It’s an hour to dawn as your safari vehicle bounces down a dirt road into the bowels of the Ngorongoro Crater, what remains of a two million year-old volcano explosion that’s now home to one of the most concentrated numbers of large predators on Earth. Your guide had recommended an early start, to get that first glimpses of undisturbed wildlife. Let’s do it, you said.
It’s early June, an exceptional time to visit, when the long rains have ceased and the larger crowds haven’t yet arrived. But today there will be crowds, just not human ones: crowds of wildebeest, queues of elephants, traffic jams of gazelle and hyena, perhaps even a show-stopping tank of a black rhino to round out your Big 5 list.
The fog clears as you reach the floor to reveal a lush, circular caldera. To your left you immediately see a pride of lionesses pawing down the road, all sinew and muscle, towards a herd of nervous wildebeest. Two hyenas track them, licking their chops for breakfast. This all happens in the first ten minutes, and you’re there for it all, as you wait for drama to unfold. Perfect timing.
Let’s be real: a visit to Africa might only happen once in a lifetime. Taking a trip to the Serengeti, to Zanzibar, to Kilimanjaro, this is all stuff that dreams are made of. So why not plan your African trip during optimal conditions? Why not set yourself up for success? Now, we can’t control the weather, but we can choose to avoid times of prolonged rain or intense heat, to make safaris and scuba trips as enjoyable as possible.
Luckily, Tanzania is a joy year-round. There’s really not one season in the no-fly zone. If you plopped down into the country for a random week of adventure, chances are you’ll have an experience of a lifetime. Though there are obvious benefits to traveling during the high season (dry, cool, less dust), there are also clear benefits to the low season (fewer people, lower prices). To address this, let’s review Tanzania’s travel seasons, then break down optimal times to visit by activity. Deal?
When Is The Best Time To Visit Tanzania - Great Wildebeest Migration
June-October – Tanzania’s Peak Season: Get ready for a full blast of wildlife from June through August, peaking in July. Here, you’ve chosen Tanzania’s winter. The rainy season has ceased and everything is cool and dry. Air breathes clean and watering holes are charged for primetime wildlife watching. The great wildebeest migration (Best Time To Experience The Migration) is in peak form, too. It’s also summer break in the northern hemisphere, which translates to family trips and larger crowds. Regardless, Tanzania’s national parks are huge and Easy Travel guides know all the private spots. A second high season peaks around the holiday months, December and January.
March-May – Tanzania’s Low Season: During this time the region’s autumnal months can bring hot temperatures and sustaining rains. Still, there are great advantages for traveling during the off-season, (source), including fewer travelers and discounted safari packages. Here’s one account of traveling in the Serengeti during the low season. (source).
Optimal Months to Visit by Activity
Now that we have a general idea of Tanzania’s seasons, let’s climb a mountain. Let’s get sunburned and scuba-stoked. Let’s talk birds. Below is a reference to our favorite Tanzania activities and their optimal times:
(January-March, June-October): At 19,341 feet, Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s largest freestanding mountain, and a world-class nontechnical trek that’s accessible year-round. That said, climbing season is typically during drier months like June, July, August. This will improve your chances of a successful summit. Here are three things to consider: (When to climb Kilimanjaro?)
(June-Sept): If you’re headed to Tanzania for lions, giraffes, and lounging hippopotami, it’s best to visit during the winter months, as mentioned above. This way you’ll get great visibility, (especially if you’re in a hot air balloon! you won’t be pummelled by sun or rain and the wildebeest migration will be in full swing. Vegetation is light and there is little surface water so animals will congregate around waterholes. Here are some options: (our Safari Tours)
(October-April): Birding has seen a sharp increase in popularity recently (source) for good reason. It requires focus, gets you outside, and puts you in touch with your surroundings. Tanzania is home to over 1,000 bird species (what animals will I see?), so if the winged friends are your thing, be sure to visit when migratory birds arrive from Europe and North Africa’s winter.
(July-August, Feb-Mar): Getting a tan or a clear dive can be frustrating during stormy seas. Your best bet for a Zanzibar holiday with maximum sunshine and calm water is during the winter months and at the end of summer, before the long rains pick up in March.
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