Tanzania has a generally comfortable climate year-round, although there are significant regional variations. The tropical coast stays quite hot and humid with heavy and reliable rainfall, especially during the rainy season. The central plateau is cooler and arid. There are two rainy seasons—the heaviest rains usually fall from mid-March to May, and a shorter period of rain occurs from November to mid-January. The dry season, with cooler temperatures, lasts from May to October.
The areas where we will be traveling are typically warm and dry, although it is surprisingly cold at higher altitudes. Summer usually lasts from November to March, and during this time there is always a chance of afternoon showers.
With altitudes ranging from 3,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level, average daytime temperatures are very comfortable and vary from 70° to 90°F, with a moderate 50° to 60°F at night.
January marks the end of the shorter rainy season, and Tanzania’s “short, dry season” begins, lasting for a few months before it begins to rain again in earnest in March. High temperatures in January are generally in the 80s F while lows range from the upper 50s to low 70s F. Travelers should be prepared for clear, sunny days with short-sleeved shirts and shorts or zip-off pants.
February is typically the warmest month in Tanzania, with high temperatures reaching the upper 80s F in some areas. Be prepared with short-sleeved shirts and shorts or zip-off pants. The short rains can continue into February, so occasional showers are possible.
The beginning of March is much like February—warm and mostly dry. The main rainy season in Tanzania (masika) begins in mid-March. The humidity is high, and daily temperatures reach the mid-to-upper 80s F. Temperatures typically do not cool off much at night—lows do not usually drop below about 60 F, and in some areas remain in the 70s. Afternoon tropical downpours are common, and we recommend a lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket, rain pants, and an inexpensive rain poncho.
As the heavy rains continue, you can expect conditions in April to be much the same as in March. Although it typically rains every day, it seldom rains all day. Heavy afternoon rain showers are common, and a lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket, rain pants, and inexpensive rain poncho are a must.
By May the landscape in Tanzania is usually lush and green as the heavy rains continue, with significant bursts of rain occurring most often in the afternoon. As in March and April, we recommend a lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket, rain pants, and an inexpensive rain poncho.
The rains have ended for the most part by June (although you may still want a rain jacket just in case) and temperatures begin to drop as a cooler, dryer climate sets in for the next several months. Note that it can become very cold at night on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, and early morning game drives may be chilly before the sun comes up. Jackets or sweaters are recommended in the evenings, and warm hats, gloves, and a scarf may be needed in the early morning.
July is another cool, dry month in Tanzania. It can be quite cold at night and in the early mornings, especially at higher elevations. Temperatures can drop as low as 40 F; be prepared with warm layers including jackets, sweaters, warm long pants and warm hats, gloves, and a scarf. By midday, temperatures generally warm to the upper 70s—you’ll want to trade your warm layers for a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or zip-off pants.
The month of August is mild, with lows in the mid-50s F and highs in the upper 70s and low 80s F. A jacket or sweater is recommended for nights and early mornings, and a hat, gloves, and a scarf may also be appreciated for cooler spells. Layers work best to be as comfortable as possible as temperatures shift throughout the day.
Temperatures in September tend to be comfortable during the day with highs in the low to mid-80s F while nights and early mornings can be cool, with temperatures in the upper 50s F. We recommend a jacket or sweater, long pants and a hat, gloves, and a scarf. As the temperature warms during the day, be ready to you shed your outer layers for a short-sleeved shirt and shorts or zip-off pants.
October is typically the last month of the long dry season, and it is still relatively cool, clear, and sunny. Daytime temperatures will be mild, and evenings and early mornings will be comfortably cool. Temperatures will increase slightly, ranging from the low 60s F to the mid-to-upper 80s F.
The short rains begin in November. These are much lighter and less predictable than the long rains. We recommend being prepared with a lightweight, “breathable,” waterproof rain jacket, rain pants, and an inexpensive rain poncho. When it is not raining, temperatures will be pleasant, ranging from lows in the mid-60s F to highs in the low 80s F. The best approach is to go with a comfortable base layer when the days are clear and warm and to add warmth and/or waterproof layers as needed.
The short rains continue in December, and clothing recommendations remain much the same as for November. Temperatures range from the mid-60s F to the low 80s F, and light rain is possible each day.
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