Tanzania - Wildebeest Migration, Big 5 & Tropical Beaches

Tanzania has a variety of attractions for a classic African safari. From the savannah plains of the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, and Tarangire, go unwind on the beaches and coral reefs of Zanzibar. Enjoy one massive experience after another: incredible year-round game viewing, the Wildebeest Migration, and tropical beach finales.

Rightly famed as one of the finest safari destinations in Africa, Tanzania presents one of the world’s most dramatic stages for a classic safari. The Great Migration, a natural spectacle that sees mighty herds of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles circle the endless plains of the Serengeti and Masai Mara while chasing the rains in a race for life is the highlight of a typical Tanzania safari.

Travelers to this African visual masterpiece revel in a safari experience that represents a perfect example of quality, featuring acacia luxury tented camps, dotted horizons, abundant predators, and a lot of safari action. Literally, it is a country of astonishing natural splendour, incredible wildlife viewing, powder-white beaches, charming ancient towns, and archaeological UNESCO world heritage sites.

Trips to the northern circuit are not complete without a drive down into an ancient volcanic caldera—the Ngorongoro Crater—that teems with wildlife. Travelers are rewarded with the opportunity to tick off the big five in a single morning quite easily.

Besides the great migration and the Big 5 safari experiences, Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest mountain) rises 5,895 m (19,341 ft) above sea level from its surrounding lush, grassy plains. Intrepid travelers are usually drawn to the spectacular snow-capped peak that towers over the land. Interestingly, travelers find it surprisingly easy to climb, and standing on the roof of Africa is a life-changing experience.

An unforgettable wildlife and Kilimanjaro hiking safari in Tanzania is usually climaxed with a serene and relaxing holiday on the sugar-white, palm-fringed sands of Zanzibar Island. The pristine beaches feature an array of characterful boutique hotels, so expect to turn your adventure dreams into reality while exploring Tanzania.

Ready to Start Planning a Tanzania Safari?

A wildlife safari in Tanzania offers the opportunity to experience Tanzania’s legendary parks. Whether it is your first or fifth safari in Tanzania, we will help you curate a lifetime experience in some of Africa’s pristine jungles. Contact one of our safari experts to help you craft a safari itinerary that’s right for you!

What is the Climate of Tanzania?

The climate is diverse as a result of the proximity of the ocean and inland lakes, the wide altitudinal range, and latitude, which govern temperature. It is characterized by two main rain seasons: the long rains (Masika) and the short rains (Vuli), which are associated with the southward and northward movements of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

The long rains begin in mid-March and end in May, while the short rains begin in mid-October and end in early December. The northern part of the country, including areas around the Lake Victoria Basin, the North-Eastern Highlands, and the Northern Coast, experiences a bimodal rainfall regime. Central, South, and Western areas have a prolonged unimodal rainfall regime starting from November to the end of April.

In general, annual rainfall varies from 550 mm in the central part of the country up to 3690 mm in some parts of the south-western highlands. Most of the country receives less than 1,000mm, except the highlands and parts of the extreme south and west, where 1,400 to 2,000mm can be expected. The average annual rainfall in the central regions is around 600mm.

Temperature varies according to geographical location, relief, and altitude. Along the coast and in the off-shore islands, the average temperature ranges between 27°C and 29°C, while in the central, northern, and western parts, temperatures range between 20°C and 30°C. Temperatures are higher between the months of December and March and coolest between June and July. In the Southern highlands and mountainous areas of the north and northeast, temperatures occasionally drop below 15°C at night, and in the cold months of June and July, sub-zero temperatures can also be experienced.

Experiences on your Tanzania safari

1. The Wildebeest Migration

The Wildebeest Migration, also known as the greatest show on earth, is an annual movement of over a million wildebeest accompanied by zebras and gazelles across the Serengeti plains in Tanzania northwards into the adjoining Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. It is one of the world’s most spectacular and thrilling natural displays, which you never want to miss on your Tanzania safari, regardless of the number of times you’ve been there before. The animals spend all their lives in this circular movement, with their primal instincts guiding them towards fresh grazing as they follow the climatic rainfall patterns over the Serengeti-Mara eco-system.

