Best times to visit the Drakensberg

If you intend to undertake day walks, the Drakensberg can be visited all year round, with each season taking on a different character.  Like the highveld, the Drakensberg experiences summer rainfall, and has generally dry winters.  That said, cold fronts lasting several days at a time can roll up from the Cape at any time of year, and spoil best laid plans!  As with any mountain environment, the Drakensberg can attract weather extremes, and change can happen very quickly.

Best times for the Drakensberg

Seasonal factors have a significant bearing on those seeking to undertake treks with nights spent in tents (or caves!), particularly when going to higher, remoter parts of the mountains, and the timing of visits needs fuller consideration. As a good rule of thumb, the optimum time for making high level treks is from about mid-March until mid-June, and again in September and October.  During these periods, typical maximum temperatures during the daytime reach between 15 and 20 degrees C, but at night temperatures can fall to around -5 degrees C, and sometimes lower.  Snowfalls can occur as early as April, and as late as September, although this is more the exception rather than the rule.

The summer months (Late October to Early March) are generally very warm and pleasant, the mountains are lush and green, and colours can be particularly vibrant, especially after rains.  November is probably the best time for flora lovers.  However, the summer is the rainy season, and sudden storms are frequently the order of the day.  During the summer, it’s recommended that you start out early, and take advantage of the generally good weather before the heat builds up and storms start appearing (anytime from late morning onwards).

In winter, the Drakensberg can get very cold, and snow is not uncommon on the high tops - occasionally it covers the low lying areas.  However, winter is generally a dry period and excellent for making day hikes.  Hikers planning to camp out need to be properly equipped for winter camping.  Temperatures in the high mountain (ie. up at 3000m) can drop to around -20 degrees C, and are frequently down around the -5 to -10 degrees C mark at night.   During the daytime, temperatures are very “fresh” early and late in the day, but skies are frequently cloudless and the light good.  Hiking low down, shorts can often still be worn!