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What’s the perfect time in Tanzania for traveling?

by Pilar Dujan | June 15, 2023
Discover the best time in Tanzania to watch the animals

Tanzania is a big and beautiful country of Africa, an ideal place for safaris and to enjoy some of the best beaches of the world (with a short trip to Zanzibar). You can read our guide about all the things to do in Tanzania for more information. A Tanzania trip is an experience you will never forget!

It’s important to pick a good time in Tanzania for travelling because, if we’re going to be outdoors, climatic factors such as the rain and heat can throw a wrench in our plans. Here you will discover the weather in Tanzania, some festivals or events you shouldn’t miss and packing tips.

General weather in Tanzania

Tanzania is very vast and, because of that, the climate is not the same in every part. There are 3 types of climates in the country: humid subtropical, hot desert and cool mountain. Even though some months are rainier and colder or hotter, the weather is comfortable enough all year long

Humid subtropical climate

This is the climate of the coastal regions of Tanzania, which see warm temperatures for the most part. These parts tend to be rainy all year long, although it’s rainier from December to February specifically. 

Hot desert

This weather is typical of the central area of Tanzania. There’s not a lot of rain and the weather is hotter, dry and arid. Because of that, there is not a lot of vegetation or wildlife. 

Cool mountain

This is the weather you would find in the western part of Tanzania. The weather tends to be cloudy and colder, especially at night, and it’s rainier than in the rest of the country. 

Seasons of Tanzania

  • From mid-March to May is the season called masika, the season of the long rains, which coincides with the arrival of spring
  • The dry and cold season spans from May to October. 
  • Winter goes from June to August, and autumn starts in September and lasts through November. 
  • The short rains season, or vuli, spans from November to mid-January. 
  • The summer lasts from November to March, with high temperatures all day long.

The weather in Tanzania for areas with higher altitudes is cold in every season, especially at nights and early mornings.

The best time in Tanzania for travelling

  • January to March: the first months of the year are part of the short dry season, which lasts till mid-March. The northern part of the country and the coastal areas tend to not see that much rainfall in these months, but this doesn’t happen in the rest of Tanzania. The days tend to be clear and sunny with high temperatures. February is the hottest month of the year, so it won't be the best time to go to Tanzania for those who don't like the heat.
  • March to May: in mid-March begins the season of the long rains (masika). By May, vegetation tends to be very green and lush and the rain starts winding down, which makes it a contender for the best time to visit Tanzania.
  • June to October: these months are when the temperatures and rainfall drop (it’s the long dry season). This would be the perfect time to visit Tanzania: the day tends to be sunny with clear, blue skies. The weather is dry and cool, especially in the early mornings and at night. The temperature begins to rise in October, but it’s still mild compared to the hotter months.
  • November and December: this is the time in Tanzania usually referred to as the short rains (vuli). The average temperature is hotter than in the previous months, and they usually reach (and surpass) 30º. 

giraffe in Tanzania

The best time to visit Tanzania: Festivals and events you shouldn't miss

  • Sauti za Busara Festival: it takes place in Zanzibar during February and it’s an African and Swahili music festival. The name means “the sounds of wisdom” in Swahili, and it’s a four day event in which you can participate in numerous parades and carnivals whilst listening to some good music.
  • The Kilimanjaro Marathon: it takes place in March. It’s a triathlon right on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. To compete you must take part in a trek, a bicycle race around Kilimanjaro and the actual marathon at the end. This is an ideal event for adventure and fitness lovers. However, those less prepared can just take part in the half marathon and other easier events.
  • Unification day: it takes place on the 26th of April. It’s the most important national holiday because it celebrates the union of Tanzania and Zanzibar to form what we now know as the United Republic of Tanzania. 
  • The Karibu Travel And Tourism Fair: it takes place in Anusha during May and June. It’s the largest tourism fair of East Africa. There are exhibitions and sales of traditional items. 
  • The Mwaka Kogwa Festival: it takes place in Zanzibar and it lasts for four days during July or August. It’s an old festival and possibly the most particular out of all of them: the men fight each other using banana stalks (to put an end to the conflicts of the previous year) and then set them on fire. The women dance and sing. Then, at night, there are several parties on the beaches of Zanzibar to dance the night away.
  • The Serengeti Cultural Festival: it takes place in July and it’s a dance and art festival. 
  • The Zanzibar international film festival: it’s during July and it’s the largest film festival of East Africa.

What to pack and tips

Clothing recommendations depending of the time in Tanzania

January and February

For these months you should pack light clothes such as short-sleeved shirts and shorts or zip-off pants. These months are very hot, so be prepared.

March, April and May

This is the season of the long rains, so you have to pack a light and waterproof rain jacket, rain pants and a rain poncho.

From June to October

These are the coldest months of the year. You should pack a warm jacket, sweaters, warm long pants, hats, gloves and a scarf. Bring clothes you can layer in case the day is sunny and/or warm.

November and December

As in the previous months, you should bring with you clothes you can layer. Pack a light rain jacket and pants.

The days tend to be hotter gearing up for the summer, so pack light t-shirts for the day. 

Packing tips

These are the essential items you should bring with you no matter the time in Tanzania, they will be useful every season.

  • Backpack
  • Binoculars (especially if you’ve booked a safari in Tanzania)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Insect repellent and anti-itching creams or ointments
  • Protection against the sun (hats, sunscreen and sunglasses)
  • Reusable waterproof bags. Don’t pack plastic grocery bags, they are banned!

Visa and documents

If we’re planning to travel, it’s important to be aware of the Tanzania entry requirements. The two main requisites are having a valid passport and a visa.

The most common visas for tourists are available online: you can apply for the Tanzania e Visa with the help of a specialized agency such as visagov.com. Learn all about the visa application process with our guide on how to get a visa for Tanzania

If you’re not sure if your nationality is required to have a visa to enter Tanzania, you can check here.