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Best time to go to South Africa?

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Looking for ideas and suggestions for a first trip to South Africa in 2015. We will be there for about 18 days, and we will probably split it: 10-11 days safari (maybe a Sabi Sand or Timbavati / Phinda / St.Lucia combination), and 7-8 days Cape Town and the Western Cape area.
The main focus is animals – not a specific list, but variety is key. Plus, would love to see penguins, whales, sharks, dolphins, etc when in CT area. I love birds, but DH does not care about them, so I will need to get my birding fix between the game drives and while visiting other destinations (botanical garden in CT, etc.), you get the idea. Looking for additional suggestions in this area, too.
Now, with these parameters, when do you think it’s the best time to go (from both a weather and wild animals opportunities point of view)? We are totally flexible. Thanks

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