Which Is the Best Period for A Tanzania Safari?

Posted on January 24, 2024

Tanzania is a jewel of tourism and whoever seeks to enjoy the numerous treasures of the country would like to pick the best time of the year for their visit.

Although personal preferences may influence the decision to choose which period to visit, seasonal conditions play a paramount role. For instance, the onset of the rainy season influences the timings of the majority of natural events. If the rains start a little early, some natural events will occur earlier and, conversely, if the rains are a little late, the natural events will be delayed as well.

Safari seasons in Tanzania are classified into two types:

  • High Season, Shoulder Season, and Low Season– This classification is according to factors such as the overall amount of tourist influx, availability of accommodation, and pricing of safari packages in Tanzania.
  • Dry Season and Wet Season– This classification considers the climatic conditions in Tanzania.

But generally, only two seasons are significantly considered; the high season and the low season. Each season has its own enchantments, but most safari connoisseurs advise visiting Tanzania during the high season. This is when the flora and fauna are flourishing and the landscape is at its best.

The months between June and October present suitable climatic conditions for a safari, because during this period, the weather is relatively warm and the terrain is comparatively dry. These conditions are good for game viewing and planning is a lot easier as the weather is fairly predictable.

To crown it all, this is the ideal period to witness the spectacular ‘Great Migration’.

On the other aspect, the low season, which falls between March and May, comes with rains and reduced tourist congestion, thereby presenting the few guests with an exclusive tour experience.

In a nutshell, the short dry season, January to February is great for witnessing the calving of wildebeest and zebras, Zanzibar expeditions, Mount Kilimanjaro trekking and getting absorbed in the scenic lush landscape, while the best period overall for a Tanzania safari, to view the ‘Big Five’ and explore the paradisiac archipelagos of Zanzibar is the long dry season from June to October. To witness the spectacular Great Migration, where millions of wildebeests cross the crocodile-infested Mara River, the ideal period falls between mid-June to September and mid-October to mid-November.

Seasonal conditions normally influence some activities and therefore, a prospective tourist’s preference could be linked to seasons or months. If their preference is visiting sights like waterfalls, they may prefer visiting during the time when water levels are high. On the other hand, if the major aim of the visit is to see specific wildlife, they mostly likely would pick a time when the wildlife in question is most active and the vegetation is least dense; for instance, those that seek to see crocodiles hunt or wildebeests in their numerous numbers, would certainly want to visit when the migration is taking place.

Knowing when to visit Tanzania for a particular tour adventure can greatly enhance the experience. Every season has its own charm, unique game sightings, and fascinating sceneries.

Which Is The Best Period For A Tanzania Safari Based On The Months?

January Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 26-30°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 20- 23°C
  • Average Rainfall: 90 mm

January in Tanzania, being in the southern hemisphere, is the peak of summer. The weather is fairly warm and dry, and there is sufficient sunshine most of the day with no heavy rains but only sporadic showers during some nights.

The climate in January is perfect for a Safari as the grass is short, enabling the wildlife to be spotted quite easily.

The landscapes are great at this time of the year and the animals are active, making wildlife viewing quite exceptional.

There is comparatively less tourist traffic in January as it is a shoulder tourism season, however, this presents an exclusive experience to those that visit Tanzania at this time of the year.

January is also the calving period for Zebras and Wildebeests. Tourists are able to witness live births in the Ndutu plains of Serengeti.

Birdwatching is also best experienced during the month of January.

The fairly dry and warm weather is conducive for trekking in parts such as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Usambara Mountains.

Tourists also have a chance of experiencing the Maasai way of life during the Ngorongoro Festival where the colourful Maasai people showcase their traditional dances, arts and music.

January is also great for visiting Zanzibar and doing the Kilimanjaro trekking as the weather is relatively warm and dry.

Furthermore, being a shoulder period, prices for tour packages are comparatively low.

January Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Calving for Wildebeests and Zebras, Wildlife viewing, and Ideal time for birdwatching.

February Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 29°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 26°C
  • Average Rainfall: 120 mm

February is still summer time in Tanzania and is fairly warm, which makes it great for some expeditions despite some occasional rains during some nights.

