WHEN TO GO

Here is a broad guide to the climate of Tanzania – although remember that this comes from records and experience, not from a crystal ball. Weather patterns across Africa are becoming increasingly unpredictable, probably due to global warming; we're seeing downpours in the middle of deserts and damaging droughts when rains should be falling.

Just south of the equator, Tanzania is huge and its sheer size means that the climate varies considerably within it. However, generally the main rainy season, or the 'long rains', lasts during about March, April and May. Afternoon tropical downpours are the norm – which are heavier and more predictable beside the coast and on the islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30°s.

The long dry season lasts throughout June, July, August, September and October is when rainfall is unusual, even on the islands. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather – it's a great time to visit Tanzania. During November and December there's another rainy season: the 'short rains'. These are much lighter than the main rains and less reliable.

If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months, January and February, which is Tanzania's 'short dry season', before starting to rain again in earnest in March.

DRY
SHOULDER
WET
JANUARY

Most of Tanzania experiences a short dry season,  with relatively high year round temperatures, expect a handful of rainy afternoons in this month.

Game viewing is particularly good in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater areas during the birthing season, offering high predator activities and excitement

Tarangire and Ruaha are green and in bloom with migratory birds present in full breeding colours

A great time to explore the coral reefs and exotic fish, with a water clarity of 25 meters or more in Zanzibar

FEBRUARY

This is the short dry season that precedes the heavy rain;  expect a handful of rainy afternoons in this month

The perfect time to go and view the newborns, as well as the predators that hunt them

The migratory birds have returned in full breeding plumage, providing exceptional birding in Ruaha and the Tarangire

A great time for exploring the coral reefs and exotic fish of Zanzibar with a water clarity of 25 meters or more

There are more insects during the wet season, so have your repellent at the ready

MARCH

The arrival of the longer wet season, temperatures are still hot with humidity potential playing a factor in daytime comfort

During the 'Emerald season', plants are in bloom, vegetation is thick and grasses can be long, making wildlife a little more difficult to spot

Game viewing in the ngorongoro crater and central areas of the Serengeti are good year round with high game densities

Birding is particularly good in Ruaha and Tarangire during March

There are more insects present during the wet season, so have your repellent at the ready

APRIL

April is the wettest month of the year, with relatively hot daytime temperatures and rain.

The Great Migration is best observed across the Seronera region in the central Serengeti

Cheetah and lion activities are high with a bounty of young animals in the southern plains of the Serengeti 

The best time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater, if you don't mind the rain, with low tourist traffic leading to more intimate sightings

Be aware, many accommodations close down in Ruaha and the Tarangire during this month, more to have a break than lack of desirability

MAY

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 levels climb.

As water sources dwindle, wildlife densities increase in both the Ruaha and Tarangire conservation areas

In our opinion the best time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater, there is an afternoon shower or two but there are fewer tourists.

If you are looking for ideal photographic conditions, it is important to note that cloud cover can be prevalent at this time of year affecting the quality of light

JUNE

The official start of the dry season, with consistently warm temperatures and occasional rains in the afternoons

Rutting season in the Serengeti and 

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

The ideal time of year for a walking safari and fly-camping in Tarangire, if you are feeling a little more adventurous

Include a warm jacket in your packing list, as morning game drive can get quite chilly

JULY

The dry season is in full swing, enjoying low humidity and hot days. 

The animals bunch in the Serengeti's Western Corridor. Vegetation thins and animals remain close to the available water sources allowing for great game viewing.

Ngorongoro starts to get crowded.

Best time of the year to see the wild dogs of Ruaha, this is their denning period, meaning pups are a possibility

The best time to visit Zanzibar in search of clear blue skies and white sandy beaches

Include a warm jacket in your packing list as morning game drive can get quite chilly

AUGUST

The ideal time to visit Tanzania, with consistently hot temperatures and little to no rain.

The best chance of witnessing a Mara River crossing, with a million animals heading north, this is the peak of the Serengeti's migration spectacle

Game viewing should be exceptional in the Tarangire, with the River drawing in wildlife from the surrounding areas

SEPTEMBER

The best time to visit Zanzibar in search of clear blue skies and white sandy beaches

The ideal time to visit Tanzania, with consistently hot temperatures and little to no rain.

The best chance of witnessing a Mara River crossing, with a million animals heading north, this is the peak of the Serengeti migration spectacle

The perfect conditions for walking safari and fly-camping in the Tarangire.Photographic conditions are good with the air being relatively thin and still, sunrises and sunsets being particularly good. If you are looking to escape the peak season crowds, head to Ruaha National Park for an intimate safari

OCTOBER

A great time to visit Tanzania, temperatures are relatively hot with little chance of rain and very few mosquitoes

The Serengeti's Great Migration is best observed in the Mara region in the Northern Serengeti

Vegetation is dry and thin, the herds are tired and weak and the predators take advantage of these ideal hunting conditions

The lack of rain can lead to a lot of dust in the air, providing wonderful sunsets but difficult photographic conditions

The ideal month for beach lounging and diving in Zanzibar, with water clarity of 25 meters or more

NOVEMBER

Temperatures are hot, with the fall of the first rains following the dry season, usually in the form of irregular afternoon showers.

Animals begin to spread out with less competition for the permanent water sources except in the Ngorongoro Crater region, where game densities are good year round. The drop in humidity, lack of dust and high hours of sunlight make for great photographic conditions

The migratory birds begin to return as the park transforms with new greenery ushering in a time of plenty A great time to explore Zanzibar's coral reefs and exotic fish with water clarity of 25 meters or more

DECEMBER

Temperatures are hot, with occasional afternoon showers and occasional electrical storms..A good time to enjoy the high numbers of year-round game present in the Seronera region of the central Serengeti

Clear blue skies with the exception of the odd late afternoon electrical storm, providing great photographic conditions

Ruaha and Tarangire enjoy the return of migratory birds in full breeding plumage, providing some of the best birding in Tanzania

Insect repellent neededas mosquito numbers increase with the arrival of the rains

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