Summer is definitely here. Cape Town and the Western Cape are ideal, with warm, breezy days and clear skies perfect for laying out on the sands. However, the northern game parks are now getting toasty, summer rains are growing more frequent, and humidity levels are high during the day (mosquitoes also become more numerous).
Johannesburg isn’t as hot as Kruger, but is similarly prone to occasional and spectacular afternoon thunderstorms. Expect average temperatures of 73°F (23°C) in Cape Town, 77°F (25°C) in Johannesburg, and 86°F (30°C) in Kruger.
Crowds & Costs
November is a forgiving month, without the surging demand of December with its school holidays and tourist flood. Cape Town and beach resorts have yet to fill up, and other vacation venues and scenic highways are relatively quiet. And because it’s the shoulder season, accommodation and airline rates are still lower than peak summer months around the corner.
Where to Go
November is a fine month to explore Cape Town and Western Cape before summer crowds flock and while the weather is good for sunning on the beach, visiting heritage sites such as Robbin Island, plus hiking atop Table Mountain and wine-tasting in the nearby Winelands. This is also the last month for viewing whales—a highlight of a road trip along the Garden Route. Extend your coastal journey along the Wild Coast to iSimangaliso, where female loggerhead and leatherback turtles begin to crawl ashore to nest on the beaches of the Indian Ocean.
Combine your coastal journey with a game-viewing safari at Addo Elephant Park, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, or other game reserve a short distance inland of the coast. While not considered the ideal time for a safari, November—the start of the “green season”—actually has its advantages, despite relatively high temperatures, frequent rains (mostly afternoon thunderstorms), and thickening foliage.
First, Kruger National Park and other game parks are full of newborns—and lions, leopards and cheetahs out to feast on the weak links in the herds. Second, the morning skies are crystal-clear and perfect for photographers. Plus, the game parks are now on summer time, allowing more daylight hours for game drives. The early morning and evening game drives will now be warm, but you’ll want to pack a waterproof.
What to Do
One of the most magical experiences to be enjoyed in November is a night-time turtle-tracking adventure along the soft-sand beaches of iSimangaliso Wetland Park and adjacent regions of KwaZulu Natal. Richards Bay and St. Lucia are great bases, and even better are the lodges further north within iSimangaliso. Many of the latter also offer snorkeling and diving. Take the plunge to discover some of the best coral reef sites in South Africa, boasting some 1,250 fish species. And iSimangaliso wetlands is also a spectacular venue for birding.
Exploring the Bushveld on horseback is growing in popularity, especially in the northern provinces of Limpopo, Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal. Hop into the saddle on a bush-wise Boerperd horse for a game-viewing safari around Clarens, Fouriesburg, or Waterberg.
Events in November
Swartland Heritage Festival. Held in the West Coast town of Paternoster, this annual 2-day event celebrates Swartland’s viticulture heritage and features local fare plus live music.
Cape Town Bierfest. For a frothy good time, check out the Mother City’s annual gala beer extravaganza. Break out your lederhosen and dirndls to celebrate in true Bavarian style with steins of wholesome beer, plus cheeses and wursts. More than 60 local and international breweries are represented.
Toy Run. More than 75,000 motorcyclists throughout South Africa turn out for regional charity rides. Riders adorn their bikes with toys to be donated to needy children. The main event is in Cape Town, ending at Killarney Raceway.
Traveling to South Africa in November? Check out these great itineraries.
South Africa Road Trip: Cape Town, Winelands, Garden Route & Eastern Cape Safari – 16 Days. Lots of fantastic activities, from sea kayaking to game-drives, are packed into this 2-week adventure.
Food & Culture in Cape Town – 6 Days. From chocolate tasting to a home-cooking experience, this itinerary will satisfy every traveler’s inner gourmand.