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Climate - Swaziland

Temperature, rainfall, prevailing weather conditions, when to go, what to pack

See also the US version (°F - inches - feet)

Flag - Swaziland

Swaziland is a small country bordering South Africa and Mozambique, mountainous in the west and hilly in the east, in which the climate varies mainly with altitude. Throughout the country, there is a rainy season from mid-October to mid-April, and a dry season from mid-April to mid-October, but the western area, where the altitude is higher, is rainier than the eastern one. The rains occur primarily as showers or thunderstorms in the afternoon. On the contrary, winter is dry and sunny.
There are three geographical areas which have different climates.
In the west we find the Highveld, crossed by the Drakensberg Mountains, at an altitude between 800 and 1,800 metres, where the capital Mbabane is located, has a temperate climate, with cold winter nights, and is covered by forests, rivers and waterfalls. Sometimes during summer it can get hot during the day, but the nights are still cool; sometimes in winter the night temperature can drop below freezing. The rainfall amounts to 1,000/2,000 millimetres per year. The capital Mbabane is situated in this area, at 1,200 metres above sea level.
Here are the average temperatures of Mbabane.
Mbabane average temperatures
Mbabane J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) 15 15 13 11 8 5 5 7 10 11 13 14
Max (°C) 25 25 24 23 21 19 20 21 23 23 23 24

In Mbabane, 1,350 mm of rain per year fall, with a maximum in summer, from November to February, and a minimum in winter, when the rains are rare. Here is the average rainfall.
Average precipitation Mbabane
Mbabane J F M A M J J A S O N D Year
Prec. (mm) 245 195 140 85 35 15 20 30 65 130 190 200 1350
Days 13 11 10 7 4 2 2 3 6 10 14 13 95

The Midveld lies in the centre of the country, between 400 and 800 metres above sea level, where the second city, Manzini is located. Here the temperature is slightly higher: in winter during the day the weather is nice, it gets cold at night but the risk of frost is lower. On the contrary, in summer it's hot, sometimes very hot, with peaks near 40 °C. The rainfall pattern is the same as that of Mbabane, with a summer maximum and a winter minimum, but the amount is lower, around 900 mm per year.
Here are the average temperatures of Manzini.
Manzini average temperatures
Manzini J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) 19 19 18 15 12 9 9 11 13 15 16 18
Max (°C) 29 28 27 26 24 22 23 24 26 26 27 28

The Lowveld in the east, between 200 and 400 metres, is characterized by a warmer climate and a landscape dominated by the savannah. Rainfall amounts to around 500/900 mm per year. During winter, the nights can be cold, with a wide daily temperature range. Summer is humid and uncomfortably hot.
Big Bend average temperatures
Big Bend J F M A M J J A S O N D
Min (°C) 20 20 19 16 13 10 10 12 14 15 18 19
Max (°C) 33 32 31 29 26 23 24 26 29 30 31 32

In the easternmost area, the altitude start to increase slightly again, with the Lebombo Mountains, which despite of their name, do not reach 800 metres, so they are more like hills.

Sometimes Swaziland can be affected by tropical cyclones, coming from the Indian Ocean, which lies to the east, beyond the border with Mozambique. The cyclone season in the Southern Hemisphere runs from mid-November to May, but they are most likely from late December to mid-April.

Mlawula Reserve

When to go

The best time to visit Swaziland is from June to September, being the coolest, driest and outside the cyclone season. Being this period in winter, it should be noted, however, that it can get cold at night even in the Lowveld, and even more so in the Highveld, where the temperature can drop below freezing at night from May to August. September is probably the best month, because it's less cold in the mountains.

What to pack

In winter (June to August): for the Highveld and Mbabane, spring/autumn outfit for the day, but also a sweater and jacket for the evening, hiking shoes. For the Midveld, spring/autumn outfit. For the Lowveld, light clothes for the day, jacket and sweater for the evening and the early hours of the morning.

In summer (December to February): for the Highveld and Mbabane, light clothes for the day, sweater and sweatshirt or jacket for the evening, sun hat, umbrella or light raincoat, hiking shoes. For the Midveld, light clothes for the day, light sweatshirt and light jacket for the evening. For the Lowveld, light clothing, light raincoat or umbrella, a light sweatshirt for the evening.

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