Namibia, formerly South-West Africa, has a sub-tropical climate, desert along the coast and in the south, and arid, with a rainy season from November to March, in the north-central and north-eastern inland areas.
The country is crossed by the Tropic of Capricorn, but along the coast a cold current flows, called Benguela Current, while the interior is occupied by a plateau. It follows that the climate is cooler and drier than you might think. Nevertheless, in summer it can get hot, especially at some distance from the sea and in areas located at not too high altitudes. There may be blistering days from September to March in the north, from November to January in Windhoek, which is located at a pretty high altitude, and from September to Avril or early May in the center-south. On the contrary, during winter, the plateau can get cold at night, with possible light frosts everywhere.
The country is home to nature reserves and parks of great beauty, like the Etosha National Park.
Being in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are reversed in comparison with Europe or North America, and the coolest period is from May to August.

The driest region is the coastal area, where the Namib Desert is located, as well as the south, where we find the Kalahari Desert. The latter is slightly rainier, and it's home to xerophyte plants such as cacti and other succulent species. The rainiest area of Namibia is the north-east, where rainfall ranges from 500 to 600 millimeters (20 to 23.5 in) per year. Winter is dry everywhere, while in non-desert regions (north and east) it rains in summer, from November to March, usually in the form of showers or thunderstorms in the afternoon. The peak of the rainy season is from January to March.

The coast

Along the coast, the climate is desert but mild: it almost never rains, but the air is humid and there are often fogs, mists and low clouds, especially in the early hours of the day. Temperatures are mild all year round, but with fog, humidity and wind, you can feel cold, especially in winter.


Here are the average temperatures of Swakopmund, in the central part of the coast.
Swakopmund - Average temperatures
Min (°C)1516151311119910111314
Max (°C)202120181820181616161819
Min (°F)596159555252484850525557
Max (°F)687068646468646161616466

As you can see from the average rainfall, in Swakopmund it hardly ever rains.
Swakopmund - Average precipitation

Owing to the already mentioned mists and low clouds, which are more frequent at night and in the morning, the amount of sunshine in Swakopmund is decent, but not great, all year round.
Swakopmund - Sunshine

The temperature of the sea is very cool, if not cold, all year round, however, it reaches 17 °C (63 °F) from January to March. Only in the northernmost part of the Skeleton Coast the sea is a bit warmer, and it reaches 22/23 °C (72/73 °F) in March.
Swakopmund - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)171717161514141414141516
Temp (°F)636363615957575757575961

Along the coast, the temperature can suddenly increase when the wind called Oosweer blows from inland, which can also cause sandstorms. In addition, it's sufficient to move inland for not too many kilometers, to note the tempering effect of the sea; in fact, as you move away from the coast the air temperature increases rapidly, at least during the day and in summer. To understand how strong is the cooling influence of the sea, it's enough to say that in summer the temperatures in inland areas are higher than on the coast even at altitudes above 1,500 meters (5,000 feet). The coast is not advisable for beach tourism, but rather for watching birds, or animals such as the sea lions at Cape Cross, and also the remains of shipwrecks of past centuries on the Skeleton Coast to the north.

Sand Dunes in Sossusvlei

In the west, about 600 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level, in the area of the ancient Tsauchab river, today almost always dry, there are salt and clay pans (called Sossusvlei), which are almost always dry as well, and are surrounded by huge orange sand dunes, probably the highest sand dunes in the world. In particular, the "Big Daddy" dune is about 390 meters (1,280 feet) high. Another very high dune is located near the coast and is the so-called "Dune 7", near Walvis Bay, about 385 meters (1,263 feet) high. In the Sandwich Bay area, there are very high sand dunes that descend directly to the sea.

The plateau

The interior of the country, already a short distance from the sea, is occupied by a plateau, whose altitude ranges from 1,200 to 1,700 meters (3,900 to 5,600 ft). Occasionally, there are higher zones, and mountain peaks exceeding 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), for instance the Brandberg Massif. In the southern regions (Hardap and Karas), in the hottest months (December and January), the maximum temperatures are around 35 °C at 1,000 meters (95 °F at 3,300 feet) of altitude. In the north, where the rainy season is more pronounced, in the warmest months the temperatures are a bit lower, with highs around 30 °C (86 °F). North of the Tropic, the warmest period is from September to November, before the rainy season.


