Situated just south of the equator, Tanzania is a vast country with a variable climate that depends heavily on the elevation and geography of your chosen destination. Generally speaking, the weather is tropical; particularly on the coast, where heat and humidity prevail. However, the northwestern highlands are consistently cool, while the central plateau remains dry and arid all year round. In this article, we look at the weather and average temperatures for a few of Tanzania's most popular tourist destinations.
Most of Tanzania experiences two rainy seasons and two dry seasons every year. The long rains usually last from early March to late May, bringing with them heavy afternoon downpours and high humidity. Temperatures at this time of year frequently exceed 86ºF/ 30ºC. The short rainy season (November and December) sees lighter, less reliable rains and the start of the hottest time of year, which lasts until the end of February. Temperatures during this period can get as high as 104ºF/ 40ºC.
January and February constitute the short dry season. The most pleasant time of year, however, is the long dry season which lasts from late June to mid October. During this time, rainfall is uncommon, while clear skies and plenty of sunshine are to be expected. Temperatures are relatively cool, and can be chilly on early morning game drives. Of course, the higher slopes of famous Tanzanian peaks including Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru can experience sub-zero temperatures at any time of year.
Dar es Salaam Weather
Located two-thirds of the way up the country's coastline, Dar es Salaam is Tanzania's largest city. It stays hot and humid throughout the year, with rainfall a possibility even during the dry seasons. During the rainy seasons, precipitation is more reliable here than it is inland.
Afternoon downpours are heavy but brief, and often bookended by sunny weather. Even in the hottest months (December to March), the humidity is offset by cooling ocean breezes, making the coast the most pleasant place to be at this time. Temperatures for Dar es Salaam are similar to those for other coastal cities and islands like Zanzibar and Pemba.
The port town of Kigoma lies on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in western Tanzania. The weather here is representative of the weather at other western destinations, including Gombe National Park, Katavi National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park. Temperatures remain stable all year round, with daytime highs of around 82ºF/ 28ºC and lows of around 68ºF/ 20ºC. Precipitation follows the same pattern as the rest of the country, with the majority of the region's rain falling between November and April. June, July and August are Kigoma's driest months.
Nestled at the base of Mount Meru, the city of Arusha is the gateway to Kilimanjaro and the country's iconic northern safari destinations, including Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Arusha's elevation at 4,590 feet/ 1,400 meters means that temperatures remain relatively cool all year round. In fact, the weather can be decidedly chilly at night (especially during the June to October dry season). Rainfall is almost negligible at this time, with most of the precipitation falling in March and April.
These months are the greenest, and the best for viewing the annual wildebeest migration.
This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on May 29th 2018.