Africa Weather Guide
As the second-largest continent in the world, climates are going to vary. With the majority of Africa lying around the equator, most countries experience warm or temperate weather conditions where temps rarely fall below 10 degrees Celsius. Notable exceptions include the desert areas where temps can rise up to 50 degrees Celsius in the Sahara, and fall to a chilly 15 degrees at night, as well as the mountain ranges where snow and freezing conditions occur. Split in half by the equator, parts of Africa also experience the wet/dry monsoon season, while other regions have four seasons in line with the southern hemisphere.
The dry season is the best and most popular time to visit Africa for ease of access. Rains can render dirt roads into rivers and make it difficult to get to remote locations. However, in some African countries the wet season usually means rain overnight or brief downpours that let you get on with your day. The rains are also a time of celebration for crops and the opportunity to see the wildlife enjoying the water, and the scenery burst into life.
Season and Clothing
December to February
During these months it’s the dry season in East Africa and West Africa, the rainy, wet season in Central and Southern Africa, and ‘winter’ in North Africa with dry, pleasant temps. January and February is the best time to go to East Africa to see the wildlife, which will be clustered around the diminishing waterholes and easier to spot in groups. Now is also the time to head to the Sahara and Central Africa, or to Southern and West Africa for the ideal beach weather. Shorts, swimsuits, t-shirts and cargos in lightweight and light-coloured materials are ideal for summer safari wear.
March to May
March heralds the start of the wet season in East Africa, and it’s also still wet season in Southern and Central Africa. On the flip side, it’s really hot and dry in West Africa during this time until May when the rains come. In North Africa, the temps start to climb as the summer season takes hold with soaring temps and humidity. Now is a good time to visit East, Southern and Central Africa as the arid lands come to life with the rainfall. Bring your gumboots if you’re heading to South Africa in April for Splashy Fen, the country’s answer to Glastonbury with a 4-day music fest on a farm in Natal.
June to August
June to August is the dry season in Central, East and Southern Africa and wet season ‘til October in West Africa. The summer season is now in full swing across North Africa where the temps can be stifling and uncomfortable. July and August is also when the month-long Islamic festival of Ramadan falls, which means erratic business openings and sunrise-to-sunset fasting in Muslim countries. If you’re heading on safari in Southern Africa, bring layers, a jacket, jumper and gloves for the cool weather plus a good pair of hiking boots. Don’t miss the traditional Cure Salée festival in Niger in August.
September to November
It’s stinking hot in Southern Africa in October then November brings the rains until May. October is also the start of the wet season in Central Africa and the dry season in West Africa until May. In North Africa, October is the start of the ‘winter’ months and the cooler temps make this the ideal time for travelling to countries like Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. If you’re going to the Sahara and Central Africa now, take layers for the colder nights. Shorts, t-shirts and swimwear is all you’ll need on the Southern and West African beaches where the weather is ideal for sun and sand.