A detailed month to month guide on the best time to go on Safari in Tanzania, where to go and what tourist activities to do..
Tanzania is one of the most renowned tourist destinations across Africa. it experiences two main dry seasons, the dry and wet season. The dry season includes the short dry spell that begins in late January to the start of March, and then the long-dry season starts in June all through to October. However from November to January, the short rains begin with the long rains coming in from late March to May. (April is the wettest month and some of the tourists destinations are quite challenging to access.)
the numerous national parks as well as other tourist site are very busy in the long dry season June to September) receiving the largest number of visitors considering the fact that July and August are summer holidays in Europe and America. February to early march is a shoulder season, offering very impressive holiday alternatives and many tour operators agree with me that this is a very good time to safari in Tanzania.
Below is a detailed month to month guide.
Tanzania in January – best time for bird watching
Majority of the visitor who come on Safari in Tanzania wish to coincide their holiday with seeing the renowned Great wildebeest Migration, however we are glad to inform you that the migration can be views any month throughout the year. In order to find the migrating herd, all you have to do is to travel to the right area within the larger Serengeti ecosystem.
The month of January is generally green and wet as it marks the completion of the short rains. The flourishing green vegetation is very stunning and mainly migratory bird species have come in at this time of the year. In fact, January is the very good time for taking a birding safari in Tanzania and many ornithologists visit the country at this time of the year. Holidaymakers who also value beautiful scenery and seclusion over safari companionship and large numbers of wildlife, this is the best time of the year to visit. Meanwhile, at this time, the migrating herd is marching southwards and settling in the southernmost plains of the Serengeti to prepare for the calving season.
Tanzania is February – Best time to see the Wildebeest Calving and Birding
Well, at this time of the rains will vary across the different parts of Tanzania. The western parks continue to be wet while the plains in the northern parks are drying out well.
In February, the migratory herd is undergoing its peak calving season within the Ndutu area found in the southern section of the Serengeti ecosystem. Millions of wildebeests gather up to feed on the fresh short grasses here while the heavy cows give birth. within a short period of three to four (3 to 4) weeks, approximately five hundred thousand (500,000) wildebeest calves are dropped (born) which makes it one of the highlight wildlife spectacles you can ever see. Simply imagine at every turn you are seeing a newborn wildebeest calf being dropped; it is a mind-blowing spectacle!
This calving season as a result attracts a very large number of predators that eagerly wait to make a quick catch of the vulnerable calves. These predators closely watch the herd and in fact at this time of the year, the western part of the Ngorongoro conservation area as well as the southern part of the Serengeti National park is swarmed with the largest number of predators across Africa at the same time. Lions, cheetahs and hyenas come in very big numbers and are seen patrolling the grasses as they wait for the perfect moment to make their kill on the plenty prey in the area. instinctively, the female wildebeests (the cows) move to the shorter grasses where they can easily see any approaching predator, and for some sort of natural ‘barricade’ around the mothers that are giving birth and the new born calves, that way ensuring that the largest number of calves survive through this season.
In general, February is a good time for bird watching as well as to take a Tanzania Wildebeest Safari Adventure to watch the wildebeests calving.
- Tanzania in March – a good time to attempt the Mount Kilimanjaro summit
This time of the year the short rains are expected to begin, however, the rains are extremely unpredictable. areas like the Ngorongoro Highlands receive short rains in the late afternoon and the morning are clear and dry thus making game viewing very rewarding especially in the mornings.
Early march tends to be generally dry however this may not be the same year after year. With that in mind, seeing the Africa tawny brown bushes turn green is quite a unique sight. Because the rains are beginning there are instances where the rains may be too much to affect your ability to access and explore across the various remote tourist destinations since some roads turn out to be inaccessible.
On the brighter side, March together with September or October are thought to be best months to attempt summiting Mount Kilimanjaro as known as the rooftop of Africa (highest mountain on the continent)
In conclusion, if you are considering taking a safari to Tanzania in the month of March, we recommend that you first chat with one of our Tanzania travel experts at Safari Supremacy to get the recent updates on the patterns of weather in the country.
