It’s NOT Hot in Africa!

It’s NOT Hot in Africa!

in_hot_africa_800Ok, it’s hot. But it’s NOT “Africa Hot.” That phrase is racing around twitter as a way to describe unusual heat in the U.S., and … it’s blazing wrong!!

Now, historically, and probably for the whole futures any of us will ever have, most of the United States is hotter than most of the Africa in which I guide and spend nearly half my life.
And for that life of me I’ve spent my career trying to understand why people think otherwise.

Was it the Tarzan movies? Johnny Weissmüller’s hair was always perfectly slicked down, so I suppose you might think that was because of sweat.

Was it because of movies like Africa Queen? Or histories of the early explorers who were always drawn sweating off their clothes?

Or… was it because we associated Africa with slavery, and we associate slaves with the South, and we associated the South with heat?

To be utterly and completely fair, West Africa is a pretty hot place, and North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt) can be extremely hot. If I compiled those statistics I’m guessing it would be a near draw or slight advantage for those parts of Africa as hotter than the U.S.

But those are not the places that most American visit, today, or for that matter have visited in the past.

Sub-Saharan Africa has always been the American destination on the continent (with the notable exception of Egypt, whose tourist market share has fluctuated with great volatility over the years).

Look at my chart. Of the ten most visited places in the U.S. and the ten most visited places in sub-Saharan Africa, 5 of the top 6 hottest destinations are in America!

In fact, by a lot! The most popular safari destination that I guide today is northern Tanzania. That averages ten degrees cooler than where I grew up in Chicago.

By now I hope you’ve realized that I might be ever so slightly manipulating the statistics, so I’ll come completely clean, because I’ll still prevail:

America’s temperature spread, from hottest to lowest in the year, is much greater than for most any other part of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa.

A chart showing my 20 destinations by their averages results in 3 of the top 5 hottest all coming from Africa (Zanzibar, Botswana & Central Tanzania) with only 2 from America (Orlando and Las Vegas).

But that’s not the point, either. The real study would take these twenty places during the times that they were most visited, and remarkably in almost all cases, that’s the end of the year, the holiday periods in December.

Doing that, Africa wins by a long shot, because it’s the coldest time in America and it tends to be the warmest time in Africa. So that’s probably why the “myth” of “hot Africa” exists. It’s when most Americans have visited Africa, during its hottest time.

But I’m not done. Although the end of December is the highest tourist season for most Americans visiting Africa, it shouldn’t be. It’s really not the best time to go, and that’s not because it’s the hottest time. It’s just not a good season for anything, not animal viewing or city touring, or even for experiencing Victoria Falls.

So if we did a chart of when it’s the best time to visit each of those twenty places, the hottest would definitely be almost exclusively all in America.

This is because America’s best city touring is usually during our summer for the eastern and northern cities, and during our winter for the southern cities.

And because for Africa the best time tends to be their coolest times.

That comparison would definitely show that America is hotter than Africa!

So don’t tweet today that it is “Africa Hot!” It isn’t. It’s “America Hot!”