Best time to visit South Sudan

Go in January to beat the rains. South Sudan sits just above the Equator, so it’ll be toasty – but not as hot as March, when temperatures sometimes peak at 45°C.
South Sudan has all the markers of a tropical climate. The rainy season between April and October transforms the landscape, growing the Sudd swamps, filling the White Nile floodplains, and triggering massive animal migrations. The best time to visit South Sudan is in bone-dry December, January or February, when temperatures in Juba city can sit anywhere between 20 and 37°C. The higher in altitude you go, the cooler it gets; remember to pack layers if you’re staying in the Imatong Hills. Although it’s all sunshine during the dry season, it can get windy too; pack a scarf to protect your face from the dust.

South Sudan Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
20
37
5
FEB
22
38
30
MAR
24
38
85
APR
23
35
155
MAY
23
34
185
JUN
22
32
175
JUL
21
31
165
AUG
21
32
210
SEP
21
33
190
OCT
21
34
180
NOV
21
35
65
DEC
20
36
15

Our top South Sudan Holiday

South Sudan cultural tour, 9 days

South Sudan cultural tour, 9 days

Discover the incredible cultural diversity of a hidden land

From £4399 9 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2020: 25 Jan
2021: 23 Jan
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about South Sudan or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Things to do in South Sudan

Things to do in South Sudan…

Meet tribal communities. South Sudan has an astonishing number of ethnicities and tribal groups. You can camp outside the villages, chat with tribal elders, join the spectators of a wrestling match, and listen to the women weave stories. Once you’ve got a handle on the different politics, beliefs and land interests at play in one country, you’ll start to understand the roots of the civil war. See the Dinka cattle camps, which can reach upwards of 500 long-horned cows. The Dinka themselves are mostly nomadic pastoralists whose cattle are worth their weight in gold – a visible show of wealth and status. The cattle camps are also a window into many a conflict; neighbouring tribes have fought to the death over pastureland. Fancy catching one of the highlights of the Dinka calendar? Travel in December or January for a chance to see calves getting their sea legs as they totter around the savannah. Put your money where your morals are. Poached leather – no. Empowering women – yes. Swing by the ROOTS showroom in Juba to pick up intricate beaded necklaces by women from across a spectrum of tribes. It’s a win/win/win situation, giving vulnerable women employment and education, preserving traditional South Sudanese folk crafts, and giving you the chance to go home with a heartfelt souvenir.

Things not  to do in South Sudan…

You’re on a pioneering trip visiting a previously inaccessible country and meeting people who have been cut off by civil war for years. How exciting is that? So don’t forget to treat your holiday like the adventure it is, and go with your eyes (and mind) wide open. South Sudan’s tourist industry is pretty much non-existent, so you’ll soon get used to being faced with honest curiosity. Don’t take travel guides as gospel – even this one. South Sudan is a country finding its way through the early days of peace, so things change weekly. Once you’ve booked your holiday, your tour operator will get in contact if there are any tweaks to the itinerary. It should go without saying, really, but don’t treat villagers like exhibits – especially if taking photographs. The best trips to tribal communities celebrate local culture and educate you, all the while allowing the visit to occur on the villagers’ terms. You’ll have the rare privilege of meeting the real experts on South Sudan, so grab the opportunity to pick their brains for tips and tales. Got questions about tribal tourism? Read about how it can be a force for good when done respectfully.

Is it safe to travel to South Sudan?

South Sudan might be the world’s youngest country, but it’s seen more than its fair share of conflict since gaining independence in 2011. To understand safety in South Sudan, it’s essential to read as many news stories and history books as you can, even if it makes for grim reading.

The most recent conflict began in 2013, when civil war kicked off one of the worst displacement stories in the world when four million people fled violence between opposing factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Party. Things soon descended into outright ethnic violence, with an estimated 383,000 people killed because of their perceived political alliance or ethnicity. Economic collapse followed, with famine following close on its heels in 2017.
But a kind of stability has settled over South Sudan, thanks to the 2018 peace deal and power sharing agreement. There’s a feeling that the whole country is releasing a held breath. People are starting to trickle out of the six Protection of Civilian sites (POCs) across the country. And Juba is waking from its slumber, once more reeling in businesspeople from trading partners like Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and China.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) still advises against any travel to South Sudan. Still, tourism is taking its first shaky steps into the nation. If you do choose to be one of the first to visit post-war South Sudan, then you must travel in a group with a specialist tour operator. They forge great connections with local guides who know their country – and its unpredictable politics – inside-out.

The other must? Invest in great travel insurance. Specialist companies like our partner Campbell Irvine Direct offer insurance policies for the adventurous. They won’t cover anything related to the FCO warnings, but medical and travel claims will likely be covered.

South Sudan holiday advice

Jim O’Brien, from our off-the-beaten-track travel experts Native Eye Travel, shares his travel tips for South Sudan.

One of a kind

“South Sudan is home to some of the most traditional tribal groups on the continent, as well as large amounts of wildlife in Boma National Park, including the largest migration in Africa. But it’s usually the tribal groups that are of most interest – the ethnic groups living here are quite unique.”

Peek into the past

“My favourite experience is staying with the Mundari people, who live in remote camps with their vast herds of cattle. Spending time here is like stepping back in time and seeing an Africa that has mostly disappeared elsewhere.”

Small group; local guide

“South Sudan has stabilised somewhat in recent years, but it’s still not a place for independent travel. It’s best to travel with a knowledgeable guide who has good relations with the local communities and can add insights to your time here.”
Photo credits: [Page banner: Day Donaldson] [Intro: Arsenie Coseac] [Things to do: Arsenie Coseac] [Is it safe to travel to South Sudan?: Arsenie Coseac] [South Sudan holiday advice: US Army Africa]
Convert currencies