Knowing the best time to visit Tanzania is all-important. That’s because Tanzania is a country which lays claim to many of the most exciting attractions in Africa.
After all, it’s here that travelers and adventurers of all types can discover what is arguably the finest wildlife spectacle of anywhere in the world – the Great Wildebeest Migration. The sight of up to two million animals circling the plains of the Serengeti alongside the Big Five is one to behold.
Elsewhere, Selous Game Reserve (also called Nyerere) has been described as the largest remaining wilderness in Africa, and the Ngorongoro Crater is another must.
But beyond its animal attractions, visitors to Tanzania also have the chance to climb Africa’s highest peak Mount Kilimanjaro, soak up the sun on tropical Indian Ocean beaches, explore the treasures of Zanzibar, and greet chimps at Gombe. In fact, there’s so much to do, we’ve created a dedicated page to the top things to do in Tanzania.
Keep reading to find the best time to visit Tanzania for your vacation of a lifetime!
What To Expect From Tanzania’s Climate
Although Tanzania’s climate is generally tropical, it does change by region. Broadly speaking, the best time to visit Tanzania is during the country’s main dry season. This lasts from July until October, helpfully coinciding in the long summer vacation period in much of the world.
During these months, the Tanzanian coast is hot, sometimes humid, but almost certainly rain free, leaving sparking skies ideal for a beach break. Tanzania safaris in the country’s low-lying national parks tend to be cooler. As do the upper limits of Mount Kilimanjaro, so it’s recommended you take careful note of our African safari packing list.
Being popular months, July through to October are considered peak season. The same can be said for the months of January and February, occupying a second shorter dry season. As a result, accommodation, flights, and even some national park costs can be higher. A great alternative time to visit Tanzania is the short rainy season of November and December.
Although the idea of traveling during the rainy season might be off-putting, there’s still plenty of dry weather to go around, and visitor numbers are much lower, providing a more exclusive safari, trekking, or beach stay.
By contrast, the heavy rains of April and May are not one of the best times to visit Tanzania. They can lead to the last-minute cancellation of activities such as hot air balloon rides over the Serengeti plains, as well as making some unsurfaced roads unpassable.
Month By Month: The Best Time To Visit Tanzania
Having taken a look at what to expect from Tanzania’s climate, it’s time to delve deeper into the best time to visit Tanzania with this month-by-month guide.
January in Tanzania
The New Year celebrations see Tanzania’s temperatures start to build after the short rainy season of November and December. Thermometers see an average of 29°C (83°F) on the coast and 23°C (72°F) in the Serengeti.
Although monitoring stations do get rain during January, it tends to fall as short showers, and mostly at night. The end of January welcomes the start of the calving season for animals involved in the Great Wildebeest Migration, with this action taking place on the Ndutu Plains, close to the Ngorongoro Crater.
February in Tanzania
February’s Serengeti temperatures remain similar to January’s averages, making it another good month for taking in all the action of the Great Wildebeest Migration on the Ndutu Plains. What’s more, the wildebeest calving is now reaching its peak, meaning wherever you turn new life abounds, drawing the attention of predators big and small.
Elsewhere, February is one of the best months of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as beach escapes. Head to Zanzibar and music fans also get to join the crowds at the Sauti za Busara music festival.
March in Tanzania
The Great Wildebeest Migration heads westward towards the Grumeti River in March. Here some of the most dramatic scenes of the entire year take place, as the wildebeest, zebra, and impala make the life-threatening crossing.
While temperatures are still holding up, the end of March has a higher chance of rain, meaning beach vacations are best taken at the start of the month instead.
April in Tanzania
The long rainy season enters its full force in April. Trips to Tanzania during the month aren’t usually suggested, since the heavy rains limit travel and accommodation options.
At the same time, the gentler light is ideal for photography, and with visitor numbers at their lowest, you might just bag yourself a bargain.
May in Tanzania
The rains continue into May, and after a month of rapid growth, it is particularly difficult to spot wildlife through the foliage.
June in Tanzania
The double-whammy of lush vegetation and plenty of surface water makes June one of the best times to visit Tanzania for birdwatching. Temperatures are also some of their lowest of the year, averaging 20°C (70°F) in the Serengeti and 25°C (77°F) on the coast.
Those keen to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration should head to the area north of the Grumeti River, from where the survivors of this epic trek make their way towards the Kenyan border.
July in Tanzania
Given the popularity of July, it’s always recommended to book your Tanzania tours as early as possible. The Great Wildebeest Migration is still moving towards Kenya, while elephant herds are starting to gather at Tarangire National Park.
To avoid the worst of the crowds, you might prefer to discover lesser-visited parks such as Selous (Nyerere). For two center vacations, Zanzibar is ideal in July with cool dry weather predominating.
August in Tanzania
This month gives perhaps the biggest chance of spotting the Big Five in the Serengeti, as animals have to stick close to the few remaining water holes. Additional attractions include the arrival of thousands of flamingos at Lake Natron. Meanwhile, August is also considered a top month for exploring Tanzania’s underwater wonders on a diving excursion.
September in Tanzania
September is another great month for diving in Tanzania. Zanzibar has the added wonder of sea turtles hatching and heading out to sea. At the same time, the herds of the Great Wildebeest Migration have dispersed, with a highlight being their crossing of the Mara River across the border in Kenya. Visitors to Tanzania can cross on safaris without needing a passport.
October in Tanzania
The beginning of October is a good time for exploring all Tanzania’s many wonders, from safaris to beaches and mountain treks. Daytime temperatures can be as low as 15°C (60°F) and rarely rise beyond 31°C (79°F). This means October is a good time to visit for those with an aversion to heat.
The end of the month sees the start of the short rains.
November in Tanzania
The weather becomes dominated by short showers in November, although they are never serious enough to force the closure of safari lodges. European migratory birds start to appear on the plains, and whale sharks can be spotted off the coast of Zanzibar.
December in Tanzania
The weather and climate in December are similar to that of November. Zanzibar makes a great escape from the colder weather in Europe and North America, although the Christmas period is popular across Tanzania and prices higher as a result.