Just how hot is it? South Africa in Summer…

by on Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Thunderstorms and rains provide relief from hot humid days in summer.

Wondering just how hot it will be during your ISV Volunteer and Travel Program (November to February season) in South Africa?

‘Four seasons in one day’ is a catch phrase that can describe the weather in Southern Africa. However, the hottest months are over the summer period which is December through February in the southern hemisphere.  The seasons in Southern Africa are the same as that in Australia and New Zealand, and opposite to those in the northern hemisphere.

South Africa enjoys a subtropical location, moderated by ocean on three sides of the country and the altitude of the interior plateau, accounting for the warm temperate conditions.

Average annual rainfall is about 464 mm (compared to a world average of about 860 mm). The Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, where cold snaps and rain can be the typical weather. During summer the Western Cape tends to be warm and dry with persistent wind.

The rest of the country is generally a summer-rainfall region. On the interior plateau the altitude, Johannesburg, lies at 1,753 m (5,557 ft). In this region during summer it tends to be hot and muggy with short heavy thunder storms.

Cape Town Climate

At this time of year you can expect a dry summer on the community and children’s programs (Cape Town and the Wild Coast).  Watch that sun – a good hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are an essential on these projects, but so is a rain jacket as there have been some pesky coastal storms known to sneak through on occasion, so be prepared! It’s also a very windy place so always good to have a wind breaker on standby and don’t forget as soon as the sun goes down it does get chilly so a fleece is also a good idea.

Johannesburg climate chart

On the conservation projects located in the north eastern parts of South Africa it is the “wet season”, as the name of the season suggests you will need a very good rain jacket.  You can expect hot humid days where temperatures can soar above 30°C (90°F) with high humidity so keeping hydrated is UBER important!!  The summer rains typically come in the form of thunder and lightening storms and heavy rain in the late afternoon, usually short lived but brings welcome relief to the heat of the day.

On the November to February ISV Adventure Tour you will be travelling along the famous Garden Route where you will experience some of the best beaches, forest and urban areas that South Africa has to offer.  Because this is the coast you need to be prepared for hot sunny days and cold cloudy rainy days.  These can come at any time during your trip so make sure to pack your rain jacket and warm clothes in your day bag just in case.  You will especially need these when you are standing at the top of Table Mountain 1,064m high, as even on the clearest day the cold ocean breeze turns very cold at that altitude.  As per the conservation projects, when you are on safari in Kruger or playing in the waters around Blyde River Canyon you need to make sure to keep hydrated during those hot muggy days.

Enjoying some African summer sunshine along the Panoramic Route overlooking Blyde River Canyon, South Africa (c) Krystal Brocklesby, ISV Alumni South Africa

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!

To learn more about the climate in Southern Africa, upcoming participants should refer to the Climate section of your ISV Resource Document.  This is sent to you about 30 days prior to your departure.

To learn more about ISV’s program in South Africa visit our website: www.isvolunteers.org.


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