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The Best Time To Visit The Serengeti

A Guide To The Different Seasons of the Serengeti


There’s no doubt about it – Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is one of the greatest wildlife destinations not just in Africa, but on Earth. The Serengeti gets its name from the Maasai word for ‘endless plains,’ this 15,000 square kilometre Eden is one of the marvels of the natural world. Home to the Great Wildebeest Migration – the second largest mammal migration on the planet – and the Big Five, it really takes some beating.


Whether it’s waking up to the sound of hyenas in a luxurious tented camp, encountering your first herd of elephants, or the anticipation of lion, cheetah, or leopard sightings few experiences can rival the thrill of the Serengeti’s acacia studded grasslands, stony kopjes and meandering croc-filled rivers.


Wildebeest herds on the plains of the Serengeti. Photo Untamed Safaris


Before booking your Tanzania safari, you’ll want to know the best seasons to visit the Serengeti! The great news is there is no bad time to visit the Serengeti and each season provides something different and special.

Seasons in the Serengeti


The traditional weather patterns provide a good basis for deciding when to go to Tanzania and the Serengeti. The other main factor is the Great Wildebeest Migration. A year-round event – witnessing the spectacle is all about being in the right place at the right time.

Occupying Africa’s equatorial zone, Tanzania’s weather is dominated by the coming and going of seasonal rains. It’s often said that the months of June to October are the best time to visit the Serengeti since this coincides with Tanzania’s long dry season.


A shorter dry season also arrives around January and February, making the Serengeti a good bet for a Christmas vacation. The primary rainy season lasts from March to May. During these months, afternoon downpours are the norm, but there are still plenty of reasons to consider visiting.

Finally, a shorter wet season sometimes develops during November and December, although these rains are much less certain, and in some years, both months are completely dry.


June - October: The long dry season in the Serengeti June - October


Rain is an incredibly rare sight in the Serengeti during the long dry season of June until October. Instead, safari goers should prepare for daytime temperatures closing in on 30°C thanks to bright sunny skies. It can feel significantly warmer when being driven across the plains where there’s little shade.


All the same, the weather is ideal at this time of year for safaris in the Serengeti. The lack of rain ensures the unsurfaced roads within the national park are passable and the reduced surface water means vegetation and grass thins out and wildlife spotting becomes much easier. As it is peak season expect other vehicles at your sightings and the most expensive time to visit the Serengeti (and in fact all of Africa)


November - December: The short wet season


November and December see the Serengeti get a reprieve from the hot months which have just passed and pushed the wildebeest herds north into Kenya in search of fresh grass. As a result, the great herds turn south and return to the Serengeti, moving through the park’s Loliondo area and into the southern Serengeti. In short, game drives in the Serengeti remain the envy of other destinations.


Even so, this part of the year is often considered the low season in the Serengeti. Both temperatures and visitor numbers are some of the lowest of the year, meaning you should have no problem staying at your first-choice lodge or camp. There are also fantastic rates on offer for this time of year even though the wildebeest migration has arrived from the north. The exception to the rule is during the Christmas vacation period, which is often very busy and charged at a peak rate.


January & February: The short dry season


If the short rains come, by January, the Serengeti has turned from gold to a shade of verdant green as the grasses grow anew. This is especially true in the Serengeti’s southern Ndutu Plains, close to the border with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.


The new grasses attract not only wildebeest herds but also elephants, giraffes and buffalo, all keen to take advantage of the bounty.


February is also calving time for the wildebeest. Roughly 6,000 calves are born every day during February, making this one of the most exciting seasons to visit the Serengeti. Along with the influx of newborn wildebeest come some exciting predator action as both cheetahs and lions seek to take advantage of this new influx of vulnerable prey.


A cheetah chasing a newly born wildebeest calf in the Ndutu area (January). Photo Untamed Safaris

March, April & May: The long rainy season

Although the mere mention of rain can put many off from visiting the Serengeti during this season, March, April and May do have their advantages. For one thing, the Serengeti is quieter, increasing your chances of sighting its rarest creatures – such as the Black Rhino.

This season in the Serengeti also offers some spectacular birding. What’s more, this time of year, the wildebeest herds start to congregate in the southern Serengeti and slowly move north through the Moru kopjes and Seronera areas on their circular 500-kilometre annual migration.

The moisture in the air creates dramatic skies and specactular storms, which makes for some excellent for photography oportunityi. If quiet, relaxed and a slower paced game drives are what you are looking for this can be a great time to come to the Serengeti.


The Serengeti – A Destination For All Seasons


Deciding on the best season to visit the Serengeti can take time and effort. Tanzania’s seasons each offer something different when it comes to wildlife viewing. And what with the Great Wildebeest Migration being a year-round phenomenon, the best season to visit the Serengeti is as much about personal choice as about weather conditions. There really is not bad time to visit the Serengeti and those that might their budget is quite challenged travelling through peak season real should consider some of the other season that still provide an absolutely world class wildlife experience.


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