Tanzania is an outstanding travel destination and boasts fascinating wildlife, beautiful scenery, the peaks of Kilimanjaro and friendly people. As a visitor to Tanzania it is best to know what seasons are more suitable for special interests than others are.
The following information is offered as a guideline, as weather patterns and wildlife rhythms are never predictable and can never be guaranteed at a specific time or in a specific area.
Safaris are great any time of the year in Tanzania. Even though April to May is the wettest time of the year, visitors can view Wildebeest and Zebra, which are highly visible in the Serengeti. November is also quite wet but is an ideal time to spot animals and migrant birds.
One of the major highlights of Tanzania is definitely the mass migration of Wildebeest from Kenya to the Serengeti in Tanzania. This occurs in December, January, February and March. The migration's most spectacular phase usually takes place in late May / early June, when the great herds stream north from the short grass plains.
Best times to visit National Parks and Reserves:
Arusha National Park:
The park boasts Zebra, Leopard, Reedbuck, Colobus Monkey and Giraffe. June to February is the best time to ascend the mountain, although it may rain in November.
Ruaha National Park:
The best time to view predators and large mammals, is mid-May to December, which is the dry season.
Lake Manyara National Park:
Elephant, Giraffe, Lion, Buffalo, and Zebra are all found here, in addition to many other game and bird species. The best time to come to Lake Manyara National Park is in the dry season from July to October, which is ideal for large mammal viewing.
Serengeti National Park:
In the language of the Maasai the word Serengeti means 'endless plain', and the 14 763 square km (5700 sq. miles) of park land in Northern Tanzania do indeed seem endless. Upon the grasslands of the Serengeti roam more game animals than anywhere in the world. There are over a million Wildebeest alone in the Serengeti.
The best time to visit the Serengeti is throughout the winter months of December to March, many of the animals are concentrated in the park's southern regions, near Ngorongoro.
During the spring months of May or June, the vast herds of Wildebeest and Zebra start to head west in search of water. The animals begin a circuitous migration that takes some of them to the shores of Lake Victoria, others to the northern areas and to Kenya's Maasai Mara park just across the border.
To see predators the best time is from June - October. Virtually every African game animal can be seen in the Serengeti; however, because the animals are more dispersed between July and November visitors should give themselves sufficient time to track them down.
Ngorongoro Crater Conservation area:
The Ngorongoro Crater is a 19km (12 mile) wide volcanic crater, ringed with towering walls and sheltering forests, grasslands, fresh springs, a large lake, and a dazzling abundance of animals of all sorts.
The sunken cone of the extinct volcano serves as a natural cradle for the wildlife, which remains in the vicinity year-round. The best time to visit the crater is from January to March or July to December.
Tanzania has an enormous number of bird species, both resident and migrant and many parks in the country have over 400 species. Mt Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania boasts rich birdlife on the lower slopes.
Many birds are spotted in the Ngorongoro Crater area, there are also thousands of Flamingoes to be seen at Lake Magadi. The best time for Flamingo viewing is from January to February. Lake Rukwa in Southern Tanzania is situated on a flood plain, which sees large numbers of various bird species in the wet season.
Rubondo Island National Park has close to 400 bird species, including Fish Eagle, Heron, Stork, Ibises, Cormorant, Martial Eagle, Goliath Heron, sacred Ibis and Kingfisher. The island also serves as a breeding ground and stopover for Fowl from east and Central Africa, Europe, and South America.
Over 400 bird species reside in Ruaha National Park, such as Dickinson's Kestrel, Violet-crested Traco, Pale-billed Hornbill, Racquet-tailed Roller and Eleonora's Falcon.
Eurasian migrant birds flock to Ruaha twice a year - October to November and March to April on their outward journeys to feed with resident Kingfishers, Plovers, Hornbills, green wood Hoopoes, Bee-eaters, Sunbirds and Egrets.
The topography and climate of Tanzania, ensures that the country's plant life is richly diverse. Along the coast, coconuts, casuarinas and mangroves are common.
Along the watercourses of Tanzania, figs, tamarinds and palms add a welcome touch of green to the desicated bush, even at the height of the dry season. Wild flowers do not always grow in great abundance, but there is a wealth of species, and when the rains come, the bush is alive with vitality and colour.
Regions in Tanzania:
Dar es Salaam and the coast is best from mid-May to mid-October. January to March is when the weather can become uncomfortably hot and humid, but the monsoon winds moderate the air, making it more bearable.
The area of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro receive long rains from mid-March to mid-May and to a lesser extent the short rains which causes certain tracks to become difficult. Mid-May to mid-October is generally dry and pleasantly cool in the highlands.
The best times to visit Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia are mid-May to mid-October. January to March can be uncomfortably hot and humid, but monsoon breezes often moderate the air. Rain from March to April, and to a lesser extent November to December can be heavy and frustrating.
Tanzania lies below the equator, therefore the coolest months occur during the northern hemisphere's summer, and all year round the weather remains pleasant and comfortable, which makes for ideal holiday conditions. Between June and October, temperatures range from around 10 degrees Celsius in the northern highlands to about 23 degrees Celsius on the coast.
On the plains and the lower altitude game reserves, the temperatures from June to October are warm and mild. The great weather provides opportunities to spot game and on clear night skies, visitors can star gaze or enjoy romantic evenings in the bush.
From December to March, the days are hot and sunny, with cloudless skies dominating. Sun worshippers and those escaping the cold can enjoy temperatures in Tanzania that range from mid-twenties to balmy low thirties.
Tanzania's equatorial climate brings 2 seasons of rain each year. The 'masika' is long rains that fall from mid-March to end of May. The 'mvuli' is short rains that fall periodically through November and parts of December and sometimes stretch into early January.