Tanzania safari holidays: Serengeti elephants

The best time to visit Tanzania

The best time to visit Tanzania if you're coming for wildlife is the dry season. And of course, the annual wildebeest migration in the Serengeti is a big draw for many people. Tanzania has so much going for it that you really can visit at any time of the year. Having said that, April and May tend to be too rainy for most people's tastes. We've travelled here in rain and shine though, so talk to us about what might be right for you.

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Wildebeest migration corssing the river, Serengeti, Tanzania © AAnita,Shutterstock

Tanzania’s dry and green seasons

Should you travel in the green or the dry season?

Watching elephants in the green season, Tanzania © Shutterstock

SHORT RAINS (November)

SHORT RAINS (November)
The short rains come usually mid-November (though can be earlier) and can last into early December. These rains are lighter than the long rains, and it doesn't tend to rain all day, but rather there are sharp showers once a day, and not every day.
Most people find that short rains don't badly affect their stay.

Ngorongoro Crater in the rains, Tanzania © AGMarks

LONG RAINS (mid-March to end of May)

The long rains tend to start around mid-late March, but are worst in April and May. These rains can be heavy and prolonged, though are not necessarily every day, and commonly at night.

Long rains do have an impact on safaris, as the ground gets quickly waterlogged. Road travel can be difficult, and you can expect to be stuck in the mud at some point. It all adds to the fun though!

The long rain months of April and May are much cheaper than other months and there are far fewer people in the parks and reserves.
Grasses are high at this time so wildlife can be harder to spot, however it's still all there, so good game viewing can still be had. Also, cats tend to go up trees more often (to see over grasses and keep their feet dry!), and any areas of short grass tend to attract quite a lot of animals as they feel safer here than in long grasses.

Some whole reserves, and also certain lodges and camps (especially bushcamps) close in April and May. Also some airstrips are not accessible.

Whilst these months are generally viewed as not being the best months, there are plenty of people who would much rather come here now since there are fewer people and cheaper prices.

Zebras in the dry season, Tanzania © Borovka,Shutterstock

DRY SEASONS (December to mid-March & June to October)

December to March are the warmer dry season months, whereas June to August is the cooler dry season as these months span the Tanzanian winter when it can get quite chilly in mornings, evenings and nights. September and October are still dry but quiet getting increasingly hot.

The dry season months are always the busier months and tend to be high season rates, especially July to October.

All reserves are open in the dry season. Wildlife tends to be easier to see in the dry season due to the short grasses.

When to see Tanzania’s wildlife

A wildlife enthusiast’s quick guide to when and where to see some of Tanzania’s key species.

A lazy leopard in Katavi, Tanzania © AGMarks

Big cats

Big cats love Tanzania’s wide-open spaces in Serengeti, Tarangire, Ruaha, Selous and more. You can see them all year but it’s easier to see them in the dry season when grasses are short.

The annual migration, Masai Mara, Kenya © ©PhotoAfricaSA,Shutterstock

Wildebeest and zebras

These are the two species (especially the wildebeest) which make up the bulk of the annual migration in the Serengeti. Constantly on the move, you can see them all year depending on which area of the reserve you visit. See our Migration experience page.

Baby elephant, Africa © Shutterstock


It’s unlikely you’ll not see an elephant on safari in Tanzania. Less commonly known, Tarangire gets some big herds which are drawn to the river and swamps especially July to November.

Wildog, Africa © AGMarks

Wild dogs

Nyerere National Park (Selous) is a wild dog stronghold. You could see them any time, but visiting around denning time (about June to September) gives you the best chance. Also, consider Botswana for wild dogs.

Mahale chimps, Tanzania © AGMarks


Mahale and Gombe reserves are some of the best places in Africa to see wild chimpanzees. April and May are too wet for most visitors’ liking. July to October is the dry season so the best time to go for most people.

Zanzibar red colobus, Tanzania © AGMarks

Zanzibar red colobus

This is a very rare primate, found only on Zanzibar and easier to see in the island’s Jozani National Park. You can see them at any time of the year, given time and patience.

Talk to Christine - Travel Consultant

Call:  01473 890499

Start planning your tailor-made holiday now. Tell us what you want, and we will tailor make your perfect trip.


Client Rating for Tanzania 5/5 from 217 reviews