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What is the best time of year to visit Tanzania?

For many travellers, a trip to the country of Tanzania is a once in a lifetime adventure so it's understandable that you may be eager to travel at an optimal time of the year.

Before you decide on what month to travel, we generally recommend that you first identify what you want to do while in Tanzania. A great time for one visitor might be a terrible time for another, based on their unique interests.

Any Month is a Good Time to Visit

I know this probably sounds like a cliché statement, but if you have an opportunity to visit Tanzania only during the rainy season don't pass up on it. There are some countries out there where you truly do want to avoid certain months due to humidity, constant rain, or insects.

East African counties generally aren't quite like that, you can have a great trip in the rainy season due to its temporal and predictable nature. That is, unless you plan to travel deep into rural areas on mud roads then you may want to think twice!

When is the Best Month to Visit a National Park?

If you are headed to National Parks in the northern areas of Tanzania, such as Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, or Serengeti National Park, we recommend the end of June to October during the dry season.

As water sources become scarcer, animals must congregate around water holes making their movements more predictable. That said, you can definitely have a lovely experience in these parks during the wetter months. The rainy season is definitely when the landscape becomes the most scenic due to the lush vegetation and waterfalls.

For those looking to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the drier months of December to mid-March and mid-June to the end of October are usually considered best.

The challenge of course is that the Arusha region is the heart of Tanzania's tourism industry, and it can attract quite a significant volume of visitors at peak times. Correspondingly, costs will often increase, such as Park fees and hotel room rates. In addition, you will need to work harder to avoid other tourists while you are out viewing nature.

Tanzania has National Parks all over the country, including in less visited areas, so you may want to consider other options such in the southern or western areas.

What about the Wildebeest Migration?

Wildebeest are constantly migrating in search of prime grazing lands and better quality water. Rainfall drives these patterns, and like any weather phenomena it can be temperamental so dates are often quite variable.

Over the course of a year, the great migration takes the wildebeest on a large clockwise pattern from the Masai Mara in Kenya down into Loliondo, Ngorongoro and Serengeti, Maswa, over the Grumeti River, and then finally back over the Mara River.

The two most popular times to view the migration are when the wildebeest must traverse the Grumeti and Mara Rivers. These rivers are the most dangerous locations for the wildebeest as they congregate in dense packs and attempt to cross at the limited number of safe locations. Rapids and crocodiles pose an ever-present danger.

The Grumeti River is typically crossed in June, and large crowds of wildebeast on either side are a common sight. The Grumeti River is home to many large crocodiles, but there are some safe crossing points for wildebeest thanks to pools and shallows.

In contrast, the Mara River, which is typically crossed in September, is much more dramatic. Frequent bursts of energy, confusion, panic, and downed wildebeest dominate the landscape.

When is the best time to visit Dar es Salaam?

You can visit Dar es Salaam in almost any month of the year, although flooding can occur occasionally in the rainy season. Dar es Salaam is almost always hot and humid, given its tropical location. For most tourists, Dar es Salaam is just a stopping off point for other destinations so the weather in these other locations may matter more to you.

When is the best time to visit Pemba, Zanzibar, or Mafia Island?

If you are looking for a beach vacation on the Indian Ocean, you can be fairly confident in a sunny trip in any month outside of April and May during the long rains. The islands of Pemba, Zanzibar, and Mafia Island, located on the eastern edge of Tanzania, can truly be a tropical paradise if weather cooperates.

If we had to pick, then July to October are probably the best months as they are cooler and drier. Mosquitoes can be less of a concern as well at this time.

For scuba diving, the dry season is also the best time for peak visibility due to less water turbulence. However, if you are looking to spot whale sharks near Mafia Island then generally October to February is the best period. Sightings in November and December are more reliable.

When is the best time to visit the Lake Victoria Region?

If you are headed to Mwanza, or elsewhere around the lake region, we would recommend June to September as the best times to visit. Intense thunderstorms will traverse across Lake Victoria in the months of March, April, and May. While these can be exciting to watch, it can also be a dangerous time to travel by ferry.

Why Visit Tanzania?

If you are already on this site, you've probably been convinced as to why you should visit Tanzania, but just in case let us lay out some of the best reasons to visit. The country is known for its safe and stable government which is an important selling feature in an African context. While many countries in Africa can be safely visited, Tanzania is more accessible to less experienced travellers.

English is widely spoken as the second official language, although the predominant language is Swahili and a plethora of local languages are spoken. If you are in search of wildlife, natural areas, and safaris, then Tanzania is certainly one of the Africa's best destinations. Game animals are clustered throughout Tanzania's 22 National Parks.

If you are more interested in culture, Tanzania is also great destination. City life is vibrant and bustling in Dar es Salaam and other major cities. The towns of Bagamoyo and Stone Town on Zanzibar show us the history of Tanzania's coastal areas and the influences Arab traders.

In the far west of the country is Gombe Stream National Park, made famous by Jane Goodall and its troops of chimpanzees. Although this is often the most expensive National Park to visit, it can also be the most rewarding. Nearby is Lake Tanganiyka, which is the second-oldest freshwater lake in the world, the second-largest by volume, and the second-deepest.

For those looking to conquer Africa's highest summit, Mount Kilimanjaro near Arusha can be climbed in about a week. Although the summit is gradual, it requires a high level of physical exertion and precautions are required to avoid altitude sickness. The northern area of Tanzania is blessed with an abundance of National Parks and wildlife, including Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and the Serengeti.

The central areas of Tanzania offer access to the lush Kilomboro Valley, one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the country. Mikumi National Park nearby offers a low barrier opportunity to see wildlife.

To view more of the highlights of Tanzania, take a look at our experiences map.

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