Summer Travel Spotlight: Republic of South Africa
South African winter is the perfect summer. Although the seasons in RSA are not too distinct, it can be said that the height of summer falls in January and the depths of winter in July. The hottest days of the year can be unbearably hot with temperatures well over 100°F, but winters are known for crisp blue skies, moderate daytime temperatures and refreshing nights. Get up early and you might well see frost on the ground, but soon after the sun comes up you will be basking in its rays.
Since you will most likely enter the country via Johannesburg or Cape Town, missing out on a day or two in RSA’s finest cities is not an option. In Jo’burg make sure to visit the Apartheid Museum and The Cradle of Humankind archaeological site. If you’re more into drinks than history, make your way to the Hideout Bar, a favourite among backpackers who often stay in the Curiocity hostel next door.
In Cape Town, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is the beating heart of the city and its historical port. Dramatically set on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, the waterfront is a prime retail and hospitality destination, while still operating as a commercial harbour.
From there, make your way to the Boulders Beach for your first African wildlife experience. Swimming with a colony of penguins residing on the beach is likely the cutest safari ever.
South Africa is a mountainous country and has recently gained popularity among the global climbing community. Located less than three hours’ drive from Jo’burg is the sport climbing mecca of Waterval Boven. Climbing at the spectacular Waterfall Crag right next to a huge cascade is an unforgettable experience.
Closer to Cape Town, in the beautiful area of Cederberg Mountains, lies Rocklands, a bouldering paradise discovered by climbers only two decades ago. During South African winter, it is the best place for “climbing celebrity” spotting, with the world’s best athletes all heading to Rocklands for the season.
With a 3000 km coastline exposed to oceanic swells, South Africa is increasingly known as one of the globe’s prime surfing destinations. The best waves can be caught in July and August but RSA’s beaches are worth visiting year-round.
The KwaZulu-Natal province on the east coast is a beginners’ paradise. Durban's South Beach is the place to be for those who enjoy a touristy, beachfront vibe, with plenty of attractions such as bars, retail stalls and rickshaw rides. Those searching for a quieter, wilder experience should head 100 km south to Umzumbe.
There are plenty of surfing schools located all along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, and the area is also growing in popularity as a prime diving destination. Even during winter months, the water temperature rarely falls below 70°F.
Seasoned surfers hunting for the next huge swell all head to Dungeons on the Cape Peninsula. To say that the weather might be a little rough is an understatement, but every winter Dungeons delivers some of the world’s biggest surfs. Those who are not scared of sharp rocks and sharks might just catch the wave of a lifetime.
Even if you’re not a pro-athlete, South Africa offers unlimited potential for outdoor exploration. You can do it on a budget or go all-inclusive. Test your limits, or book a family tour, or a guided introduction to climbing or surfing. There is also hiking, 4x4 rides, safaris… RSA has it all and winter is the best time to go!