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Is Safari Cold at Night?

Going on safari is an incredible experience that allows you to see African wildlife up close. Since most safaris take place in the early morning and late afternoon when animals are most active, a common question for first-time visitors is “Is Safari Cold at Night?”. This article will provide key information to help you prepare for the range of temperatures you may encounter in the evening and early morning hours on an African safari.

Is Safari Cold at Night?

What Causes Temperature Changes on Safari

There are several factors that impact how cold it gets on safari at night:

Location and Season

  • The specific country and region where your safari takes place impacts temperatures. Southern Africa is generally milder than East Africa.
  • Winter months (June-August) tend to be colder than summer.


  • Many safari camps and lodges are located at higher elevations. Nights become considerably cooler as elevation increases.

Desert vs. Rainforest

  • Desert areas like Namibia can have hot days but frigid nights. Rainforests tend to retain more warmth overnight.

Average Nighttime Temperatures by Destination

Here are average low temperatures at night for popular safari destinations:


  • Serengeti: 50°F (10°C)
  • Ngorongoro Crater: 50°F (10°C)


  • Maasai Mara: 60°F (15°C)

South Africa

  • Kruger National Park: 45°F (7°C)


  • Okavango Delta: 55°F (13°C)


  • South Luangwa National Park: 55°F (13°C)

As you can see, nighttime temperatures routinely drop into the 40s or 50s (single digits to teens °C). It gets cold once the sun goes down and frigid in the early morning before sunrise. However, keep in mind these are averages. The actual low may be several degrees warmer or colder on any given day.

Is It Comfortable Sleeping Outside on Safari At Night?

While evenings and early mornings can be quite cold on an African safari, you likely won’t be sleeping outside exposed to the elements. You’ll sleep comfortably inside these overnight accommodations:

Safaris Lodges

  • Luxury safari lodges provide cozy, heated rooms protected from the elements. You may opt to enjoy a warm bath or relax near a lodge fireplace before retiring to your room.

Tented Camps

  • Don’t let the word “tent” fool you! Safari tents are furnished with real beds and plush bedding. Most feature a partial cement foundation and insulation. Camp staff deliver hot water bottles to tents in the evening to help keep you warm.

Sleeping Bags on Mobile Camping Safaris

  • For rugged mobile camping safaris, guides provide high-quality sleeping bags designed to keep you warm in very cold temperatures (as low as -15°C/5°F). You sleep nestled near the campfire for extra warmth.

The key is avoiding direct exposure to wind and ground. With the variety of shelter options available, you can sleep comfortably no matter how cold it gets outside in Africa!

What to Wear on Night Drives and Early Morning Game Drives

Since game drives often take place before sunrise or after sunset when temperatures are coolest, it’s important to dress properly for open vehicles.

Layers, Layers, Layers

The key is wearing multiple loose lightweight layers that can be added or removed. Base layers made of moisture-wicking fabric will keep you dry. Have hats, gloves, scarves easily accessible.

Warm Items to Pack

  • Fleece or wool jacket/vest
  • Windproof outer layer
  • Warm hat
  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Wool socks

With the right layers, you will be comfortable sitting for hours in cool morning and evening temperatures waiting for incredible wildlife sightings on your African safari!

Key Takeaway

While nighttime temperatures can routinely plummet into the 40s or 50s Fahrenheit (single digits to teens Celsius) on an African safari, with proper preparation you can comfortably experience incredible nocturnal wildlife sightings. Well-appointed safari lodges and tents protect you from the elements at night. Dress in lightweight moisture-wicking layers and have gloves, hats, scarves easily accessible for brisk early morning and late evening game drives. Follow these tips, and you’ll comfortably enjoy every magical encounter on your once-in-a-lifetime safari despite cooler temperatures after dark.


An African safari offers the chance to have breathtaking encounters with lions stalking their prey at night or elephants silhouetted against a fiery sunset. While nights and early mornings can be quite cold, understanding what causes temperature variations and preparing properly will allow you to comfortably experience all the wonders of an African safari after the sun goes down. Research your destination, pack appropriate clothing, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime on safari — no matter how brisk the temperature.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What should I wear for night game drives?
    Wear multiple lightweight layers and have warm items like a fleece, windbreaker, gloves, hat and scarf easily accessible in open vehicles.

  2. How cold does it get at night on safari?
    Temperatures often drop into the 40s or 50s F (single digits to teens C) at night and before dawn. Check average lows.

  3. Will I freeze sleeping in a tent?
    No. Safaris use insulated tents with cement foundations. Staff provide hot water bottles on chilly nights.

  4. What causes it to be cold on safari?
    Location, elevation, seasonal changes, desert vs rainforest environments all impact temperatures.

  5. Do all lodges have heat?
    Most permanent safari lodges do have heating and cozy common areas with fireplaces. Mobile camps rely more on campfires, blankets etc.

  6. Which African countries are warmer?
    Southern safari destinations like South Africa and Botswana tend to be a bit milder than Tanzania and Kenya.

  7. Can’t I just bring my winter jacket?
    Bulky winter coats will be too warm during the day. Bring lightweight layers you can add or remove.

  8. What time of year is warmest to go on safari?
    Peak summer months December-February are warmest but you’ll contend with rainy seasons.

  9. Does rainy season impact temperature?
    Yes. More cloud cover will keep nights warmer. But days may be cooler.

  10. Is it hot inside lodges and tents?
    With partial roof and canvas construction, most feel similar to outside temperature when going to sleep. Thus nights remain cool.

  11. Will I need heat to sleep?
    Not necessarily but hot water bottles provided by staff help. Bring pajamas and socks to stay warm at night.

  12. How early are morning drives?
    Expect to be up before dawn around 5:30am. It’s often the coldest part of day so have layers and hat/gloves ready.

  13. Will game drives ever be canceled due to cold weather?
    No. Rain or lightning storms may delay things temporarily but open vehicles go out in all temperatures.

  14. Can I still shower if it’s freezing at night?
    Yes. Safari showers may be outdoors but piping hot water is standard. Just shower quickly before dusk when it gets chilly.

  15. Is there heating inside vehicles?
    No. Open Land Rovers are the norm. Dress very warmly for hours sitting outside before sunrise and after dark.

  16. Can I charge my devices if it’s cold?
    Yes. Lodges may have backup generators if needed. Bring a backup charger in case your phone drains faster in cold.

  17. Will I need boiled hot water?
    Yes, lodges provide thermoses of hot water. Have tea bags accessible for warm drinks during icy dawn drives.

  18. Do animals sleep when it’s cold?
    Yes! Expect lions, leopards, cheetahs to be curled up trying to stay warm at night just like you!

  19. How do I sleep at high altitude?
    Expect cooler nights if at any significant elevation. Lodges provide plenty of blankets but come prepared with your own if prone to feeling cold.

  20. Will rangers/guides provide guidance on dressing for warmth?
    Yes. Experienced safari staff are accustomed to changing seasonal conditions. Ask them for recommendations and follow their lead by observing what they wear.

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