My son recently asked me if it ever snows in Africa. His eyes rolled as I once again babbled on about the fact that there are 54 countries in Africa, each with its distinct geographic features affecting weather patterns, so let's not use the blanket term "Africa". "Yes, I know" he said, "but does it snow?".
The answer is "yes, it does" and today, it snowed in Cairo for the first time in over 100 years! Locals are out building snowmen and shivering away. I have yet to see some shots of Pyramids in the snow, but I'm sure they'll be posted on Facebook!
There are even a few small ski resorts in Morocco, courtesy of the Atlas Mountains. Tunisia and Algeria got snow-laden a few years ago during a particularly cold winter. Snow even fell in the Sahara desert in 1979, but it lasted just half an hour.
Heading further south, snow does fall (on higher elevations), even close to the equator. Regular snow fall has created ice-capped peaks (although most are fast disappearing) on Kenya's Mount Kenya, Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro; Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains and Ethiopia's Semien Mountains. But it's not enough to ski. For that, you have to head all the way south.
South Africans can actually build snowmen somewhat regularly during the winter months (June - August) especially those living in the inland regions of the Eastern and Northern Cape provinces. Sutherland is considered to be the coldest town in South Africa with temperatures going well below freezing throughout the winter. Despite its wonderful penguin population, it very rarely snows in Cape Town.
And the chilliest country in Africa? The tiny kingdom of Lesotho. It's in the mountains and it has the highest low point of any country in the world (wrap your mind around that one, son). There are a few pistes here and the skiing isn't so bad in the Maluti Mountains.
Image of a Skiier in the Eastern Cape, South Africa -- © South African Tourism