Weather in South Africa

Jan 26th, 2010, 03:35 PM
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Weather in South Africa

So... there's a slight possibility I might get to plan another trip to South Africa! After seeing our videos and photos (and with much badgering from me about how much they'd love it), my mom and dad are getting interested in maybe doing a trip together in a year or two. Their choice would be South Africa, rather than East Africa... but I might be able to sneak them into Botswana for a bit, if it didn't break the bank. (Fingers are crossed that they don't change their minds, as I would love to introduce them to my favorite continent, and see more of South Africa myself.)

I know other posts have tried to tackle this subject, but I'm having a tough time getting my head around it... when is a good time of year to go if you hope to visit the following places:

Cape Town (especially interested in shark watching -- but not cage diving)
Kruger area
another safari area... considering Phinda, the Kalahari or possibly Chobe
Victoria Falls

I know this is casting a wide net, but in all seriousness this would be a one and only trip to Africa for my parents. (I know everyone says that, but in their case I really think it would be true.) They've specifically expressed an interest in Cape Town, the falls and seeing lots of animals. They don't care about planning beach time, since we have family in Hawaii... as my mom put it, "If I'm going all the way to Africa, I don't want to sit on a beach!"

My husband and I have only been to Madikwe and the Pilanesberg area, in August, so we know what the dead of winter is like there. But is there a good month for trying to combine all these sites throughout the country? We'd most likely need to travel between about February and July.

Thanks for any feedback from the South Africa experts!
MyDogKyle is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 05:23 PM
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If you months of travel are from Feb to July, I'd suggest July because that's when the sharks are most active at Seal Island. It was a good time to see animals in the Kruger area and Phinda. The prices are not high season for South Africa. In July, the elephants gather in larger numbers in Chobe. But, there can be rain in Cape Town that time of year. I had 9 days in July with no rain, but prior to my arrival it was rainy each day. See this link.

http://www.uyaphi.com/afriweather.htm

What a wonderful family trip that would be! Then you can take them to Mongolia.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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I am no expert, but I agree with Lynn who is! I would go in July, when the game viewing in Kruger, the Kalahari and Chobe is best (although lots of people like to safari in the green season). Vic Falls won't be as impressive in July, the dry season, but still worth a visit if you are in the area (Chobe).

Cape Town can be anything in July. When we lived there for a year (from July to July) in 2004-2005, the first July was hot and positively drought-like, while the second July was wet, cold and miserable. There is no way of predicting what the weather will be.
Robin
canadian_robin is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 06:11 PM
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2 trips does not an expert make! Living in Cape Town for a year, an expert makes.
atravelynn is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 09:30 PM
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Yikes, I hope not! The word "expert" makes me nervous!
Robin
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Jan 27th, 2010, 06:47 AM
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I've been to Kruger in April and August, and I liked Kruger in April a lot better. It was still somewhat green; in fact, it was a perfect mix of greens and golds from the grasses curing. The weather was also nice. We had hot days, warm days, and one or two cold evenings!

I don't know how nice April is in Cape Town.

I personally think July looks too much like August after watching multiple years' worth of Africam--sure, it's a great time to see the animals, but the landscape seems a bit drab for me. The thought of seeing all of the seals as Lynn mentioned is intriguing!
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Jan 27th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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One thing I should have mentioned when considering July is to avoid Kruger during the South African school holidays, when the park is crazily busy. Some of the larger, more popular camps fill up on the first day bookings are allowed (11 months in advance). You can find the school holiday dates with a quick Google search. The schools are usually off the last week of June and the first two weeks of July. Robin
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Jan 27th, 2010, 10:20 AM
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Wow, thanks for all the responses already. I really appreciate it. And thanks for the warning about school holidays!

The main thing for me is to give my parents a great experience. If July ends up being the best time for us to go, then we will have to wait until 2012 (because of other commitments in July 2011)... so in some ways I would prefer to go in April/May/June just because we could seize the day and plan it for 2011.

Hard to know what to do. We've always planned our trips specifically around the "best" time to watch wildlife, but for my mom and dad Cape Town and the falls are as important as the safari part. (The shark thing was my idea, but it's not that important to them, I don't think.)

So I've heard opinions about April and July... any thoughts about May or June?
MyDogKyle is offline  
Jan 27th, 2010, 02:19 PM
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May/June will not be that different from July in terms of game viewing. May to August is the dry season. Why don't you have a look at the trip reports for Kruger on www.sanparks.org (go to the drop-down list of parks and find Kruger and then to the reports). The dates of the trips are indicated, so you can read some May/June trip reports and see what you think. Robin
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Jan 27th, 2010, 05:13 PM
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Thanks for the link, Robin
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Jan 27th, 2010, 05:26 PM
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Oh, and Lynn... MY parents? In Mongolia? About as likely as getting them to Uganda. But who knows, maybe when they see our pictures...

