South Africa is now a leading tourist destination, renowned for its world-class safaris, award-winning wines, beautiful mountains, scenic hiking trails, and unique flora. Due to the relatively mild climate, South Africa has something to offer year round, although the month of October is a particularly good time to visit. As the last few weeks of winter end and spring comes around with fresh flowers, green plains, and warmer weather, there are plenty of fun activities to do in October.
Game viewing and safari opportunities
One of the main attractions of South Africa is its abundant wildlife and game viewing opportunities. To experience the true essence of Africa, a safari experience is a must. Book an African luxury safari and get up close and personal with the Big 5 (lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalos, and leopards) and other animals without compromising comfort, elegance, and well-being. October is a good time to observe animals in their natural habitat as the lasting dryness of the winter months makes it easier to spot them in the low-lying grass. Additionally, they tend to congregate more regularly at waterholes and rivers to quench their thirst. In October, you will avoid the winter rains of the previous months and the oncoming summer heat. The major game reserves in South Africa are the Kruger National Park, Pilanesberg National Park, and Madikwe Game Reserve.
Whale watching season begins in July as the Southern Right Whales migrate from Antarctica to the relatively warmer waters of South Africa. Although calving season is usually over by August, there are plenty of whale watching opportunities until November, starting from the Western Cape coast all the way to KwaZulu-Natal. Watch out for blowing, breaching (when the whale leaps out of the water), lobtailing (slapping its tail on the water), and spy hopping (lifting just its head vertically out of the water). The best places to go whale watching include False Bay, Hermanus, Cape Agulhas, and the Overberg and Southern Cape, as well as the Garden Route (Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, and Knysna).
The friendly Humpback whales can be seen from May until November in Cape waters as they migrate from Antarctica to warmer regions such as Mozambique and Madagascar where they go to breed and give birth.
Spring and flowers
Due to its diverse topography of arid plains, humid coastal regions, valleys, and mountains, there is a large variety of plants and flowers in South Africa, particularly around the Cape region. Its unique flora attract many visitors and nature lovers, particularly the fynbos and spring flowers, which are abundant in October after the winter rains. The Kirstenbosch National Park is a favourite spot for Capetonians during flower season. The West Coast National Park, an hour north of Cape Town, is another great attraction in the spring. Hike up Kasteel Poort to look for proteas and red ericas, and find Elephant’s Eye and more fynbos at the Silvermine Nature Reserve. You will find beautiful white daisies in Darling in the Western Cape. The Cedarberg Mountains are another main attraction for walking trails, caves, rock formations, and bulbous flowers. Finally, venture out of Cape Town and head to Tankwa Karoo National Park for stunning views and unique flora.
Warmer weather in October means better opportunities for hiking. After the rainy and cold winter months, October is the perfect time to get back on those hiking trails, before heading into the scorching hot and windy summer days. Some of the best places to hike for the optimal scenic view in the Western Cape are Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, Chapman’s Peak, Silvermine Nature Reserve, Cape Point Nature Reserve, and Kogelberg Trail. For a more relaxed walking trail, try St James Coastal Walk, Cecilia Forest, Kommetjie to Noordhoek along the beach, Constantia Nek, and a walk in Kirstenbosch National Park.
South Africa is home to a large number of bird species, most of them endemic to the country. Take a drive down to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope to look for shearwaters, petrels, storm-petrels, and Cape Gannet. Visit the penguins at Boulders Beach, or at Stony Point in Betty’s Bay. Head to Durban on a birding safari and look for subtropical species. In KwaZulu-Natal by the Drakensberg region, you will find forest and grassland birds. Zululand is another region famous for its bird species such as the pink-throated Twinspot, the Neergaards Sunbird, and the lemon-breasted Canary. Many visitors and nature lovers choose to combine a game viewing safari with bird watching activities in the Kruger National Park.