Africa gets cold?! A bit on the weather…

by on Thursday, 8 August 2013

Brrrr….A lion breathing steam during an early morning game drive (May to September) 

Surprise! It’s a common misconception that Africa is hot all the time and everywhere.  In fact, ‘Four seasons in one day’ is a catch phrase that can describe the weather in Southern Africa.  The seasons in Southern Africa are opposite to that of North America and the UK/Europe.  Depending on the time of year you choose to travel to Southern Africa with ISV you will be exposed to different weather conditions; you could experience a relatively cold wet winter, the African dry season and/or tropical climates.  This blog deals with weather during the May to September ISV season.

ISV May to September Season (winter in Southern Africa):

ISV participants rugged-up with blankets, beanies and jackets ready for a COLD early morning game drive (May to September Season)

Pack your beanie, thermal underwear, fleece jacket and wet weather gear, plus some clothing for when it’s warm too! The weather that you will experience will depend on the region of Southern Africa that you are in. If you are doing a community or children’s volunteer program then you will be based in either Cape Town or the Wild Coast, both of these locations typically have cold and wet winters so a good rain jacket is essential.  However, if you decide on a conservation project you will be in the north eastern parts of South Africa.  Here it’s the “dry season” which means mild shorts and t-shirt weather during the day with cold evenings and nights where the temperatures can drop to below freezing!

Heavy rains are typical of the storms experienced in Cape Town during winter (May to September Season)

The May to September ISV Adventure Tour visits South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. This trip will lead you to mountains, beaches and bush on a journey that will take you through all the seasons.

In South Africa you will be in the “dry season” so it will be mild and warm during the day and freezing at night time… so don’t forget those warm clothes for your early morning Elephant Encounter (ISV Included Activity) or your thermal underwear for the adrenaline packed day Kloofing/Canyoning (part of the ISV Optional Activity Package) in Blyde River Canyon, the water can get very cold indeed!  In Swaziland it will be almost the same as in South Africa, but there is more chance of rain, as we get closer to the coast. 

In Mozambique, tropical sandy beaches are the order of the day.  During winter Mozambique becomes mild (not too hot) with warm humid days, cool sea breezes and a great opportunity to catch some ray’s and work on your tan, so here swimsuits; flip-flops; a good hat and plenty of sunscreen is the uniform of choice for this relaxed beach side village.  And no more thermals, here the water temperature rarely drops below 70°F (20°C)!!

So the moral of the story is, make sure to bring a good waterproof jacket, some warm comfy clothes like fleece, your swimsuit or bikini and flip-flops.  Be prepared for anything!

Southern Africa uses Celsius (C) as opposed to Fahrenheit (F), which is used in the USA. The easiest way to calculate the difference is to double the Celsius degrees and add 30. This is accurate within 1-2 degrees.

For example: 20°C equals 70°F (20 x 2 = 40 + 30 = 70).

To learn more about the climate in Southern Africa, refer to the Climate section of your ISV Resource Manual.  This is sent to you about 60 days prior to your departure.

To learn more about ISV’s program in South Africa visit our website:


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