I think the interwebs will usually tell you that dry season (the country’s winter) is the best time to go on safari in most of South Africa. This happens from May – October when less foliage is on trees making it easier to spot animals. The lack of available water draws more wildlife to dams and waterholes, allowing for easier sightseeing. ELEPHANTS AND WARTHOGS AND ZEBRAS OH MY! Dry weather also makes for better road conditions and and fewer mosquitoes SCORE. Like many things in life, there’s an exception to that “rule.”
South Africa is a mixed bag in terms of climate. The “best” time to visit is a hard thing to answer because it kinda depends on what you’re after. Is it animals? In what part of the country? What about wildflowers? Ok, where? Sunbathing? Whale watching? Scuba diving? Surfing? The southern part of the country differs in climate from other parts of the country. Before you know it, your South Africa research sesh has dragged on all afternoon and look at that, you’ve missed your Pilates class today. Yep, been there. Allow me to help.
Game Reserves near Cape Town
Addo Elephant Park is situated on the Garden Route near Port Elizabeth where summer is the driest time of year. November to March is an amazing time to visit, and I can say that from very recent experience! If anyone is looking for a life altering safari experience, Gorah Elephant Camp will blow you away…like probably maybe definitely take your breath away. The moment we drove up, the watering hole was full of zebras, elephants and warthogs. Narnia, I tell you!
Greater Kruger National Park
Unlike Addo, Kruger National Park is best experienced in the dry season from May to September. I disregarded this information and visited in November with the Royal Malewane which was a damn good decision if I do say so myself. Imagine eating lunch with the biggest (and cutest) heard of elephants you’ve ever seen from the comfort of your terrace…or having an elephant come sip water out of your private pool in the backyard. It was unlike anything I’ve witnessed. Temperatures were in the high 80s (which kiiinda felt like in the 100s at times) and we had a few rain showers, but we also saw the big 5 in a day here. GaaASppppPpp. It was crazy spectacular.
What to Wear on Safari in South Africa
I think it’s important to start out by saying the African bush is not a fashion show. The animals certainly don’t care if you’re in yoga pants or a chic jumpsuit. Depending on time of day and year, however, you’ll want to look into layers and fabrics and colors 🙂
Layers – Game drives typically take place early in the morning during sunrise when temps are still low and only rise higher and higher and then again in the late afternoon when the sun is setting. Layers are important to remember (I get cold VERY easily). Both safaris I experienced provided rain ponchos, but it’s probably best to throw one in your bag, too!
Fabrics – Lightweight, breathable fabrics are ideal here, especially those that don’t make a lot of noise while walking or moving around.
Colors – The best way to get close to the wildlife is to blend in with your surroundings as much as possible by going neutral. Think khaki, hunter green, browns, white, etc.
After the morning drive, I usually changed into something to lounge in for breakfast, poolside naps, and lunch. I didn’t take a single pair of heels because they aren’t necessary. Think boots for safari and sandals/flip flops for lounging. I took a couple of casual cotton dresses to throw on after drives and as for all those fancy dresses hanging in the closet below…I didn’t touch them! Jumping in and out of jeeps during excursions really isn’t a dress-appropriate event. Dinners usually took place shortly after arriving back to camp from the afternoon/evening drive, so casual is key.
Leggings, joggers and other cropped pants work perfectly for bush adventures. If you can jump in and out of jeeps without making a lot of noise, they pass the test! Here are some of my favorites right now including these blue Patagonia Traveler Pants that y’all keep asking about!
I brought along off-white (Madewell) and hunter green (Style Stalker) jumpsuits for an elevated safari look. Here are some that I’m currently crushing on:
Think tanks, button downs, vests and rain jackets for coverage up top!
My Backcountry North Face boots in Dachshund Brown are e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. That was an obnoxious way of going about typing it, but emphasis is necessary here. I wear these babies long after the safari hats were put up and recommend them to anyone who likes comfy footwear 🙂 The best part is…they’re on SALE y’all! I can’t end this section without talking about my newfound love for Birkenstocks. Yes, they’re back, y’all…for better or for worse. I used to wear them in the 9th grade with socks. Really glad that trend (in my head) went out the door byyyyeee. Here is the pair I’ve been wearing for a couple of months, and I’m obsessed.
Hats for sun coverage 🙂
Scarves for warmth on early drives 🙂
Camera bags for protection 🙂
The important thing to remember here is Les(s) is more…especially in that African sun 😉 Should you choose to forgo all clothing, that’s okay too. They do, after all, bless the rains down in Africa – fully clothed or not.