Tanzania has become a stalwart safari destination for a reason, and there are several ways to determine the best time to visit for your safari.
As the second-largest country in East Africa, the idyllic setting between the western mountains and eastern Indian Ocean coastline reflects a fantastical landscape perfectly suited for hosting majestic wildlife and breathtaking beach escapes.
While Tanzania is perfectly pleasant year-round, knowing that you can have a completely different experience at different times of the year will help you figure out when is best for your visit.
January: Calving season begins, birding life is amazing, short rains continue
February: Green season with calving in full swing and birdlife prolific
March: Long rains start towards the end of the month. Predators active
April: Rainy season, most animals are settled and parks are less crowded
May: Animals migrate northwards and rains start to dissipate at the end
June: Prime safari season begins. A good time to consider a Zanzibar extension
July: Peak safari season! Parks are busy, wildlife abundant
August: Enjoy the dry season, cooler days, and crisp nights. Game drives great!
September: The Great Migration! Another good month to combine beach and bush.
October: The migration continues into the Serengeti. Good time to visit lesser-known parks
November: Short rains, wildebeest migrate back to the Serengeti, warmer weather
December: Green Season. Migratory birds abound and animals come out into the open
Best Months: June | July | August | September
A game drive in Tanzania is an essential experience and one of the classic ways to have a safari, especially when you visit during the dry season between July and October. The height you have from an elevated vehicle, in addition to the shorter, more parched grasses, make it much easier to see the wildlife, whether you are looking for lions basking in the sun or dik-dik hiding in the bush. The Southern Hemisphere’s winter months are comfortable and make it much easier to find wildlife congregating around water sources like lakes, rivers, and ponds.
Best Months: November | December | June | July | August | September
The Serengeti National Park is one of the best places to view the Great Migration when over 1.5 million wildebeest travel between Kenya and Tanzania. The migration is constant, with certain months set as prime crossing and viewing times. In June and July, the scene is set to witness hundreds of wildebeest crossing the Mara River in northern Serengeti. From the end of October through December, the herds cross back into eastern Serengeti, just ahead of the long rains.
Being in Tanzania for the Great Migration is one of safari’s truly unforgettable experiences that reveals the indelible circle of life that you can witness on display. While the migration doesn’t follow a predictable route, the wildebeest, zebra, and antelope travel along similar paths spread across the vast plains, making every migration equally exciting.
Best Months: July | August | September | October
Discover nature and watch animals just being, from a different viewpoint - a walking safari. Your best time for experiencing a walking safari in Tanzania is during the dry months of the Southern Hemisphere winter from July to October. Different walking areas will change depending on the national park or reserve you are visiting, but the short grass and waterholes make it much easier to find wildlife on foot in the hands of your qualified walking safari guide. A walking safari is a much more intimate adventure that gives you deeper insight into the African bush, from spotting tracks to witnessing the daily tribulations of insects.
Best Months: June | July | August | September
A safari is one of the best experiences you can have as a family, and Tanzania makes it easy, especially during the dry season from June to September. Wildlife viewing is not just about seeing the animals but about the adventure of spotting lions, giraffes, or even chimpanzees. The dry season makes it much easier to find the wildlife that will keep your family members engaged no matter their age, as the fantastic attractions across the country brim with the fascinating wilderness. For some downtime and water adventures post-safari, consider a few nights in Zanzibar at one of the many family-friendly resorts.
Best Months: June | July | August | September
Tanzania is one of the best destinations for a couple’s safari during the dry season from June to September. With plenty of opportunities to see the Big Five, predators, and the Great Migration, your once-in-a-lifetime romantic getaway or honeymoon will feel like an absolutely perfect experience. It is not just about the game drives or wildlife excursions but also the charming accommodations that can place you both in luxury and seclusion with views spanning an endless savanna or overlooking an active waterhole.
Your private getaway can take you from the romantic bush to a secluded idyllic beach setting. Indulge in pure bliss on a white sandy beach in Zanzibar, where candle-lit dinners on the water are only a part of the experience.
Best Months: June | July | August | September | October and December | January
Located on the east coast of Africa lies the idyllic islands of the Zanzibar Archipelago. Influenced by both Arab and Indian culture, this African gem is definitely worth adding to any Tanzanian itinerary. Visit historic Stonetown, a colorful city once a key trading center. A bustling market and art literally on every doorstep make a city tour exciting and delightful. Known as the Spice Islands, savor this rich part of its heritage and top that all off with time spent on white sandy beaches as you soak up sun and luxury for a few days.
Tanzania is positioned in the Southern Hemisphere, which flips the season of the year. For reference, that means winter between June and August, spring takes place between September and November, summer happens from December to February, and January to May is fall. While the four seasons can partially describe the shifting weather patterns around Tanzania, the country is more typically divided into two seasons, the Dry and the Green.
Winter: June | July | August
Winter in Tanzania is peak season as the renowned Great Migration gets underway, with countless wildebeest, zebra, and various gazelle trampling the landscape. Elephants gather in the plains of Tarangire National Park, and the dryer, hotter climate makes it much easier to spot game throughout the country as wildlife flocks to the remaining waterholes. The heart of winter is usually your best opportunity for watching hundreds of animals cross the river into Tanzania. Fewer insects are also a bonus. Spending time in Zanzibar is excellent at this time of year too.
Spring: September | October | November
The spring is generally when conventional wisdom says you should travel to Tanzania. It is considered the most popular time to visit because of the dry, cooler air that creates fantastic viewing conditions. The Great Migration is usually the focal point of a spring visit as the numbers of wildebeest, zebra, and antelope swell in the Serengeti. But this is also a fantastic time of year to visit lesser-known national parks and reserves across Tanzania, where you can be significantly rewarded with remarkable conditions, small crowds, and sensational views of the wildlife. The Indian Ocean is warm and inviting too for those looking for a beach add-on to their safari experience.
Summer: December | January | February
Summer represents the green season. While it may be hot, the rains also keep the grasses lush and tall, making it difficult to spot smaller species. While December and January may be harder to find wildlife hidden in the towering savanna, it also brings plenty of wildlife out into the open, including fantastic migratory birdlife arriving in the thousands. Calving season is in full swing from late January, with February seeing an abundance of new life enter the reserves. Birdlife is at its peak during this time, with rains bringing insects, thereby helping birds feed their young. Witness colors and sounds from various bird species as they make their presence known.
Fall: March | April | May
March is part of the Green Season in Tanzania and offers you great chances for birdwatching as migratory species arrive in the thousands around the country. Large herds of mammals also migrate before the heavy rains start. Predators are very active because of the large numbers of prey grazing on the lush grass. It’s also much less crowded to visit some of the most popular national parks that get crowded during the Great Migration season, as opposed to the birding and calving season.
Tanzania is famous for its dry season wildlife but even the rainy season offers wonderful access to wildlife surrounded by stunning scenery and diverse ecosystems. Tanzania has an endless number of places to visit and knowing the type of experiences you want will support the best time to explore the Serengeti or Ruaha National Park. Zicasso’s Tanzania Travel Guide can give you more helpful tips on how to craft your perfect safari. Thinking of planning a trip? You can speak with a Tanzania travel specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.