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When is the best time for a safari?

Embarking on a safari in Tanzania is a dream come true for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With its diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife, Tanzania offers an unparalleled safari experience. However, choosing the right time to visit is crucial to witness the extraordinary spectacle of the animal kingdom. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different seasons and highlight the best time for a safari in Tanzania, ensuring you make the most of your adventure.

The Dry Season

The dry season, from June to October, is widely regarded as the prime time for safari enthusiasts. The weather is characterized by clear skies, little to no rainfall, and cooler temperatures, making it an ideal time to explore Tanzania’s national parks. During this period, wildlife congregates around permanent water sources, providing excellent opportunities for game viewing. The famous Serengeti wildebeest migration, where millions of animals traverse the plains, usually occurs between June and July. Additionally, the dry season offers optimal conditions for witnessing predators in action, as the scarcity of water forces animals to gather around watering holes, creating dramatic hunting scenarios. Wildlife viewing in Tarangire, Katavi, Nyerere and Ruaha is better during the Dry season. Mornings and nights get cold, so it’s recommended to bring warm clothing.

The Green Season

The green season, also known as the wet season or the emerald season, spans from November to May. Despite the occasional downpours, this period has its unique charm and advantages. The landscape transforms into a lush green paradise, dotted with vibrant flowers and teeming with newborn animals. Birdwatchers will delight in the plethora of migratory bird species that grace the Tanzanian skies during this time. Moreover, the green season offers lower tourist numbers, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a more exclusive and intimate safari experience.

High vs Low Season

High or Peak SeasonLow or Green Season
About June to October (long dry season)About January to March and November to December
Highest ratesLowest rates
Need to book well in advanceNo need to book too far in advance
Cool and dry weatherHot and occasionally wet weather
Not many baby animals aroundLots of baby animals around
Not many migrant birds to seeFantastic time for bird-watching
Most crowdedLeast crowded
Good photography conditionsGreenest, most scenic landscapes with the best light of the year for photography

Choosing the best month for a safari in Tanzania depends on various factors, including your specific interests and what you hope to experience during your trip. Here’s a monthly breakdown to help you make an informed decision:

  1. January: January is an excellent month for a safari in Tanzania, especially if you want to witness the calving season in the southern Serengeti. Thousands of wildebeest give birth during this time, attracting predators and creating intense wildlife interactions.
  1. February: February continues the calving season in the southern Serengeti, making it a great time to observe newborn wildlife. The weather is generally pleasant, and you can also witness predator-prey dynamics in action.
  2. March: March offers prime opportunities for game viewing, as the wildebeest herds are still in the southern Serengeti. This month marks the end of the short rains, ensuring lush vegetation and abundant water sources.
  3. April: April is part of Tanzania’s green season, characterized by occasional rain showers. While the weather may be unpredictable, this is a fantastic time to visit the Tarangire National Park, renowned for its stunning landscapes and large elephant herds.
  4. May: May is considered the shoulder season, transitioning from the rainy season to the dry season. The landscape is still lush and vibrant, and tourist numbers are relatively low, offering a more intimate safari experience.
  5. June: June marks the beginning of the dry season and is one of the most popular months for safaris in Tanzania. The Great Migration reaches its climax as millions of wildebeest cross the Mara River, an awe-inspiring spectacle you won’t want to miss.
  6. July: July is another prime month for witnessing the Great Migration in Tanzania. The herds are spread across the Serengeti and the Masai Mara in Kenya, providing ample opportunities to witness river crossings and predator-prey interactions.
  7. August: August continues to offer fantastic game viewing, with the Great Migration still in full swing. The wildebeest herds start their return journey to the Serengeti, creating dramatic scenes and exciting wildlife encounters.
  8. September: September is an excellent time for a safari, as the herds make their way back to the Serengeti. River crossings are prevalent during this month, and predator activity remains high.
  9. October: October is the tail end of the dry season, and the wildebeest herds are still present in the Serengeti. This month offers great weather, incredible game viewing opportunities, and a chance to witness the concluding stages of the Great Migration.
  10. November and December: These months mark the start of the short rainy season, bringing fresh greenery and a burst of birdlife. The Ngorongoro Crater is particularly beautiful during this time, with animals gathering around its water sources.

The best time to visit Tanzania is during the Dry season, from late June to October, when wildlife viewing is generally at its best. The wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is usually during June and July and the time to see the wildebeest calving is late January to February. The southern and western circuit parks are best visited during the Dry season (June to October), unlike the more popular northern circuit parks that can be visited year-round.

  1. Best Time: June to October (All parks), June-July and January-February (Serengeti for the wildebeest migration and calving)
  2. High Season: July to March (northern circuit parks; they get crowded), July to October (southern and western circuit parks; they don’t really get crowded any time of the year)
  3. Low Season: April and May (northern circuit parks still get quite a few visitors unlike the southern and western circuit parks, where many lodges close down)
  4. Best Weather: June to September (Little to no rainfall)
  5. Worst Weather: March and April (Peak of Wet season)

Best time to witness the Wildebeest Migration in the Serengeti

EventApproximate Time
Calving or Birthing SeasonJanuary to March
Intense Big Cat ActionJanuary to March
Rutting (a period of sexual excitement, reproductive activity and mating battles between males)January to March
Grumeti River CrossingsMay to July
Mara River CrossingsJuly to September

Choosing the best time for a safari in Tanzania depends on your preferences and the unique experiences you seek. The dry season guarantees exceptional game viewing, witnessing the Great Migration, and predator action. On the other hand, the green season offers lush landscapes, newborn wildlife, and a more exclusive safari experience. Consider your interests, weather preferences, and availability to plan your dream adventure. Whichever time you choose, Tanzania’s rich biodiversity and captivating wildlife will undoubtedly leave you with memories to cherish for a lifetime. Prepare for an unforgettable safari experience with ZAFS.

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