We’re often asked “When is the best time to go to Tanzania”, and the answer is often complex. It will depend on many things including your interests, exactly where you want to visit and why you’re travelling. One person’s best time can be another’s worst. The main factors to influence this are:
The best time to visit Tanzania: weather and climate
Here is a broad guide to the climate of Tanzania – although remember that this comes from records and experience, not from a crystal ball. Weather patterns across Africa are becoming increasingly unpredictable, probably due to global warming; we’re seeing downpours in the middle of deserts and damaging droughts when rains should be falling.
Just south of the equator, Tanzania is huge and its sheer size means that the climate varies considerably within it. However, generally the main rainy season, or the ‘long rains’, lasts during about March, April and May. Afternoon tropical downpours are the norm – which are heavier and more predictable beside the coast and on the islands. The humidity is high and daily temperatures reach the low-mid 30°s.
The long dry season lasts throughout June, July, August, September and October is when rainfall is unusual, even on the islands. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it’s usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather – it’s a great time to visit Tanzania. During November and December there’s another rainy season: the ‘short rains’. These are much lighter than the main rains and less reliable.
If it has rained during the short rains, then it normally dries up for a few months, January and February, which is Tanzania’s ‘short dry season’, before starting to rain again in earnest in March.
The best time to see the great wildebeest migration
Many travellers visit Tanzania to see the Serengeti’s great wildebeest migration. Linked to the rainfall, this stunning migration of thousands of wildebeest – accompanied by zebra, gazelle, eland and impala – takes place throughout the year, and follows a fairly predictable pattern, as 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; you just need to know 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.