When is the best time to visit Kruger National Park?

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 20.05.2024

For many an in-the-know wildlife-lover, Kruger — South Africa's first national park — is one of the greatest game reserves on earth. Covering an area the size of Wales, it boasts a bounty of incredible beasts within its borders, including an abundance of the Big Five. But with seasonal variations, deciding the best time to visit Kruger National Park can be tricky, which is where this feature will come in handy...


When is the best time to visit Kruger National Park?

Offering different landscapes, conditions and experiences around the year, the best time to visit Kruger National Park depends on what you want to see and do.

These differences are due to the fact that the park experiences two main seasons — dry and wet — with the May to September dry season usually considered to be the best time for wildlife watching. 

As for the reason, during these dry months, the sparseness of vegetation draws animals to congregate around watering holes and rivers, making them easier to spot. At the same time, the weather is cooler and more comfortable for game drives.

Meanwhile, the October to April wet season sees the park adorn lusher livery. Being migratory season, this is also the best time to visit Krueger National Park if you love birds, or fancy seeing new borns — many animals give birth through the wet season. 

In addition to increased rainfall, the wet season also heralds a period of hotter, more humid weather, with afternoon thunderstorms common. 

In summary, the dry season is better for a broader range of wildlife-watching experiences in cooler conditions, but if you prefer lusher landscapes and have a special interest in birds, consider visiting in the wet season.

Wondering what experiences are in store when you visit? Browse our Kruger Adventure itinerary, or talk to our South Africa travel experts.

Lions in Kruger National Park South Africa

To see bigger numbers of the Big Five, dry season is best time to visit Kruger National Park © Shutterstock

Month by month weather guide to Kruger National Park

To help you figure out the best time to visit Kruger National Park to satisfy your preferences and interests, here's more detail on weather around the year.

Weather in Kruger National Park in January

Falling in the rainy season, January is among the wettest months in Kruger National Park, with heavy rain often falling in short, intense thunderstorms during the afternoon or evening. 

It’s also one of the hottest months of the year in the park, with temperatures ranging from 20°C (68°F) in the early mornings to 30°C (86°F) during the day.

With this heat comes high humidity levels, which can make walking safaris more challenging.

Weather in Kruger National Park in February

In February, Kruger National Park continues to experience wet season conditions. As such, it’s similar to January — hot, humid and rainy, with temperatures ranging from 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F).

On the plus side, rain usually comes in the form of heavy thunderstorms in the afternoon or evening, which can be pretty spectacular. And, thanks to said rain and storms, the green scenery is stunning.

Weather in Kruger National Park in March

Though it still experiences wet season rain, heat and humidity, March sees Kruger National Park begin to transition into its drier period.

While daytime temperatures are hot, typically ranging from the mid to high 30s°C, night-time temperatures start to cool down. In addition, March sees a decrease in rainfall in comparison with the peak wet season months of December to February.

That said, afternoon thunderstorms are still common, but lessen as the month progresses.

New to this part of the world? Read our first-timers guide to Kruger National Park.


Safari road in Kruger National Park © Shutterstock

Weather in Kruger National Park in April

April marks the transition from summer to autumn in Kruger National Park. As such, it heralds cooler temperatures and a reduction in rainfall.

In terms of the numbers, daytime temperatures typically range from about 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). 

While the landscape remains lush and green, reduced rainfall means drier conditions start to thin the vegetation. This improves visibility for watching wildlife as animals become more concentrated around water sources.

Note that while birdwatching remains good in April, migratory species may start leaving as the month progresses.

Weather in Kruger National Park in May

Come May, Kruger National Park sees the onset of the dry season, which brings about a distinct change in weather. By which we mean cooler temperatures, low humidity, and minimal rainfall.

Daytime temperatures range from 25°C to 28°C (77°F to 82°F), while night-time and early morning temperatures can drop as low as 10°C (50°F) or even cooler, especially towards the end of the month. 

Weather in Kruger National Park in June

June sees Kruger National Park in the heart of its dry season, with daytime temperatures ranging from 22°C to 26°C (72°F to 79°F).

Meanwhile, expect it to be pretty cold at night and in the early morning, when it can drop to below 10°C (50°F), particularly in southern areas of the park. 

