Africa is synonymous with the words “hot” and “very hot” and so it is true that when anyone plans a trip to Africa, they would immediately assume that they will be “hot” or “very hot” in terms of daily temperatures. Most safari material advises guests to pack something warm for the early mornings and evenings especially for the game drives. It is really hard to pack for safari in Africa during the months of June – end August because that is of course spring and summer in the northern hemisphere and you are not thinking about winter at all.
The three winter months of the year are where the temperatures vary so drastically from sunrise to midday to sunset. At dawn and dusk the temperatures are usually around 3-6° C (34-42F), but they can occasionally go down to -1° C (30F) and lower. By mid-day it is a comfortable 24 – 27° C (75 – 80F). In the bush you get to feel the freshness of winter and that makes you feel totally alive.
I feel the cold, so I write this from my point of view which is that I do not even consider getting out of my tent in the early morning for the game drive without at least five layers of clothing on. Those layers are just layers of long-sleeved t-shirt-type shirts, a light jacket and finally a thick jacket that will stop the wind blowing through. A scarf that can be wrapped around my ears and face, plus: hat, gloves, thick socks, and long pants. Beanies are good too – they just don’t work with my hair, so not an option for me. Usually, I put my clothes out the night before and tuck them into the bottom of my bed so that they stay warm and I don’t have to put on cold clothes before dawn breaks.
As day-breaks, the temperature drops more. By this time you are on the vehicle under cover of the poncho that is the final barrier between you and the cold. As the sun rises in the sky, towards tea-break, the first layer may be shed and so it goes until you are down to maybe one or two layers. During the siesta time in the middle of the day you can be in just light t-shirt and shorts even. But the reverse process of layering up happens after afternoon tea and onto the evening game drive time. Depending on your own tolerance of cold, layer up as you feel the sun dipping down into the horizon. By the time you arrive back under cover of darkness, you will be warm and ready for a seat around the fire just before dinner.
This is how I tackle winter months in our hemisphere when it is a brilliant time to be on safari. Being well prepared for the cold and for my ability to be able to deal with it makes for the most enjoyable experience.