As Tanzania is located close to the equator, the country offers warm temperatures and bright sunshine year-round. That said, there are certain times of the year that are better than others, depending on where you head on your Tanzania safari.
June to October
This period is generally regarded the best time to visit Tanzania (in fact, most of East Africa). These months are hot and dry – the best conditions for wildlife sightings. This is because the grasses are short and the vegetation is not as dense, which makes it much easier to spot animals. In the hottest parts of the day, the animals will travel down to rivers, and congregate around any permanent water that is still available.
Although you can see the migration herds throughout the year in the Serengeti National Park, during these months, the herds are found in the northern part of the park. They usually cross the Mara River in the months of July and August, although this depends on the seasonal rains and conditions each year.
Northern Serengeti is much quieter than the central and southern plains. This is due to the accessibility, and the fact that there is much fewer accommodation options to choose from and stay in. There are only five or six permanent lodges in the area. The others are mobile tented camps which move throughout the year.
November to December
Towards the middle of November, the short rains arrive in Tanzania. The conditions leading up to the rains can be very hot and humid so keep this in mind if you are traveling at the very end of October or early November. That said, if you are ok with the heat, it shouldn’t put you off. This is a bit of a hidden month for safari viewing.
The animals are all very desperate for water, so the game is usually very dense and reliable around water sources, with predators hiding in the bushes. When the rains arrive, they are usually intense downpours in the afternoon lasting a few hours. After it passes, the sun usually comes out and the weather is cooler. As November is regarded low season, the rates are usually much lower so it can be a great time to go on safari for a lower budget.
January to March
This period is in-between the short and long rains, so the weather is hot and dry. If you are looking for some winter sun, this is a great time to head to Zanzibar, as rates are lower and there will be more availability in hotels compared to the July to September period. From a safari point of view, this is a good time to head to the northern parks (the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti) as you can do a driving itinerary between both.
This is a good time to make the most of the low season rates in the southern parks of Tanzania – the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park. Game viewing is good but bare in mind that the vegetation is thicker so you will have to work a little harder to spot the animals! It can also be very hot and humid during this time, especially towards the end of March, so keep that in mind as many of the camps do not offer air conditioning.
April to May
This is the rainy season in Tanzania, and across most of East Africa. Most of the safari camps across northern and southern Tanzania, and beach hotels on Zanzibar, are closed during these months as tourist numbers are low. If you are limited to travel during these months, a safari in central Serengeti is a good option but be sure to pack a raincoat as short, heavy downpours are often sporadic and intense.
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