January: one of the wettest months of the year; the humidity level is very high.
Weather and climateWe're often asked “When is the best time to go to Botswana?", and the answer is often complex. It will depend on many things including your interests, exactly where you want to visit and why you're travelling. One person's best time can be another's worst!
However, often a concern about the weather underlies the question of 'the best time to go'.
So below is a broad guide to the climate of Botswana. Please remember that this comes from records and our experience, not from a crystal ball. Weather patterns across Africa are becoming increasingly unpredictable, probably due to global warming; we're seeing downpours in the middle of deserts and damaging droughts when rains should be falling.
Botswana's climatic pattern is typical of southern Africa, although its rainfall is less than countries further east. The rains in Botswana come mostly between December and March, when average minimum temperatures are in the low 20°s. Some days will be bright and sunny, some will have afternoon thunderstorms, and some will just be grey.
As with Namibia, April and May in Botswana are generally lovely, with the sky clear and the landscape green. Night temperatures start to drop during these months, especially in the Kalahari. Note that places in and around the Okavango tend to have less extreme, more moderate temperatures than the drier areas of the Kalahari.
From June to August the night-time temperatures in drier areas can be close to freezing, but it warms up rapidly during the day, when the sky is usually clear and blue. It's now very much 'peak season' for most safari areas: the land is dry in most areas so the animals congregate around the few available water sources.
This continues into September and October, when temperatures climb again, drying the landscapes and concentrating the game even more. This is the best time for big game safaris – although October can feel very hot, with maximum temperatures sometimes approaching 40°C.
November is difficult to predict, as it can sometimes be a continuation of October's heat, whilst sometimes it's cooled by the first rains; it's always an interesting month.
Weather in other African countriesFor comparison, see similar climate charts and information for our other African destinations:
► Malawi climate – Very similar weather pattern to Botswana, with rain starting a bit earlier.
► Mozambique climate – Very similar weather pattern to Botswana’s.
► Namibia climate –Drier than Botswana, but following a similar pattern.
► Rwanda climate – Completely different weather pattern from Botswana.
► Seychelles climate – Completely different weather pattern from Botswana.
► Cape of South Africa climate – Almost completely ‘opposite’ weather pattern to Botswana’s.
► Tanzania climate –Different weather pattern from Botswana; Jan-Feb are much drier in Tanzania.
► Zambia climate – Very similar weather pattern to Botswana, but with a slightly longer rainy season.
► Zanzibar climate – Different weather pattern from Botswana, with two rainy seasons.
► Zimbabwe climate – Weather follows a very similar pattern to Botswana.