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Winter activities to do in South Africa

We are heading into the winter months here in South Africa and now is as good a time as any to have a look at what you can do in South Africa to keep busy and warm as summer slowly melts away. This is our season of whales and safari sightings, which means that although the temperatures are dropping, there is plenty to look forward to in the natural world!

Winter Safari

Embarking on a safari during the winter months is a very good decision. Being the dry season, the bush is a lot less dense and with fewer waterholes around, animal sightings are abundant! As this is outside of the peak season, you can look forward to lower rates but remember to book well in advance if you are wanting to visit places like the Kruger National Park as lodges do get booked up during this period for this very reason.

Whale Watching

Between June and November, the southern right and humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to South Africa for breeding, birthing, and raising their young and one of the best places to view them is in Hermanus - a gorgeous town in the Western Cape, also known as the ‘Whale Watching Capital of South Africa’. Apart from the scenic cliff paths where you can see whales breaching while you walk, there is also a two-hour boat ride that departs from the harbour that will get you close-up sightings of these massive mammals. You can either visit for the day or choose to spend one or two nights in one of the beautiful boutique hotels overlooking the ocean.

The Greatest Shoal on Earth

Another activity for the marine lovers is the annual sardine run that occurs during the winter months and sees the migration of millions (if not billions) of sardines along the east coast of South Africa. This natural phenomenon, similar to that of Tanzania’s Great Migration, is the largest migratory event on earth and attracts other marine species in large numbers such as dolphins, sharks and whales for a feast of epic proportions. The best time to plan your adventure is from May to July as the migration makes it way along the coastline of Port Elizabeth in the Easten Cape and travels north into KwaZulu-Natal. To get the most out of your sea safari, we recommend booking with a dive charter company that specifically offers sardine run dive packages. Just make sure you have your sea legs on and your cameras at the ready ...

Image: South Africa Tourism

Cape Winelands

If you are not quite ready to get on a boat or into a safari vehicle then the Cape winelands is another great option to combat the winter blues. Franschhoek – aka ‘The Food and Wine Capital of South Africa’ – is adorned with delightful wineries, boutique guesthouses and exquisite galleries showcasing South Africa’s local talent. Cozying up to a fireplace with views of the Franschhoek Valley is one way to get the spirits up!

Museums of South Africa

One of the best ways to spend those cold wintery days is walking around some of South Africa’s incredible museums. From the rise and fall of Apartheid, to the journey of Nelson Rolihlala Mandela, and onto the life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, there are some special places to learn about South Africa’s past and what makes it the country it is today.

Suggested points of interest: Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg; Mandela House, Soweto; Nelson Mandela Capture Site and Visitor Centre, KwaZulu-Natal; The Phoenix Settlement, KwaZulu-Natal; Zeitz Mocca – Museum of Contemporary Art, Cape Town; District Six Museum, Cape Town; Bo-Kaap Museum, Cape Town;; The Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town

Visit KwaZulu-Natal

Not many people know this insider secret, but KwaZulu-Natal is the place to be in June and July and here's why: the weather is mild (you may even find yourself swimming in the Indian Ocean waters at one of the many golden beaches around); some of the best game reserves in the country can be found in this province (an approximate three hour drive from King Shaka International Airport); and the Drakensberg Mountains (World Heritage Site) offers excellent hiking trails and other outdoor activities to keep you moving as temperatures lower. Combining the beach, bush and berg into a 10 day South African adventure is a brilliant way to enjoy the winter months.

Two Oceans Aquarium

Sharks, penguins, finding Nemo's, the Two Oceans Aquarium has it all! This is a beautiful place to be on a rainy day, and spending an hour strolling between tanks large and small with a cappuccino in hand is our kind of fun. Your visit contributes to the work being done to protect our seas and as you will discover, the aquarium plays a huge role in educating people of all ages about the ocean by opening up colourful conversation about marine conservation. Two thumbs up from us!

We hope this has inspired you to consider visiting us during the winter months and to explore some of South Africa's unique places.

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