What month is it cold in Africa? Not knowing what months have cool temperatures in Africa could lead to packing the wrong clothes and being unprepared for frigid temperatures.
Understanding the continent's seasonal weather patterns helps travelers plan activities and pack appropriately for their trip. With more than a decade of experience living and working in the South African wilderness, I'm here to guide you in knowing the cooler weather of Africa so you can plan your safari trip accordingly.
What Month Is It Cold in Africa?
It's coldest from May to September in Southern Africa, June to August in East Africa, December to February in North Africa, October to March in West Africa, and January to July in Central Africa. The overall climate of the continent is generally warm year-round, although certain areas have cooler temperatures during specific months.
As the world's hottest continent, Africa has a range of regions defined by their unique climates, landscapes, and wildlife. Consider the varying weather patterns across the mainland if you're planning a safari trip to Africa.
Colder Seasons in Africa Based on the Equator
Cool temperatures typically happen at the extreme ends of Africa, often at opposite times of the year. For instance, it's cold in Northern Africa from December to February, while it's colder in the South around May to September.
The continent is commonly believed to be hot and never experiences winter or cold weather. However, this is only partially accurate. While the overall climate of the continent is generally warm year-round, certain areas have colder summer temperatures during specific months.
Africa is the world's second-largest continent, covering 54 countries. Since it's the only continent spanning the four hemispheres, the continent's countries extend across the equator. This massive land area results in varying elevations and topography, causing different weather patterns in each region.
Cold Months in Africa
Africa is divided into five regions. Africa's cold season consists of sunny days, cloudless blue skies, cold fronts, and chilly nights. When deciding on the best time to go on an African safari, you can consider the following months to experience the cold season.
North Africa: December to February
South Africa: May to September
Central Africa: January to July
East Africa: June to August
West Africa: October to March
Cooler Seasons at African Safari Destinations
A majority of African nations lie on two hemispheres that cover 20% of the earth's surface. Most of Africa's safaris experience their coldest temperatures during the months of June, July, and August, which coincide with the Southern Hemisphere's wet season.
The northernmost countries of Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea tend to see their coldest weather from December through February. The coolest temperatures are found in continental Southern African nations like Botswana.
As ironic as it sounds, the cold yet dry months are the optimum safari seasons. Even if you go to Africa during the winter, it's safe to stay at luxury safari lodges and explore the outdoors.
Dry Season vs Cold Season in Africa
The dry season is the prime time to go on African safaris, giving you the best wildlife viewing. You can use this season to plan your African safari itinerary.
It's easier to spot animals on a safari during the dry season due to the limited waterholes and sparser foliage. However, as you near the colder months, the mild temperatures help your body adapt and spend more time outdoors.
Snow in Africa
Some parts of Africa have snow. Countries with higher elevations can receive blankets of snowfall, making them popular for winter-related activities. A cold front could drop temperatures to a freezing point.
It can also cause heavy snow on the mountains, mainly in the Atlas Mountains, spreading a cooler temperature across the entire continent. These are the top African countries that will give you a unique winter experience.
Lesotho: Found on the border of South Africa, snowfall is a regular phenomenon in Lesotho. With high-altitude terrain, you can experience chilly winters here from June to August. You may even witness snow-capped mountains when temperatures plummet to sub-zero levels.
Morocco: The influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea creates Morocco's unique weather. During the colder months, temperatures can drop to four degrees Fahrenheit. You can explore the country's snowy landscapes in the Atlas Mountains from December to February.
South Africa: While South Africa is known for its sub-tropical climate, it can also have a freezing winter temperature. Particularly for parts of South Africa closer to the South Pole, snow blankets are typical in areas like the Drakensberg Mountains and Cape Town's Table Mountain.
Tanzania: With a high elevation and equatorial winds, Tanzania can also have bone-chilling cold months. It's a great opportunity to explore the snowy caps of Mount Kilimanjaro from June to September.
Uganda: Since Uganda is straddling the equator, the colder temperatures fluctuate year-round. However, places near the Rwenzori Mountains can experience snowfall because of the glaciers and ice.
What Is Winter Like in Different African Regions?
Whenever travelers ask for tips about how to pick an African safari, one of the things I explain is to check the possibility of winter in particular African regions.
The mild winter and wet season in Northern Africa will let you escape the extreme heat of the summer. The colder months from December to February generally have a cool and wet season. The temperature ranges from 73 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in snowfall at higher elevations.
It's the perfect chance to explore markets, mosques, and ancient ruins. You can do activities like downhill skiing, hiking, exploring pyramids, or camel trekking through the Sahara Desert.