As part of the shoulder season, lying between the peak tourist periods of December to January and the low tourist period of March to May, February avails tourists with an optimal experience of a Tanzania safari.

February is regarded as the best month to visit Serengeti; new life is brought forth as wildebeest calves are born. The predators are also hyper active.

The calving season for the wildebeest extends into February, presenting an awesome spectacle in the splendid Serengeti National Park.

February comes with less crowded tourist spots which accords the few visitors a much exclusive Safari encounter and with relatively lower costs.

The fairly clear skies, dry weather and less treacherous trails present perfect conditions for hiking and sightseeing.

February just like January, is ideal for visiting Zanzibar and taking on the towering Kilimanjaro as the weather is comparatively warm and dry.

Prices for tour packages are relatively low.

February Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Active prey and predator action, plus the calving season, bird watching around Lake Manyara, and safaris in the northern and southern circuit parks.

 In summary, the short dry season, January to February comes with lush landscapes from the preceding wet season and a diversity of migratory birds start arriving from the northern hemisphere.

The weather is fairly warm which makes Kilimanjaro trekking great. The clear skies afford hikers with excellent views from the lofty heights.

An expedition to Zanzibar is fantastic as the sea is calm and clear with reasonably warm water, making it perfect for water activities such as swimming, snorkelling and exploration of marine life and the coral reefs or just treading the soft white sands on the pristine beaches.

Calving in the southern Serengeti is another great event to be witnessed during this season and so are the predators in action.

The downsize is that wildlife viewing may not be excellent as the vegetation is quite dense. Seasoned guides however, can alleviate this challenge.

 March Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 28-31°C
  •  Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 22-25°C
  •   Average Rainfall: 170 mm

The weather in Tanzania during the early days of March is akin to that of February; fairly warm and dry.

However, as we approach the middle of the month, the long rainy season, locally called ‘masika’ starts, giving rise to a rise in heat and humidity levels during the day and temperatures dropping by almost 10 degrees Celsius at night.

Heavy rainfall, often during the early hours of the day, with afternoons turning brighter, characterises the last half of the month. Visibility is improved when the rains settle the dust down.

For that traveller who has an inclination for enchanting authenticity, March showcases Tanzania’s lush landscapes at their best; the flourishing flora presents a pristine scenery.

Tourists that seek less-crowded locations, would most likely enjoy visiting Tanzania in March because there is less tourist congestion and most tour packages are offered at a discounted rate.

The rain seasons on the brighter side present prime time for photography in Tanzania.

The start of winter comes with the exciting Great Migration, and it is an ideal time to witness Tanzania’s abundant wildlife.

In March, Tarangire National Park and Lake Manyara National Park are relatively drier and the southern Serengeti offers an excellent place to observe wildebeest and zebra calving.

March Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Calving experiences in the southern Serengeti, awesome birdwatching, and perfect photographic sceneries.

 April Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 25°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 14°C
  • Average Rainfall: 240 mm

 As one of the wettest months of the year, April may not be considered as the best time of the year for a Tanzania safari; it is a month of heavy rains with heavy humidity compelling most visitors to avoid travelling and some camps and lodging facilities go on recess during this period.

But for those who are less bothered by heavy rains and the mud that come with them, April still presents tourists with great safari experiences.

The number of tourists during this time of the year is very low which is ideal for those that prefer some serene and private holiday atmosphere.

For the birding enthusiast, areas such as the Tarangire National Park, during the rainy season are teeming with a diversity of bird species.

It may be a challenge to view the ‘Big five’ in April, but there is still the mesmerising Great Migration to watch as the wildebeest herds start moving from the south to the north and west of Serengeti.

April is also a cheaper time to visit as a lot of camps and lodging facilities offer discounted rates.

April Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Brilliant birdwatching, and flourishing flora and magnificent landscapes.

 May Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 27°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 24°C
  • Average Rainfall: 210 mm

 In Tanzania, the month of May is generally warm and the amount of rainfall fluctuates throughout the month.

A Tanzania safari in May provides a fantastic combination of fantastic weather and fascinating activities, making it a great time to discover the country’s awesome wildlife.

