When is the best time to visit Tanzania?
Need help with timing your visit to Tanzania? In general, June through September is the best time for wildlife watching. June to September is Tanzania's cooler and dry season, but then it's also high season. There are more things to take into account when determining what would be the best time for you to visit Tanzania.
In this article we discuss the dry season and rainy season, peak season and low season and the different pros and cons. Good to know that Tanzania is lovely to visit year-round; it's always summer!
How is the weather in Tanzania?
Tanzania lies on the equator and has a pleasant, tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations. The hottest and most humid part of the country is the coast. Other lower-lying areas, such as Lake Manyara, Lake Eyasi, Moshi, Nyerere, Mikumi and Ruaha are also hot but less humid. The rest of the interior is much milder and cools down significantly at night. The Ngorongoro Crater rim receives quite a lot of rain and is very cold during evenings and mornings due to its high altitude.
The wettest months in Tanzania are from November to May and these are also the warmest months. Afternoon temperatures are around 30°C/86°F, but it is colder above 1300m (Arusha, Ngorongoro, Usambara Mountains). Mornings are cold in most parks in the Northern Safari Circuit. The dry season in Tanzania typically runs from June to October and these are the coldest months of the year.
November & December
'Short rains' – A period of unpredictable, short rains between November and December that lasts about a month. However, weather patterns are changing worldwide and are becoming less predictable.
January & February
The northern safari parks in Tanzania and coastal areas tend to have a break in the rainy season. This is also the hottest time of the year in Tanzania.
March, April & May
' Long rains ' - These are the wettest months. It’s cloudy with usually a heavy shower late afternoon/evening. Humidity is higher.
June to October –The dry season in Tanzania typically runs from June to October. There is very little rainfall during this period and humidity is very low. It cools off at night; be sure to pack warm clothing for your early morning game drives or campfire evenings. Afternoon temperatures are usually between 20°C/68°F and 30°C/86°F and vary greatly according to altitude and location. Most days have a clear sky and sunny weather.
When is the high season in Tanzania?
Tourists come to visit Tanzania year-round, but the busiest season is from December to February and from July to October, with peak season in the summer holiday and the Christmas holidays. Lake Manyara and the Ngorongoro Crater can feel crowded during peak season, as these are small but popular safari parks.
Some lodges in Tanzania adopt their pricing according to the season, and there can be a 25% - 50% price difference between low and peak season rates.
If you plan to visit Tanzania during the peak season, you must confirm your car rental with Roadtrip Africa a couple of months in advance. If you're following the Northern Safari Circuit and travel without camp gear, you'll also need to reserve your lodges well in advance.
Advantages of visiting Tanzania during the low season
If you have the ability to visit Tanzania outside of the peak season, consider going in the low season ( April & May, November).
Go this time of the year to enjoy fifty shades of green, the scent of lovely flowers, and some good off-road driving in muddy patches. The parks receive much fewer tourists adding to the wilderness experience. We don't recommend camping, but for the rest, the rainy season should not interfere with your safari. Usually, there is only one heavy shower a day
In addition, most lodges drop their room rates between 25-50% (!), and it's not needed to book your accommodation well in advance.
When is the best time to go on safari in Tanzania.
In general, people tend to say June through September is the best time for wildlife watching. As this is the dry season. However, most parks in Tanzania are not seasonal and offer good game viewing year-round. The following parks have a migration, and are therefore a seasonal game-viewing destination.
Animal concentration peaks in Tarangire between July till the start of the rains in November / early December. During this dry season, Tarangire has, after the Serengeti, the highest concentration of wildlife of any Tanzanian National Park. From November to May, much of the game leaves the park. Herds of wildebeest and zebra head Northwest to the Rift Valley floor and the vast open areas of the Maasai Steppe.
Nyerere is a game-viewing destination that experiences highly seasonal changes. Due to its low altitude, it tends to be hotter than any other reserve in Tanzania. The best time to visit is during the dry season, from June to September, when wildlife is abundant and temperatures are bearable. Game viewing is equally good from October to early November, but it can be very hot during this time. Lodges are closed and roads become impassable during April and May.
The Serengeti is famous for its annual migration of millions of wildebeest and other plains grazers on the move to find fresh grass and water, with predators like lions following in their footsteps. Whether it's worth planning your safari dates around the Serengeti migration is a matter of choice. With the best will in the world, it would be practically impossible to coincide your few days in the Serengeti with the river crossing.
In our experience, the Serengeti always offers excellent game-viewing opportunities irrespective of season. Read everything you need to know about the Serengeti in our Visitors Guide to the Serengeti, here.
Dictated by local rainfall patterns, the migration does follow a pretty predictable pattern:
December - May: Southeast (Seronera, Ndutu)
May - July: Western corridor
July - October: Mara River
October -November: Lobo area.