In Swaziland, a small country, bordering South Africa and Mozambique, mountainous in the west and hilly in the east, 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 in the western area, where the altitude is higher, rainfall is more abundant. The rains occur primarily as showers or thunderstorms in the afternoon. On the contrary, the austral winter is dry and sunny.
The altitude determines three areas with different climates and environments.
1 - In the west we find the Highveld, crossed by the Drakensberg Mountains, at an altitude between 800 and 1,800 metres (2,600 and 6,000 ft); here the climate is temperate, with cold nights in winter, and being more humid we find forests, rivers and waterfalls. Sometimes, during summer it can get hot during the day, but nights are still cool; while in winter the night temperature can drop below freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). The rainfall amounts to 1,000/2,000 millimetres (40/80 inches) per year. The capital Mbabane is situated in this area, at 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) above sea level.
Here are the average temperatures of Mbabane.
Mbabane - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)15151311855710111314
Max (°C)252524232119202123232324
Min (°F)595955524641414550525557
Max (°F)777775737066687073737375

In Mbabane, 1,350 mm (53 in) 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.
Mbabane - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)2451951408535152030651301902001350
Prec.(in)9.67.75.53.31.40.60.81.22.65.17.57.953.1
Days13111074223610141395

The sun in Mbabane, and in Swaziland in general, shines all year round, but especially in the dry season, while in the rainy season the hours of sunshine decrease a little.
Mbabane - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours777788887766

2 - The Middle Veld lies in the centre of the country, between 400 and 800 metres (1,300 and 2,600 feet) above sea level. 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, summer is hot, sometimes very hot, with peaks near 40 °C (104 °F).
Here are the average temperatures of Manzini, the second city of the country.
Manzini - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)1919181512991113151618
Max (°C)292827262422232426262728
Min (°F)666664595448485255596164
Max (°F)848281797572737579798182

The rainfall pattern is the same as that of Mbabane, with a summer maximum and a winter minimum, but the amount is lower, around 920 mm (36 in) per year.
Manzini - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)140140105652010102555110130115925
Prec.(in)5.55.54.12.60.80.40.412.24.35.14.536.4
Days12896312469131183

3 - The Lowveld is found in the east, between 200 and 400 metres (650 and 1,300 feet), and is characterized by a warmer climate and a landscape dominated by the savannah. During winter, nights can be cold, with a wide daily temperature range. Summer is humid and uncomfortably hot.
Here is the average temperature of Big Bend, a town in the east of the country, at 100 metres (350 ft) above sea level.
Big Bend - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)2121191612881114171820
Max (°C)323231292725262729293032
Min (°F)707066615446465257636468
Max (°F)909088848177798184848690

Rainfall in the Lowveld is even lower, and amounts to around 500/900 mm (20/35 in) per year.
Big Bend - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)11085604020881530558575595
Prec.(in)4.33.32.41.60.80.30.30.61.22.23.3323.4
Days877532124610762

In the easternmost area, the altitude increases slightly again, in the Lebombo Mountains, which despite their name do not reach 800 metres (2,600 feet), so they are more like hills.

Mlawula Reserve

Tropical cyclones



Occasionally Swaziland can be affected by tropical cyclones, coming from the Indian Ocean (which lies to the east, beyond the border with Mozambique and South Africa), as happened with Tropical Storm Domoina in late January 1984. The cyclone season in the Southern Hemisphere runs from November to mid-May, but they are most likely from late December to mid-April.

When to go



The best time to visit Swaziland is from June to September, being the coolest, the driest and outside the cyclone season, although being winter, it can get cold at night also in the Lowveld, and even more so in the Highveld, where at night the temperature can drop below freezing 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 clothes for the day, but also sweater and jacket for the evening; hiking shoes. For the Middle Veld, spring/autumn clothes. 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 Middle Veld, 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.