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LGBTQ+ Travel


South Africa is worlds apart when it comes to being classed as an LGBTQ+ welcoming destination – particularly compared with the rest of the African Continent. In fact, LGBTQ+ people hold rights equal to non-LGBTQ+ people. South Africa was the first country in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in its constitution, back in 1996. Ten years later, in 2006, South Africa became the fifth country globally to legalize same-sex marriage.

The larger cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg offer a full-scale LGBTQ+ scene, including their own annual Prides. However, even some of the smaller cities and towns such as Port Elizabeth, and Stellenbosch in the Western Cape now have bars that have become known as the local LGBTQ+ hangout.

Also encouraging to know is that South African Tourism is particularly eager to work with on-the-ground LGBTQ-friendly businesses to ensure a safe trip for North American travelers. Naturally, it’s the South African people that make the destination so enticing and welcoming. It’s also reassuring to know that LGBTQ rights are enshrined in their constitution.

It’s likely your flight to South Africa will arrive in Johannesburg, so you should plan on spending a few days enjoying all this vibrant and exciting city has to offer.

For most LGBTQ travelers to South Africa, Cape Town is the place to be either before or after exploring the wine country, national parks, seaside wonders, or a Big Five safari adventure. 

Why Visit South Africa & When to Go

Laws and constitution aside, South Africa as a destination offers something to suit all travelers. With a diverse range of activities and landscapes, plus a rich and dynamic culture, South Africa offers huge variety and opportunity for LGBTQ+ travelers. With the current favorable exchange rate, the affordable luxury experiences, at a range of price points suitable for any budget, present great value for money in terms of service and experience.

South Africa, also known as ‘A world in one Country’, offers landscapes that are breathtaking, ranging from oceans to mountains to deserts. For those seeking an adventure-packed vacation, there are an abundance of outdoor activities, many beaches along the Garden Route have made it into the Forbes list of the World’s Best Beaches, and for the animal lovers, there are countless safaris available with wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Being a large country, climate conditions within any one season can vary depending on the region. The summer months in the Cape are hot and dry, while summer in Pretoria and Kwazulu Natal means hot, humid days with a lot of rainfall.

However, the seasons in South Africa can be categorized as follows:

  • Spring: September, October – Mid-November
  • Summer: November – End of February
  • Autumn: March, April, May
  • Winter: June, July, August

The benefit of such a varied climate is that South Africa is classed as a year-round destination, with different activities available at different times of the year, depending on the region.

The most popular times of the year to visit are:

September: Weather in September is the most consistent across all regions, making this a popular month for visits combining multiple provinces. September also offers great beach weather in the Cape, before the temperatures get too hot.

June – October: Whale-watching season in South Africa runs from June to October. Southern right whales can be seen off the coast along the Garden Route, in particular the coastal towns of Knysna and Hermanus.

Winter: The winter months of June and July are the most popular for game-viewing, especially in Kruger National Park. The temperature is not as hot as during the summer months, and rainfall is minimal. Animals are easier to spot as they are not avoiding the heat.

Johannesburg Pride is held annually in September/ October. The parade is followed by an open-air celebration and concert, followed by after-parties.

Cape Town Pride is held annually in February and attracts 5 000+ partygoers. The outrageous Mother City Queer Project party in December is one of the city’s most popular yearly events and attracts fun-loving people of all sexual orientations.

The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras in Knysna in May is a four-day fest of art expos, concerts, parties, and parades.

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