Africa is full of wild places, but there are few countries that can rival the combination of wilderness and wild animals that Tanzania offers. But the seasons in Tanzania are very different, so when exactly is the best time to enjoy a safari in Tanzania?
If your main objective is to see large quantities of animals, then the easiest time of year to do this is between June and October – Tanzania’s dry season. This is particularly true in the case of Ruaha and Selous in Southern Tanzania, Katavi in Western Tanzania as well as Mahale Mountains on Lake Tanganyika, although in June and early July the chimps can still be high up in the mountains.
The Ngorongoro Crater Highlands can still be full of flowers in June and July but be prepared for changeable temperatures. It can often be cold with low cloud through these months. Tarangire in Northern Tanzania, which acts as a dry season refuge for wildlife from the entire Maasai Steppe, is at its best for game between late July and late October. But it is always good for elephant and in the green season (December to May) has tremendous birdlife.
The Serengeti and Surrounding Areas offers spectacular game viewing year round, so works a bit differently. What matters most here is that you head to the right part of the park for the time of year and that you avoid the main tourist traps.
If the wildebeest migration is a major objective, then there isn’t really a “best” time to visit. River crossings happen between July and October on either the Grumeti or the Mara River, and the calving, one of the most spectacular times to visit, happens around February. Game action remains excellent through March and April, before the wildebeest start moving off the plains during the rut in mid May.
If you’re travelling between December and May, then combining Serengeti Southern Plains and Serengeti Loliondo is especially important. Loliondo is a must if you’re interested in walking, night-driving and more of a wilderness experience.
Most people tend to overlook the green season months in Southern and Western Tanzania, but between December and the end of February can be a great time to visit. Selous can become quite humid by January and February which makes it less good for longer walking safaris but everything is green and there are plenty of young animals and migrant bird species around. In Ruaha the bush can have closed in a bit making game viewing less easy in some areas but there is still good game around. The water levels will have started rising in Katavi and you may not encounter such large concentrations of animals, but as long as you don’t rush things, this is a much more benign season to be there and there is plenty to see.