Rainfall is very rare in June, with the sparse vegetation and drying up of some smaller waterholes improving opportunities to watch wildlife around watering holes and rivers.

Want to see more of South Africa? Take inspiration from an itinerary that includes Cape Town and Aquila, along with Kruger and Pilanesberg national parks.

Chacma baboon Kruger National Park, South Africa © Shutterstock

Chacma baboons, Kruger National Park, South Africa © Shutterstock

Weather in Kruger National Park in July

Sitting bang in the middle of dry season, the weather in Kruger National Park in July is cool and pretty much free from rain.

Usually ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F), average daytime temperatures are mild, and drop to a chilly 5°C (41°F) at night. 

Though July is one of the peak months for watching wildlife in Kruger National Park, the absence of migratory species means bird-watching experiences will be less diverse.

Weather in Kruger National Park in August

If you were put off by the news that July can see Kruger’s temperatures drop to near freezing, you’ll be glad to hear things are warming up (a little…) in August.

During this month, the park experiences the tail end of the dry season as it moves towards spring. Dry conditions persist, with gradually increasing daytime temperatures averaging 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). 

That said, night-time and early morning temperatures remain cool, averaging around 10°C (50°F). 

All of which means conditions for wildlife viewing remain outstanding. In addition, August is an especially great month for spotting predators as they take advantage of the easier visibility of prey, and the predictability of water sources.

Weather in Kruger National Park in September

Come September, spring is in the air in Kruger National Park. Daytime temperatures see a significant rise, typically ranging between 28°C and 32°C (82°F to 90°F).

As a bonus, this rise in heat can herald an increase animal activity around water sources at cooler times of the day.

Though still relatively dry, September tends to experience occasional spring rains towards the end of the month.

Alongside being a transitional period for birdlife — with the first migratory birds arriving towards the end of the month — September also sees an increase in human visitors.

Get more useful information for your trip with our useful tips for travelling to South Africa.

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Watering hole in Kruger National Park, South Africa © Shutterstock

Weather in Kruger National Park in October

In October, Kruger National Park moves into the early stages of the wet season. This is marked by rising temperatures and increased chance of rain.

Expect daytime temperatures to reach 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F), with this rising through the month. As for the rain, as the month wears on, sporadic showers and thunderstorms are also on the rise.

On that note, given that October is one of the last months for prime game viewing before the onset of heavy rains, the park can be quite busy.

Weather in Kruger National Park in November

Being the beginning of the wet season, November in Kruger National Park is characterised by regular rainfall, with thunderstorms and showers frequent and widespread.

Though usually short-lived, these rains tend to falls in the afternoon or evening and can be quite heavy. At the same time, the rising temperatures range from 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F).

While the lusher vegetation and abundance of water can make watching wildlife more challenging than in the dry season, the fresh growth attracts herbivores, which in turn attracts predators.

November is also an excellent time for birdwatching, as the park sees more migratory bird species arrive from the north.

Weather in Kruger National Park in December

Come December, South Africa’s summer wet season in in full swing, which means it’s hot and humid, with daytime temperatures ranging from 30°C to 35°C (86°F to 95°F).

Rainfall is regular, with dramatic thunderstorms often bursting forth in the afternoon and evening. 

Though the availability of water mean animals are less concentrated around watering holes — which makes them trickier to find — December offers opportunities to see new-borns, It's also a top month for birdwatching.

Want to know more about South Africa in general? Explore our guide to the best time to visit South Africa.

Elephant Kruger South Africa

Kruger elephant © Shutterstock


Best time for a safari in Kruger National Park

As will be apparent from our run-down through the weather across every month, the best time for a safari in Kruger National Park is during the dry season months. 

That said, if bird-watching is a top priority, visiting in the wet season will afford opportunities to see an abundance of migratory birds you won’t be able to see in the dry season. 

It’s all a question of weighing up your wildlife-watching priorities with your weather preferences.

Keen to visit Kruger National Park? Get yourself The Rough Guide to the Game Parks of South Africa to help plan your trip.

Not a fan of planning? Browse our customisable South Africa itineraries or talk to our local experts.

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 20.05.2024

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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