Wildlife, beaches, friendly people, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mt Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar Archipelago – Tanzania has all these and more wrapped up in one adventurous, welcoming package.
There are fantastic wildlife parks all across the country and an excellent safari industry. Wherever you go in Tanzania, opportunities abound for getting to know the country's people, and you can easily find cultural tourism programs to get acquainted with the Maasai and the Chagga tribes.
From the perfect season to go on safari to finding the ideal time to climb Kilimanjaro, here are the best times to visit Tanzania, along with a month-by-month guide to the most interesting events.
High season: June to September
Best time to see wild animals
This is the time of year when the weather is cooler and dry and most days are sunny. Animal-spotting is easiest as foliage is sparse and the animals congregate around dwindling water sources. The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti usually takes place in June and July. Hotels in popular areas are often full during this time, with high-season prices in place.
Shoulder season: October to February
Best time to witness wildebeest calving
The weather is hot during these months, especially December through to February, and the mvuli (short rains) fall and the kusi (seasonal trade wind) blows from late October. Wildebeest calving takes place from late January in the southern Serengeti. High-season prices apply from mid-December to mid-January.
Low Season: March to May
Best time for discounted stays
Heavy rains make secondary roads muddy and some areas inaccessible during these months, but it seldom rains all day, every day, and landscapes are lush and green. As it's low season, some hotels close while others offer discounts. so travelers can take advantage of lower rates and less crowded parks in the north of the country. Bird-watching is at its best at this time of year.
Here's a monthly guide to what you can expect through the year in Tanzania. Remember that some events straddle the months, and all events are subject to change.
The weather almost everywhere in Tanzania is hot, especially along the coast. It’s also dry, including on Kilimanjaro, and the dry, warm season from December into February can be an ideal time to scale the mountain.
Key event: Zanzibar Swahili Festival
The weather continues to be hot, but in parts of the country the rains start falling, giving relief from the drought and bringing green landscapes, flowers and birds.
Key events: Sauti za Busara, Wildebeest calving season, Orchids in Kitulo National Park
The long rains move into full swing by late March, although it seldom rains all day or every day. Some hotels close, but those that remain open often offer low-season discounts, and you’ll have many areas to yourself.
Key events: Kilimanjaro Marathon, Nyama Choma Festival, Jalada Mobile Literary & Arts Festival
The rains begin to taper off in some areas, although much of the country remains wet. Green landscapes, wildflowers and birds, plus continued low-season prices, make this a delightful time to travel, if you can avoid the mud. The wildebeest begin to form thousands-strong herds that start migrating north and west in search of food, which is a spectacular sight.
Key event: Wildebeest migration begins
While May is still officially part of the rainy season, it has been pretty dry in recent years, and rain is unlikely to last for the whole day on the mainland. Zanzibar can experience a lot of rain, making May a less favorable time of the year to visit.
Key events: Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival
With the ending of the rains, the air is clear and landscapes are slowly beginning to dry out. Temperatures are also considerably cooler, and the Serengeti wildebeest migration - one of Earth's most impressive natural spectacles - continues.
Key event: Bulabo Dance Festival
Cool, dry July marks the start of peak travel season, with higher prices (and crowds) for safaris and lodges. It’s an optimal wildlife-watching month, with sparse vegetation and animals congregating at dwindling water sources.
Key events: Festival of the Dhow Countries, Zanzibar International Film Festival, dry season wildlife watching, Mwaka Kogwa, Ruaha Marathon
The dry weather continues, as does the Serengeti wildebeest migration. Wildlife watching is at its prime almost everywhere.
Key event: Mara River Crossing
September is a delightful month throughout the country, with pleasant temperatures, dry weather, good animal-spotting and many things to do, including checking out the country's beautiful beaches or tackling Kilimanjaro.
Key event: Bagamoyo International Festival of Arts & Culture
The weather is mostly dry throughout the country, with a profusion of lavender jacaranda blossoms in higher-lying towns and some rain. It’s still a fine time for wildlife watching, without the crowds of July and August.
Key event: Chimpanzee trekking in Mahale Mountains National Park
Increasing temperatures are mitigated by the arrival of mango season and by the short rains that are now falling in many areas. It’s still a pleasant travel time, before the holiday travel high season.
Key event: Karibu Music Festival
December's holidays and hot, dry weather bring many visitors. It's an ideal time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and to see the wildebeest in the southern Serengeti.
Key event: Swahili Fashion Week