When is the best time to travel to Tanzania?

Embarking on an expensive holiday in Tanzania requires careful planning. Ideally, it should be optimally planned. Better still that you plan it as well as possible. 

But no matter how much planning you do, this question about the best time to visit Tanzania cannot be answered clearly.

The answer is as succinct as it is, at first glance, unsatisfactory – it all depends on what the focus of your trip is.

Table of Contents

Do you want to see a lot of wildlife?

Most visitors come to Tanzania for the big wildlife: elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes, hippos, and others. If you don’t have any special preferences and just want to see as many animals as possible, then you must be in the right place at the right time.

You can see animals somewhere in Tanzania almost every month. Your tour operator should only know when and where which animals can be seen.

There are so many wildlife sanctuaries that it’s almost impossible not to see wildlife except for the months of April and May when many parks and camps are closed due to the rains.

Of course, the budget must also be accordingly flexible. As delightfully wildlife-rich and remote Ruaha National Park is, the expensive airfare to get there adds quite a bit to the cost of travel. 

The “cheapest” way to travel is along the standard routes, i.e. those routes that are feasible with an off-road vehicle and have the highest density of accommodation. These form the so called northern circuit of Tanzania – Arusha, Tarangire, Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti.

Seeing big cats in the wild is the highlight of a safari for many. You can always find them where there are food sources. The weather doesn’t matter to them.

Is Great Migration pulling you to visit Tanzania?

Many dream of the Great Migration, where millions of wildebeest, zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and those hunting them traverse a circuit through the Serengeti in search of fresh grass for themselves and their offspring.

But predicting nature is as impossible as guiding a giraffe into Ngorongoro Crater. 

Countless Wildebeests in the Ngorongoro crater area

But there are empirical values ​​from previous years. 

From July to August and January/February to March the probability of witnessing the Great Migration in the Serengeti is highest.

Because nature is unpredictable, chances are just as good of observing the migration in June, October, December or April/May, provided your tour operator has an idea of ​​the animal migration routes and camps in the Serengeti. 

Nothing is impossible, nature surprises us almost every year.

Are you visiting Tanzania for hiking, trekking and panoramic views?

As with animals, it all depends on what you want. In principle, there are only two rules of thumb for summiteers:

  • The drier the air, the better the visibility
  • The warmer the season, the warmer the temperatures at the summit

You can climb a peak ( Mount Meru , Mount Kilimanjaro ) all year round except for the rainy season. The organizers prefer to advertise such ascents in the warm seasons with better visibility, i.e. December to March.

This does not mean that other months are not ideal for an ascent. 

The drier the air and the vegetation in the surrounding areas, the better the distant views of the plains. 

August/September cut a pretty good figure, but only with sufficiently warm clothing because of the very cold nights at higher altitudes. 

October can also be considered reasonably good. Only from November, when the rainy season sets in, both the visibility and the condition of the paths degrade.

If full-day or half-day hikes are enough for you, planning depends largely on the time of year and the areas visited. 

Hiking in Ngorongoro highlands

As long as you are at higher altitudes, like the Ngorongoro Highlands, hiking should not be a problem in the brutally hot January and February. If you want to hike at lower altitudes during these months, we would advise against it.

Want to go on a walking safari?

In the case of the walking safaris, it is not so much the suitability of the weather that is in the foreground, but the behavior of the animals .

Even in the hot months, walking safaris can be undertaken. You have to adapt to the circumstances and just start walking earlier in the morning.

Of course, the colder winter months from June to September tend to be more pleasant, but walking safaris are generally always done in high season.

Clouds in the sky do affect photos but they are a blessing for walking safaris. And not just for the people!

Vacation in Tanzania away from mass tourism?

As Tanzania becomes more popular by the passing years, it is no longer so easy to meet this requirement.

It is best to avoid July/August and the Christmas/New Year period if you want to keep away from throngs of tourists. 

We know for many this is not possible. Can you only go on your family vacation during the school holidays? 

Then you must at least avoid the mass safari camps. These are usually the camps that you will find in the travel programs of all safari operators. They’re always the same names and if you do some research you’ll soon see what they are.

Avoiding mass camps usually means having to accept a higher travel price, because cheaper prices are only possible with mass tourism. It’s a bit like buying clothes from H&M or a small quality boutique.

If you can travel outside of typical holiday periods, then that’s half the battle won.

Our top tips: travel in June, September, October, partly November or early December. 

From January the high season starts again in Tanzania, this time not because of the school holidays, but because of the Great Migration in the Serengeti. 

From March, the number of visitors calms down again as the rainy season kicks in.

Traveling in the April and May rainy season?

Rains in the distance

Yes, that is certainly possible, you just have to weigh the pros and cons against each other.

Not everywhere, but in many places you will find tons of animals. The animals don’t disappear just because it’s raining. 

It is pleasant that there are not many other tourists on the way. You can enjoy another big advantage – the Green Season Rates – which can make a safari 20 to 30% cheaper.

However, depending on the intensity of the rainfall, it can happen that the slopes are muddy and your range is limited because some slopes are simply not passable. 

Many camps close during the rainy months to allow their employees statutory vacation time. 

Therefore, you are limited in the choice of camps. Many camps only run with half the staff, which means that things don’t always run smoothly.

Our conclusion

Unless you have special wishes such as the Great Migration or a Kilimanjaro climb, or you are bound to certain holiday periods, there are almost no restrictions on the right travel time in Tanzania.

Decide on what you want to get out of your visit and plan accordingly.

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