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Tanzania is a great safari destination that can be visited all year round. The best months for wildlife are in the dry season, from July until October.
During this time visitors will get to witness the great migration of wildebeest across the Serengeti plains, or visit the quieter southern Selous reserve, which offers incredible wildlife sightings on walking and canoe safaris.
The dry season is also the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and the clear skies offer spectacular views from the peak.
The rainy season starts at the end of December and continues until June. The wettest months are April and May, but the rest of the season has its own wildlife delights.
From December until March thousands of birds flock to Tanzania for warmer weather, and many European species can be seen in the trees of Ruaha National Park.
The northern region of Tanzania sees a break in the rains in January and February, and this coincides with the wildebeest calving season, so safaris in the new year are filled with babies and young offspring following their mothers around.
January is in the middle of the wet season, but Tanzania is surprisingly dry. The country experiences a short dry season between January and February, so while there is a chance of rain in the west of Tanzania, the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater will be mostly dry. Temperatures in January vary between highs of 32°c in the daytime and 24°c at night with high humidity across the country. January is the ideal time to see the calving season on the Serengeti plains. Most of the migratory animals can be found towards the southeast, in the Ndutu plains which are rich and fertile after the rains. Zebras, wildebeest, antelope and even the occasional big cat, can be seen giving birth or with young stumbling at their sides.
As well as the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater region is also mostly dry and a great place to spot rhinos. As the crater lies at a higher altitude, the temperatures will be cooler there, and humidity lower. However, in January, most of the western national parks will be in the middle of their rainy seasons with daily downpours. Gombe, Mahale and Kavati parks are best avoided during January as the rain makes travelling through the parks difficult.
Similar to January, most of Tanzania in February sees daily rainfall, with the exception of the northeast region. The Serengeti, Dar es Salaam and the Ngorongoro Crater all experience a short dry season between the rains, while the rest of Tanzania is hot, humid and rainy. The average temperature on the Serengeti is around 20°c, although the midday heat can bring the temperatures up to 30°c. February is the best time of year to see wildebeest calving in the Serengeti, with around half a million baby wildebeest, zebra and antelope congregating around the abundant southern areas of the park. The newly born animals also attract predators, so expect some incredible shows from the wildlife.
Gombe, Mahale and Kavati National Parks don’t escape the wet season rain and are difficult to travel through in February. Some routes will be unpassable because of mud, and animals harder to spot amidst the lush overgrown vegetation. For bird watchers, February is a good time to see the migratory birds of Europe arrive in the southern parks of Tanzania. Selous and Ruaha parks are teeming with a variety of species and flocks upwards of a thousand birds.
March is an unpredictable month for weather. Although Tanzania is in the midst of a rainy season, March still offers sunshine and some days with clear blue skies. It's best to visit in early March, as towards the end of the month, the long rains start and occur daily until the end of June. The rains make safaris difficult, from road conditions to the increased difficulty of spotting the animals. However, if previous few months haven’t experienced much rain then animals will congregate around watering holes and it will be easier to spot them.
Temperatures in March average around 19-20°c with highs of 25°c in the heat of the day. The rains cool the temperatures down but it also increases the humidity levels. The Serengeti will probably have the better weather in March compared to other national parks, although some camps and lodges start to close down for the wet season in March. This is a great month for birdwatching as thousands of migratory birds arrive in the Selous and Ruaha national parks, and Lake Manyara offers phenomenal views of birdlife in the wetlands.
April is the wettest month of the year, with Tanzania officially being in its rainy season. Across the country, there is heavy rainfall, high humidity and cloudy skies. Temperatures in April range between 20°c and 30°c but the humidity makes the weather feel hotter. While this is not the best time to visit Tanzania for a safari, those who do brave the rains will be rewarded with animals exploring the lush vegetation with their young. The open plains of the Serengeti will be lush, fertile and full of the migratory herds eating, and predators are also on the prowl. Many camps and lodges close for the rains, and there are also very few tourists in April so it's rare that you will see other people during your safaris.
The weather in May is very similar to April in Tanzania, with heavy rainfall and overcast skies. Temperatures in May are warm, with averages of around 20°c on the Serengeti and 26°c in Dar es Salaam. While some of the national parks are difficult to travel through, May is a good month to visit the Serengeti for game viewing, with the open fertile plains offering animals lots of food and water. Head to the Moru Kopjes grasslands to watch the start of the wildebeest migration, as they pass through before starting to head north.
Gombe, Mahale, Kavati and Tarangire National Parks are not at their best in May, and its best to wait until June or July when they offer better wildlife spotting opportunities, easier travel and better weather. Towards the end of the month, there will be less rain and more chance of sunshine.
June is the start of the dry season, and the wet season is over, leaving Tanzania looking at it’s best. The national parks are a lush shade of green and the wildlife are well fed and energetic after months of readily available vegetation to eat. June is a great time to visit Tanzania, as peak tourism season hasn’t started yet, but most lodges and camps have reopened. While there will still be a few showers throughout the month, most days will be sunny with clear blue skies. Temperatures across the country stay between 25-30°c, with cooler evenings. Mornings in the bush can feel cold so pack warmer layers for early game drives.
