Tanzania Travel Guide

safarigo   Tanzania  

If you’ve been thinking of traveling to Tanzania soon, you’re definitely not alone. Tanzania has long been one of the most popular destinations for the ultimate African safari experience, featuring a whopping three different safari circuits.

Truth be told, each one of these safari circuits, in its own right, could make Tanzania a top wildlife destination. But it’s the ever so popular Northern circuit, renowned around the world for the scenic 
Serengeti, the mighty Kilimanjaro, and the stunning Ngorongoro Crater that offers one of the best classical safari experiences in the whole of Africa.

In this brief and comprehensive Tanzania travel guide, we’ll walk you through the best times to visit Tanzania, where to experience the most memorable views, and what you should know before traveling to this incredible country for the first time.

What Is The Best Time to Visit Tanzania?

If you’re after the game viewing experience of a lifetime, the best time to visit Tanzania is during the dry season (from late June to October), when the native wildlife is abundant and the wildebeest migration of the Serengeti is in full swing.

If witnessing the wildbeest migrate is one of the top experiences you’re looking forward to when traveling to Tanzania, June and July are the best months to see the migration in all its glory, while late January to February is the perfect time to experience wildbeest calving.

While the more popular Northern circuit can be visited all year-round, the Southern and Western circuit parks are also best visited during the dry season, making it the ideal time to visit Tanzania.

Still looking for the best option to fit your itinerary? Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the highlights you can expect when visiting during both the dry and wet season:

Traveling to Tanzania during the dry season (June to October)

  1. You can experiece the wildebeest migration more easily in late June and July

  2. If you’re looking to see the majestic river crossings of the wildbeest, August to September is the best time to visit

  3. You can expect fewer mosquitos

  4. June to October is the best time for wildlife viewing, as animals will predictably concentrate around water sources

  5. This is the perfect time to visit the wildlife viewing hotspots of TarangireKataviNyerere, and Ruaha

  6. You can expect clearer, sunny skies throughout the season, but make sure to pack some warm clothing as mornings and nights will get considerably cold!

Traveling to Tanzania during the wet season (November to May)

  1. January and February are the best months for seeing the native predators in action, and it is the perfect time for experiencing the wildbeest calving in the southern Serengeti

  2. The wet season is a great time for bird watching, as many migratory birds converge in the area

  3. As November to May marks the low season for Tanzania tourism, you can be guaranteed lower rates troughout your stay and much less crowded parks

  4. While you’ll be experiencing a lot more rain compared to the dry season, rains are mostly limited to short afternoon showers, especially past May

Tanzania Weather & Climate

While the weather in Tanzania will largely depend on whether you’re visiting during the wet or dry season, you can expect a pleasant, tropical climate all year-round, with some regional climatic variations throughout.

The hottest and most humid part of the country is the coast, alongside the more low-lying areas like the western and southern parks.
The interior of the country is, in comparison, much milder and a lot less humid, cooling down significantly in the early morning and at night.

Dry Season

As the name suggests, Tanzania’s dry season is characterized by very little rainfall and humidity. You can expect afternoon temperatures to reach as much as 30°C/86°F (with lows of 20°C/68°F), varying greatly depending on the exact location and altitude.

While you’ll be greeted with clear skies and sunny weather throughout the season, make sure to cover up with warmer clothes at night, especially if you’ll be joining night and morning game drives in open vehicles.

Wet Season

During most of the wet season, you can expect afternoon temperatures to be consistently hot, generally slightly above or slightly below 30°C/86°F.

In terms of rainfall, the severity and frequency of showers will largely depend on the time of the year you’ll be visiting. November and December feature unpredictable short rains which are quite unlikely to interfere with your safari experience.

The months of March, April, and May, on the other hand, are known as the wettest months of the season, featuring heavy rainfall on a daily basis and high humidity, especially in the southern and western parks.

January and February are arguably the best months of the wet season for visiting northern and coastal Tanzania, as they are more likely to experience short dry spells.

The Most Popular Routes in Tanzania

So, with weather and average temperatures out of the way, let’s get to the meat of our brief Tanzania travel guide: What are the best circuits in Tanzania to experience the unforgettable safari trip you’re after?

Keeping in mind the best season to visit each of them, here are the scenic safari hotspot you’ll be treated to when visiting Tanzania:

Northern Circuit (1-2 weeks)

Boasting some of the most majestic wildlife views of the entire region, the northern circuit is, hands-down, the most popular circuit in Tanzania and one of the most celebrated nature spots in the whole of Africa.

