Tanzania and its surrounding islands (Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia) are tropical regions characterized by warm and humid weather at the coast, and warm and dry weather in the central regions. In general, the ‘summer’ period is between December to March and ‘winter’ season between March to May. However, just like most parts of East Africa different areas of Tanzania and the islands experience different climatic conditions depending on the topography.
There are 2 distinct annual rainfall patterns in Tanzania: Towards the South and West and Central parts of the country, there is on rainy season that occurs between December and April. In the Northern and Eastern regions there are two rainy seasons; the short rains that last from October to December and the long rains that last from March to May.
The warm Tanzania climate lasts from mid-December to March, roughly corresponding with the rainy period of the south, west, and central region of the country. From June to October, it is generally cold and dry across the country. Temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru drop below freezing at night.
The Annual Weather Patterns
January - February
Short dry season.
March – May
Main long rainy season with heavy downpours in the afternoons. The humidity is high and daily temperatures can just below# 30°C.
June – October
This is the dry season. Temperatures vary hugely with altitude and location, but it's usually a fine, clear sky and sunny weather – it's a great time to visit Tanzania. It gets cold in the evenings and can be quite cold at the Ngorongoro Crater.
November – December
Period of short rains. These tend to be in the form of a daily thunderstorm. The Ngorongoro Crater rim has a wonderful climate at this time of year. The Serengeti and Lake Manyara are very warm and Zanzibar is very hot.
This is summer time. Bringing dry and very warm conditions. Due to its altitude, the Ngorongoro Crater is much cooler than elsewhere.
The Great Migration in Tanzania
November - December
This is the beginning of the short rains in Tanzania’s North. In late this period, the herds of wildebeest arrive on the plains of the Serengeti from the Mara and then continue to migrate further South spreading across the plains.
January - March
The animals are now settled in the South and East of the Serengeti; the South of Seronera around Ndutu area and includes the North of the Ngorongoro Conservation. This is the calving season where most wildebeest calves are born in the window around February.
April - May
Gradually the animals begin to migrate Northwards seeking fresh grazing water. The area around Moru Kopjes and west of Seronera is then hectic with the might movement of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and including the Thomson Gazelles and zebra. Some of the migration then head due north of Seronera, but most are usually further west.
The wildebeest migration slows down around the Grumeti River in the Western Corridor, concentrating here. The river here is normally a series of pools and channels, but it's not continuous – and so whilst they always represent an annual feast for the Grumeti River's large crocodiles, these aren't usually quite as spectacular as the crossings of the Mara River, further north.
July - October
They migrate towards Northeast Serengeti (Bologonja and Ikorongo and Ikoma Game Reserve) to Maasai Mara in Kenya.Only those animals (excluding predators) which can stand without surface water for long periods and adapted to the poor forage remain there. The biggest and the most demanding task for the animals is when they have to cross Mara Rivers in the North. Many animals drown or get caught and eaten by the crocodiles whilst lions await them on the other side.
When the pasture has been exhausted in the North and Maasai Mara, this army of animals surges back to the now green pastures of the Serengeti North and continue to migrate South…and the cycle begins all over again…
Early Wet Season – December to April (February is the calving season)
Late Wet Season – April to June
Early dry Season –July to October
Late dry Season – October to December