I am just thrilled that they've shown an interest in South Africa! We tried to pitch it to my husband's parents too, and they're not biting.
MyDogKyle is offline  
Jan 27th, 2010, 05:36 PM
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Robin--Where exactly are the trip reports on the www.sanparks.org website. I cannot find them. Thanks
StuQ is offline  
Jan 27th, 2010, 08:36 PM
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How bizarre! I can't find it (the list of trip reports for Kruger) either. Here is the link for the list of reports for Kgalagadi NP in the Kalahari. There certainly was one for Kruger in the past - I don't know why it wouldn't have been maintained. Perhaps someone else can tell us how to find the list for Kruger? My apologies! Robin

http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewt...a4329dec4ec710
canadian_robin is offline  
Jan 27th, 2010, 08:48 PM
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I did some more searching on the SAN Parks website. There are some trip reports here (link below) for Kruger, but the postings are a mixed bag - they are not all trip reports and the list is not organized like the one above for the arid parks. I went through the first couple of pages and looked at a few of the entries, and I was able to find two trip reports from Kruger in July, so it's worth a quick look. Robin


http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewf...b8d532f5307fbf
canadian_robin is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 12:46 AM
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An addendum to the warning from Robin about school hols. It seems you are not looking at 2010, but don't use the 2010 schedule. Because of the World Cup, the "private" schools that usually have a three-term year have changed to a four-term year for 2010. Which is what the "Government" school use. (Government = "Public", but not in the sense of UK public schools.) Tjis is so that at the time of the World cup their hols coincide.

My assumption is that 2011 will be similar to the schedules for 2009. You can still find the Government 2009 calendar here: www.info.gov.za/aboutsa/school_cal/2009.htm. And try the Calendar option at www.stithian.com for an example of a private school. (At present they still have the 2009 2nd and 3rd terms listed there.) For somewhere like Kruger, the Government hols will I think be the most important.
ArthurSA is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Thanks, all.

My latest update is that I wrote to Gareth at Rhino Africa (who planned the safari portion of our trip last August) and asked what time of year he would suggest, and here's what he said:

"Weather in Cape Town is not great between May and October as this is our winter months and as it is on the coast, the wind and chill from the ocean adds to the cold weather with a lot of fog. Kruger National Park is great throughout the year but it is wet during December / January as the summer rains hit the region. This also increases the chance of malaria.

Chobe and Vic Falls are very similar to the Kruger. Also lots of rain from December through to January and increase in malaria. So, my best suggestion to do all regions is either March and April or from late October into November. This will allow you to experience all regions with some great weather."

But I've also seen shark-watching statistics that suggest you'd have a 95% chance of seeing them between May and mid-Sept., and only about a 65% chance in April.

So, perhaps I can't have everything...
MyDogKyle is offline  
Jan 28th, 2010, 07:04 PM
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I think cold is relative. We found Cape Town in Sep to be similar to winter in California.
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Jan 28th, 2010, 08:25 PM
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Tentative 2011 and 2012 South African school holidays may be viewed here:

http://www.pmg.org.za/files/gazettes...olcalendar.pdf
Robin
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Jan 29th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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Thanks, Robin!

Patty, I agree. We live near San Francisco (as you know ), so we're fine with the cold and the fog. And I went to grad school in Rochester, NY... so I also know that "cold" in the Bay Area is nothing compared to other parts of the world! My main weather concern with Cape Town would be pouring rain that would put a damper on hiking, penguins, and other outdoor pursuits.

FYI for anyone who might get some useful information out of this discussion (other than, of course, myself), I got a response from another South African travel agent who also recommended late March and April as a good time for combining Cape Town, Vic Falls, Kruger area, and Chobe (she especially recommended the Savute and Linyanti areas).
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Jan 29th, 2010, 03:10 PM
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When we lived in CT for a year, the locals referred to late March, April and early May (Autumn) and September and October (Spring) as the "secret seasons" - the months when the weather is lovely but there are no tourists, who haven't figure out how good the weather is during those months. This seems to follow what Gareth has told you. I went through my journal for those periods during our stay (for the year) and I say little about the weather, so it must have been good. As I mentioned in my earlier post, our second July in Cape Town was cold and wet but our first was hot and very dry. And yes, "cold" is relative - we were still in shorts and T-shirts during the miserable July. Even in the worst weather, you would be able to carry on. However, we went days without sunshine, with the result that some Canadians who were visiting at the time spent days waiting for a good day to go to the top of Table Mtn. Assuming that you will only be in CT for a few days, the weather could be a problem in July. Since you need to travel between February and July, perhaps Gareth has the right idea. Just watch for the school holidays in April - that would be the time to be in Cape Town and not in the national parks. Robin
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