Tanzania’s safari seasons march to the tattoo of the hooves of migrating wildebeest, but a country this large and diverse has more than one ace up the sleeve of its safari jacket. You may find that your best time to visit Tanzania on safari could be when prices are lower, or the adventure stakes higher.
As with its northern neighbour, Kenya, arguably the best time to visit Tanzania on safari is from mid-June to late October. The marquee attraction during this period is the humongous herbivore upheaval that is the Great Wildebeest Migration, with its attendant predator action and heart-in-mouth moments.
The long dry season is justifiably the best time to visit Tanzania, and market forces determine that having put on its best show, premium rates apply. Milder weather and the absence of rain help explain the esteem in which this period is held, along with the drama of the Grumeti River crossings.
If the lesser-known but no less spectacular wildebeest calving event in the southern Serengeti is on your agenda, then late January through to early March is the best time to visit Tanzania.
If you can tear yourself away from the Serengeti, July is the ideal time to visit Mahale, where thinning vegetation makes chimpanzee tracking more rewarding.
- Around July, the Great Wildebeest Migration crosses the Grumeti River.
- As Tanzania's dry season progresses, from mid-June to late October, it's easier to spot game, like lion.
- The best time to see a migration river crossing in Tanzania is during the long dry season.
- Milder weather and the absence of rain from mid-June to late October make this the best time to visit Tanzania.
- Hippos are never far from water. © Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp
- Book far in advance to secure the best lodges during Tanzania's most popular period. © Legendary Serengeti Camp
- The long dry season is justifiably very popular in Tanzania. © Kichakani Serengeti Camp
- During the long dry season in Tanzania premium rates apply. © Faru Faru
As the dry season progresses, the remote wildernesses of southern Tanzania come into their own, with phenomenal game viewing (but fewer visitors) in Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park. And as the November rains approach, rising temperatures mean fewer fellow travellers – particularly in Ngorongoro Crater.
When considering a safari & beach holiday, the best time to visit Tanzania is also from June to October, as this is the perfect time to soak up both the sun and the unique coastal Swahili culture on the Spice Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
Tanzania’s shorter dry season, from December to March, can be an excellent time to profit from off-peak safari pricing (with the exception of the wildebeest calving event in the southern Serengeti where peak season pricing still applies), without necessarily compromising on the quality of your wildlife experience. You’ll enjoy dry and warmer weather than the peak seasons which concentrates the plentiful resident wildlife around remaining water sources making them easier to find, and thinning foliage makes them easier to see.
If you’re a birder, this is the best time to visit Tanzania. You’ll be arriving at the same time as many migratory species, including the famous influx of white storks into Ruaha in southern Tanzania.
- From December to March, you can profit from off-peak pricing, without necessarily compromising on your wildlife experience. © Klein's Camp
- Wildlife flock to waterholes during the drier months.
- Even off-season, game viewing can be excellent in Tanzania.
- Tanzania's Serengeti boasts the Big Five.
- As the dry season progresses, the remote wildernesses of southern Tanzania come into their own.
- If you’re a birder, the time to take wing for Tanzania is from December to March.
- Many species drop their young during the wet seasons.
- There's phenomenal game viewing (but few visitors) in Tanzania's south in the dry season.
If you’re up for a little adventure and the best prices around then the best time to visit Tanzania is in either of the rainy seasons – the long rains of April and May or short rains of November. The water transforms the bush into a lush green wonderland, and many species time the arrival of their young to coincide with this bonanza.
In April, the Ngorongoro Crater erupts into a carpet of flowers to rival any lava flow, creating a colourful backdrop for black rhino pictures. Southern Tanzania experiences spectacular electric storms that linger long in the memory, while the resident wildlife of northern Tanzania seems unfazed by either May’s steady downpours or November’s showy cloudbursts.
We’re also talking glorious mud, but it’s nothing your guide won’t be able to drive their her way out of. And besides, the quintessential rainy season experience is enjoying a G&T in your poncho as the setting sun pierces the clouds.
If you’re planning some beach time to complement your safari adventures, we’d definitely recommend November over April and May. November’s showers won’t detract from time spent on Zanzibar and Pemba, but the shirt-sticking coastal humidity of the long rains in April and May could well tip your adventure into ‘mission: impossible’ territory.
- June to October is an ideal time to visit the Spice Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.
- Dhows still ply the waters of Tanzania. © Mnemba Island Lodge
- July is the ideal time to visit Mahale, where thinning vegetation makes chimpanzee tracking more rewarding. © Greystoke Mahale
- November’s showers won’t detract from time spent on Zanzibar and Mnemba. © Mnemba Island Lodge
- The best time for chimp trekking in Tanzania is in July.
- In April, the Ngorongoro Crater erupts into a carpet of flowers to rival any lava flow.
- And as the November rains approach, rising temperatures mean fewer fellow travellers in Ngorongoro Crater.
- Flamingos descend on Lake Manyara from December to March.