Egypt: Egypt has a cooler climate around January. While winter may prompt you to focus on snow-related activities, you can still visit other parts of the country, such as the northern Nile Valley areas. After a safari game drive, I suggest touring temples and pyramids or going on a trip to the Aswan Dam.
Morocco: December to January are the peak winter months, making it a great time to avoid huge crowds and sweltering weather. The country has three popular ski resorts close to the Atlas Mountains. Aside from safaris, you can go to souks and film festivals.
Tunisia: Winter temperatures range from 61 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Light snow falls on the mountains' peaks, including the Atlas Mountains. There's also little rainfall from June to September. For indoor activities, you can go to museums, handicraft stalls, artisan shops, and even the El Djem Amphitheater.
Algeria: November to March are the coldest months in Algeria, with 52 degrees Fahrenheit as the coolest temperature. While safari parks are fewer here, the country is rich with cultural heritage tours. I recommend going on a desert tour or exploring the Atlas Mountains during the dry season.
South Sudan: South Sudan is a hidden safari gem with six national parks and 13 game reserves for safaris. The cold season lasts from June to September, with an average temperature below 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
West Africa is closer to the equator, making small temperature changes throughout different seasons. As a result, the colder months from October to March have a dryer season. It has a temperature range of 37 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Low temperatures keep bugs at bay, making the dry season an excellent time to spot wildlife across Western Africa. Less rain, fewer waterholes, and less foliage make it easy to see animals. You can also try other things to do aside from safari, like going to festivals, malls, and galleries.
Nigeria: The winter months in Nigeria tend to be hot and dry despite the intense rainfall around June. Humidity is higher in winter, with low temperatures reaching 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I suggest visiting music venues to unwind during the rainy and wet season for live music and tasty Nigerian delicacies.
Sierra Leone: The country is close to the equator, so October's winter temperature can only reach 93 degrees Fahrenheit. In effect, you have a balanced temperature to explore wildlife outdoors and try indoor activities in the city.
Senegal: The coolest months last from January to May, with average daytime temperatures reaching below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I suggest visiting Senegal in February if you want colder temperatures of around 65 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ghana: Colder months in Ghana only last from July to September, with the coolest temperature at 83 degrees Fahrenheit. This cool yet dry season is a good chance to visit the country's 16 national parks, game reserves, and protected areas.
Gambia: While Gambia has a sub-tropical climate, it also offers cooler months from July to October. Especially when the temperature hits below 92 degrees Fahrenheit, you can enjoy exploring the outdoors during guided tours.
Central Africa lies on both sides of the equator, resulting in general hot and wet climates throughout the year. While there are colder months from January to July, this part tends to be warmer and wetter compared to the other regions.
However, you'll feel more of the dry season as you move away from the region's center. As the temperature dips below 86 degrees Fahrenheit, this offers the best time to do whale watching, boat trips, and swimming on beaches. You can explore these countries if you prefer warm and humid weather year-round.
Gabon: This coastal country sits right on the equator. Crowds flock to wildlife parks between May and September during the dry yet colder season. You may also consider attending cultural festivals and spending time on the beach if you want to avoid crowds.
Angola: Winter lasts between June and September in Angola, with 61 degrees Fahrenheit being the coldest. There's a high chance of rain, so consider rainfall warnings when counting how many days you should spend on safaris in Angola.
Cameroon: I recommend visiting Cameroon from December to February to experience its wet days. Although it can also be the driest season of the year, the nights are cooler, creating a relaxing ambiance at luxury lodges. In the country's far north, areas can even experience freezing temperatures of up to 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rwanda: You can experience the coldest season in Rwanda from July to October. It's one of my favorite countries for luxury safaris, hiking, birdwatching, and cultural experiences.
Zambia: Zambia has a short cold season from June to July. This is a great country when you want to avoid popular African safari parks. Zambia houses more than 20 safari parks, and June is the most popular month for game drives.
East Africa is below the equator, giving it a drier winter. The colder months from June to August have temperatures playing around 93 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There's also a short dry season before the long rain starts in November.
Expect rainy seasons from April to May and mid-October to November. So, the dry season is the perfect opportunity for safaris and to witness the Great Migration. However, anticipate more expensive safari prices and crowded parks in these countries.
Tanzania: Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest mountain, has a snow-capped peak. Other parts of Tanzania may experience colder temperatures from June to September.
Uganda: Even though Uganda has a consistently warm climate, rainy and cold months from March to May and October to November can hit 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the rainy season, the lush green vegetation invites wildlife, making the rainy season an ideal time to visit Uganda for safaris.
Kenya: Kenya has no real winter season. However, the dry yet cool months from July to September are among the best times to visit Kenya. This is when the Great Wildebeest Migration happens because there are fewer watering holes.