May, being an off-peak period, is likely to offer more affordable rates for tour packages and accommodation.  The comparatively lower numbers of visitors in May also means a more serene safari experiences.

In May, Tanzania experiences a change from the wet season to the dry season, and as such, animals start to flock to decreasing water sources, which enhances the wildlife viewing experience.

The pleasant weather in May also favours outdoor activities; tourists can explore Tanzania’s diverse and rich culture through festival and cultural visits. There is the Arusha Summer Festival and Ngorongoro Marathon.

May Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Breathtaking green landscapes, great outdoor activities.

 In summary, the low season falls in the wettest months of the year in Tanzania, characterised by long rains from March, April and May. Humidity levels are also relatively high, especially in the coastal zones and the rains typically comes in form of afternoon drizzles or downpours, which may go on for many hours with the central and northern parts, like the Serengeti and Tarangire National Parks normally experiencing more rains as compared to the coastal areas.

Game viewing is not at its best as the lush vegetation provides cover to the animals and the abundance of water entails that animals are not concentrated at watering holes.

However, both flora and fauna are flourishing and new life is brought forth.

On a tight budget, the low season is the best to visit Tanzania and the parks are not crowded.

Many of the accommodations facilities in southern circuit parks close during the low season, but most remain open in the more popular northern circuit.

Kilimanjaro trekking during the low season becomes a bit of a challenge as the trails become slippery and the cloudy weather does not avail the best views. But to the daring hikers, the challenge adds to the adventure.

 June Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 30°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 20°C
  • Average Rainfall: 40 mm

 Winter in Tanzania is between June and October, and the weather remains warm and dry with infrequent rains during the season. June is the month which marks the beginning of winter and is also the continuation of the dry season. There are fresh blossoms and a comfortable sunshine.

A Tanzania Safari in June and the other winter months is undoubtedly great. These months are considered to be the best for one to visit Tanzania for a safari. Parks and game reserves are best accessible in June.

The Great Wildebeest Migration, as the herds move north from the Grumeti River, coupled with excellent wildlife sightings, attract hordes of tourists during this period.

Wildlife spotting is easier this time around as the savannah starts drying up. The migratory birds arrive in the parks, making it a perfect time even for a Birding Safari.

June Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Serengeti Wildebeest Migration as it moves north, attracting large predators and a variety of migratory birds.

 July Safari in Tanzania

  •  Average Day Temperatures: Around 27°C- 32°C
  •  Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 15°C- 20°C
  • Average Rainfall: 30 mm

 July is the core of winter and the peak season for touring Tanzania; the weather is perfect, with usually warm sunny days and clear skies.

As the weather is dry and the vegetation has dwindled, it is easier to spot many other animals like gazelles, zebras, leopards, lions and elephants. Mid-July is considered the best time to witness the Serengeti Wildebeest Migration when the herds start moving towards Kenya.

One could indulge in traditional art and dance shows and learn more about the local culture. The Serengeti Cultural Festival is held in July each year.

July Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Serengeti Wildebeest Migration, elephants in Tarangire, adventures in the remote parks of the southern safari circuit.

 In summary, June and July are classified as the high season and are part of the long dry season in Tanzania. The weather is cooler and the skies are mostly clear with minimal rains.

June is the start of the high season and it is, together with the months of the dry season, regarded as the perfect period for wildlife viewing in Tanzania.

The vegetation is less dense, making it easier to spot wildlife and water is less abundant compelling the animals to converge around water sources which leads to heightened predator activities as they stalk and ambush their prey.

Towards the end of May and beginning of June marks the start of the Great Migration, where wildebeest and zebras in their millions begin their epic migration from the southern plains to the northern side of the Serengeti in search of fresh grazing pastures.

The coastal regions and the breathtaking Zanzibar archipelagos experience pleasant weather around this time of the year. The Indian Ocean is clear and calm, making water activities, such as diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and having a great time on the white beaches conducive.

Late June and July are not bad for the Kilimanjaro adventure in comparison to March until May when the weather is cold and the skies quite cloudy.

August Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 28°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 17°C
  • Average Rainfall: 30 mm

August is part of the peak season and a great month for vacations in Tanzania. Climatic conditions in Tanzania are at their best around this period. Temperatures are mild; neither too cold nor too hot. The days are sunny and warm, and the skies are clear.

