When is the best time to go to Tanzania and Zanzibar?

Tanzania is located along the equator hence temperatures for the weather in Tanzania are fairly constant throughout the year, although the rainy season in April and May is best avoided.

Tanzania also has a light rain season also known as the ‘short rains’ followed by clear sunshine that takes place in November. T

From December to March the weather becomes increasingly hot and humid before the rains return in April to replenish the lands once more.

Best times to go on Safari

Southern Circuit Parks

The Southern parks of Tanzania are generally held as being the Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park as they are the areas most renowned for game viewing.

With very different topography and altitude, the parks can vary greatly in both their appearance and seasons throughout the course of the year. There are, however, a few months in the year that they both combine to create a fantastic contrast and some of the best game viewing on offer in Africa.

Due to the large river that runs through the park, the Selous can become relatively waterlogged directly after the main rains in April/May and so tricky to find or see the game. As this water dries off the park moves into its peak months to visit, from mid June until the end of October.

Outside of these months it is also worth considering January through until the end of March as the park is much quieter and, while slightly greener, offers a stunning landscape and game viewing.

Ruaha, strictly speaking, is also weather dependant as, when the main rains arrive, while the park is far more open than the Selous, the few dry rivers that wander through the area become raging torrents and practically impassable. Other than this, the park is very easy to visit almost year round and has very good populations of pretty much all the major attractions.

Similar to the Selous, if you are looking to have the place to yourself then the January to March window is a great choice! For more info on the Southern Parks please click on the link…

Western Cicuit Parks

The Western parks of Mahale and Katavi are a great combination but, due to the nature of Katavi, tend not to be on many peoples’ list outside of August to October.

The beauty of a park such as Katavi is that, when water is hard to find, there is a small series of rivers and streams that are located very close to one another, becoming the funnel point for vast numbers of buffalo and elephant and plains game. This in turn makes for some of the best predator viewing in Africa! Outside of the main months, however, where most of the lodges offer walking and game drives, it is still possible to see some good game and so is worth considering from January to March.

Mahale is good year round, as the chimps are not really rain dependant. If you would like to be there at a more comfortable time then aim for August to October and January to March. windows are again good. For more info on the Western Parks please click on the link…

Islands and Beaches, Zanzibar

The weather pattern on the coast can vary wildly to those of the more stable inland areas and so can be slightly harder to guarantee. On the whole, the mainland beaches tend to follow a simpler pattern and so are pretty much guaranteed to be good in the dry period from July till October and then again, while beginning to become humid, from January to March.

The main island of Zanzibar is fairly large in size and so also has a separate weather pattern that characterizes the eastern coastline over the west. Again, the June to October window tends to be the more reliable months, but, in honesty, we have been there in the middle of the rains and had some amazing weather! If you want to avoid the busier times then the January to March months are also good, if sticky.

Since the rains that hit Tanzania in April and May, move up the Mozambican coastline a month or so beforehand. This means that the months of February and March are not greatly recommended and April and January are considered shoulder months (where the weather may become changeable). Other than this period, where most of the lodges are off the coast and tend not to be greatly affected by the standard weather patterns of the mainland, the likelihood is that you will get good weather.

when to travel to tanzania

Highlights and best times to visit the Serengeti National Park:

December-April:     Migration on the southern Serengeti plains

August-October:   Migration crossing the Mara River

July-January:        Good predator sightings

June-July:              Migration through the Western corridor

June-March:          Best time for general game viewing

April-May:              The most affordable time to travel (and still really good)

The Serengeti has a lot more to offer other than the migration, not only would there be less visitors, the sightings of other plains game would generally be better and the big cats are more prolific outside of the migration months too. The excess supply of food leads to the cats becoming lethargic (as they lie and digest their latest feast throughout the day) and you generally do not see them that often except early morning and or late afternoon.  The cats would also be outside of their normal structures and or territories because finding food is easy with the migration passing through.

Highlights and best times to visit the Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater has good game viewing all year round because of the resident game and the density of the animals within the Crater.

February and March: Lake Ndutu in the greater Ngorongoro Crater Conservation witness the migration pass through

July and August: can be very dusty and busy – this is also the most expensive time to visit Ngorongoro Crater.

April and May: Due to the rainfall and are beautiful, everything is in flower and you actually see more because the soda lake is full condensing the animals into the space available.

Highlights and best times to visit Tarangire National Park

Tarangire is arguably Tanzania’s second best wildlife destination offering massive elephant herds and wonderful Baobab trees. Being a dry season park the best time to visit would be from June – November, traditionally it is not visited from March to the end May.

The rest of the parks and reserves within the north of the country would be good to visit all year round; this includes Lake Manyara National Park, Arusha National Park, Loliondo game controlled area and Grumeti Reserves.

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park, (climbing Kilimanjaro)

The best time to summit the world’s highest free standing mountain would traditionally be July – October, but it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro anytime of the year because most of your climb would be above the clouds so you will not be affected by rain, but to avoid a muddy first 2 days then best do not climb during April / May and November / December. Another tip would be to try and coincide your climb during a full moon; this makes your summit attempt not only easier but more scenic as this last part of the climb takes place during darkness so to enable you to reach the summit for at sunrise.

When to travel to Kenya

Highlights and best time to visit the Masai Mara

August – September:          Migration Mara River crossings

September – November:     General Migration

June – March:                     General game viewing

The south and central Kenyan parks and reserves have the same rain seasons as Tanzania and the same applies for the parks and reserves in the north although the north would be a lot dryer and almost semi arid.  Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Saba would be great to visit during dry season because everything would be around permanent water and you would enjoy the sightings, the rest of the year would be fine for the traveler that would want to save a bit of money and you with a bit of luck would have wonderful sightings too.