Ethiopia: Cooler months generally fall from December to February. Winters are warm and sunny, with frosty temperatures hitting 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow can fall in some regions, especially in the mountains up north.
Madagascar: The warm winter in Madagascar lasts from July to November. The cool temperatures range from a low of 50 degrees Fahrenheit to a high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I particularly like September, when lemurs give birth to their offspring, while humpback whales make their yearly visit to the waters around the country's west coast.
Cold months in Southern African nations have warm days and frosty nights. Temperatures can reach up to 63 degrees Fahrenheit, making most days cooler despite the dry season. For example, higher-lying areas in South Africa can experience close-to-freezing temperatures at times.
Lower temperatures decrease the risk of malaria in countries like South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia. Wildlife gathers around waterholes, making it the best for game viewing at national parks. I also recommend scuba diving to witness the migration of whales.
Botswana: May to August are the coolest months in Botswana, with 66 degrees Fahrenheit as the coldest. Nighttime can have chilly winds. Still, this is the perfect time to go on a safari trip at famous parks like Chobe, Moremi, and Okavango Delta.
Namibia: The coldest months in Namibia are from June to August. Meanwhile, there's some rain from December to March. The country is known for its hot desert, yet nights can get cold during the winter.
South Africa: Despite its diverse climate, South Africa experiences the coldest months between June and August. Cold temperatures in South Africa can hover around 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Cape Town and Drakensberg experience low temperatures that result in snowfall.
Mozambique: Despite having a tropical climate, Mozambique also experiences colder months from May to August. Take advantage of the cooler temperature to book safari-guided tours and visit the country's stunning beaches.
Zimbabwe: May to August are the coldest months in Zimbabwe. The cold summer temperatures make walking safari tours, birdwatching, and camping more enjoyable.
How to Pack for Winter in Africa?
When preparing what to wear on an African safari, the key is to pack layers, especially for the winter months. The right clothes should be protective while keeping you comfortable for a great outdoor adventure. Make sure to cover exposed skin to reduce the risk of hypothermia.
Here's how I help travelers pack for winter safari destinations.
Opt for neutral or earthy tones because bright colors make you more noticeable to the animals.
Invest in a waterproof, light, and breathable jacket to serve as a top layer, mainly when it rains.
Add a fleece jacket to keep you warm and snug.
Bring rain gear like ponchos or synthetic jackets for extra protection.
Early mornings can be cool in places with high altitudes. Bring layers like long-sleeved shirts and quick-drying pants.
Pack accessories like a knit hat, a pair of gloves, and socks.
Bring quick-drying underwear and closed-toe shoes.
What Is the Importance of Knowing the Colder Months in Africa?
An African safari offers a lot of surprises. Proper preparation allows you to enjoy a remarkable safari adventure while enjoying pleasant weather conditions. My team has extensive knowledge about the continent's various regions, seasons, weather patterns, and wildlife.
Understanding the winter patterns will help you determine the best time to visit based on your preferences and desired activities.
Some tourist activities, such as water sports or beach trips, may not be available due to the cooler temperature.
You can get recommendations on appropriate clothing and equipment for different seasons to ensure you're well-prepared for any weather conditions. Whether hot or cold, I can help you plan an unforgettable safari adventure.
Most tourist attractions and activities get crowded during the dry months, causing some price hikes in tours, flights, and lodging. Even if you pay for a luxury African safari trip, you can save some money when considering a winter vacation.
For those planning a safari excursion, it's advisable to consult a reputable travel agency specializing in African safaris. As a luxury safari guide, I provide detailed information on the best time to visit based on your preferences, suggest top-rated lodges, and assist with booking flights and transportation.
Does Africa Have a Cold Season?
Africa does have a cold season, although the timing and severity vary by region. Most of Africa experiences its coolest temperatures during June through August, which coincide with the Southern Hemisphere's winter. However, countries along the Mediterranean coast see their coldest weather from December through February.
Is Africa Cold in December?
Yes, parts of Africa get cold enough in December to require warm clothing. The northern countries of Africa bordering the Mediterranean Sea can experience frigid temperatures in December, with average lows of 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The Atlas Mountains also see freezing conditions this time of year.
Is Africa Cold in July?
It's usually not cold in Africa in July. However, some parts of the Southern, Eastern, and Central African regions can see mild winter conditions during July.
Knowing the continent's seasonal patterns allows proper planning for activities and appropriate clothing. Although Africa generally boasts warm weather year-round, certain regions may experience colder temperatures during specific months. Considering the colder months can help make your luxury African safari tour more comfortable and rewarding.