The best time to visit Tanzania

Updated: 07th June 2019

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. Given the country's size, it’s hard to pinpoint when the ‘perfect’ time to go is, so we'll look at what the weather tends to do throughout the year and what you want to do when visiting.

Dry Seasons:

Tanzania experiences two dry seasons, lasting from January to March and June to September. If you’re coming to Tanzania for the sublime array of wildlife then we recommend timing your visit with either of the dry seasons. Reason being that the vegetation is less dense, so game viewing is somewhat easier and animals tend to head to commonly known waterholes, rivers and lakes for refreshment.

The second dry season from June to September is the most popular time to visit Tanzania. So if you want the great weather and easily found wildlife but fewer crowds, maybe plan to visit between January and March.

Wet Seasons:

April to May and October to November mark the rainy seasons in Tanzania. The first rainy season, from April to May is seen as the heaviest and a raincoat is a must-have. The second, from October to November, then sees lighter rainfall.

The rainy seasons can be a beautiful time to visit as the vegetation is at its most lush and green. Rainfall tends to fall in short showers, interspersed with bursts of sunshine, which can make for some excellent photography. April to May is also the low season in Tanzania, so parks are usually less crowded and rates for accommodation and tours can be lower.

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Zebras in Serengeti national park in Tanzania
Wildlife viewing is best during Tanzania's dry seasons

Best Time to Safari in Tanzania

The best wildlife viewing in Tanzania is observed during the dry seasons, however your experience can vary according to which park you’re visiting.

The Serengeti

If you’re visiting the vast Serengeti, time your visit with the second dry season from June to September to experience the annual highlight of the great migration. This epic natural event sees millions of wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate north to the Masai Mara in Kenya from July to November.

This is also a great time to visit if you're looking to do a combined safari to Tanzania and Kenya. But if you’re looking to avoid the crowds the migration brings, visit the Serengeti in the first dry season from January to March, which is also the wildebeest calving season.

The Ngorongoro Crater

Wildlife viewing inside the crater is excellent year-round. However in the dry seasons, from January to March and June to September, the grass on the crater floor is short - making Africa’s iconic wildlife much easier to spot.

Selous Game Reserve

Likewise, wildlife viewing is best in Selous during the dry seasons. Although the scenery is lush during the wetter months, the afternoons can become unbearably hot. Many lodges also close during the wettest months from April to May.

Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya Amboseli National Park
January and February are the warmest months for climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

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 then 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 are still quite mild. Despite what the daytime temperature is, it gets cold at night on the mountain and naturally the closer you are to the summit the colder it will be.

Best Time to Visit Tanzania's Beaches

The best time to visit Tanzania’s beaches is similar to the rest of the country. The warm dry months from June to September are generally recommended for visiting Tanzania’s mainland coast or the islands of Pemba, Mafia or the beautiful Zanzibar.

However, you can still have a fantastic beach holiday outside of these months and avoid the high season prices. The dry months of January and February are also good times to visit, but be aware that temperatures are considerably hotter. Find out more about when to visit Zanzibar with our handy travel guide.

Want to know more about Tanzania? Check out our latest blog posts

Climate | Dar es Salaam

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

Climate | Kilimanjaro

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

Climate | Ngorongoro

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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.

Upcoming events

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

2019:

Dates TBC - Dar es Salaam Goat Races (Dar es Salaam)

2020:

March 1st - Kilimanjaro Marathon (Mt Kilimanjaro)

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
About Lodge Safaris - all you need to know about lodge accommodated safaris
The Great Migration - our guide to this incredible spectacle
Safari Wildlife Guide - where to find Africa's most iconic wildlife
Spotting Africa's Big 5 - our guide to the Big 5 and the best places to find them