Tanzania: When is the best time to travel?
Tanzania has a broadly tropical climate, although the conditions vary between the mountain highlands and the coast, so be aware of this is if you plan to travel around the country. As a general rule, the coastal areas are hotter and more humid than those in the highlands.
In the mountainous regions, temperatures rarely get above 20 degrees Celsius and can drop down to 10 degrees Celsius in the winter. By contrast, temperatures in the rest of the country can hit around 31 degrees Celsius in the summer and infrequently fall below 20 degrees Celsius in the winter.
There are two rainy seasons in Tanzania, known as the short rains and the long rains. The short rains begin in October and last until December, while the long rainy season is from March to June. The busiest period for holidays in Tanzania is between June and October, as the weather is dry and the temperature is usually a bit cooler.
When is best for safaris in Tanzania?
The most popular time of year to go on safari in Tanzania is between June and September during the dry season, with the safari camps typically busiest in July and August. While this period is great for game viewing as the animals tend to congregate around water holes, a Tanzanian safari will be spectacular at any time of the year.
If you'd like to see the landscape as it becomes green and verdant, plan your trip for October or November, when the short rains begin and the plains and trees turn a vibrant shade of green. This period is also much quieter than the drier months.
One of the most spectacular sights on a Serengeti safari is the wildebeest migration, which you can observe throughout the year as the herds move across different parts of the park. February and March are particularly special, though, as this is when the wildebeest calve.
Remember that even during the rainy season, you will still get plenty of sunshine, so although it will be wet at certain times of the day, it shouldn't put too much of a dampener on your holiday. The longer rainy season runs from March to June and another advantage of travelling in these months is that you will miss the crowds.
When should I visit Zanzibar?
The climate in Zanzibar is much less variable than on the mainland, with the islands experiencing plenty of sunshine and pleasant year-round temperatures. The humidity here is generally lower than in Tanzania, which means that during the hottest months (December and January) the heat will be less intense. Sea breezes also help keep Zanzibar's climate comfortable.
You can visit Zanzibar at any time of the year, although the islands do experience a rainy period between March and May. So, if you are visiting Tanzania at this time of year you need to be prepared for some wet weather while you're on the island.
If you'd like to go scuba diving during your trip to Zanzibar, the best time to travel is between September and March. Although you can dive here all year round, many facilities close during the long rains in April and May.
Visit between October and March and you have a good chance of seeing whale sharks on their annual migration, while this is also the turtle nesting season. Between August and October you can catch the humpback and sperm whale migration.
Preparing for your trip to Tanzania
As Tanzania's climate is relatively hot, you will want to pack lightweight clothes made from breathable fabrics. It is always a good idea to carry a raincoat with you, just in case you get caught in a downpour. When you are on a safari, make sure you wear sun protection such as a hat, sunglasses and sun cream.
If you'll be staying in Tanzania's safari camps in the highland areas (Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru or the Ngorongoro Crater), make sure you take warm layers for the evenings and early mornings when temperatures can be very chilly.
As Zanzibar is predominantly Muslim, away from the beach resorts you should dress conservatively - cover your shoulders and upper arms and always wear shorts or skirts that are knee length or longer.
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