Africa safaris are on everyone’s bucket list, and rightly so! Come and see why for yourself.
Look at any world map, and nine times out of ten, the African continent is in the middle of the page. South Africa is located right at the bottom of this big chunk of land and is 1,233,404 km² (766,401 miles²) in size and is edged on three sides by nearly 3,000 km (1,864 miles) of coastline, with the Indian Ocean to the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
The country is bordered in the north by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and also encloses two independent countries, the kingdoms of Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland).
Getting to South Africa
You will likely need to make at least one transit stop along the way to get to one of the country's international airports. And depending on where you will be flying from, your dedication will be rewarded tenfold with an unforgettable adventure. It's a long haul from Europe (10 to 12 hours), Asia (12 to 17 hours) and the United States (up to 15 hours or even more), but it will be so worth it!
With many major international airlines flying into South Africa, you have your options open to choose which carrier to bring you over. Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) operates the major airports and is responsible for approximately 200,000 landings and around 24 million passengers every year. So, if you find yourself researching flights into South Africa, here are the three major airports to keep in mind (in order of most frequently used):
- O. R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg)
- Cape Town International Airport (Cape Town)
- King Shaka International Airport (Durban)
South Africa does have crime, and, yes, there is also a list of areas within the country you should rather avoid. However, that's the case for almost any other developing country where a large part of the population lives in poverty in rural areas without access to basic amenities and quality education.
We're not trying to diminish the extent of South Africa's crime rates. However, the reality is that crime is found worldwide and in most major cities. But with the right advice, guidance and direction, you're able to avoid letting the news or social media scare you away from visiting this one-of-a-kind destination for your South Africa safari holiday. This is also a big reason why it's so beneficial to book your holiday with us, the authority on African travel.
Rhino Africa is based in Cape Town, one of the country's major travel hubs and iconic destinations. Therefore, we're able to give our clients first-hand, on-the-ground travel advice, safety recommendations and local tips while booking the best itinerary possible. We're locals here, have travelled far and wide to experience everything our continent has to offer first-hand, and we look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful home for your South Africa safari holiday!
South Africa safari holidays are perfect for anyone and everyone from families, romantic couple getaways, solo travellers, and friends travelling together. There's so much to see and do, that everyone will have something to enjoy! Here are just some of the highlights you can look forward to on your South Africa safari holiday.
Big 5 safaris
Home to the famous Big 5, namely leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo, South Africa is a safari mecca. There are also plenty of other wildlife, birdlife, and plant species to see.
Rare wildlife sightings
South Africa is a haven for many of the world's most endangered species, such as the black rhino, pangolin, African wild dog, aardvark, gemsbok, Hartmann's mountain zebra, and more. Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is a great place to see many of these species against the backdrop of the red Kalahari dunes.
South Africa has plenty of birdlife, with over 857 species recorded. Birders will be delighted at the endemic and migratory species you can admire throughout the country.
Watersports and pristine beaches
A South Africa safari holiday is not complete without a day on the beach! And you'll have plenty of excellent ones to choose from. Although the water is colder here, Cape Town is famous for its sundrenched beaches, such as Camps Bay & Clifton, Blouberg and Muizenberg. At Boulders Beach, you will share the sandy coastline with a colony of penguins!
The Garden Route, Wild Coast and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, to name a few, offer vast stretches of powdery white sand and warm water. Here you can enjoy plenty of watersports, from surfing, stand-up paddling, kitesurfing, snorkelling, diving, and more.
South Africa is home to some of the top wine-producing farms. With wineries offering tastings around every turn in the Cape Winelands, you can wine-hop from farm to farm, your heart and glass overflowing!
South Africa, in particular the Cape Town area, is home to some of the world's best restaurants. In fact, it has three restaurants ranked in the top 100 in the world, namely Wolfgat, La Colombe, and Fyn. The first South African chef awarded a Michelin star for his restaurant in France, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, opened Klein JAN restaurant at Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve, a must for all food enthusiasts.
History, art and culture
South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, with 11 official languages! With a rich history, plenty of cultural excursions and art galleries like the Zeitz MOCAA, the world's largest collection of contemporary African art, there's plenty to see, experience, and learn.
Yes, of course! South Africa has some of the most scenic driving routes globally, and what better way to road trip than to do it at your own pace. Being based in Cape Town, with most of our Travel Experts having grown up in South Africa from all over the country, we're equipped to share all the ins and outs of driving around South Africa for the ultimate itinerary.
One of the most popular self-driving routes in South Africa is the well-known Garden Route and can be done in reverse depending on where your starting point will be. If you plan to fly into Cape Town, consider spending a few nights here first acclimatising before hiring a car and heading up the coast for the perfect summer holiday.
This route takes visitors east along the coast from Cape Town, past spectacular coastal scenery and through indigenous forests surrounding the beautiful town of Knysna. A road trip like this can be for the family, a group of friends, or even the newlywed couple looking to spend some time exploring this beautiful piece of the world. There's a long to-do list of stops and activities, such as adrenaline-pumping bungee jumping off the third highest drop in the world, visiting various animal sanctuaries, boat rides, and more. You could even end your road trip with a few nights on safari at one of the many private, malaria-free game reserves along the way.
South Africa is a mecca for self-drive enthusiasts. Although distances can be daunting, the roads are well signposted, the majority are well maintained, and the scenery is spectacular! If you're visiting a national park, you may wish to hire an SUV for comfort, and it will give you a height advantage when game viewing. Self-service roads inside national parks can get bumpy, so a good height clearing vehicle is highly recommended. The Panorama Route near Kruger and Chapman’s Peak Drive between Cape Town and the Cape of Good Hope are two other must-sees for self-drivers.