When to go to Tanzania
When to go to Tanzania
Our Guide on When to Visit Tanzania
Many people travel to Tanzania to see the Great Migration where approximately 1.5 million wildebeest accompanied by 200,000 zebras migrate through the Serengeti and Masai Mara National Parks in search of fresh rains and green pasture. At different times of year, the herds are in different areas of the parks, your consultant will be able to advise you which areas are the best for when you want to travel.
The migration cycle is one factor that influences the best time to go to Tanzania, the other is the weather. Tanzania has two periods of rain, the short rains, and the long heavy rains. The only time we would recommend not to visit is between April and May, when heavy rains can make wildlife viewing difficult and many camps are closed.
The migration and weather patterns are intrinsically linked, rainfall patterns determine when the animals move on to a new area. The animals will follow the rain and go where the grass is greener. The Great Migration moves in a circular, clockwise motion through the Greater Serengeti/Maasai Mara eco system throughout the year.
The short rains in November take the animals to the plains of the Southern Serengeti. They stay here until February/March and the wildebeest will give birth. In April they start to move north, looking for water and food. The heavy rain of April and May means food supply is plentiful so the animals are dispersed over a larger area. By June the migration normally has reached the Grumeti River and by August/September the herds are all in the Northern Serengeti at the Mara River. The migration crosses the river into the Maasai Mara in Kenya and by October they returning to the Serengeti, then the cycle starts again.
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Best time to go to Tanzania
Weather patterns do vary, this is just a guide based on historical patterns and data.
Dry Peak Season
June to October
This period is generally regarded as the best time to visit Tanzania. 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.
Short Rainy Season
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.
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. We also recommend guests make the most of the low season rates in the southern parks of Tanzania – the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park.
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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