When is the best time to visit Tanzania? This is a good question. Like most good questions it is difficult to answer, mainly because different areas in Tanzania have different attractions at different times of the year.
There really is no right or wrong time to visit this well-loved location. That said, as a rule of thumb, for safari in Tanzania, the dry season is the most popular time of year (late June to October).
During the dry season, animals congregate near water sources, placing predators and their prey in close proximity, which makes for some exciting game viewing. As a by-product of the water shortages, the vegetation thins, improving visibility of animals. One important thing to bear in mind – crowding can occur in certain reserves during these favourable periods. Should you wish to avoid the crowds and visit Tanzania out of the dry season, be aware that many of the lodges close for periods during these months (usually March to May).
Below is a brief summary of some Tanzanian parks and their seasonal perks. Hopefully this will simplify your planning process, while illuminating a few of the lesser-known regions of this incredible destination.
Explore Tanzania further here.
Best time to visit Serengeti National Park
This national park needs no introduction. The Serengeti National Park contains exceptional game in high densities year-round, although its peak time is during the dry season (June to September). This is also when the great migration passes through the area and crosses the Grumeti River (in the months of June or July). This spectacle could not be higher on any safari enthusiast’s bucket list. And for good reason.
Late January to February is the wildebeest calving season, which provides high excitement as lion and cheetah descend on the fragile and naive newborns. Although action-packed, these scenes are not for the faint of heart. The height of the wet season occurs in the months of March and April and causes the usually crowded Serengeti to empty, offering an intimate experience with the wildlife. Another plus of this time of year is the return of migratory bird species – a big drawcard for all the twitchers out there.
Explore our top routes that include the Serengeti region here.
Best time to visit Ngorongoro National Park
Ngorongoro National Park’s dry season (June to October) is the preferred time for visits, as temperatures are cooler and there is little chance of rain. The lack of rain means that the vegetation is thinner and animals, such as the shy black rhino, are easier to spot. The flip side of unbelievable game viewing in “Africa’s Eden”? Crowding.
The wet season (November to May), which is considerably less crowded, is still a great time to view animals. For the most part the wet season is just afternoon showers with the heaviest rains falling in March, April and May. During this season, migratory bird species return, creating a kaleidoscope of colour. Generally, game is more spread out because of the abundance of water and vegetation, making it a little more difficult to find them. However, this should not be a deterrent, as even during the wet season, there are few places on earth that can compete with Ngorongoro’s game viewing.
Research more into Ngorongoro National Park here.
Best time to visit the Selous Game Reserve
Selous Game Reserve’s dry, cooler months (June to November) make for excellent big cat and wild dog sightings. Because there is less water, animals congregate around water sources and lion sightings are almost a guarantee on the lake’s shores. The wild dogs usually den from June to August providing the best opportunity for prolonged viewing of this highly endangered species.
The seasonality regarding game viewing in this area is quite clear with animals spreading out during the wet season (March to May) and the heaviest rains falling in the months of March and April. Although this can put a dampener on activities, all is not lost as this is the birthing season and the time for migratory bird species to return.
Design your wild Southern Tanzania with our route here.
Best time to visit Zanzibar Island
A Zanzibar Island adventure is best experienced from June to October, when the climate is cool and dry. Within this period, August and September have the best water clarity of 25 or more meters offering incredible snorkelling conditions and whale viewing potential. It important to bear in mind that some of the island restaurants will be closed during the muslim festival of Ramadan, occurring during the months of June and July, so check before booking if this is of concern.
During the months December to February the island is very hot and dry with temperatures reaching into the 40 degrees celsius range. The wet season arrives in March and lasts until May. Water clarity is not as productive during this period and humidity can be a factor of concern when you are not in the water. Also be aware that many beach front resorts close during these months.
Explore more about the magic of Zanzibar here.
Best time to visit Mount Kilimanjaro:
Kilimanjaro conditions can be quite variable throughout the year, with the best weather for climbing occurring from July to October, when the skies are mostly warm and clear. This is in stark contrast to other times of year, specifically April to May and November to mid December, when rain, mud, ice and fog can detract from the overall experience, and in extreme cases can increase the risks for climbers.
More information on Kilimanjaro here.
Best time to visit Tarangire National Park:
Tarangire National Park’s game viewing is at its best during the dry season (June to November). The scarcity of water, draws in species from far and wide to seek solace along the Tarangire River. Of course, this season is a crowd pleaser. A good way to escape the crowds with a trip into the southern parts of the reserve, which offers intimate experiences with the wildlife of this area.
The wet season does not produce the same level of animal interaction. The rains replenish the water sources, thickening the vegetation and causing the different species to disperse. For some there is also the issue of getting wet during the months of March and April. There are however a few positives for this time of year – the crowds are gone, the general game viewing is still good and migratory bird species have moved back into the area.
Choose a route than includes Tarangire National Park and design your own trip here.
Best time to visit Ruaha National Park:
The best time to visit Ruaha National Reserve is in the dry months (June to October), when the vegetation is thinner and the weather is cooler. Like Selous, the wild dogs of the area den from June to August, presenting greater opportunity to view these charismatic animals.
The wet season arrives in November, signalling the return of migratory bird species, and continues until March. Humidity levels can be high, as temperatures climb during this time of year.
Read more about Ruaha National Park here.