The best time to visit Tanzania depends on what wildlife you’d like to spot. The country’s seasons and wildlife numbers are dictated by the rains, so you’ll have a slightly different experience depending on when you choose to visit.
Tanzania’s headline attraction is the Great Migration, which occurs year-round across the Serengeti. Many people flock here between July and September for a chance to witness huge herds of wildebeest and zebra crossing the Mara River-panic ensues as they try to avoid the jaws of crocodiles and other predators waiting to pounce. You’ll see lots of vehicles in the park at this time of year, though.
Tanzania’s green season’ between November and March, is much quieter. While there’s a chance of rains showers, it’s a fantastic time for birdwatching as migratory species arrive in their thousands. You’ll also see Great Migration herds with their newly born calves.
The only time we tend to avoid Tanzania is between April and May, when heavy rains can disrupt wildlife viewing.
The country’s seasons Monthly and wildlife numbers
January Green Season
There is a chance of rain, the temperature is getting higher and the humidity is building. It’s still a good time to go as rates are lower and safari is excellent. At this time of year, the migration herds are in the southwest of the Serengeti for calving season, so the Ndutu Plains are busy but it is amazing to see high predator activities and excitement
Humidity is usually very high in January but as the Ngorongoro Crater is at high altitude you don’t feel the heat here as much as you would in other parts of the country. The is probably the best place in Tanzania to spot rhinos and this will be an even great experience than later in the year as there will be less tourists.
Tarangire and Ruaha are green and in bloom with migratory birds present in full breeding colours
February Green Season
February is one of the most popular months in Tanzania and marks the middle of the green season. The Serengeti plains are a beautiful shade of green, dust levels are minimal and most wildlife species are easy to spot.
February is the warmest month of the year and the famous migration is concentrated in massive numbers on the Serengeti plains, which in turn attracts large numbers of predators. February is the time of plenty and many animals time the birth of their families to coincide with the green season.
March Green Season
Heavy rains of the long rainy season (masika) tend to beginning in march bringing with them much more cloud coverage and even higher humidity. Although the rains are unlikely to last all day, they can be frequent and are likely to occur most days throughout the month. The chart
Heavy rains of the long rainy season (masika) tend to begin in March bringing with them much more cloud coverage and even higher humidity. Although the rains are unlikely to last all day, they can be frequent and are likely to occur most days throughout the month.
This does mean that some roads become inaccessible during this time so please ask our experts for their advice on the best parks to visit if march is the only time you can travel. Some lodges and camps may also close down during the heaviest parts of the rainy season so it is important to keep this in mind.
April – Wet Season
April continues the long rainy season and, as with March, sees plenty of clouds and rain throughout. Southern and western parks have the highest humidity during the rainy season so can become somewhat uncomfortable.
These are also the areas where hotels and lodges are likely to close down or offer discount due to the unfavorable climate. Accommodation such as the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is also almost half price during this season so you can great value for money if you choose to travel at this time.
These are also the areas where hotels and lodges are likely to close down or offer discounts due to the unfavorable climate. Accommodation such as the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is also almost half price during this season so you can great value for money if you choose to travel at this time.
Despite the rains, this season can be some people’s favorite time to visit Tanzania for safaris.
The parks are often devoid of the other travelers yet full of animals making the most of the abundant water suppliers.
Animals are harder to spot due to the flourishing foliage but plenty of predators and herbivores remain. The south and south-eastern parts of the Serengeti generally have wide open plains with poor tree coverage at all times, therefore game viewing is still good here even during the rains.
Wildebeest start to return to the hills in the north in April as the young are now a few months old. As long as you have the correct equipment to keep your camera dry then you should be able to get some great photos during this time.
May – End of Wet Season
The end of the wet season, temperatures are still hot with humidity dropping over the course of the month
The rutting season (breeding season) in the Serengeti, sees testosterone level climb, with the bulls, rams and stallions competing for the attentions of the opposite sex.
As water sources dwindle, wildlife densities increase in both the Ruaha and Tarangire conservation areas.
In our opinion the best time to the Ngorongoro Crater, there is an afternoon shower or two but the low tourist traffic and more intimate sightings more than make up for this
June – Beginning of Dry Season
On the whole June sees the start of the best season to visit all areas of Tanzania. The dry season begins and clear skies and sunshine perpetuate. Flora is till in bloom during this time too so you don’t have the dry, barren landscapes of the later months. This pleasant climate does mean however, that prices rise significantly too.
Experience the rutting season (breeding season) in the Serengeti, testosterone levels climb, with the bulls, rams and stallions competing for the attentions of the females.