Safari costs in August might slightly increase as it falls in the high season, but the benefits may cancel that out.

The vegetation is remarkably less dense with less rainfall, making it easier to spot the wildlife and the movement of animals is more predictable, making them easier to track.

Lake Natron is flocked with Flamingos and the spectacle of the Great Migration continues.

Visitors could enjoy game drives and view animals in the plains as they go in search of fresh water.

August Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Exciting game drives, ‘Big Five’ sightings and the spectacular river crossings of wildebeests and the crocodiles in action.

 In summary, August is regarded as the peak period for a Tanzania safari. The parks have the highest volume of tourists and safari vehicle and the tour package prices are high compared to the shoulder periods and the low seasons. August also coincides with school holidays of most countries’ school calendars.

The weather is fantastic; in August, the skies are clear with minimal rainfall and wildlife viewing is awesome. The wildebeest spectacular crossing of the crocodile infested Mara River is happening; the reptilians feast on the hapless beasts in the Mara River and lions are hunting alongside the banks.

The clear skies and sunny weather of August and September make for a good time to tour Zanzibar and indulge in some outdoor activities.

It is also a great time for snorkelling as the ocean is usually calm and clear, making underwater visibility great.

Eid – al – Fitr, a four-day Islamic festival to celebrate the end of fasting also takes place in the month of August.

August is also a popular month for scaling the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro, although, September is relatively quieter.

September Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 29°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 17°C
  • Average Rainfall: 20 mm

In Tanzania, September comes with a pleasant warm weather in the dry season. September, like July and August, are ranked as the best months to plan for a safari in Tanzania.

Being part of the peak tourist season, the cost of tour packages and the number of tourists increase in September. However, the safari experience is awesome in this month.

September is the perfect time to undertake different outdoor activities such as walking safaris and camping.

The tail end of the Great Migration, is more likely to be experienced in September on the Serengeti safari as the migration typically spans from June until September.

Lake Manyara would also be a great experience to spot the unique tree-climbing lions.

 September Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Camping and hiking adventures, splendid wildlife viewing, and an awesome experience of witnessing the later part of Serengeti Migration as herds spread out.

In summary, September is also part of the high season but offers more value for money as it is not as busy as August.

This month is great for game viewing as the Wildebeest crossing of the crocodile infested Mara River is at one of its most spectacular in the northern side of the Serengeti National Park. This great migration is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking wildlife phenomena on earth as wildebeests, in their millions cross over the treacherous waters of the Mara in search of fresh grazing grasslands.

Predator-prey action is also in full swing; the big cats on land and the crocodiles in the water.

Although not an ideal period for birdwatching like the months of January to April and November to December, there is still quite a lot of bird species to view as many migratory bird types from Asia and Europe are still available in the country during this period of the year.

Just like August, September is also a great period to visit Zanzibar as skies are clear and days are bright, which is great for outdoor activities.

The sea is usually calm and underwater visibility is great for diving and snorkelling.

Kilimanjaro trekking is good in September too.

 October Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 30°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 19°C
  • Average Rainfall: 80 mm

October still forms part of Tanzania’s winter season. The days are bright or sunny but relatively cool, with mornings being a bit chilly. This makes it an excellent time for a visit, just like the other winter months. This month lies at the end of the extended dry season in Tanzania.

In Tanzania, depending on the weather, October normally marks the end of the extended dry season and also the transition from the busy tourist season to the shoulder season.

This month comes with pleasant weather and wildlife viewing opportunities but with fewer tourists.

Guests experience breath-taking sceneries, courtesy of the cleat sunny days and sparse vegetation. It also offers plenty of outdoor activities despite some heat at times.

October Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Game viewing, trekking safaris and nature walks.

November Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 30°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 22°C
  • Average Rainfall: 130 mm

The month of November marks the beginning of the spring season and also heralds the short rainy season in Tanzania. It is also regarded as one of the best months to visit Tanzania.

The weather conditions during November in Tanzania are characterised by regular showers interspersed with bright sunny days. As it could be quite wet, the vegetation in Tanzania is most green during this month.