Tanzania in April – the wettest month, not worth traveling
April is considered to be the wettest months of the year. Most parts of the country receive long and very heavy rainfall making it the one month that you should not take a safari in Tanzania. during this month the rains majorly come as thunderstorms in the afternoon, however, grey skies with day drizzles as well as big storms in the night are very common.
The game parks and reserves found in the southern and western part of the country receive the highest humidity during this season and for that reason, they are very uncomfortable. Fortunately, majority of the lodges plus hotels offer very good discounts on the accommodation rate because of the unfavorable weather. So traveling at this time of the year will give you great value for your money as some accommodation facilities offer nearly half the price of their usual accommodation rates.
Majority of the minor roads during the heavy rains become impassable, a number of small bridges are washed away while some of the river crossings become totally submerged due to the swelling volumes of water in the rivers. It is the well experienced and hardens drivers that can tackle the muddy slippery roads which is characteristic of most of Tanzania’s countryside roads at this time of the year. This however, can only be done in well maintained four wheel drive (4X4) safari vehicles.
- Tanzania in May – Best time for photographers
At the start of the month of May, most of Tanzania is still very wet. However as the month progresses, the country begins to dry up and road repairs start which makes mobility across the countryside and to the different national parks and game reserves possible again. The bushes are verdant again and herbivores are in high gear, health and fat, thanks to the great availability of water and grazing pastures.
at this time most of the accommodations in eastern Tanzania are still budget friendly just before the long dry season which is also the peak tourist season kicks in. there will be repeated days of sunshine however when it comes to gifts of nature, nothing of certain.
Meanwhile, the wildebeest herd begins to migrate northwards into the western corridor of the Serengeti , large numbers of tourists begin to arrive, the African bushes are colorful and very impressive, which makes it a good month to take a Photographic Safari in Tanzania.
Tanzania in June – Best time for game viewing and wildebeest river crossing at River Grumeti
June is dry and busy. Peak season is underway and areas like the western Serengeti are extremely popular at this time of year with the wildebeest piling into the western corridor in their hundreds of thousands. With the rains properly finished, the savannahs are already starting to change from green to yellow and wildlife sightings are constantly improving as the vegetation slowly recedes.
In June, the long dry season has started, the number of tourists arriving into the country is increasing and the peak tourist season is underway. With millions of wildebeests congregating within the western corridor of the Serengeti, this part of the country begins to become busy with tourists. Because the rains are nearly completed, most of the roads are very accessible and the verdant bushes are turning brown a thing that makes game viewing much more rewarding.
Around the banks of river Grumeti found in western Serengeti, the wildebeests stop there until they build in large numbers so that they can attempt crossing the river in thousands. The largest portion of them manages to make it across to the other side of the river, however, a couple of them fall prey to the hungry giant crocodiles that are eagerly waiting for them in the waters of the Grumeti River. Most of the tourists in the Serengeti come to see this dramatic river crossing.
In Summary, June is one of the best times of the year to see large numbers of wildlife in the country especially in the Serengeti with possibilities of river crossing views.
Tanzania in July – Best time for a Tanzania beach holiday, and game viewing
by July, the peak tourist season is ongoing, the country is dry, the roads are passable with clouds of dust rising as vehicles pass through the un terraced roads, and in the parks, the vegetation is thinning and game viewing is very rewarding. Majority of the renowned tourist destinations in the country especially those along the northern tourist safari circuit are busy and crowded with tourists. The Tanzania southern safari circuit is worth exploring at this time of the year as well considering that it offers a less crowded tourist experience and very reliable game viewing. Large numbers of wildebeests and zebras can be seen this time of the year.
Holidaymakers interested in something more than game viewing can visit the beautiful Zanzibar islands as well as the other Indian Ocean islands for a Tanzania Beach holiday safari. The water is warm and conducive, the weather is perfect and the serenity and scenery will be a great escape from the rest of the crowded holiday destinations in the country.
Tanzania in August- great game viewing, best time to visit Tarangire National Park
In August, the peak season is still in high gear, Tanzania is swarmed with several Americans and Europeans on summer holiday who mainly explore the northern Safari Circuit as well as the Zanzibar islands. There is no rain at this time of the year; the weather is perfect for adventure, however since it is somewhat windy in August, wildfires are possible especially on the dry grasslands.
