Botswana's climate is semi-arid. Though it is hot and dry for much of the year, there is a rainy season which runs through the summer months.
Botswana is a huge country and extends through 9 degrees of latitude. This suggests considerable variation in climate. It is landlocked and on an elevated plateau of approximately 1000 metres. All these factors tend to cause low annual rainfall.
Pula' is not only the name of Botswana's currency, but also the Setswana word for rain. So much of what takes place in Botswana relies on this essential, frequently scarce commodity.
Summer (wet season) - October to March.
Summer days are hot, especially in the weeks that precede the coming of the cooling rains, and shade temperatures rise to the 38°C mark and higher, reaching a blistering 44°C on rare occasions. Cloud coverage and the arrival of the first rains, towards the end of November or early December, cool things down considerably.
During the rainy period, which lasts until the end of February or early March, the days are hot and generally sunny in the morning with afternoon thunderstorms usually in short, torrential downpours during the late afternoon. Day time temperatures can rise to 38°C and night time temperatures drop to around 20°C - 25°C. Northern areas receive up to 700mm of rain per annum while the Kalahari Desert area averages as low as 225mm per annum.
Rainfall tends to be erratic, unpredictable and highly regional. Often a heavy downpour may occur in one area while 10 or 15 kilometres away there is no rain at all. Showers are often followed by strong sunshine so a good deal of the rainfall does not penetrate the ground, as it is lost to evaporation and transpiration. In summer, morning humidity ranges from 60 to 80% and drops to between 30 and 40% in the afternoon.
Winter (dry season) - April to September.
Winter days are invariably sunny and cool to warm; however, evening and night temperatures can drop below freezing point in some areas, especially in the southwest. Day time temperatures generally reach 20° C and evening temperatures can be as low as 5°C. Virtually no rainfall occurs during the winter months. In winter humidity can vary between 40 and 70% during the morning and fall to between 20 and 30% in the afternoon.
For tourists, the best months to visit are from April through to October - in terms of both weather and game viewing. It is during this period that the wildlife gather around the natural waterholes and the borehole-fed dams - and are at their most visible.
Botswana is a year round wildlife destination. However, there are certain seasons that are more suitable for special interests than others. We are often asked "which is the best time of the year to travel?" and to answer this question properly, we would need to know what you wish to experience on your safari.
The following information is to be treated as a guideline as weather patterns and wildlife rhythms are never predictable and can never be guaranteed at a specific time or in a specific area.