For example in Tsumeb, located in the north at 1,300 meters (4,250 feet) of altitude, the hottest month is October, when daytime temperatures are slightly higher than in January: 33 °C (91 °F) instead of 31 °C (88 °F), while in the Zambezi Region, in the far north-east, average highs in October are 35 °C (95 °F). Here are the average temperatures in Tsumeb.
Tsumeb - Average temperatures
Min (°C)1818171511881015181818
Max (°C)313029282624242731333231
Min (°F)646463595246465059646464
Max (°F)888684827975758188919088

In Tsumeb, 555 mm or rain fall per year. Here is the average precipitation.
Tsumeb - Average precipitation

The sun in Tsumeb shines all year round, but especially in the dry season, from May to September, when the sky is almost always serene.
Tsumeb - Sunshine

As mentioned, the north, where Tsumeb is located, is the wettest area of the country. In the vast Etosha National Park, where there are protected species such as the black rhino, not far from Tsumeb and 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) above sea level we find the Etosha Pan, a salt lake which is dry most of the year, but during the rainy season it becomes a shallow lake. In the wettest years, there may be flooding in the Etosha region and in the Cuvelai Basin.
The northeast is the rainiest area: the Kavango Region and the Caprivi Strip are covered by the savannah biome, also there are major rivers such as Okavango and Zambezi, along whose banks the forest flourishes.

Elephants in the Caprivi Strip


In the capital, Windhoek, located in the center of the country and at 1,700 meters (5,600 ft) above sea level, the average temperature ranges from 14 °C (57 °F) in June and July, to 24 °C (75 °F) in December and January. So the summer is hot despite the altitude, and much warmer than along the coast. In winter, the days are very mild, actually even slightly warm, but at night it can get cold. Here are the average temperatures.
Windhoek - Average temperatures
Min (°C)181716131077912151617
Max (°C)302927262321212428293031
Min (°F)646361555045454854596163
Max (°F)868481797370707582848688

Winter is a very sunny season, during which it almost never rains. On the other hand, from November to April some rain falls, but only from January to March the rainfall reaches on average 70/80 mm (2.8/3.1 in) per month. The total annual rainfall of 370 mm makes the climate arid, but during some years, when tropical air masses from Angola arrive up here, in the rainy season it can rain a lot. Here is the average precipitation.
Windhoek - Average precipitation

Also in Windhoek, as generally in the plateau, the sun shines all year round, with a maximum in the dry season.
Windhoek - Sunshine

In the southern part of the plateau, the climate is more arid; in fact, as mentioned, we are in the Kalahari desert. Here, the summer rains are too poor to lower the temperature, so the hottest season is the precisely the summer, with highs of 34/35 °C (93/95 °F) from December to February, and peaks around 40 °C (104 °F). On the other hand, the southern position makes the winter colder than in the center and north, at the same altitude.


Here are the average temperatures of Keetmanshoop, located in the south at 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) of altitude.
Keetmanshoop - Average temperatures
Min (°C)1818161396579121517
Max (°C)353432292521212426303234
Min (°F)646461554843414548545963
Max (°F)959390847770707579869093

Keetmanshoop receives a desert-like amount of rainfall, 145 mm (5.7 in) per year, with a peak of 40 mm (1.6 in) in February.
Keetmanshoop - Average precipitation

Southwest of Keetmanshoop is the Richtersveld National Park. In areas located at lower altitudes (see the Fish River Canyon, and the Orange River, which marks the border with South Africa, where the altitude drops to sea level, in villages like Aussenkehr and Noordoewer), in the hot period the temperature can reach 45 °C (113 °F).

Fish River Canyon

Best Time

The best time to visit Namibia as a whole is the austral winter, from May to August: it's a dry and sunny period, and it's the only one that allows to avoid the intense heat; on the plateau, however, nights are cold.
It's true that along the coast it is cool, and there are mists in the morning (on the coast the best time would be from November to February).

What to pack

In winter (June to August): on the coast, bring spring/autumn clothes, a sweatshirt or sweater and a jacket. In Windhoek and the plateau, spring/autumn clothes, being ready to add or remove the outer layer; sweater, a hat and warm jacket for the evening.

In summer (December to February): along the coast, bring spring/autumn clothes, a T-shirt, a shirt, a sweatshirt and a light jacket. In Windhoek and the plateau, light clothes for the day, a sun hat, a sweatshirt for the evening, a light raincoat or umbrella.

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