Winter versus Summer; When is the Best Time to Visit Thornybush?

Posted on Mon July 3, 2023.

Every season in the African wilderness has its own rhythm, beauty, and magic, and is naturally spectacular in a unique way. No matter when you choose to visit Shumbalala Game Lodge, nestled in the heart of the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve, you'll find an immersive safari experience tailored to the specific season. In the winter months, the crisp, cool air brings clarity to the bushveld, with sparse foliage allowing for unobstructed views of wildlife congregating around precious water sources. Summer, in contrast, transforms the landscape into a verdant paradise, brimming with life and the awe-inspiring theatre of thunderstorms.

So, when is the ideal time to visit the Thornybush area - in the refreshing coolness of winter, or amidst the vibrant vitality of summer? The answer lies in your preference for the unique charms each season holds. Join us as we delve into the contrasting rhythms of the seasons in the bush, and discover how to embrace the best of all worlds at Shumbalala Game Lodge.

Summers (November to March) drape Thornybush in vibrant hues of green, with temperatures fluctuating between a comfortable 20°C (68°F) and a sizzling 35°C (95°F), sometimes soaring even higher at peak times. This season offers the benefits of warm weather: long days, icy cocktails by the pool, and the lush splendour of summer growth. The air pulses with the songs of migratory birds, the bush is bustling with animals nurturing their young, and water sources brim with life - all offering stunning photo opportunities. However, if you're not used to it, the heat can sometimes feel intense. It's also the rainy season, but this usually doesn't interfere with your game drive experience. We're always prepared with protective raincoats should the clouds roll in while you're out exploring.

And your safari experience doesn't end when you return to the lodge - regular mid-day visits by herds of elephants and other animals, seeking to cool down and drink from the waterhole directly in front of the lodge, provide ongoing spectacle and interaction with wildlife. When visiting in the summer, we recommend lightweight, light-coloured clothing, sunscreen, and a hat.

As we transition into autumn (April to May), temperatures subtly dip between 19°C (66°F) and 32°C (89°F), creating a more moderate but still warm climate, perfect for exploring the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve. During this season, the bush begins to thin out, enhancing visibility. The weather remains enjoyable without the intense summer heat or the likelihood of rainfall. Lightweight clothing and a light jacket are suitable for this season.

Winter (June to August) at Thornybush offers a unique experience. With temperatures ranging from a cooler 10°C (50°F) to a comfortable 25°C (77°F), the day's game drives are always pleasant. As smaller water sources dry up during this season, animals gather around the larger waterholes, providing excellent game viewing opportunities, including those at our camp. We make special arrangements to counterbalance the chill of early morning and late afternoon game drives, ensuring your comfort.

As the day draws to a close, picture yourself enjoying an intimate dinner by a warm fire, sipping on a glass of smooth red wine. Later, curling up to the comforting crackle of your room's fireplace after a day filled with adventures. However, during winter, it's a good idea to layer your clothing, with long sleeves and jackets for the drives, and short sleeves being ideal for the middle of the day.

Spring (September to October) brings temperatures that range comfortably between a mild 16°C (60°F) and a warm 30°C (86°F). As the bush discards its winter guise, trees burst into bloom in anticipation of the forthcoming rains, ensuring game viewing remains excellent. The season may bring occasional breezes, a natural characteristic of this time of year. As in autumn, we recommend guests pack lightweight clothing and a light jacket.

In short, Thornybush Private Nature Reserve offers close-up wildlife experiences all year round, making any season a great choice for a safari. During the cooler months (May to September), excellent wildlife viewing is guaranteed as animals congregate around water sources, while the warmer months (November to March) offer lush landscapes, abundant birdlife, and sightings of young animals. Thus, the unique appeal of Thornybush lies in its promise of intimate wildlife encounters - the season simply adds a unique flavour to your safari story. So whenever you choose to visit, rest assured that Thornybush Private Nature Reserve and Shumbalala Game Lodge will deliver a safari experience tailored uniquely to the season's rhythm.



When it comes to choosing the best season for a safari at Shumbalala Game Lodge, consider your personal preferences and comfort levels, and the unique experiences that each season brings. 

If summer calls out to you, envision these scenarios:

  • Imagine indulging in serene, sun-kissed afternoons by the crystal-clear pool, a cocktail in hand, warm sun on your skin. 
  • If you crave the balmy embrace of summer, bypassing the chillier temperatures of winter game drives might appeal to you. 
  • Aspiring wildlife photographers may be enticed by the vibrancy of the lush green backdrop that summer unfurls, creating striking images. 
  • Think of dining al fresco under a canopy of stars, with the nocturnal sounds of the bush providing an all-encompassing outdoor sensory experience.

It's worth mentioning that all our suites come fully air-conditioned to ensure utmost comfort during the heat of the day.

If, on the other hand, you're drawn to the unique appeal of a winter safari, contemplate the following: 

  • Picture spending your evenings in a cosy, warm interior, a glass of rich red wine in hand, as the flickering glow from the fireplace adds a touch of romance to the atmosphere.
  • If you're not fond of intense heat and prefer the refreshingly crisp air during the day and the slightly cooler temperatures on your morning and evening drives, winter could be your ideal choice. 
  • Picture ending your day of adventure by snuggling under fluffy warm blankets, with the sound of a crackling fireplace in your suite, as the chill of the night settles outside.

Bear in mind that we have your comfort at heart during the winter game drives too. We provide warm jackets, blankets, and even hot water bottles to ward off the chill, ensuring a cosy and memorable safari experience. 

And if you're still finding it challenging to decide, rest assured that the beauty and allure of the Thornybush Private Nature Reserve never fades, irrespective of the season, so you’re guaranteed to take home amazing memories and enjoy up-close wildlife experiences, no matter when you visit.