I recently received an e-mail asking "what's the weather like in Africa?" Not a question I could zap back a quick e-mail about. Africa being three times the size of the US and all, makes it a bit difficult to offer a sweeping statement about the climate. But knowing what the weather holds when you are planning a trip to Africa is very important. Naturally it's helpful to pinpoint the region, or better yet, the country you wish to visit first, and start from there.
It is possible to generalize and say that in Africa, chitchat about the weather will tend to focus on "rainy seasons" and "dry seasons" as opposed to hot and cold temperatures. The rains are the topic of the day, the lack there of, or sometimes the abundance. Too little rain and obviously you get terrible drought that affects millions of lives - which is what has happened recently in the Horn of Africa. Too much rain and there's flooding, mudslides and general chaos as roads become impassable.
When you're planning a trip to Africa it's the rainy season and dry season that most of us will focus on when advising you about the best time to go. The dry season is best for going on safari, the grasses are shorter making it easier to see the wildlife. The animals tend to congregate around permanent waterholes which also helps make them easier to spot. Most roads in national parks are dirt roads, so the drier the ground, the easier it is to get around.
Every African region has slightly different rainy and dry seasons, and locally the weather patterns are affected by proximity to the coast and mountains. In order to answer the e-mail question posed, I wrote about "Rainy and Dry Seasons in Africa", so if you want a quick overview, check it out.
Image -- Elephants on their way to find a drink, Hwange, Zimbabwe -- © Getty Images