Wildebeest stop at Grumeti River to build up numbers before they attempt the river crossing in their thousands. Safety in numbers mean many traverses the crossing successfully, however, if you’re in the right place at the right time you may spot a crocodile attempting to take down a wildebeest that it has set its sights on.
Game viewing in the Ngorongoro Crater is always good with incredible game densities year-round.
Best time of year to see the wild dogs of Ruaha, this is their denning period, meaning pups are a possibility.
July – Dry Season
The dry season including July is arguably the best time to plan a safari in Tanzania. With hardly any rainfall during this time of the year, the weather and associated driving conditions are fairly predictable, and the grass and foliage are sparse which can make it a bit easier to spot some of the more elusive wildlife such as the big cats. The Great Migration will be surging through the pristine Northern Serengeti, which is an inherently beautiful area. This is also the time of the famous river crossings along the Mara River.
The weather in July can be characterized as dry and sunny. The landscape is now stark contrast to the green season of only two months prior. The long grass is dying back and as the season progresses more and more animals congregate in the woodlands and around the remaining permanent sources of water.
Temperatures are pleasant with an average high of 83 degrees and an average low of 60 degrees. However, the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater can get quite cold at night and in the early morning. Visitor numbers increase dramatically over July and they peak in August.
The good news is that the vast majority of people are on package tours staying at the main lodges and zipping around the main roads in only a few popular areas. With careful planning we can customize your safari so you will encounter more actions for the big cats like lions than people in even the busiest months of July and August.
August – Dry Season
The dry season including August is arguably the best time to plan a safari in Tanzania. With hardly any rainfall during this time of year, the weather and associated driving conditions are fairly predictable, and the grass and foliage are sparse which can make it a bit easier to spot some of the more elusive wildlife such as the big cats. The Great Migration will be surging through the pristine Northern Serengeti, which is an inherently beautiful area. This is also the time of the famous river crossings along the Mara River.
These months are peak season for tourism. However, with such a large area, you’ll find there’s plenty of room for everybody. If you visit the Serengeti or the Ngorongoro Crater, you might find that it is busier as they are such amazing attractions.
One of the best things about these months is you can visit all of the national parks, as conditions will be suitable for spotting game. Dry season is the season for game in Tanzania, as the number of water sources is low therefore animals congregate in higher numbers. The southern and western parks have fewer tourists.
September – Dry Season
September remains dry with low levels of humidity meaning much fewer mosquitoes around which is always a bonus! Wildebeest and zebra may start heading back south from Kenya and crossing the Maasai Mara between September and Early November (depending on water levels and rainfall) so it might be possible to catch a river crossing at this time.
The latter end of the dry season also sees the beginning of better sea visibility off the coast of Zanzibar making it an excellent time to snorkel and dive. Sea visibility is generally good between September and march depending on how the short rains of November and December affect the water
October – Dry Season
Temperatures rise again slightly in October making mornings and nights more comfortable. Tanzania is coming into spring throughout the month making it a lovely time to visit.
Lake Tanganyika is at its warmest at this time of the year and with Mahale still being fully accessible it is a great time to see the chimpanzees and get to know Big Bird the pelican at Greystoke Mahale streams.
Although average rainfall has begun to rise in comparison to the earlier months of the dry season, it is still not up to the significant levels of November and December.
November – Southward Migration
November is supposed to be the start of the short rains (mvuli) period across Tanzania but this does vary depending on where you want to travel. Generally speaking the northern parks are good for game year-round and although the Serengeti receives rain, this subsequently means the wildebeest will be moving south across the plains to make the most of this moisture. If they have not already arrived from Kenya (Maasai mara), they will do by November.
Tarangire National Park particularly hots up from November onwards with humidity joining the rains throughout summer. This makes for a slightly more uncomfortable climate, but of course, great game numbers (despite them being more difficult to see).
December – Beginning of Green Season
December marks the beginning of the green season in Tanzania. The Serengeti plains are a beautiful shade of green, dust levels are minimal and most wildlife species are easy to spot. The weather is ideal for wildlife viewing and the famous wildebeest migration is concentrated in massive numbers on the Southern and Eastern Serengeti plains, which in turn attracts large numbers of predators.
December is the time of plenty and many animals time the birth of their families to coincide with the green season.
Occasional showers can be expected in December. The rains from early November to late March are usually sporadic and typically do not last for more than a few hours. There is a chance of heavier rain during this period but during most years the heavier rains fall in April.
These expected sporadic showers do not usually pose much of an inconvenience while game driving. If it does rain, it will usually clear in 1-2 hours and more than likely the rain will be localized. It is rare that rain clouds will settle over a large area for an extended period of time.
Rain falls in different amounts over various locations throughout Northern Tanzania. The Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire and Lake Manyara receive higher rainfall then parts of the Serengeti.