In November, the Great Wildebeest Migration continues as herds head back to the southern part of the Serengeti for the calving season.

Migratory birds from the Northern Hemisphere abound in great numbers making November ideal for birdwatching.

This month also presents fewer tourists and lower rates of travel and accommodation.

November Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Wildebeest calving, isolated crossings of Great Migration, and enjoy watching some migratory bird species.

December Safari in Tanzania

  • Average Day Temperatures: Around 27-32°C
  • Average Night Temperatures: Approximately 21°C
  • Average Rainfall: 130 mm

In December, the weather in Tanzania is pleasantly warm, sunny with slight occurrences of rainfall, and hence the term, ‘Short Rainy Season’.

It is usually a quieter period for tourism, but it is perfect for witnessing the newly born wildebeest and zebra calves among the migrating herds, as it is the peak of the calving season and also to watch the different species of birds, both the indigenous and the migratory kind.

It is one of the best times to explore Tanzania, and the greenery of the sceneries is exceptional this time of the year.

In first half of December, there are usually less tourists, creating a good opportunity for some great safari deals and an exclusive tour experience for those that do not fancy large crowds. However, the festive season attracts quite a significant inflow of tourists, leading to an increase in prices across the board.

December Safari Highlights in Tanzania: Spectacular wildlife viewing, wildebeests are moving south of the Serengeti, and diverse migratory birds arrive in the national parks from the northern hemisphere.

In summary, the short rainy season is experienced from mid-October, until mid-December in Tanzania and tour package prices are comparably lower as this is a shoulder season and parks are quieter. However, mid-December prices start to increase slightly.

Although the vegetation may be dense, making wildlife viewing a bit challenging, this shoulder season also presents one of the greatest periods of the year to spot the big cats, especially in November, because some herbivorous animals give birth in this season and the predators become overly active. The parks are also less crowded.

From mid-October to mid-November the wildebeest herds cross back over the crocodile infested Mara River from Kenya in the north to the Serengeti as part of the Great Migration.

November marks the onset of the birding season in Tanzania, and it is the time when migratory birds from the Northern Hemisphere begin to arrive. A great number of the resident bird species are nesting and clad in their breeding plumage during this period.

Zanzibar experiences unpredictable weather from mid-October to mid-December, however, storms and rainfall do not normally last long. Diving conditions during this period are good, especially in November and the costs of visiting the archipelagos are lower.

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro in October is popular as the weather is cool and dry while in November, it is quite challenging due to the wet conditions. December until March is regarded as the perfect period for trekking the iconic mountain.

Which Is The Best Period For A Tanzania Safari Based On The Tourism Seasons?

The country of Tanzania offers a range of safari seasons all year round, and each season has distinct features and attractions. Understanding the different seasons enables prospective visitors to select the best period to undertake a safari in Tanzania.

The high season, shoulder season, and low season are distinguished on account of the overall tourist demand, availability of accommodation, and pricing of tour packages. The dry season and the wet season, on the other hand are categorised based on the country’s climatic conditions.

A comparison of the High Season, Shoulder Season and Low Season, is given below.

The High Season – June to October

The months from June to October fall in the high season; they are peak tourism months with pleasantly cool and dry weather which is predominantly sunny and provides high wildlife visibility.

However, the high season months also come with crowded parks and higher prices.

 The Shoulder Season – End of October to February

The Shoulder season, which is from end of October to February, is a transitional period with generally unpredictable weather and moderate wildlife visibility.

The weather is usually hot during the months of the transitional season, with sporadic short rains, locally called “mvuli” and the seasonal trade winds, called “kusi” blowing from late October.

The season is characterised by lower tourist numbers and relatively lower prices.

Wildebeest calving season is the highlight of safaris in the Serengeti during the shoulder season, as such, high season prices apply for the Serengeti safaris from mid-December and mid-January.

 The Low Season- March To May

The low season is characterised by comparatively regular rains which could be heavy. This causes some roads to be muddy, thereby making access to certain areas a challenge.

This season is best in terms of reduced hotel rates, and tourist crowds are fewer in the northern circuit parks. It also offers a good bird-watching experience due to the many bird species that are available this time of the year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *