Halfway through the year marks the start of safari peak season in the north, where the wildlife viewing is enhanced by less dense winter foliage and the concentration of game at waterholes. By contrast, this is the rainy midwinter “green season” in the Cape, with cooler temperatures, unpredictable rains, and even snow dusting the mountaintops.

Weather

Cape weather in June is unpredictable, with temperatures struggling to reach the mid-60s°F degrees, and plenty of rains to put a dampener on beach activities. However, the short-lasting cold fronts are followed by bright, clear days, and lush green landscapes are starting to flourish.

While this is the rainiest month in Western Cape, Johannesburg and the northern game parks receive almost no rainfall in June. However, frosty nights and cold mornings can take visitors to the high veld by surprise! Wherever you travel, this is a season to pack some warm clothing, especially for early morning and evening game drives. Expect average daytime temperatures of 64°F (18°C) Cape Town, 63°F (17°C) Johannesburg, and 77°F (25°C) in Kruger.

Crowds & Costs

Cape Town and the Western Cape receive relatively few visitors in June. You can find good deals, even during the 3-week school holidays, which begin late June and extend into July. Then, many local families travel. This is also the beginning of peak season for northern game park safaris, and many game parks can feel crowded, so book your desired accommodation well-ahead. Try to visit in early June if possible. While many hotels in Cape Town and along the Garden Route offer off-season discounts, the opposite is true in Kruger and other northern game parks, where peak-season rates apply.

Where to Go

No doubt about it, June is considered one of the prime months for game-viewing. The deciduous foliage has thinned out completely, and wildlife spotting is at its best as animals congregate around the waterholes. Kruger National Park and adjoining game parks can be crowded during the late-June mid-winter school holiday. Plan a visit in early June, or consider some of the lesser-known reserves further afield, such as Tswalu Kalahari and Kgaladi Transfrontier Park, famous for their black-maned lions. The sunny days are warm, but temperatures can plunge below freezing at night. Pack warm clothing--essential for early morning game drives.

June marks the start of the whale migration along the Cape coast, reason enough to head to Hermanus to watch the whales’ arrival. However, once the winter school break begins after mid-June, expect the roads and seaside towns to be busy with local families making the most of whale-watching season. And anticipate the chance of wet and cold winter weather along the coastal Garden Route. Keep driving north alongside the Indian Ocean, however, and you’ll discover that June is an ideal time for a warm and sunny beach holiday around Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

What to Do

South Africa boasts some of the world’s top golf courses, and June is a perfect time to tee off at Leopard Creek, on the southern border of Kruger National Park. Laid out along the Crocodile River, this signature course has hosted some of South Africa’s top golf competitions. Where else will you see hippo wallowing in the water hazards, or giraffes strutting across the greens? For the ultimate golf challenge, head to the Legend Golf Resort, in Limpopo; its Extreme 19th hole sprawls atop the Hanglip Mountain and is accessible solely by helicopter.

June likely won’t be the ideal time to drive the Garden Route, but north of Port Elizabeth the Wild Coast beckons with milder weather. Combine this stunning swatch of Indian Ocean coastline with a drive inland to the small university city of Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) to indulge in all the fun of the National Arts Festival. Spanning 11 days and the gamut of arts, it guarantees to enthrall. It attracts more than 200,000 visitors, so make your reservations early. Next, head to nearby King William’s Town to follow the “Nelson Mandela Route” via Mthatha (with its Nelson Mandela Museum), Qunu (where Mandela spent his childhood), and Mveso (his birthplace, with a thatched open-air museum).

Events in June

National Arts Festival. Makhanda (Grahamstown), in Eastern Cape, hosts South Africa’s largest arts festival, featuring genres from art to fringe theater. Performances take place in dozens of venues across town. Pack warm clothes—at almost 2,000 feet (600 m) elevation, Makhanda can get chilly.

Soweto International Jazz Festival. Each mid-June, the Johannesburg suburb of Soweto resounds to four days of jazz and other musical sounds. Local artistes perform alongside international Grammy winners.

Winter Wonderland Festival. Held in Gordon’s Bay over two weekends in June, this decade-old festival is a great place to take kids. Set against a Rivera-like backdrop, it includes a Carnival parade, Festival of Lights, a Winter Palace with real snow falling, plus activities from fun-fair rides to face painting.

Traveling to South Africa in June? Check out these great itineraries

Classic South Africa: Kruger Safari, Lodge & Treehouse – 6 Days: Six sensational days in South Africa’s premier game park, including sunrise bush walks, Stone Age archaeological sites, the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Center, plus the Panoramic Route to/from Johannesburg.

Explore South Africa: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Safari & Beach - 11 Days. Scuba diving, game-viewing, and wine-tasting combine on this tour, which includes Johannesburg and Soweto.

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