Here are the highlights you can look forward to when visiting the northern circuit:

  1. The Arusha National Park (half a day to 2 days), complete with breathtaking views of Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro.

  2. The Lake Manyara National Park or Tarangire National Park (1 to 2 days each), prime spots for wildlife viewing offering the chance of seeing lions in their natural habitat.

  3. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (1 to 2 days), another stunning wildlife viewing spot known for the likely chance of seeing the Big Five in just one day.

  4. The famous, wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park (3 to 5 days), a prime spot for experiencing the majestic wildbeest migration.

On top of these northern circuit essentials, you’ll also get the chance to visit:

  1. The gorgeous Zanzibar Island, where you can relax and treat yourself to top-class white sand beaches.

  2. The Gombe National Park or Mahale Mountains National Park for world-reknowned chimpanzee trekking.

  3. The imposing Kilimanjaro National Park, with a chance to climb up to the top!

Southern Circuit (1-2 weeks)

The southern and western circuits are definitely not as well-known as the northern circuit, but the off-the-beaten-track experience that they can provide can be just as memorable as seeing the Big Five in the northern circuit for the first time.

Here’s a breakdown of the itinerary:

  1. The gorgeous Mikumi National Park (1 to 2 days) makes for an accessible and easy weekend getaway.

  2. The Nyerere National Park (3 to 5 days), previously known as Selous Game Reserve lies on the Rufiji River, making for the perfect spot to embark on scenic boat trips on top of walking safari and game drives.

  3. The Ruaha National Park (3 to 5 days) is another excellent wildlife viewing hotspot, perfect for spotting native animals that aren’t as easily seen in the northern circuit.

On top of these essential stops, you can also opt for spending some time on Zanzibar Island, relaxing on its gorgeous beaches and recharging after weeks of safari trips!

Western Circuit (1 week)

Similarly to the southern circuit, the western circuit is much less crowded and a lot more on the off-the-beaten-path side of things, making for an undiscovered gem in the region if you’re looking for a short trip.

Here’s the main itinerary:

  1. The Mahale Mountains National Park or Gombe National Park (2 to 5 days) for the best chimpanzee trekking in Africa.

  2. The Katavi National Park (2 to 5 days) for excellent wildlife viewing.

Zanzibar Island remains the most popular add-on for this trip, offering the most relaxing breakaway on its gorgeous white sand beaches.

Before You Go (Visa and Vaccination Requirements)

If you’re ready to book your trip to Tanzania and experience the magic of one of its world-famous circuits, make sure everything’s in order before you hop on your flight.

While visitors from over 40 countries don’t need to apply for a t
ourist visa in advance and are visa-exempt for short stays of up to 90 days. Travelers from countries requiring a visa, such as the United States, China, and most European countries, can instead opt for applying online for an eVisa or get a visa on arrival at a border entry point. Keep in mind that on top of lengthy waits at the border, you won’t be able to pay for a visa on arrival with a credit or debit card. You’ll instead need to bring along USD banknotes to pay the $50 single-entry visa fee.

In terms of vaccinations before arrival, Tanzania does not require visitors to have been vaccinated for 
yellow fever unless they are coming from countries where the disease is endemic or stayed in one of these countries for more than 24 hours. Visitors who wish to travel to Zanzibar Island will, however, be required to present proof of yellow fever vaccination.

Tanzania only requires a negative Covid-19 test if your flight operator or country of origin needs one.

Getting There

If you’re planning on heading over to the northern circuit, Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is your gateway to Tanzania’s most popular safari spot, situated just 46km/29mi east of Arusha.

However, Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR) is considered Tanzania’s main airport, located just 13km/8mi southwest of Dar es Salaam, the entry point for travelers visiting the southern parks.

If you’re looking to move between these locations, you can easily fly or drive between reserves from Dar es Salaam and Arusha, hopping on a domestic flight from either Kilimanjaro International Airport or the smaller Arusha Airport.

In most cases, your local tour operator will pick you up from the airport and arrange all further transportation as part of your safari package, allowing you to sit back, relax, and enjoy your stay in Tanzania with complete peace of mind!

Safarigo.com is your one-stop for finding the perfect tour operator and explore all that Tanzania has to offer with zero hassle — get in touch today to make your wildest safari dreams come true!