When is the best time to go to Tanzania? This is one of the frequently asked questions when it comes to safaris to Tanzania. It is not one of those easy to answer questions. This is because the answer depends on many things.
To answer the question When is the best time to go to Tanzania, we must look at your interests. This is what you are interested in doing. The other important question would be exactly where you want to visit. The last but not the least is why you’re travelling.
Factors Influencing Your Best Time to Go to Tanzania
It is important to note that one person’s best time can be another’s worst! The main factors to influence the best time to go to Tanzania are:
Weather and Climatic Conditions
Tanzania, situated within the tropic of Capricorn. Therefore, the weather varies little in its temperature range throughout the year. However, it sticks to an average of around 30 degrees Celsius during the day and dropping to a comfortable 15 at night.
The main variation to the impact of the temperature is both the humidity and the annual rains. The main rains in the country traditionally arrives around the beginning of April and run through until the end of June. These is often referred to as the long rainy season. It is worth considering a raincoat as the downpours are full and often!
The second, slightly less strong is the short rainy period. This is often from the beginning of November (around 2 weeks later on Zanzibar) to the middle of December.
The humidity in Tanzania varies throughout the year. You will have the driest and hottest period in the country starting in mid-June and running through to the end of October. This is known as the “dry period”. This would be the best time to go to Tanzania as it offers good game viewing along with a comfortable climate.
From November until the main rains in April, the humidity starts to climb in the country. The most humid and, arguably, most uncomfortable period for those who look at humidity is in January and February.
The best time to go to Tanzania and visit the Serengeti
Serengeti offers fantastic game viewing all year round when on African safari tour. However, there are particularly months that would be deemed as the best time to visit the Serengeti National Park.
From December to March, the Migration herds in the Serengeti will be located down. This is in the very southern areas of the park. This is therefore one of the best times to visit the northern parks.
The downside is that Tanzania is more humid during the times. However, high altitude at the Ngorongoro Crater and the open expanse of the Serengeti mean that you don’t feel the heat.
With great game numbers, and plenty of new calves, this is definitely one of the best times to go and camps such around Ndutu area. This is because this is the wildebeest calving region and you will hear terms like maternity.
April to May is a good time to head up to the northern parks of Tanzania as the game is still good. There may be however an occasional break for a storm or two. Another advantage of these period is that there is virtually nobody up here. This means that the prices are at the lowest of the year.
You will however have to get yourself a Landcruiser for this period. It can become very difficult to get around otherwise.
Arguably, the best time to visit the Serengeti is between June and November. This is the period when the great migration herds have reached the northern-most point in their cycle. They will be crossing rivers and moving northwards. It can be an absolutely superb time to visit Tanzania.
For those that are on a lesser budget, it is worth aiming for the central regions of the park in June or early November to have the best chance of seeing game. If I had to pick the best time to visit the Serengeti, it would be this period.
For those with a little more to spend, you are in for a treat! The very northern region of the Serengeti, known as the “Lamai wedge” is one of the most impressive places to be. It is among the not so famous regions of Africa and, on its day, has some of the best game viewing that Africa offers. It is true that this area is becoming busier and, as such, more expensive, but, it is definitely worth the money!
The best time to visit Selous and Ruaha
The southern Tanzania parks of Selous and Ruaha are slightly more seasonal compared to the northern parks. There are particular months or windows that are the best time to to Tanzania and visit Selous and Ruaha.
The period between December and March is probably one of the best times of the year for keen birders. With the short rains, the Selous becomes quite a bit greener and, as such, the game becomes quite a bit harder to actually see. But, this is the time in the year when the European migratory birds arrive into this region of Africa. The park therefore comes alive with males displaying and the sound of birds of all types and variety.
April and May see the start of the long rains. There are lots of bush runways in both of the parks including Katavi and Mahale, the Selous and Ruaha. During the long rainy seasons, nearly all the properties, are closed for the couple of months.
The best time to visit the Selous and Ruaha National Parks is in the mid-June to November window. The lesser known parks of Tanzania, in the south, are certainly one of Africa’s last true strongholds for game and safari enthusiasts. Both of these parks complement one another perfectly with walking and boating safaris in the Selous and walking and night driving in Ruaha.
The game viewing, as the parks dry back, becomes frenzied in and around the main river systems. Because of this, the parks regularly offer game experiences that rival the northern parks and with much more intimacy and privacy.
The best time to visit Mahale and Katavi
Katavi National Park is one of the best parks in Tanzania. However, this is a very season park though it is accessible in between December to March. This is not considered to be the best time to visit Katavi.
Mahale National Park, likewise becomes a lot harder to access by plane as the airstrip becomes a long mudslide into Lake Tanganyika! For this reason, and the fact that the park will be very humid, we would not overly recommend heading here in this period.
Similarly, the months of April and May are not the best times to visit Mahale and Katavi. This is because the remoteness of the parks makes them tricky to access in the rainy season.
As with the rest of the parks, the period between June and November is deemed the best time to visit Mahale and Katavi. It is the dry season and it is when these two parks really shine…in particular Katavi.
Mahale and the chimpanzees are also one of Africa’s highlights and there is no better time to visit than in this period. The lake shores of Tanganyika provide a welcome retreat from normal life and are a great substitute for a beach holiday. It is however the interaction with the chimps really rounds this magic place off.
The best Time to Go to Tanzania and See the Great Wildebeest Migration
Many travelers visit Tanzania to see the Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration. Linked to the rainfall, this is a stunning migration of thousands of wildebeest. They are often accompanied by zebra, gazelle, eland and impala.
The wildebeest migration takes place throughout the year and follows a fairly predictable pattern. This is because the wildebeest are constantly seeking fresh grazing and water.
Having said that, the wildebeest migration happens all year. The migration can be found during any given month. What you just need to know is where to look! The question should really be about the ‘best places’ to see them during a given time of the year and when visiting them is most enjoyable.