Weather and Climate
Much of Namibia is part of the great dry deserts of the Namib and the Kalahari. Contrasting with these huge deserts is the sub tropical rainforest area of the far north-east around the Caprivi Strip, and the inland plateau of Central Namibia is characterised by mountains and rocky outcrops. Because of these wide geographic variations, the climatic conditions differ immensely as you travel through Namibia even though the country has a reputation as being hot and dry.
Windhoek, Etosha and the Northern Circuit
The central area around Windhoek is generally cooler than the visitor highlights of Sossusvlei and Etosha, largley due to its elevation at just over 1,600m. This is one of the few parts of the country to have a regular rainy season, although average monthly rainfall is less than 100mm even in the wettest months (January to March) when you can expect to see violent thunderstorms and heavy downpours. Average summer temperatures are around 30°C from October to March, but coupled with the high humidity levels summer in the capital city can be almost unbearable until the storms break the heat. The winter months (May - August) are more pleasant and comfortable, with warm bright days and little chance of rain.
When it gets too hot and humid in the capital during the summer, the locals head to Swakopmund on the coast where average highs are a very pleasant 23°C, there is often coastal breeze and there is virtually no rain. In fact there is virtually no rain all year round in Swakopmund, and with average highs of 23°C in the height of summer and 19°C in winter the weather here is very consistent. The biggest change between summer and winter temperatures is the average daily minimum temp[erature which can get down to 6°C in winter, but only drops to 12 or 14°C in the summer. The downsides, however, are frequent morning coastal fogs.
Moving inland to Damaraland, the temperatures rise again to the average highs of 32°C in the summer months, and a still very warm 26°C in winter. There are big differences between the average daily highs and average daily lows all year round, with temperatures typically dropping 15°C or more overnight. This is particularly noticeable in the winter, where average lows in July are only 9°C, and after the highs of 26°C during the day most people will find this can feel a little chilly. The rainfall pattern in Damarland is similar to that in Windhoek and Etosha, although this ares gets significantly less rain than either.
The weather in the Etosha National Park is characterised by hot humid summers (October - end March), and cooler, drier winters. The heavy storms that happen frequently in the summer months can turn the dry and dusty tracks of the Park into difficult to navigate mud, and there is lots of muddy water to pass through as well - if you are visiting Etosha in the rainy season, you should really consider taking a 4x4! Etosha is still a great place to visit during the rains, but it is undoubtedly true that the best time to visit is during the dry season when the roads are easier to navigate and the animals are more reliant on Etosha's famous waterholes.
Windhoek Average Max and Min Temperature
Windhoek Average Rainfall (mm)
Swakopmund Average Max and Min Temperature
Swakopmund Average Rainfall (mm)
Damaraland Average Max and Min Temperature
Damaraland Average Rainfall (mm)
Etosha (Okaukuejo) Average Max and Min Temperature
Etosha (Okaukuejo) Average Rainfall (mm)
The Caprivi Strip
The Caprivi Strip is the stretch of land that gives Namibia it's distinctive shape when you look at it on a map, and the climate here is unlike the rest of the country and unlike the common perception of Nambia as a dry and barren land.
Whilst the temperatures follow a similar pattern to Etosha, Caprivi recives a substantially more rain than any other part of Namibia, with well over 100mm of rain falling on average in each month from December to February.
As with Etosha, the cooler, drier winter months are the best time to visit for game viewing if you are looking at spending some time on one of the houseboats on the Chobe River or at one of the regions safari lodges.
Caprivi Strip Average Max and Min Temperature
Caprivi Strip Average Rainfall (mm)
Sossuvlei & The Southern Circuit
Southern Namibia is one of the driest places on the planet, as will be very obvious to any visitor driving across the regions spectacular desert landscapes.
Sossusvlei is famous for it's towering red dunes, parched dried lakes (or 'vleis' in Afrikaans) and dramatic petrified trees. The weather here varies from hot and dry in winter, to very hot and dry in Summer. As with all of Namibia's desert areas (and indeed deserts all over the world), the temperature can drop surprisingly overnight, and in winter especially the average lows of 6°C will feel very cold after the heat of the day where average highs are 27°C even in mid winter.
The Fish River Canyon has a similar weather pattern to Sossusvlei, although temperatures are generally a few degrees cooler. Even so, average highs of 32°C in the height of summer will feel even warmer in the still dry air at the bottom of the canyon.
The area of the Southern Namib around the town of Aus is famous for it's desert landscapes, and it is is substantially cooler here than at Sosusvlei, with daily highs around 10°C lower than you will see at the dunes. In the coldest winter months (June - August) the average daily highs are only 14°C-16°C, and overnight lows can average 2°C, with overnight freezing a fairly common occurrence.
Most visitors to Luderitz are really only stopping by to see the ghost mining town at Kolmanskop, however the pleasant year-round temperatures will come as a welcome relief baking heat encountered in most of the rest of the country. As with the Swakopmund . Walvis Bay area, visitors should expect to see coastal fogs during their stay, and these can be surprisingly chilly.