The best time to visit Tanzania depends on what you want to do. And if you're like me and love adventure (I've climbed Kilimanjaro twice), you're going to want to do it all in this gem of East Africa.
Here are just a few things that tourists love to do while visiting Tanzania:
- Enjoy an epic safari
- Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration
- Follow a chimpanzee troop
- Climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro
- Explore the beaches and go diving in Zanzibar
- Get up close and personal with aquatic wildlife
In this article, I'll give you the low-down on how to choose the best time (and weather) before travelling to Tanzania for these awesome adventures and more.
Let's crack on!
The Best Time to Visit Tanzania
Tanzania Weather and Temperatures
Like any activity you do outside your home, it's always a good idea to first check the weather before booking a trip to Tanzania. This will give you a better idea of when to travel and what activities you can do during your stay.
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.
The Best Time for Popular Tanzanian Tourist Activities
If you like wildlife, exhilarating hiking trails, or a leisurely beach vacation, you'll want to pick the best time for visiting Tanzania.
As a rule of thumb, clear and sunny skies reign supreme between June and October, while tropical downpours are the norm from March till May.
Here are some quick hacks for choosing the best time to visit Tanzania for activities loved most by tourists:
- The best time for a classic safari experience in Tanzania is from June till August.
- The best time to visit Tanzania to see the Great Wildebeest Migration is between July and September.
- The best time for trekking and chimpanzee tracking in Tanzania (Gombe Stream National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park) is between May and October.
- The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is from July till October and from December till February.
- The best time for a Zanzibar holiday is between June and October.
- The best time to see aquatic animals is all year.
Now, let's go more in-depth about the best time to visit Tanzania for these epic activities!
One can easily be overwhelmed by the vastness of Tanzania and the myriad of wildlife experiences the country offers, especially when choosing the best time to visit Safari Country. But don't worry - you're in good hands!
Best Time for a Classic Safari
To make it easier to decide when to go, and where to explore the different sights and sounds on your classic safari, Tanzania is roughly divided into three areas:
- Northern Parks
- Southern Parks
- Western Parks
Plan your Safari experience
Get a quote from our recommended local safari operator
The Northern Parks are Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and 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.
The Western Parks are Gombe, Mahale Mountains, and Katavi. Chimpanzee trekking in Gombe and Mahale is best experienced during the dry season, between July and October. March and April are exceptionally wet.
Tanzania offers ample opportunity and time for a classic safari experience with its numerous national parks and game reserves. Wildlife hotspots include the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara National Park, Selous National Park and Gombe Stream National Park.
Read more in our super-helpful Tanzania Safari Map to give you a better idea of all the excellent safari hotspots you can check out during your visit.
The seasons in Tanzania are 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.
The Great 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.
Best Time to Visit Tanzania for the Wildebeest Migration
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.
Below is a detailed spreadsheet to give you more insight into this magical time for the Serengeti wildebeest:
Time of year
What to expect
Massive herds grazing on open plains
Peak calving season, baby grazing animals. Lots of predator activity
Western and central Serengeti
Males competing over females, mating
Grumeti River, central Serengeti
River crossings, crocodiles
Grumeti reserve, Ikorongo, central Serengeti
Moving herds spread out across a wide area
Mara River, northern Serengeti
Biggest River Crossing, crocodiles
Western Loliondo and Lobo area of Serengeti National Park
Moving south to the Southern Serengeti
Short rainy season, herds arrive late November
Now that you know more, you can start planning on the best time and place to view these majestic creatures up close as they roam through the Tanzanian and Kenyan plains.
Read more in our guide on other Serengeti Animals you can see during the Great Wildebeest Migration period.
I remember the first time I visited Tanzania and came face to face with a chimpanzee, the closest animal relative to humans. It was a humbling and life-changing experience to say the least. Getting to these out-of-the-way regions of Tanzania won't be easy or cheap but spending time with these beautiful creatures is an opportunity of a lifetime and well worth the extra effort.
Best Time for Chimpanzee Trekking
The best time for chimpanzee trekking in Western Tanzania coincides with the beginning of the dry season.
The best chance of coming face to face with these remarkable primates in Mahale and Gombe 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.
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.
Best time to Climb Kilimanjaro
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 Wildebeest 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.
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.
Best Time to Enjoy Zanzibar Beaches
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).
Safaris aren't the only activity in Tanzania where you can see unique wildlife. Travelling further along the coast towards the lesser known national parks like Burigo Chato, Rubondo Islands, Saadani and Saanane will give you a rare opportunity to see Tanzania's greatest aquatic species in their natural habitats.
When to see various aquatic species of animals
Below is a short break down off all the best times to visit Tanzania's wettest wildlife wonders:
- 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
This article was just a small taste of the best times to visit Tanzania and all the wonderful things you can do and see in this amazing country. I hope my insights help you catch the next flight out to the undisputed jewel of East Africa.