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Tanzania is a vast country situated just south of the equator and has a variable climate depending heavily on the elevation and geography of a particular place. Heat and humidity prevail particularly on the coastal area and the weather is tropical. While the northern highlands are consistently cool and the central plain areas remain dry and arid throughout the year. Tanzania’s most popular touristic areas experience two rainy and two dry seasons every year. There is very little rainfall during June until October and the humidity is very low during this dry period. Nights cool down a little bit requiring warm clothes especially for morning game drives. Temperatures in the afternoon during these months range between 20-30⁰C (68-86⁰F) at differently elevated locations. Most days during dry season have fine, clear skies and sunny weather.
In most of the wet season that fall between November and May, the temperatures in the afternoon are consistently hot nearing about 30⁰C/86⁰F and bit colder at higher altitudes while mornings are usually cold in most northern parks due to high elevation. About a month, beginning November end up to mid-December, is the time for unpredictable ‘short rains’ that will hardly affect any safari trips. The northern parks and the coastal areas get a fair amount of break during the rainy season during January and February. March, April and May are considered to be the wettest months that receive ‘long rains’ when it rains heavily almost every day and humidity remains comparably high, especially in the hotter southern and western parks.
During the spring months of March, April, and May the maximum temperatures during the daytime are 28-29⁰C (82-84⁰F) and the minimum temperatures are 16-18⁰C (61-64⁰F). In the first half of the season southern parts of the country gets flooded while there is a perfectly fine weather in rest of the places like Zanzibar Archipelago and Mafia Island through the entire month of March. Things become opposite during the middle of April when southern portion of Kenya has dry weather while rest of the country receives “long showers”.
Summer time is actually a cooler season in Tanzania. Overall, the day temperatures are moderate and the weather is drier. The maximum daytime temperatures in the eastern coast are 29⁰C (84⁰F) while it is quite cooler in the northern mountains and central regions with temperatures ranging from 22 to 25⁰C (72 to77 ⁰F). These months are the ideal times to visit this part of the African continent, with fewer precipitation and optimal water temperature for swimming.
Fall or autumn in Tanzania is the time when temperature starts to increase a bit by September, but nights are still cool and the country is mostly dry. This is a season of short rains that does not last for more than two hours or so. It finishes by the end of November while the southern parts of the country begin receiving rainfall that will last up to April. The maximum autumn temperatures during the daytime are 29-32⁰C (84-90⁰) and the minimum temperatures are 15-18⁰C (59-64⁰F).
Three winter months, December, January and February are, in fact, the hottest times of the year with temperatures reaching up to 35⁰C (95⁰F). The amount of precipitation differs depending on the altitude of the location you are traveling to. In the southern regions, winter is actually another rainy season that lasts up to April. We recommend travelers with heat sensitivity issues to take extra precautions as high humidity complicates breathing, especially if you are traveling during these months. However, in the western and northern parts of the country winter is just the opposite. Weather is simply great and provides every kind of promotion for all activities that a tourist would participate in during his or her trip to Tanzania. In the capital city Dar es Salaam, January and February are the driest months, but seaside activities are not possible due to stormy wind, muddy water and plenty of planktons.
Tanzania is a country that welcomes visitors all-round the year with an advantage to safari lovers as all the safari parks are good for most of the year. Some of the most exciting safaris in Tanzania’s premier wilderness are The Northern Circuit Parks, which includes Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, Tarangire, Arusha and Kilimanjaro. These can be visited any time throughout the year but may be overcrowded during peak seasons. As Tanzania lies close to the equator, the weather here does not have the prominent four seasons unlike most other countries, but is limited to just wet and dry seasons.
Although the best time for safari tours in Tanzania is mainly observed during the dry seasons, experience of each traveler may vary depending on the park they intend to visit. For example, visiting Serengeti is best during the second dry season during the months between June and September. This is the time to witness the natural charm of the annual highlight of the ‘Great Migration’ when millions of wildebeest, zebra and antelopes migrate north to the Masai Mara in Kenya. For those who wish to visit the Ngorongoro Crater, it is ideal to visit any time of the year, however both the dry seasons from January to March and June to September are considered to be the best. During these times, the grass on the crater floor is short making it easier to spot Africa’s iconic wildlife. Similarly, wildlife viewing is best observed in Selous Game Reserve during the dry seasons.
While the dry seasons are good for game viewing in Africa’s safari parks, the wet season also lets loose a different aspect of the safari harbors. In general, the best time for visiting Tanzania for a wildlife safari tour depends on what you really want to experience. To sum up, June to October is the best time for Serengeti, Manyara and Ngorongoro Crater when viewing animals and birds becomes very smooth. In addition, the time coincides with the annual wildebeest migration. November to January is marked by intermittent spells of rain that certainly will obstruct game viewing experience in popular safari destinations of Tanzania. February to March are quite warm and animals can be seen still migrating to various parts of the country. It is a good season for game viewing observing migratory birds. April to May are the months marked by heavy rainfall and is almost not recommended especially for game viewing.
In general, it is possible to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro all-year-round. Nevertheless, certain specific months have striking cold weather, comparatively more rain, and possibly loads of snow on the summit. The main trekking seasons on Kilimanjaro relate to the two dry seasons; January to mid-March and June to October, although it will probably be raining mildly. The wet season from April through May is known as the ‘long rainy season’ while the wet season from November to mid-December is known as the ‘short rainy season’. Obviously, the optimal time to climb Kilimanjaro is the warmest and driest months in terms of weather and tends to be the busiest time of the month. Other times of the year also offer exotic adventures and lesser crowds. So the best month for Kilimanjaro climb depends on the traveler’s preferences. The following blog can help you choose the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.