When is the Best Time of Year to Go on Safari in Tanzania?

Let’s face it.  An African safari is a big trip for most people.  It’s an endeavor which requires a significant investment of time, energy and money.  This really is a “once in a lifetime” type of experience for many folks who may never get the opportunity to go back to Africa again, so naturally everyone wants to get it right the first time. “What time of year is the BEST time of year to go on safari?” seems like a critical question, especially because so many places in Africa (and other parts of the world) can be so seasonal. You just don’t want to miss out on anything important simply because you lacked the necessary information to plan it right.

Zebra Migration – South Serengeti – Green Season

Well, here’s the good news: As long as you are working with a knowledgeable safari company that understands the wildlife patterns, there really is NO BAD TIME TO GO ON SAFARI in Northern Tanzania, especially with regards to Serengeti National Park.  I know that all sounds too good to be true; how could it be so easy?  But it is!

Cue *sigh of relief!* 

Here’s why:  Even though many of the animals in this region of Tanzania are migratory, meaning they move from one area to another throughout the year, they do follow a fairly predictable pattern and most importantly they are always *there*, it is just a matter of knowing where to go to find them.  And WE DO.  Therefore we strategically design your itinerary to put your where the animals are, setting you up for success no matter what time of year you ultimately go on safari.

PLUS the wonderfully mild climate in Northern Tanzania  (semi-arid and sunny with average highs in the 80s) helps to make it a comfortable place to visit all year long.

Some noteworthy events include the great wildebeest calving that occurs during February, the wildebeest rut in May and the crossing of the great Mara River that can occur almost anytime during the dry season, usually crossing the river multiple times between July and November.  But rest assured, there is no shortage of drama to be found in the Serengeti at any time of year, as long as you are focusing your time in the right areas where the greatest number of animals are concentrated according to the season.

Even though each month of the year is special and brimming with unique wildlife viewing opportunities, it may still be worthwhile to understand some of the subtle differences in the various seasons throughout the year, which can be loosely lumped into two primary categories here in Northern Tanzania: the “green season” and the “dry season.”



The scenery is green and beautiful during this time (great colors for photography) and the animals are generally healthy and active as the green season is a time of plenty for them. Many animals time the birth of their families to coincide with the green season too, so you will be maximizing your chance to see baby animals, especially with regards to the herbivores that rely on the new grass shoots such gazelle fawns, zebra foals and various species of calves. The green season is one of the best times to see cheetahs (my favorite animal) as you will game drive Gol Kopjes in the green season, as well as the NCA, which are favorite hangouts for cheetahs because of the open plains, short grass, and ample supply of Thompson’s gazelle (their favorite prey.)

The Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra will be densely concentrated on the open Southern Serengeti plains, offering a stunning spectacle you won’t soon forget. The wildebeest usually have their babies in February (roughly 80% are born in Feb), making March , April, and May all excellent times to safari. As you can imagine, many of the great predators are never far away from this great moving buffet, so in addition to cheetahs you’ll have lots of opportunities to see lions, leopards, and hyenas too. There is a chance for rain showers during this time of year (that’s where the “green” comes from), but because of the semi-arid climate here, seldom does it rain enough to compromise one’s safari experience in any significant way.

Wildebeest Migration – East Serengeti – Green Season
Wildebeest Crossing Lake Ndutu – South Serengeti – Green Season
Elephant parade in Central Serengeti, Green Season


DRY SEASON (June-Nov):

With hardly any rainfall during this time of year, the weather and associated driving conditions are fairly predictable, and the grass and foliage are sparse which can make it a bit easier to spot some of the more elusive wildlife such as the big cats. The weather is also at it’s coolest during this time, with average temperature highs peaking in the low-mid 80’s. The Great Migration will be surging through the pristine Northern Serengeti, which is an inherently beautiful area full of trees and other pretty scenery, so it’s rather convenient when the animals are located in such a beautiful area because this is the area where you will want to spend a large amount of time, and you can enjoy both animals and scenery!

Some areas like the Tarangire River will also be a huge draw to thirsty animals like elephants when smaller water sources have disappeared. You can see literally hundreds of elephants gathered around the Tarangire river when it’s dry here.  Downsides to the dry season include more dust and small accommodations can book up quicker during the months of July and August since many people in the US and Europe travel during their summer. But still, because of the nice weather, lovely scenery and consistently good wildlife viewing, the dry season is a pleasant and fairly predictable time to plan a safari. As mentioned previously, it hardly rains at all during the dry season.

Male lion in Central Serengeti, Dry Season
Wildebeest Crossing Mara River – North Serengeti – Dry Season
Wildebeest Crossing Mara River – North Serengeti – Dry Season


Check out these reviews and discussions from prior safari guests to get their thoughts on the best time of year for a safari in Tanzania.

Green vs. Dry Season Safari

Our 5th Safari To Tanzania

Green Season or Dry Season, That is the Question!

Another Outstanding ADS Experience

Driver Guide Video – When To Go On Safari

Happy planning and enjoy your safari!  No matter what time of year you go!

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