A South African summer is something that has to be experienced to truly appreciate it. Think sub-tropical weather, days of steady sunshine, bustling beachfronts and an all-round festive atmosphere. For those who haven’t had the fortune of enjoying our sunny season, we compiled a list of our top reasons to love a South African summer, when the warm weather and beautiful beaches become the pinnacle of our December to February.
Warm, sunny weather: There’s nothing quite like a glorious summer’s day in South Africa, so it’s no surprise that this is first on our list. Summer temperatures generally vary between a pleasant 23° C to a balmy 35° C in the day, which drops slightly in the evening. With warm and welcoming sunshine from morning until late afternoon, and clear blue skies stretching for miles, it’s easy to understand why people travel from all corners of the world to visit our country.
Beautiful beaches: One of the main drawcards for South Africa is our beautiful beaches, and in summer you can truly appreciate just how spectacular they are. Stretches of golden sand where tanned bodies bask in the sun, warm tropical waters and the sound of crashing waves, natural rock pools, sheltered bays and picturesque views – our beaches are the perfect sanctuary for the hot summer days. End off the perfect beach day with an ice-cream or tasty cocktail along the beachfront.
Outdoor activities: During summer, South Africa becomes an adventure-junkie and nature-lover’s paradise, as the cloudless skies and warm weather bring with it the most exciting outdoor activities. From hiking trails and wine tasting to horseback safaris, treetop zip-lining and kayak excursions, the activities on offer across the country give you plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Take some time to breathe in the fresh air and witness the raw beauty of our country.
Abundant birdlife: South Africa is a world-renowned birding destination throughout the year, but it’s during the summer season that birding reaches its peak. With an influx of summer migrants as well as widespread breeding, species numbers grow significantly, and the clear skies offer the perfect backdrop. More than 850 bird species have been recorded in South Africa, with roughly 85% being migratory visitors and the remainder being endemic or near-endemic to South Africa.
Sundowners: What better way to end off a day than with a chilled drink, watching in wonder as the sun sets across the horizon, a riot of pinks, yellows and purples. Sundowners have become a South African tradition, with people flocking to the beachfront, rooftop bars or favourite local spots to enjoy the last rays of sunshine whilst sipping on an ice-cold beverage. They’ve also become a favourite pastime of a safari, with short stops during evening game drives to watch the sunset and enjoy some drinks.
Braai food: If you live in South Africa or have ever travelled here before, then you will know the importance of a good-old-fashioned ‘braai’* – a household custom where friends and family come together, and food and drinks are shared. The group gathers around the braai, where meat is grilled over hot coals and served alongside a range of salads. You can expect delicious, hearty food, great company, good music and free-flowing beverages.
*Braai (n., v.) has several meanings. It can refer to the apparatus in which the fire is started and meat is cooked, a gathering of people who intend to braai, or the act of grilling food over open flames or hot coals.
Picture-perfect views: Table Mountain, Chapman’s Peak, Tsitsikamma Forest, Valley of Desolation, Blyde River Canyon, Drakensberg Mountains – South Africa is a country blessed with the most beautiful natural views and vantage points. But it’s during the summer months that these scenes of nature really shine. With a backdrop of bright blue sky and rays of sunshine streaming down, the scenery and natural attractions are simply breathtaking, and the vantage points offer the most incredible, unobstructed sights.
The festive season: Last but not least, perhaps the best part of the summer is the Christmas and New Year period! The summer months bring with it the festive season – the busiest, most vibrant and exciting time of the year. The joyful atmosphere becomes almost palatable as the festive cheer spreads across the country. Outdoor music festivals, food markets, cultural events and family-friendly festivals become weekly affairs, making both locals and travellers spoiled for choice with what to do. Let’s not forget the Christmas and New Year celebrations, from yuletide décor and fireworks to festive entertainments.