The Weather and Climate in Tanzania
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Tanzania weather and Climate
Tanzania is a big African country which overlooks the Indian Ocean and lies just south of the Equator. Much of the country is covered by a plateau, where a large number of world-famous tourist attractions are found, in particular, the savannah environment with its characteristic flora and fauna, preserved in various parks and nature reserves. This plateau has a subtropical or tropical climate, not too hot because of altitude. On the contrary, the thin coastal stretch is hot and humid throughout the year, especially from November to April.
The June-August period (kipupwe) is the coolest of the year, and is dry almost everywhere.
As regards to the rain pattern, the country can be divided into four zones. In the north and the east, except in the region of Lake Victoria, there are two rainy seasons: one less intense, known as short rains season (vuli), between October and December, and the other more intense, known as long rains season (masika), from March to May, with a peak in April. In January and February, in the period between the two rainy seasons (kiangazi), the weather is hot and sultry, at least below a thousand meters (3,300 feet).
In the far north-west, the two rainy seasons are practically connected, in fact, it rains even in January and February, when rainfall amounts to 100/150 millimeters (4/6 inches) per month depending on the area; therefore, in this region, there is practically a single rainy season from October to May. Such a situation is also found in a few areas of the north-east, in particular, along the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
In the center and south, there’s only one rainy season, from December to April in the south and south-east, and from November to April in the west.
The division of the country according to the rainy seasons is indicated in the following map, where we can sea the areas where there are one or two rainy seasons, and the months when they occur.
Climate Chart - Tanzania
Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, is located at 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) above sea level, in an inland dry area, and has a single rainy season. In an average year, only 600 mm (23.5 in) of rain fall, most of which occur from December to mid-April, while it almost never rains from May to October.
In October and November, before the rains, it can get hot, but peaks around 35 °C (95 °F) are possible until February. So, the best time here is from May to September, when the temperature is about 27/29 °C (81/84 °F) during the day and about 15 °C (59 °F) at night; sometimes, there can be a few colder nights, around 12 °C (54 °F). Here are the average temperatures.
In Iringa, the climate is similar, but it is a bit cooler, since the city is located at 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above sea level, and therefore it’s never excessively hot, while it can be a bit cold at night, especially from May to September.
Best time to Visit Tanzania
The best time to visit Tanzania as a whole runs from July to August, since it is the coolest, the sunniest and driest of the year. June is a good month almost everywhere, but in the north-east and on the island of Pemba, the long rains can linger until this month. September is also a good month, but at lower elevations it can be hot during the day. In October, the season of the short rains begins in the north, though there is usually little rain in the first half of the month, however, it can get hot at low altitudes.
In January, the south is in full rainy season, so it rains a lot. If you want to visit the country in the Northern Hemisphere winter (January and February), you can choose the northern areas, which, in this period, are in the short and hot dry season, remembering that on the coast and at lower altitudes it’s hot, and that some showers in the afternoon may still occur, especially on the shores of Lake Victoria and in high mountains like Kilimanjaro.
In the Serengeti, you can go from June to September, with a preference for June, in the period of the wildebeest migration through the rivers, before the animals move to Kenya, or even in January and February, to watch them in the southern part, towards the Olduvai Gorge.
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Tanzania is one of Africa’s top safari destinations. The wildlife viewing is out of this world and big cats are especially easy to see. All members of the Big Five can be found in various Tanzanian parks and reserves, and all five are present in the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park.
The most frequent expeditions are obviously to Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, but there are also other destinations such as the Crater Highlands. Trekking companies will happily put together an itinerary that suits your preferences and all other important details for your comfortability.
Unguja/Zanzibar Island, is the main island in the Tanzania. Stone Town, part of Zanzibar, is an old trade center, with mosques and winding lanes. The 1883 House of Wonders is a former sultan’s palace with a clock tower. The Old Fort now houses a cultural center and a stone amphitheater, The best beaches!
What to Pack?
