It’s winter time here in South Africa, but don’t let that deter you from visiting our beautiful country! From cheaper accommodation prices and quieter places of interest, to better game viewing opportunities and a host of activities – South Africa is as charming and magical in winter as it is any other time of the year. We’ve compiled a list of our top reasons to visit South Africa during the milder winter season from June to August.
Discounted accommodation rates: Because winter is off-peak season, most accommodations offer lower rates and winter specials to entice guests to travel during the ‘quiet’ period. Travellers can look forward to much cheaper accommodation prices at almost all guest houses, hotels, B&Bs, safari lodges and self-catering apartments. In comparison to the peak season prices that you can expect in summer, a holiday during winter is sure to be a lot lighter on your wallet!
Less tourists for a quieter stay: Compared to the constant hive of activity that occurs in the summer season, winter in South Africa is quiet and peaceful owing to the scarcer number of local and international tourists. Fewer visitors mean emptier accommodation and more availability. It also leads to quieter tourist attractions and activities (I’m looking at you, Table Mountain and Robben Island) and less busy roads to travel on. If a calm and quiet getaway is what you’re after, then winter is the perfect time to visit South Africa.
Better visibility on game drives: Although South Africa is a year-round safari destination, the winter period is actually the ideal time for game viewing as wildlife becomes easier to spot. The bush starts to thin out and lose some of its colour, which improves visibility. There’s no tall grass for the animals to hide in and they also tend to congregate around waterholes and rivers. Animals like hippos and crocodiles are also easier to spot because they don’t need to submerge themselves in the water to escape the heat.
Food that will warm your belly: From creamy soups and spicy boboties to flavoursome potjiekos and good-old-fashioned ‘braais’, South African winter food warms you up from the inside out. Our traditional foods are full of flavour and are served steaming hot. It’s the ideal thing to fill up your tummy on a chilly evening! Finish off the perfect meal with a sticky koeksister and a smooth glass of Amarula.
Cozy outdoor (or indoor) fires: Nothing beats warming yourself up next to a crackling log fire on a chilly evening with a glass of sherry in hand. Whether it’s an indoor fireplace, an outdoor fire-pit or a classic ‘braai’, a log fire is one of the best ways to keep warm during a South African winter. Most safari lodges have got the fire-pit idea down to a tee. Kept warm under mounds of blankets, guests can enjoy sitting in front of a blazing fire as they admire the starry African sky, share safari stories or enjoy a good meal.
Colourful flora along the Namaqualand Flower Route: Every year between July and October, the west coast becomes littered with blooming wild flowers. The riot of flowers is a volatile exhibition, with close to 4’000 different species of plant seeds awaiting germination that depends entirely on the weather. Thus, every year boasts a unique selection of beautiful flowers. Travellers can see the colourful phenomenon on the Namaqualand Flower Route, which lies about 5 hours north of Cape Town.
Arts and culture at Grahamstown National Arts Festival: The National Arts Festival is one of the most popular annual arts-and-culture festivals in Africa. Starting at the end of June or beginning of July, the festival runs for 11 days and features a programme full of drama, dance, theatre, comedy, music, film, experimental art, visual art exhibitions and a craft fair. The festival boasts the talents of both local and international artists and performers, and is sure to entertain people of all ages, interests and nationalities.
Fascinating water-based activities: If you consider yourself a water-baby, then a South African winter should bring a smile to your face. Shark-cage diving, whale-watching and the renowned Sardine Run can all be enjoyed during the cooler months, when great white sharks are more active and the visibility is better, when whales comes to the coastline to mate and calve, and when millions of sardines, sharks, dolphins, seals and birds come together in a feeding frenzy. Shark-cage diving is best done in Gansbaai, while whale-watching can be enjoyed in Hermanus and the Sardine Run can be marveled at along the Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal coastline.
Are there any other reasons you would want to come to South Africa in the winter? Feel free to share them with us!