During this month, expect cloudy conditions which may deter the beauty of the terrain and, also photography somewhat challenging. On the brighter side, wildlife viewing is very amazing. At this time, the migrating wildebeest has reached Lamai region found in the northern part of Tanzania, and a number of the animals are crossing River Mara – a very spectacular view.
This is the best time to visit Tarangire National Park where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of elephants freely roaming.
Tanzania in September – River Crossing at Mara river, Perfect for Fishing and summiting Mount Kilimanjaro
In September, Tanzania is still dry which means the humidity is low and there are fewer mosquitoes, however, the number of tourists begins to reduce. The vegetation is very thin at this point in time, the grass has turned brown the pastures are barely enough. The migrating herd has congested around the permanent river Mara with very large numbers of wildebeests plus zebras crossing to and from either sides of the river searching for pastures to graze while remaining near the water source.
At this time, there are still several tourists within Lamai-Mara region and this is also one of the best times to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. The other national parks, reserves and tourist attractions across the country are receiving fewer visitors and the mood of a wilderness is beginning to kick in. on the other hand, the attractions along the southern safari circuit are still delightfully wild and welcoming holidaymakers ready to explore Tanzania’s vast wilderness.
In Tanzania, September marks the beginning of the fishing season within the great lakes region so dedicated anglers can combine their wildlife viewing with a fishing safari adventure.
Tanzania in October – fair game viewing, Chimpanzee trekking and summiting Mount Meru
October marks the end of the long dry season in Tanzania and it’s considered a shoulder season. The thunder-clouds begin to build up and towards the end of the month, the first rains start. At this time, the wildebeest migrating herd is marching southwards, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is still possible and a popular activity at the time, whereas the thin vegetation makes wildlife viewing rewarding with uninterrupted views.
At this time the Mahale Mountains National Park which is home to the chimps is very accessible offering a very conducive time to take a Tanzania chimpanzee tracking Safari. Boat rides on Lake Manyara are very possible since the lake is warmest now. The southern parks and reserves can still be explored as well; however the number of tourists continues to reduce.
Parks like Katavi National Park – that offers spectacular views of elephants in their natural habitat, Arusha National park can be visited now, and also mountain climbers can attempt summiting Mount Meru.
Tanzania in November – Balloon Safari, game viewing and photography
November is among the underestimated months to takes a Tanzania Safari, as it marks the beginning of the short rainy season. It’s no doubt that the afternoons will be characterized with intermittent thunder-showers
Although game viewing will still be possible in the northern game parks, the Serengeti will be receiving rainfall which will attract the migrating herd to move further south back towards Tanzania. In case the herd hasn’t crossed back from Kenya into Tanzania by this time, then it will do so in November. The herd of millions of animals together with the other resident wildlife species living inside the Serengeti can best be seen during a Serengeti Hot Air Balloon Safari.
At this time, the roads are still passable, the water volumes in the rivers are low, the seasonal water sources are slowly coming to life, and the dusty brown vegetation begins to show some green leaves. The open plains turn into a beautiful ‘football pitch’ like form a thing that adds color to the landscape without obstructing wildlife views. Photography at this time is very impressive
This is the best time to Visit Tarangire National Park.
Tanzania in December – Perfect for Birding,
This is the season of the short rains, so don’t be surprised when occasional rains happen. The first half of the month is not busy; however as the Christmas holiday together with the New Year break kick in, most of Tanzania’s tourists attracts become busy again. It is for this reason that we recommend our client to make their accommodation reservation earlier to guarantee availability.
At this time, a number of migratory bird species have come into the country making it a perfect time to take a birding Safari in Tanzania. The southern safari circuit destinations like Selous Reserve offer the best birding experience, together with Tarangire National Park found in northern Tanzania. Some of the species to look out for at this time of the year include: cinnamon-breasted buntings, the red-necked spurfowl, the Grey crowned crane and the purple grenadier among others.
On the other hand, the wildebeests have come back to the southern Serengeti to calve within the short grass. Because of the rains and the limited accommodation and other infrastructure, the southern safari circuit turns out to be more challenging to explore in December
Well with a detailed month to month summary of what is happening in Tanzania, what to do and where to go, we believe that this will come handy in helping you choose the best time to visit the country. You can speak to any of our travel expert for additional information and assistance in organizing your Safari to Tanzania.