Weather: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic

At the heart of equatorial Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) has one of the more dependable climatic regimes of the continent. The ITCZ pulls wet, thundery weather to the north from March to November and to the south from December to February. In between, the central Congo basin, including Mbandaka (perched directly on the equator), gets two wet seasons a year. Even the driest months (June–August) typically see at least 100mm/4in. Winds are typically light across the DRC, and the air is sultry year round. The most reliably bone-dry period occurs during June and July across the south from Kinshasa to the slopes of the Monts Mitumba. Temperatures can drop below 15°C/59°F, even in the lowlands of Kinshasa, and a frost isn't out of the question above 1500m/4900ft. During the dry season, low clouds can limit sunshine across the lower Congo. If you trek to the mountains or the Ruzizi Valley, expect changeable weather, especially outside of the dry season (it can snow on the highest peaks). The Central African Republic lies entirely in the Northern Hemisphere, so its wet season peaks from May to September. Yearly averages drop from 2000mm/79in to 1000mm/39in as you go from south to north, and temperatures overall run a few degrees warmer than in the Congo Basin. Bangui can reach 38°C/100°F in February and March, when high humidity just before the wet season makes for the least appealing time of year.