The best time to visit Tanzania

Serengeti Moody Sky - Africa Overland Safaris - Africa Lodge Safaris - Africa Tours - On The Go Tour
Time your visit to the Serengeti with the Great Wildebeest Migration

Seasons and Weather

Tanzania enjoys a fairly temperate climate making it a great year round destination. However there are some extremes at high altitude. Given the size of the country it is hard to pinpoint when the ‘perfect’ time to go is so we will look at what the weather tends to do throughout the year and what you want to do when you visit Tanzania.

If you are coming to Tanzania for the sublime array of wildlife then we recommend a visit during the dry season (January to March and June to September). Reason being the vegetation is less dense so actual viewing of the animals is somewhat easier plus the animals tend to head to commonly known waterholes, rivers and lakes for refreshment. Conveniently the second dry season fits in well with the annual great migration which sees wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate north to the Masai Mara in Kenya which usually takes place from July to November. This is understandably one of the most popular times to visit Tanzania so if you want the great weather and easily found wildlife then maybe plan to visit between January and March – which is also calving season in the Serengeti!

The rainy season April to May and October to November are known as the rainy seasons in Tanzania. Although this can be a beautiful time to go with the vegetation is at its most lush and the crowds are certainly fewer, it can also mean that some roads are impassable and lodges may also be closed.

Best time to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro

If you are looking to climb Kilimanjaro then there are a few things to bear in mind. The warmest months are January and February, however these also bring with them the largest numbers of trekkers. By March through to May the rains come making trekking potentially more challenging – however there are considerably less people on the mountain. June to August see colder temperatures but less rain and September and October are fairly dry with pleasant temperatures. November to December see the rains return but the temperatures still quite mild. Despite what the daytime temperature is, it can always get cold at night on the mountain and naturally the closer you are to the summit the colder it will be.

Climate | Dar es Salaam

Temp Min °C252524232220191919212224
Temp Max °C313131302929282828293031
Rainfall (mm)666613029018833312525417491

Climate | Kilimanjaro

Temp Min °C171718171817151515151517
Temp Max °C242626242324232223232425
Rainfall (mm)39217515619857366039667872

Climate | Ngorongoro

Temp Min °C111112131310101010111212
Temp Max °C171516181613151618201918
Rainfall (mm)54481021627812630159084
Zebra Crossing - Africa Overland Safaris - Africa Lodge Safaris - Africa Tours - On The Go Tours

The Great Migration

The endless plains of east Africa are the setting for the world’s greatest wildlife spectacle – the pounding of more than 6 million hooves during the Great Migration. From the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to Kenya’s Masai Mara over 1 million wildebeest, 300,000 Thomson’s gazelle and some 200,000 zebra, relentlessly tracked by Africa’s great predators, migrate in a clockwise fashion over 1,800 miles each year in search of rain ripened grass.

The precise timing of this incredible event is hard to predict, as the path of the wildebeest migration is dependant on rain. The animals follow the path of the rain in order to feed off the new grass whilst also being close to a good water supply. If you'd like to time your trip to Tanzania or Kenya to watch this incredible event then here's our guide to the migration.

From December to February the wildebeest congregate in the Serengeti region. In the Serengeti an estimated 400,000 wildebeest calves are born during a six week period early each year - usually between late January and mid-March. From March to May/June, the wildebeest migration moves north following the rain, to the Lake Victoria region. From July to August the wildebeest migration heads east to the Masai Mara in Kenya, returning south across the Tanzanian border around November.

Festivals and Events

More than 120 tribes inhabit Tanzania with Christianity and Islam popular religions. This cultural mix makes for an interesting selection of festivals and events that take place during the year, alongside sporting events that attract people from all over the world. Here are some of the most popular.

Kilimanjaro Marathon

Starting in 2002 this event offers competitors to run in a marathon, half marathon and fun-run in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. Professionals and amateurs from around the world participate with the route following well-paved roads.

Dar es Salaam Goat Races

This fun charity event first began in 2001 and has since raised hundreds of thousands for Tanzanian organisations that improve the life of local communities. Visitors can place a bet on the racing goats who are coaxed along the racetrack by 'jockeys'. Live music, fancy dress and entertainment add to the sense of fun.

Bagamoyo Arts Festival

Taking place over 6 days, this annual event showcases the best of Tanzanian art and culture with music and dance performances, acrobatics displays, sculpture exhibitions and workshops. It takes place in the town of Bagamoyo on Tanzania's northeastern coast.

Tanzacat Catamaran Race

Africa's largest sailing regatta takes place over 10 days in Dar es Salaam and ends with a race to the island of Zanzibar. During the event over 50 catamarans race on a variety of Olympic-standard courses with vantage points along the coast where visitors can watch.

2017 Calendar

To help plan your visit to Tanzania, here's an overview of the festivals and events taking place in 2017:

February 26th - Kilimanjaro Marathon (Mt Kilimanjaro)
September (dates TBC) - Dar es Salaam Goat Races (Dar es Salaam)

There's also a number of national holidays in Tanzania and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

See Also

For more useful information to help plan your visit to Tanzania check out our handy Travel Guide resources below:

Best Places to Visit - the best national parks and sites to see in Tanzania
Tourist Visas - details on visa procurement
Top Travel Tips - money, health and travelling with children in Tanzania
About Overland Safaris - what to expect on an overland expedition in Africa
The Great Migration - our guide to this incredible spectacle