When to go to Tanzania

When to go to Tanzania
By Anthony Ham

Month-by-month

January and February are among the hottest months in Tanzania, but it’s generally dry throughout the country and these are good months to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.

March and April are the wettest months in Tanzania, and while this may not be the best time to be here on safari, there are fewer crowds, low season prices usually apply and the birdwatching is outstanding, with the arrival of millions of migratory birds from Europe.

The rains can sometimes continue into May, but visibility is excellent and crowds have yet to arrive. By June, the rains have passed, and temperatures are usually cooler. With many safari lodges and tented camps not charging high-season rates until July, it can be an excellent choice for safaris. Zanzibar is also lovely in June.

July and August are peak season, because that’s the best time to see wildlife, including the Great Migration, and conditions are perfect for beach holidays in Zanzibar.

September and October have many of the advantages of peak season, including mild, dry conditions across the country, but there’s the added advantage of fewer crowds.

By November, temperatures are starting to rise, the short rains bring relief, and the arrival of birds and a green tinge across the country. December can be really hot, but it’s the beginning of the Kilimanjaro climbing season – climb Kilimanjaro at this time and you’ll likely have fine conditions as well as escaping the lower-altitude heat.

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Events and holidays

Islamic festivals – which change according to the Islamic calendar — are celebrated throughout the country but with particular fervour in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar loves a good festival, and the year begins with a couple of celebrations that may be worth planning your visit around. In January, the Zanzibar Swahili Festival begins — it’s held every three months — with art exhibitions and cultural performances across the island, while February’s Sauti za Busara, held in Zanzibar’s Stone Town, is a song-and-dance extravaganza, and arguably Tanzania’s best festival.

The Kilimanjaro Marathon in March (or late February) is a real change of pace with a running race that traverses the grand old mountain’s foothills. If you’ve developed a taste for Tanzania’s ubiquitous nyama choma (barbecued meat), head for Dar es-Salaam in April for the Nyama Choma Festival, a people’s favourite and a culinary feast.

It’s back to Zanzibar in July for the Festival of the Dhow Countries. Held over two weeks, it’s Tanzania’s premier arts festival with contributions from across the Indian Ocean. Bagamoyo hosts the dynamic Karibu Music Festival in November.

Tanzania Zanzibar festival in honor of the fishermen

Women dancing at an annual festival to honor the local fisherman, Zanzibar

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When to go to Tanzania

By Anthony Ham

Anthony has been travelling around Africa for more than a decade. He has returned many times, seeking out stories about the people and wildlife of west and north Africa.

In recent years he has broadened his horizons into more traditional wildlife haunts, exploring Kenya, Botswana and South Africa. You can see his work in Lonely Planet and Africa Geographic.

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