Tanzania is a popular travel destination for its incredible nature, fascinating culture and amazing wildlife. The East African nation has many world-famous tourist attractions like Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. However, with its equatorial climate and diverse landscape, the best time to visit Tanzania can vary depending on your interests and preferences. Here’s an overview of the climate, seasons and events in Tanzania to help you decide when to plan your Tanzanian adventure.
Overview of Tanzania’s Climate and Seasons
Tanzania has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The weather also varies across different regions. The coast enjoys tropical beach weather year-round, while the hinterland experiences more extremes. Generally speaking, Tanzania has:
- A long dry season from June to October, with cooler temperatures and low humidity.
- A long rainy season from March to May, with higher humidity and temperatures.
- A short rainy season in November and December known as the “short rains”.
- Hot, humid weather from January and February.
The best wildlife viewing months are during the dry season from July to October when animals congregate around water sources. However, this is also the most popular time to visit, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.
When to See the Great Migration
One of the biggest draws of Tanzania is the Great Migration, when over 2 million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle migrate across the Serengeti plains and Mara river in search of food and water. The Great Migration passes through different areas of Tanzania throughout the year:
January – March
The herds are usually in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and southern Serengeti. Calving season sees thousands of wildebeest babies born.
April – June
The herds migrate northwest towards the Western Corridor and Grumeti Reserves. The wildebeest cross the crocodile-infested Grumeti River.
July – October
The migration moves north into Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve. This is the best time to witness huge herds crossing the Mara River.
November – December
The herds begin migrating south back into the Serengeti plains for the short rains.
When to Climb Kilimanjaro and Trek
To climb Mount Kilimanjaro or trek through the parks and forests, the best time is during the dry seasons. Treks are best scheduled for:
– January and February, when rains are low. However, be prepared for hot, humid weather.
– June to October, when skies are clear and days are cooler and drier. The views are amazing, but expect more crowds.
Avoid the rainy seasons, especially April and May which typically see the highest rainfall. The slopes can be slippery and dangerous. Always check forecasts before embarking on climbs or treks.
When to See Wildlife
To see an abundance of wildlife, including the Great Migration river crossings, aim for July to October. Other good months are January and February before the long rains begin.
The Ngorongoro Crater has incredible wildlife viewing year-round, regardless of season. Tarangire National Park is known for its large elephant herds migrating in for the dry season. When the short rains come in November, the wildebeest migration heads south through the Serengeti again.
Birdwatchers may want to target November to March, when migratory birds arrive in Tanzania. Rubondo Island National Park is a top spot for birding safaris.
Major Events and Festivals
Tanzania has colorful cultural festivals and events throughout the year that travelers can experience:
Mwaka Kogwa (July)
The “Feast of the Year” is a three-day festival full of music, dance, markets and acrobatics in the Makunduchi village of Zanzibar.
Saba Saba (July 7)
A national festival celebrating the independence of Tanzania with parades and cultural performances.
Karibu Kilisimasi (Dec 24)
Christmas is celebrated across Tanzania with masses, fireworks and feasts. Zanzibar Town hosts colorful street parades.
Zanzibar International Film Festival (June/July)
Ten days of screenings, workshops, music and arts.
Kilimanjaro Marathon (February/March)
Runners from around the world gather to take on the marathon route to the “roof of Africa.”
The best time to visit Tanzania depends on your interests, but you’re guaranteed an unforgettable adventure whenever you go. If seeing the Great Migration is a top priority, visit during the July-October migration season in the north. For a more comfortable trek up Kilimanjaro, aim for January/February or June-October. And if you want to avoid the crowds and high prices, try traveling in the shoulder seasons from March-May or November-December. Consider visiting during a major festival to experience Tanzanian culture and celebrations. With wildlife, beaches, culture and natural beauty, Tanzania offers epic experiences all year-round!