Sahel lies between Mali’s northern desert and southern tropical savannah. The further south you travel, the more trees appear. What little rainfall Mali receives falls during the country’s rainy season, which lasts from late May to early June. Niger River flooding is frequent during the rainy season, which runs until October or November. A cooler period follows from early November to early February. Mali’s hottest and driest season starts in mid-February and lasts until the next rainy season begins.

Average climates are arid in the north and subtropical in the humid south. Dusty, hazy and hot harmattan winds make the desert north’s parched dry season feel even hotter than it is, especially in December. Average temperatures can soar more than 102°F in April and remain around 92°F even during the coldest month of January. January’s coolest temperatures are just under 61°F.

Best Time to Visit Mali

Visitors who dislike extremely hot and dry weather should avoid coming to Mali between April and June, the hottest months, especially in the northern desert. The months between January and June bring the warm and dusty harmattan winds, and river trips come to an end each year in December, when water levels drop dramatically during the dry season.

The months between November and January, which Malians call the "cold season," is the most comfortable time to visit weather-wise. Northeast alize winds keep average temperatures to a relatively cool 90°F. Visitors coming to Mali during the wettest months from July to September actually won’t experience very much rain. Downpours do not last long and are fairly infrequent. Rainy season visitors can expect green countryside, no dust and fewer crowds.