2. Big Game Safari Adventures

With three distinct safari circuits, Tanzania has proven to be the largest East African wildlife destination. You’ll have the opportunity to observe a vast array of wild animals up close, including Africa’s famous Big Five. The rare black rhino can be sighted in the Ngorongoro Crater, although it is quite elusive. The Serengeti boasts an abundance of big cats, so big cat lovers will marvel at the antics of these nimble creatures on their Serengeti expedition. Nyerere and Ruaha host a considerable number of the highly endangered African Wild dog, which is relatively easy to find, while Gombe Stream and Mahale are Africa’s best chimpanzee reserves.

3. Zanzibar Island

There is such a wide range of activities to engage in on your Zanzibar safari that you’ll be spoilt for choice, and regardless of how long you spend, you’ll definitely wish it was longer! Although most people think of the miles of white sand, palm-fringed beaches surrounded by the turquoise blue water of the Indian Ocean, you can also visit the historic section of Zanzibar City, Stone Town, an ancient culture-rich melting pot where Arabic, Persian, Indian, and European influences have merged over centuries, presenting a unique and fascinating destination to travelers. There’s so much to experience in this captivating town, such as wandering the ancient alleyways, taking a Stroll to Freddie Mercury’s house, visiting the Old Fort, and seeing the Former Slave Market, among others.

4. Bird Watching

Avid birders have a wide range of species to explore in one of Africa’s finest birding destinations, with various habitats. Tanzania has one of the most extensive bird lists, which features over 1,100 species. About 800 are residents, while nearly 200 are regular migrants. 22 species are endemic and unique to Tanzania, and a further 43 are near-endemic and restricted to Tanzania and neighbouring countries only. Migrants are normally present from November to April.

5. Ancient Cultures

You will encounter unique people and cultures, such as the traditional red-robed, bead-bedecked nomadic Maasai in the north, Mto wa Mbu, a multicultural village-cum-town near Lake Manyara National Park,Lake Eyasi, the land of the Hadzabe and Datoga, and the heady, exotic mix of Arab and African influences in Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia.

6. Meet the Gorillas

You can combine your Serengeti or Arusha safari with a trip to Uganda or Rwanda and join the lucky few travelers who have had the opportunity to sit with a bulky silverback mountain gorilla on the chilly floor of one of the world’s remaining rainforests. A visit to East Africa is incomplete until you walk with these great apes in their natural habitat.

When is the best time to Visit Tanzania?

High/peak Season (wildlife viewing)

June to September is the time of year when the weather is cooler and dry, and most days are sunny. Wildlife viewing is easiest due to the thin vegetation, and the animals congregate around dwindling water holes. June and July are the best times to witness the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti. However, there is usually overcrowding in hotels during this time, with high-season prices in place, so we recommend booking early.

Shoulder Season (wildebeest calving)

The weather is hot from October to February, especially December through February, and the mvuli (short rains) fall and the kusi (seasonal trade wind) blow from late October. From late January on, wildebeest calving starts to occur in the southern Serengeti. High-season prices also apply from mid-December to early February.

Low Season (discounted stays)

Heavy rains make secondary roads muddy and some areas inaccessible from March to May, but it seldom rains all day, every day, and landscapes are lush and green. Birdwatching is at its best, and photography is excellent at this time of year. Some hotels close, while others offer discounts since it’s low season. So, travelers can take advantage of less crowded parks and lower rates in the north of the country.

Popular parks to visit on your first trip

Serengeti NP

Serengeti National Park - Wildebeest Migration & Big 5

The Serengeti hosts the great wildebeest migration, which helps secure it as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. It is also one of the best places to observe lion prides in their natural environment…

Ngorongoro C/A

The huge crater is home to a population of black rhinos, some 25,000 hoofed mammals and the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa, such as lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals…

Lake Manyara NP

Lake Manyara provides a unique wilderness experience with diverse landscapes including the Rift Valley soda lake, open grasslands. It is popular for its tree-climbing lions and prolific bird life…

Tarangire NP

A good choice for travelers who wish to encounter more wildlife and fewer tourists. It is a wonderful birding destination and features large numbers of game and a high number of scenic baobab trees…

Get Inspired by these Tailor-made Tanzania Safaris