Timing is Everything: The Best Time to Safari in Tanzania

February 14, 2023

Timing is Everything: The Best Time to Safari in Tanzania

If you're planning an African safari, Tanzania is undoubtedly one of the top destinations on your list. The country is home to some of the world's most famous wildlife reserves, including the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. But when is the best time to visit Tanzania for a safari adventure? Timing is everything when it comes to maximizing your chances of seeing the Big Five and witnessing the wildebeest migration. Whether you're a seasoned safari-goer or a first-timer, understanding the seasonal changes and their impact on wildlife behavior is crucial. In this article, we'll explore the best time to safari in Tanzania, highlighting the pros and cons of each season and offering expert tips to help you plan an unforgettable wildlife experience. So, let's dive in and discover when to book your Tanzanian safari adventure!

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Time to Safari

Tanzania is a year-round safari destination, but different seasons offer different experiences. The best time to visit depends on your priorities, budget, and personal preferences. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best time to safari in Tanzania:


Tanzania has a tropical climate, with two distinct seasons: the dry season (June to October) and the wet season (November to May). The dry season is characterized by sunny days, cooler nights, and almost no rainfall. The wet season, on the other hand, brings hot and humid weather, occasional thunderstorms, and lush green landscapes.


Wildlife behavior is strongly influenced by seasonal changes in temperature, rainfall, and vegetation. Different animals have different preferences and adaptations, so the best time to see them varies. For example, the dry season is ideal for spotting predators, as they gather around water sources and prey becomes scarce. The wet season, on the other hand, is great for birdwatching, as migratory species arrive in large numbers.


Tanzania's national parks and reserves are popular tourist destinations, especially during peak season. If you prefer a more intimate and exclusive safari experience, you may want to avoid the crowds and choose a less busy time. However, keep in mind that some activities and accommodations may be restricted or unavailable during low season.


The cost of a Tanzanian safari depends on several factors, including the season. High season rates are usually higher than low season rates, due to demand and availability. However, some operators offer discounts and promotions during low season, so it may be more affordable than you think. Consider your budget and priorities when deciding when to go.

Best Time to Safari in Tanzania - Dry Season vs. Wet Season

Tanzania's dry season runs from June to October, while the wet season runs from November to May. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons of each season:

Dry Season (June to October)


- Excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, especially for predators

- Clear skies and cooler temperatures

- Less vegetation, making it easier to spot animals

- Ideal for walking safaris and hot air balloon rides


- Crowded parks and accommodations, especially in July and August

- Higher prices and limited availability

- Dusty and dry landscapes, with fewer water sources

- Migratory birds are absent

Wet Season (November to May)


- Lush and green landscapes, with abundant water sources

- Fewer crowds and lower prices

- Migratory birds arrive in large numbers

- Ideal for birdwatching and photography


- Hot and humid weather, with occasional thunderstorms

- Poor road conditions and limited access to some areas

- Some lodges and camps are closed or have limited services

- Wildlife is dispersed and harder to spot

Wildlife Viewing Opportunities in Different Seasons

Tanzania is famous for its rich and diverse wildlife, including the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino) and many other species. The best time to see them depends on their behavior and habitat preferences. Here are some highlights of wildlife viewing opportunities in different seasons:

Dry Season (June to October)

- Wildebeest migration in the Serengeti (June to July)

- River crossings and crocodile attacks during the migration

- Predators hunting around water sources (lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas)

- Elephant herds in Tarangire National Park

- Resident wildlife in Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Wet Season (November to May)

- Birdwatching, with over 500 species recorded

- Migratory birds, such as flamingos, storks, and swallows

- Baby animals, born during the calving season (January to February)

- Wildflowers and lush vegetation, attracting herbivores and insects

- Off-road adventures, with the help of 4x4 vehicles and experienced guides

Popular National Parks in Tanzania and Their Best Time to Visit

Tanzania has several national parks and reserves, each with its unique landscapes, wildlife, and attractions. Here are some of the most popular ones, along with their best time to visit:

Serengeti National Park

Serengeti is Tanzania's flagship park, known for its vast savannahs, abundant wildlife, and the annual wildebeest migration. The best time to visit depends on which part of the park you want to explore:

- Southern Serengeti (December to April): The wildebeest migration is in full swing, with calving season and predator action. Birdwatching is also excellent during this time.

