When is the best time to visit Tanzania?

The best time to visit Tanzania is between January and February (known as the high season) when the weather is hot but not unpleasant, and dry. However, the best time to visit Serengeti National Park and go on game drives is between late June and October, when the animals are most visible. While the wet season experiences afternoon downpours, it still remains a popular time to visit Tanzania as accommodation prices are lower and you won’t have to deal with the crowds of peak season.

Tanzania’s climate is tropical, but this can differ due to the country’s diverse landscapes. Expect variances in weather patterns across different parts of the country. 

When to visit

When is the best time to go on a safari?

While January and February are generally considered the best time to visit Tanzania, the best time to go on safari is actually between June and August. These months fall into the country’s long, dry season with a major annual animal milestone also occurring: the Great Migration. Drier weather means more animals gather around waterholes, making Mara River and Selous Game Reserve popular places to visit during this time. 

When is the best time to avoid cyclones?

Cyclones in Tanzania aren’t all that common, but the climate is tropical, so precautions do need to be taken if you’re visiting the southeastern coast (Lindi and Mtwara areas) between December and April. If you’re concerned, follow local weather alerts and be flexible with your holiday plans in the case of an emergency. 

Tanzania by month

Hikers on Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Best for: photography, witnessing the great wildebeest migration and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

January in Tanzania is hot and humid with average temperatures between 26°C and 30°C, however this depends on where you’re located, as temperatures can be as low as 16°C or as high as 32°C across different parts of the country. If you can deal with the humidity, January is a beautiful time to visit Tanzania as the landscapes are freshly green and make for some epic pictures.

Sand bank near Stone Town. Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Best for: island hopping, swimming and snorkelling

February remains a perfect month to visit Tanzania, although there might be some occasional showers in the late afternoon/night. These are generally welcomed though as a slight reprieve to the month’s high temperatures. Because highs of around 25°C-30°C are expected during the month, many travellers flock to Tanzania’s islands and coastal destinations where pure white sand and sparkling turquoise water awaits.

Ostrich in Tanzania

Best for: bird watching, visiting national parks and Easter celebrations

Temperatures increase in March across Tanzania with average highs of 34°C (this is generally cooler in the highlands) and the UV Index can reach extreme levels. With this in mind, you must be sun smart by carrying water with you at all times and protecting your skin from the sun with sunscreen and wide-brimmed hats. Thunderstorms can occasionally happen during this time, as well as regular rainfall, but this means that Tanzania’s bird species are out and about, making for prime viewing.

Slave Market Memorial with Church in the Background in Stone Town on Zanzibar Island - Tanzania

Best for: sunset viewing, UNESCO world heritage site visiting and museum wandering

It’s called the ‘green season’ for a reason and Tanzania’s landscapes really come alive with colour in April. However, April’s also in the rainy season so you can expect frequent, albeit short, downpours. If this doesn’t phase you, the sunsets are something to watch out for in April as the skies clear to reveal some of the most magnificent colours you’ve ever seen.

It’s also quiet during the month in popular locations like Zanzibar and Serengeti National Park with most travellers opting for the temperatures of peak season. This means beaches, spectacular landmarks and breathtaking national parks are yours to explore without the crowds.

Usambara mountains, Tanzania

Best for: bird watching, Usambara Mountain venturing and cultural attractions

If you’re set on climbing Mt Kilimanjaro then May isn’t the month for you, but if you’re looking for some peace and quiet in the African wilderness (without all of the tourists), then you’re in luck. While it also might not be the best time to spot the illusive ‘Big Five’, Tanzania’s national parks are awash with bright colours and flapping wings. That’s right. May is one of the best months to discover this country’s vibrant bird species.

From crowned hawk-eagles and cinnamon-chested bee-eaters to ashy starlings and yellow-collared lovebirds (we swear we’re not making these up), there’s plenty to point your camera at.

