Best Time to Visit Tanzania – Great Migration, Zanzibar and More

The best time to visit Tanzania depends on what you want to do in this gem of East Africa. Would you like to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration, enjoy an epic safari, climb to the top of Kilimanjaro or explore the beaches and diving in Zanzibar? Or go for all four?

Also, consider the weather before choosing when to travel to Tanzania. Clear and sunny skies reign supreme between June and October, while tropical downpours are the norm from March till May.

Read on for an epic African safari, exhilarating climbing adventure or a leisurely beach vacation with the best weather.

The Bottom Line

  • The best time to visit Tanzania to see the Great Wildebeest Migration is between July and September.
  • The best time for a classic safari experience in Tanzania is from June till August.
  • The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is from July till October and from December till February.
  • The best time for the Zanzibar holiday is between June and October.

Tanzania Weather and Temperatures 

It will be wise to take a look at the weather before booking a trip to Tanzania. 

The hottest and most humid period stretches between November and February (25–31°C), whilst the coolest time occurs between May and August (15–20°C).

In the highlands, temperatures range between 10 and 20°C during cold and hot seasons. Thankfully, in the rest of the country, the temperatures rarely fall below 20°C.

Best Time to Visit Tanzania for the Wildebeest Migration

Zebra-and-Wildebeest-Migration

Driven and dictated by the rain, the Great Wildebeest Migration is regarded as one of the greatest natural phenomena in the world with almost 2 million wildebeest and zebra tempting fate in search of greener pastures each year.

The best time to visit Tanzania to bear witness to the migration is between July and September. This is when the herds of wildebeest make their way from inside the Serengeti National Park over the Grumeti River, on towards the Mara River and into Kenya and the plains of the Maasai Mara.

Timeline of the Great Migration

  • June-July: The animals begin to move en masse from the central to the northern and western parts of the Serengeti.
  • August-September: It is time for the much-anticipated crossing of the Mara River into Kenya in search of greener pastures. 
  • October-December: The animals have had their fill and are starting to move back towards the Serengeti. 
  • February-June: Following the onset of the Tanzania wet season, thousands of new calves are born every day. 

Best Time for A Classic Safari

safari-watching-buffalo-herd-tanzania-animals

One can easily be overwhelmed by the vastness of Tanzania and the myriad of wildlife experiences the country offers. To make it easier to decide when to go, and where to explore the different sights and sounds on your safari, the country is roughly divided into three areas:

  • Northern Parks are Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Arusha: The wonders of these parks can be explored throughout the year. The weather is pleasant with moderate temperatures between June and October, making it the high season.
  • Southern Parks are Selous, Ruaha: Mild temperatures and dry weather are prevalent from the end of May till around December, making it a good time to visit. 
  • Western Parks are Gombe, Mahale Mountains, Katavi: Chimpanzee trekking in Gombe and Mahale is best experienced during the dry season, between July and October. March and April are exceptionally wet. 

With 19 national parks, Tanzania offers ample opportunity and time for a classic safari experience. Wildlife hotspots include the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park, Selous National Park and Gombe Stream National Park. 

The seasons in Tanzania is not distinguished by winter and summer, only dry and wet. The long rains occur between March and May while the short rains last from October till late December. Travellers should therefore plan their classic safari accordingly as trails in some national parks are impassable during this time. 

The best time for a classic safari experience in Tanzania is from June till August, towards the end of the long rains. Temperatures are moderate during the day and at night. 

Hot and humid temperatures reaching the mid-30C are prevalent during January and February. Travellers visiting Tanzania at this time will, however, have the opportunity to witness huge herds of animals, especially in the Serengeti during the Great Migration. 

Best time to Climb Kilimanjaro 

Kilimanjaro-National-Park

Mount Kilimanjaro towers over the landscape as the highest point on the continent at 5,895 metres. Lying in the Kilimanjaro National Park, the mountain offers a unique climbing experience. The vegetation and the weather vary depending on the elevation

The best time to visit Tanzania and get to the Roof of Africa coincides with the drier months and the periods between July and October, and December and February. An exhilarating hiking experience in icy conditions can then easily be combined with the front row seat to the Great Migration.

It can, however, get crowded on the way to the summit during December. To encounter fewer climbers, consider April and May as an alternative, even though it is the wet season. The weather is unpredictable and reports of snow blizzards during the dry season have been recorded. 

Best Time to Enjoy Zanzibar Beaches

Best time to visit Tanzania

The pristine beaches of Zanzibar are the ideal spot for escaping the concrete jungle, and an even better place to finish a once in a lifetime trip to Africa. 

The best time to visit Tanzania and make the most of your time in Zanzibar is between June and October. Clear and sunny weather is a given and ideal for soaking up the sun.

The Zanzibar Archipelago consists of many small islands and two large ones – Zanzibar or Unguja and Pemba Island. Found near the equator, the islands are warm throughout the year with respite coming from the refreshing Indian Ocean breeze. 

Sun-seekers should avoid the rainy season from March till May. Downpours can also be expected in November and December. 

For diving and scuba enthusiasts, dipping beneath the surface is particularly good between June and October on the north coast, and between November and March on the south coast. The average water temperature throughout the year is around 27C (81F).

When to see various aquatic species of animals:

  • All year round: Dolphins, whitetip reef sharks, hawksbill turtles
  • June to March: Seahorses, blacktip reef sharks, eagle rays
  • July to October: Humpback whales 
  • October to February: Whale sharks
  • November to February: Hammerhead sharks
  • December to April: Manta rays

Best Time for Chimpanzee Trekking

Chimp-trekking-in-Tanzania

The best time for chimpanzee trekking in Tanzania coincides with the beginning of the dry season.

The best chance of coming face to face with these remarkable primates in Mahale Mountains National Park and Gombe Stream National Park is between May and October. Trekking is undertaken without too much effort as the chimpanzees frequent the lower slopes. Sunshine reigns supreme with little to no rain. This also means fewer mosquitoes. 

During the wet season, between November and April, chimpanzee trekking becomes arduous as the trails are slippery. It is extremely hot and humid. Some accommodation providers close.

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