- Central Serengeti (June to October): The dry season offers the best wildlife viewing opportunities, with predators and grazers gathering around water sources. Hot air balloon rides are popular during this time.

- Western Serengeti (May to July): The Grumeti River is a highlight, with river crossings and crocodile attacks. This area is less crowded and more exclusive.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Ngorongoro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a natural wonder, with a collapsed volcanic crater that forms a unique ecosystem. The best time to visit is during the dry season (June to October), when wildlife is concentrated around water sources and the views are clear.

Tarangire National Park

Tarangire is known for its large elephant herds, baobab trees, and birdlife. The best time to visit is during the dry season (June to October), when animals gather around the Tarangire River and other water sources. Walking safaris and night drives are popular activities.

Lake Manyara National Park

Lake Manyara is a small but diverse park, with a soda lake, a dense forest, and a hot spring. The best time to visit is during the dry season (June to October), when the wildlife is concentrated around the lake and the tree-climbing lions are visible.

Special Events and Festivals in Tanzania

Tanzania is not only a wildlife destination but also a cultural and historical hub. If you're interested in local events and festivals, here are some highlights:

Kilimanjaro Marathon (February)

This annual event attracts runners from all over the world, who race through the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The marathon includes a full marathon, a half marathon, and a fun run, as well as cultural performances and exhibitions.

Mwaka Kogwa Festival (July)

This Zanzibari festival celebrates the Swahili New Year and includes traditional rituals, music, dance, and sports. The highlight is the mock fight, where men settle their differences with sticks and shields.

Sauti za Busara Festival (February)

This music festival showcases the best of African music, with live performances, workshops, and street parades. The event takes place in Stone Town, Zanzibar, and attracts thousands of visitors.

Eid al-Fitr (May)

This Muslim holiday marks the end of Ramadan and includes prayers, feasts, and family gatherings. It's a great opportunity to experience local customs and hospitality.

Tips for Planning Your Safari Trip

Now that you know the best time to safari in Tanzania, here are some tips to help you plan your trip:

- Start early: Tanzania is a popular destination, and the best lodges and camps book up fast, especially during peak season. Start planning at least 6-12 months in advance, and consider using a reputable tour operator.

- Choose your priorities: Decide what you want to see and experience, and plan your itinerary accordingly. Don't try to cover too much ground in a short time, as you'll miss the details and the magic of the safari.

- Pack wisely: Bring appropriate clothing and gear for the weather and the activities. Don't forget sunscreen, insect repellent, and a good camera.

- Respect the wildlife and the locals: Remember that you are a guest in their home, and act accordingly. Follow the park rules and the wildlife etiquette, and be respectful of the local culture and customs.

- Choose sustainable tourism: Support lodges and camps that promote responsible and sustainable tourism practices, such as conservation, community involvement, and waste reduction. Your choices can make a positive impact on the environment and the people.

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Travel

Tourism can have both positive and negative impacts on the environment and the local communities. As a responsible traveler, you can make a difference by choosing sustainable tourism practices. Here are some examples:

- Support conservation efforts, such as anti-poaching patrols, habitat restoration, and wildlife monitoring.

- Use eco-friendly lodges and camps, which promote energy efficiency, waste reduction, and community involvement.

- Respect the local culture and traditions, and learn about their history and challenges.

- Choose responsible activities, such as walking safaris, cultural tours, and volunteering programs.

- Offset your carbon footprint, by using low-emission transport or supporting reforestation projects.

Tanzania is a dream destination for wildlife lovers and adventure seekers, with its iconic national parks, diverse wildlife, and rich culture.

Choosing the best time to safari depends on your priorities, budget, and preferences, but understanding the seasonal changes and their impact on wildlife behavior is essential. Whether you go during the dry season or the wet season, you're in for a treat, with unforgettable experiences and memories. Remember to plan ahead, pack wisely, and choose sustainable tourism practices, to make the most of your Tanzanian safari adventure. Karibu sana!

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