In inland areas, in general, it’s better to dress in layers, and to bring warmer clothes at high altitudes, and lighter at low altitudes and in the warm season. You can also bring a sun hat and sunscreen, and a raincoat for the rain showers in the rainy periods. In parks and reserves, bring neutral-colored clothes, and comfortable canvas shoes.
When going mountain climbing, bring hiking shoes. For the summit of Kilimanjaro, throughout the year, bring cold weather clothing, synthetic, thermal long underwear, a fleece, a parka, a wind jacket, warm boots, sunglasses,and sunscreen.
When going to the reef, you can bring snorkeling equipment, including water shoes or rubber-soled shoes.
In winter (June to August): on the coast (Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar), bring light clothing, a sweatshirt for the evening, a light scarf for the breeze. On the shores of lakes Malawi and Tanganyika, light clothing, a sweatshirt and a light jacket, and a light scarf for the breeze. In Arusha, Dodoma, the Serengeti and Lake Victoria, light clothes for the day, a sweater and a jacket for the evening. In Ngorongoro and the plateau above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), spring/autumn clothes, with a jacket and a sweater; above 3,000 meters (9,800 ft), a warm jacket and a hat.
In summer (December to February): on the coast (Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar), bring light clothing, made of natural fibers, a light sweatshirt for the evening, and a light raincoat or umbrella, especially in the south (see Mtwara). In Dodoma, and on the shores of lakes Malawi, Tanganyika and Victoria, light clothing, made of natural fibers, a sun hat, a light sweatshirt for the evening, and a light raincoat or umbrella. In Arusha, the Serengeti and the plateau at intermediate altitudes, you can add a jacket and a sweater for the evening. In Ngorongoro and the plateau above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), spring/autumn clothes, with a jacket and a sweater, and a raincoat or umbrella; above 3,000 meters (9,800 ft), a down jacket and a hat.
Tanzania Cities Map
Tanzania Weather and Climate FAQ
The warmest months (with the highest average high temperature) are February and March (30.9°C). The month with the lowest average high temperature is July (27.6°C). Months with the highest average low temperature are January and February (25.3°C).
Dar es Salaam’s climate is tropical, which means there is hot weather and high humidity all year round. Humidity peaks in March and April.
February: February is typically the warmest month in Tanzania, with high temperatures reaching the upper 80s F in some areas.
Not very Cold, but YES! Nights are cool throughout the year, especially from June to September, when lows can drop to 10 °C (50 °F), while during the day, the temperature fluctuates around 22/23 °C (72/73 °F).
Only in Kilimanjaro, YES! One can expect snow only on the summits of the mountains in the winters in Tanzania. When is winter in Tanzania? Owing to its proximity to the equator, Tanzania has only two seasons (rainy and dry seasons) unlike the four calendar seasons elsewhere in the world.
|July||9 °C / 48 °F||21 °C / 70 °F|
|August||9 °C / 48 °F||22 °C / 72 °F|
|September||8 °C / 46 °F||24 °C / 75 °F|
|October||11 °C / 52 °F||27 °C / 81 °F|
From June to October, it’s winter in Tanzania, we call it the dry season. It hardly ever rains and the temperatures are pleasant. The weather is warm but you don’t suffer from the heat.
Sea water temperature throughout Tanzania warms above 20°C and it is enough for a comfortable bath. The warmest sea temperature in Tanzania today is 29.2°C (in Zanzibar), and the coldest water temperature is 24.9°C (Lake Manyara).
YES! Tanzania has a tropical climate and is divided into four main climatic zones: the hot humid coastal plain; the semi-arid central plateau; the high rainfall lake regions; and the temperate highlands. Humidity is often high ranging from 50% to 80%. Tanzania has two major rainfall regimes.
YES! December falls in the midst of the short rains so except some rain and wet weather. Tourist numbers are low for the first half of the month, but for two weeks over Christmas and New Year everything is choc-a-block, so it’s best to avoid the last-minute rush and book well in advance.