Although the semi-arid climate of Botswana can be mostly dry it is still a perfect location for those who love safari adventures. It is assumed to be dry and hot year-round, but during winter (from June to August) it can be very chilly at night and in the early morning. Rainfall in this region is unpredictable, erratic and varies from region to region. For travellers, the climate in Botswana can be a bit confusing but generally, it is hot and wet or cold and dry. If you are planning a trip to Botswana, it is a good idea to get a bit of an idea of the weather in Botswana before visiting so that you know what to expect in terms of game viewing and can pack accordingly. Weather across Africa is becoming harder to predict due to the influence of global warming so this is a guide and not set in stone.
It is good to note that if you are visiting more desert environments like the Kalahari then you should expect more extreme weather; hotter in summer and colder in winter.
Seasons in Botswana
The summer season is generally from late September through April with temperatures in the 30’s, peaking in October. Summer is also the rainy season in Botswana where you are likely to witness spectacular thunderstorms. Be prepared for heavy rains and slightly cooler temperatures in January and February when the rains peak. For the most part though the Botswana climate is pleasant for most of the summer.
October and April are two transitional months for the rainy season. The annual rainfall varies from the highest of over 650mm in the extreme north-east area of the Chobe District to less than 250mm in the extreme south-west part of the Kgalagadi District. However, as the season changes, the rainfall activity decreases with the increase in variability.
Winters in Botswana are cool but sunny and the night temperatures may drop below freezing in some places. The weather in Botswana during the winter season starts in May and ends in September. It is the driest season when there is virtually no rainfall, so it becomes easier to explore as the bush is thinner. June, July, and August is when you can expect the coldest evenings and mornings so gloves, scarves, and blankets are good to have on those game drives.
Temperature and Climate of Botswana
Summer days are hot and Botswana’s average temperature stays between 28 to 35 degrees Celsius. It can reach a blistering 40 degrees Celsius in October which has the highest average temperatures. The winter season is dry and the skies are clear, with the southern region being much colder than the northern average of 22 to 26.
With no cloud cover in winter, the nights tend to be cooler as compared to the summer season. There have been instances of water freezing and frost in the Kalahari.
Wet Season in Botswana
January and February are the wettest months that are characterised by torrential downpours in the afternoon. Dark storm clouds gather and then the storms break with spectacular thunderstorms, followed by clear skies and rainbows. It can sometimes rain for days on end during these two months. Daytime temperature are around 32 degrees celsius and the humidity level is between 50 to 80%. In March the rainfall decreases and it starts to cool.
In April the nights are relatively cooler and the day temperature remains at 30 degrees celsius. This is a transition month from summer to winter with the rains decreasing and is a great time to visit Botswana’s national parks to spot animals and birds.
Dry Season in Botswana
If you are planning a trip to Botswana then the dry season is a great time to visit, for a number of reasons. The average temperature is lower with sunny and bright days ideal for morning and afternoon game drives. Mornings and evenings are going to be cold so you will need to have a fleece, long safari trousers, a beanie and gloves to go along with the (normally) provided blankets on the game drive vehicle. There will be no rain but climate change could be starting to affect the standard pattern.
Dry season from April to September is also great for spotting game as the bush is drier and not so thick. Animals will also tend to congregate at permanent water sources at certain times of the day so hanging out at waterholes becomes a feature of the game drive.
You can plan a trip year-round to Botswana but it is important to do a quick bit of research and ensure that you are prepared in what to pack and what to expect on the ground.
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