Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Weather in Africa

When you're planning a trip to Africa, knowing when the rainy season or wet season and the dry season falls, helps determine the best time to go. In general, the best time to go on safari is during the dry season because water is scarce and animals will congregate around existing water holes. The grass is lower affording better visibility and the dirt roads are navigable. All of these factors help you enjoy a successful safari. But the heat can be intense depending on where and when you plan to travel. So while cold temperatures are not a huge issue in Africa (although it does snow in some parts), hot weather can make or break your trip.

In some regions the heat during the rainy season is worse than during the dry season because of the added discomfort of humidity. This is especially the case as you get closer to the coast. The weather is unpredictable of course, and rains do fail causing untold hardship to millions of subsistence farmers in Africa. Some years too much rain falls on the parched soil, and floods cause huge damage. In general, the "wet season" means buckets of rain fall from sky for a few hours a day, and then it will go back to being nice and sunny. If you're looking to save some money, traveling during the wet season is the way to go. It's also the best time to see birds and baby animals.

The Rainy and Dry Season in East Africa - The hottest time of year in East Africa is during the dry season from December to March. Northern Tanzania and Kenya experience two rainy seasons, the long rains from April to June and a shorter rain from November to December.

The Rainy and Dry Season in Southern Africa - The dry season in southern Africa is during the cooler months from May - August. The rainy (wet) season is also the hottest time of year in southern Africa, and generally runs from November to March.

Winter and Summer in North Africa - North Africa generally has mild winters (December - February), perfect for visiting tombs and monuments in hot deserts or taking a camel safari in the Sahara. The summer months in North Africa (June - September) are blazing hot. Head to the beaches or mountains if you plan to visit during this time, or make sure your hotel has a pool to cool off in the heat of the day. Summers are usually bone dry.

Winter and Summer in South Africa - South Africa is far south enough from the equator to enjoy a somewhat traditional summer and winter season (although its geography doesn't make this quite so simple). South Africa's summers (November to March) are generally warm with average temperatures around 77 Fahrenheit (25 C).

If you are traveling to the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Madagascar or Reunion, avoid the rainy season January - March because it is also "cyclone" season. Cyclones and hurricanes are extremely rare in The Seychelles.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How to Travel Through Africa?

Africa is the second largest continent, just after Asia. Africa is three times larger than Europe and twice as big as South America. It also has the most border crossings, with 53 countries within its territory. With so much land to cover, traveling through Africa is not an easy endeavor. Although you need to think about convenience and distances to cover, you also have to worry about safety, as many countries in Africa are in turmoil.

Step 1 - Make a list of the places you want to visit beforehand. Some countries require visas in advance, while others will give you a visa when you cross the border, either by land or via an airport. This will affect the way you travel, as you'll need to adapt to the visa regulations.

Step 2 - Fly whenever possible, especially if you need to cover long distances. Carjacking is a common problem in South Africa and other African countries. You also need to worry about bad roads, rebel attacks and other dangers, especially if you're traveling in Central Africa. Flights inside Africa are not expensive, especially if you stick to local airlines.

Step 3 - Hire a car with driver if possible. This is common in East Africa, where the economy is slightly better and private cars are available. Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and other countries are ideal places to have a driver. The roads can be dangerous, and a local driver will know what areas to avoid and the best routes to take.

Step 4 - Use the mini-vans and small buses for local city travel. They're common all over Africa. They might not be the most comfortable or safe for long-distance travel, but they're fine for exploring the city. You'll need to check information on the specific country you're visiting. For example, Ethiopia's public transportation is safe and in better shape than buses in West Africa.

Step 5 - Skip the dangerous countries. You don't want to travel through Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sudan or Cote d'Ivoire. These countries have had problems with civil wars, rebel fights and violent conflict since the 1980s. If you need to get from Zambia to Uganda, for example, either fly or drive through Tanzania. A drive through Congo might be faster but also much more dangerous.