On the Serengeti, the wildebeest start to move slowly north, and most animals will be accompanied by younger offspring. Throughout the parks, the grass is longer and the vegetation thicker, so patience is needed when looking for wildlife. While its harder to spot wildlife the ‘green season’ makes for some beautiful photographs of wildlife in nature. Tarangire National Park offers fantastic game viewing in June without crowds of tourists. Herds of large elephants start to appear along the riverbanks and 4x4 vehicles can drive straight through these herds of gentle giants.
July is a great month to visit Tanzania with the ‘green season’ creating a stunning backdrop for wildlife viewing and photography. July is peak season for tourism as the dry season weather offers perfect safari conditions. Temperatures will be around the mid-20’s and although there is a small chance of rain, most days will be sunny and dry. As the month progresses game viewing becomes easier, as the vegetation dries up. The wildebeest migration starts in the Grumeti area of the Serengeti, and this area can get quite busy with tourists. If you want to avoid the crowds, head south towards Selous and Ruaha National Parks as they tend to get fewer visitors than the Serengeti but have equally impressive game viewing opportunities.
Gombe, Mahale, Kavati and Tarangire National Parks are all at their best in July, with game viewing easier as the land gets drier, and elephants continuing to gather in Tarangire. July is the start of the climbing season for Mount Kilimanjaro, as the trekking routes will have dried out. Mount Kilimanjaro can feel quite busy in July and August so take the beautiful Lemosho route up to the peak as it is less busy.
August is peak season for tourism in Tanzania, as the country is at is most beautiful and the climbing season of Mount Kilimanjaro has begun. Temperatures in August are warm and humidity is dry. There is a small chance of rain, but this is usually welcomed and makes the air feel fresher. August sees the Great Migration of the wildebeest and their treacherous river crossings as they make their way to Kenya. The migration is best seen in early August in the north of the Serengeti, and towards to end of August, most of the animals will have crossed into Kenya, although there are many other animals still grazing on the Serengeti.
As the land becomes drier across the country, it becomes easier to find Tanzania’s wildlife crowding around the remaining watering holes. Ruaha National Park is mostly empty of tourists but packed with animals. August offers great weather for walking and canoe based safaris in Ruaha and Selous parks.
September is a good month to visit Tanzania as there are fewer tourists and good weather. Temperatures reach 28°c in the daytime and drop to a cool 15°c at night. Morning drives can feel cold so pack a few warm layers for the cooler temperatures. September is a dry month with low humidity, and game viewing is excellent. Most animals will stick to the remaining watering holes or river areas so it's easy to find most of Tanzania’s wildlife. The southern parks of Selous and Tanzania are less visited but are frequented by a variety of species, and in September you might not run into any other tourists there.
Depending on the water levels, the migration of wildebeest might make an early appearance in late September as they start to head back into Tanzania from Kenya. Watching hundreds of wildebeest cross the rocky rivers is an amazing sight to witness, and there is a chance to see it in September. September is a great month for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The weather is drier and the routes up the famous mountain are dry and less busy. September also offers clear sunny
October is a great month to visit Tanzania. Although the great migration has moved into Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve, the Serengeti is still dotted with other herds of animals and Tanzania's southern and western parks are teeming with wildlife. It is springtime in Tanzania which brings warm temperatures and clear, blue skies. Temperatures hover around 25°c, with cool evenings and low humidity. Since the country hasn’t seen much rain in the last few months, the landscape can get dusty, especially on safari.
October is an excellent month to visit Gombe, Mahale and Kavati National Parks, as most wildlife can be easily found concentrated around the few remaining watering holes. Since the animals' behaviour is predictable, this makes for incredible walking and canoe based safaris, with up-close views of wildlife. October is also a good month to take a boat out on Lake Tanganyika, Africa’s deepest lake, as the water is clear and calm, and to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, as the temperatures will be slightly warmer at the top.
In November Tanzania is marked by a small rainy season, with short downpours throughout November and December. This is good for the dry land, and after a few weeks, the near-dead vegetation starts to become green again. Temperatures reach highs of 30°c, and humidity levels also increase. November starts to see the wildebeest moving south across the Serengeti and the rains ease their long journey from Kenya. Towards the end of November, the grasslands will have become more lush, offering animals food and allowing them to roam freer across the national parks. This will make game viewing safaris more difficult, but with a little patience you will see animals with more energy and interacting greater with their habitat.
November is a great time for birdwatchers, as the rains and greenery starts to attract a variety of bird species, and towards the end of the month, thousands of migratory birds fly from Europe to warmer regions. With fewer tourists visiting Tanzania, this is an excellent month to experience the national parks without the crowds. There is a risk of rain during the day, but most rainfall in November falls at night, and the showers tend to last only an hour or two.
Tanzania experiences short rainfall almost daily in December, but it is still a good month for safari holidays. Temperatures sit around 25°c, although humidity levels make it feel hotter. To avoid the heat and humidity, head to the Ngorongoro Crater, which has a higher altitude than the rest of the region, meaning cooler temperatures. The open plains of the Serengeti have less humidity and so are more comfortable in December. Despite the less than ideal weather conditions, the latter half of December sees lots of tourists visiting for Christmas and New Years, so accommodation should be booked in advance.
December is a bird watcher's paradise in the southern parks of Selous and Tarangire, as migratory birds from Europe arrive in the thousands to enjoy the warmer climate and rain. Mount Kilimanjaro can still be climbed, but it’s not recommended as the rains make climbing conditions unsafe.