Beautiful view of the Meru mountain in Arusha, northern Tanzania, Africa

Best for: safaris, climbing Mount Meru and dance festivals

The rainy season in Tanzania draws to a close at the beginning of June, bringing travellers back in big numbers. After the downpours of the last couple of months, this country’s landscapes are bursting with colour and the animals have come out in full force to experience them. June is one of the best months for game driving so make sure you lock in your trip well in advance to avoid disappointment when they inevitably sell out.

Temperatures are back to their 25°C-30°C best but can still be quite low in the highland areas. Humidity levels also decrease as the month goes on, ensuring perfect conditions for spending long periods of time outside trying to spot wildebeests as they migrate.

Elephants in Tanzania, Africa

Best for: wildlife experiences, beach lounging, festivals in Zanzibar

The Great Migration begins in July in Tanzania meaning that your chances of spotting, not only the majestic wildebeests, but also leopards, lions, black rhinos, elephants and buffalo as they start moving across the plains are greatly increased. July is also the start of the long, dry season so you can’t expect little to no rainfall and comfortable temperatures of around 25°C-30°C.

Flamingos at Lake Natron, Tanzania

Best for: lake cruises, diving and turtle hatching

Even though it technically falls in Tanzania’s winter, August enjoys warm temperatures without the humidity levels seen at the start of the year. This means it’s the perfect month to explore this country’s wild landscapes and rich culture without feeling too hot and uncomfortable. However, travellers are well and truly back in full force, so expect national parks such as Ruaha National Park and the Western Serengeti to be packed.

Popular activities to do in August include laying out in the sun on Zanzibar’s best beaches, diving in the country’s crystal-clear waters and watching baby turtles make their way to the sea on the Indian Ocean Islands.

Zanzibar a beautiful sunset with people Walking on the Nungwi beach in Tanzania

Best for: hiking, hot-air ballooning and exploring Zanzibar

The Great Migration comes to an end in September, but there’s still plenty of animals to see in the national parks across the country. September is also one of the better months to climb Tanzania’s mountains including Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru as temperatures are relatively moderate, especially if you’re climbing in the morning (25°C-30°C).

Hot-air ballooning is a popular activity in September as the skies are clear with no rainfall or thunderstorms. You’ll be able to see for kilometres and kilometres in every direction and spot animals as they wander the landscape from the air. If you weren’t convinced before, this is one activity for the bucket list.

ngorongoro crater with giraffe Tanzania

Best for: Ngorongoro Crater visiting, exploring Tanzania’s cities and market visits

Weather patterns can change throughout October, the last month of Tanzania’s peak season. At the start of the month, temperatures are still likely to be around the 25°C-30°C range, however this will quickly change, and rainfall and high winds are expected as the month goes on.

The animals of the Great Migration will have journeyed into Kenya come October but that doesn’t mean there’s no animals left to spot. Serengeti National Park and Tarangire National Park are still brimming with wildlife and the Ngorongoro Crater is also exceptional to behold at this time of year thanks to the increased rainfall.

Tanzania locals in traditional dress

Best for: whale shark spotting, active volcano visiting and music festivals

The ‘short rains’ begin in November, but this means rainfall only occurs for a short period each day (usually in the afternoon or at night), so you still have plenty of sunlight hours to explore Tanzania. Temperatures remain around the same (25°C-30°C) and the kusi (high winds) remain.

While the winds and rainfall can make the waters off Tanzania’s coast a bit murky, November is the perfect time to spot whale sharks from the shore or other fish and coral species if you’re diving or snorkelling. You can still go on game drives in the northern parts of the country but leave hiking activities to the drier seasons as rain can make mountain trails slippery and hard to follow.

Tanzania locals in traditional dress

Best for: spotting migrating birds, local village visits and festive celebrations

Similar to October, December’s weather conditions can be divided into two parts: the rainier first half of the month and the drier second half. As rainfall starts to decrease and the Christmas period first approaches, travellers start returning to Tanzania in droves and festive celebrations start to ramp up.

If you want to spot native birds in all of their fascinating glory, head to Ndutu Lake, and stop in at Maswa Game Reserve and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area if you want to marvel at cheetahs, giraffes and hyenas in their natural habitat. 

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