Why a Winter Holiday in South Africa is Exactly Right

beach winter south africa

When you hear about visiting a place in winter, most people would picture snowy ski or sledding hills, and ski lodges where you can sip warm tea or cocoa. South Africa can get snow way up on the mountains, but it doesn’t usually stick to the ground enough to stay, and the cold is more like a breezy autumn day elsewhere than a true freezing winter like most are used to.  This means, coming to South Africa in wintertime has some major benefits!

Less Money, More Fun

Since South African revenue mostly comes from tourism in the more popular spring and summer months, many places will list specials for “off season” rates. You can save a ton of money on your trip by booking these accommodation specials and trip specials in the off season when all the prices are so much lower. You’ll get the very same experience, but for a lot less.

Pale Skin or Auburn Tresses?

No problem! You won’t burn in the winter sun, you may just get a bit rosy. If you’re naturally pale, and worried about showing up in a place known for its sunshine, have no fears – every other person who lives here will be equally pale in the wintertime due to less sunlight hours overall. That’s good news for people who burn easily or break out in chronic freckles at so much as the mention of sun. This doesn’t mean you won’t see the sunshine or that it won’t be abundant, many winter days are spent pleasantly temperate with a light warm breeze, it’s just not as punishing in the wintertime.

Here for the Wildlife?

Most visitors to South Africa come for the Big Five. If you’re no exception to that rule, that’s fine! You should definitely try to come in winter then, because you will find that the animals’ habits have not changed, only the amount of traffic has.  You’ll get clear paths to go see as many big creatures as your heart desires, and that also means perfect photo opportunities without other tourists crowding in their jeeps and taking flash photos.

The Famed South African Braai

Some places in the world call it a barbeque but that’s not exactly right either unless you’re barbequing by cooking over wood, and usually in a stone oven with an open top or vented top. Braaing can also be done in a Weber grill, the general rule there is to use wood. You will rarely catch a South African daring to use a gas grill in this country, preferring the traditional brick or stone open-oven design to braai. It creates the most smoky and amazing flavours in the food cooked on the grid, and it’s a deep customary tradition here. Winter is a fantastic time to fire up a braai, and most places either have one, or have access to one nearby!  You can roast marshmallows or snack sausages over the fire at night while enjoying some hot cocoa to take the chill from the air, and see what the fuss is all about.

Winter Means Whales

Our wintertime is the perfect time to come to celebrate the arrival of the Southern Right Whales in areas like Hermanus, who hold festivals to commemorate the event! June is the very beginning of this time, but September and October you’ll see a lot more of them as they come close to the shore to breed and raise their little ones. If you have never seen a whale up close, you really need to – it’s not an experience you will ever forget. There is a serene majesty to these behemoths of the sea, and they’re only here for winter!


That one word alone is what has a lot of people seeking a holiday in the first place. Finding solitude and quiet from a noisy and busy world is often the very reason people take one. It’s much easier to come by in winter when there are not droves of tourists everywhere standing in queues, and making it hard to get anywhere. They stand in the way of your photos, they make you wait longer to get anywhere, or to eat somewhere, even to use a public restroom!  There are far less people in wintertime, and you’ll get a much better and authentic experience by being among the residents.

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