This paper aims to identify chronostratigraphic palaeo-climatic boundaries based on proxy indications from mountain- and coastal wetlands in eastern South Africa and Lesotho. Phase boundaries were identified from timing of climate change inferred by proxies, as well as regime shifts in climate variability. Sometimes magnitude and/or frequency of change was also considered. Summarizing the common palaeo-climatic indications suggest the following chronostratigraphic climate phases: 25 to 18 ka, 18 to 15 ka, 15 to 11.5, 11.5 to 8 ka, 8 to 5.5 ka, 5.5 to 2 ka and 2 to 0 ka. The most robust boundaries were identified at 18 ka, 15 ka and 2 ka, i.e. these boundaries were supported by several proxies/sites. The other boundaries were less clearly detected from available proxies/sites and should be regarded tentative. The timing of a climate shift often coincides at coast and mountain sites. However, the climate conditions within each chronostratigraphic phase sometimes vary between coast and inland sites. The 25 to 18 ka phase was cool and dry with strong and frequent storms, followed by the ca. 18 to 15 ka period when conditions were less severe but still generally cool and dry. At ca. 15 to 11.5 ka several proxies infer warmer climate, with less winter rains. During 11.5 to 8 ka a general increase in wetness is inferred, followed by warming over the 8 to 5.5 ka phase. Between 5.5 and 2 ka a successive change towards wetter is indicated, although timing differ between sites. After 2 ka generally a more variable climate is seen, often with high magnitude shifts between dry and wet. The data resolution, i.e. the number of available wetland records, increases with time from very low during glacial times, to highest resolution during late Holocene. Geographically, sites in the mountain region are overrepresented compared to coastal sites.
A comparison with coastal lake records suggests a more variable climate at coastal sites compared to mountain sites during mid- and late Holocene, although different proxy resolution and methodology cannot be ruled out as an explanation. A case study compares multiproxy records from Drakensberg (Sekhokong, Ntsikeni) and the coast (Mfabeni), discussing advantages and problems associated with proxy-comparisons within and between sites.