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Best time to visit the Serengeti

When and where to go in the Serengeti



Marketing Manager
Published on

29 May 2023

Serengeti Wildebeest Migration

One of the great advantages of visiting Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is that you can witness spectacular wildlife all-year-round without any limitations, regardless of the season.

With a size covering over 14,763 square kilometres, Serengeti National Park is one of the most renowned safari destinations in the world, and with good reason - home to the wildebeest migration, as well as the African elephant, lions, leopards, zebras and more.

When planning a visit to Serengeti, one of the most significant considerations is figuring out the best time to go. This decision is influenced by various factors, including the weather, budget, and personal preferences, which we will discuss in detail below.

Great Migration - Key Events

Most people want to see the spectacular Serengeti wildebeest migration when planning their safari to Tanzania.

Luckily, since this is an annual cycle, you can witness the migration any time of year in the park; however, at different times of the year, you will see different parts of the cycle.

Great Migraiotn Map
Great Migration map

December - Beginning Of Calving Season

This season starts around December. The countless herds gather in Southern Serengeti National Park and around an area called Ndutu/Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

January to March - Calving Season

This is the peak of the calving season in Serengeti between January and March, attracting numerous predators like lions and hyenas due to the scattering of young wildebeest in the southern area of the park.

Around 500,000 calves are born during February; you can see great calving sightings around this time, although there might be some rain.

After calving, they will start to head North since the South is beginning to dry out before the rainy season starts meaning the plains are less luscious. Any of the Ngorongoro crater lodges are great to stay at during this time.

May to July - Trekking North

The time from May to July is when the migration of herds heads to North Serengeti and into the Western corridor. It is also mating season.

Visiting the in June is popular as it is entering the dry season and you can see the start of the river crossings.

July to October - River Crossings

Between July to October is when the Mara river crossings happen. Dramatic events which are often bucket list safari items.

By November, they will return South to cross the river again into Serengeti, and the process starts all over again.

Serengeti Wildebeest Migration
Wildebeest migration

Month-by-month guide

January - February

If you're looking to avoid the crowds which are found during the high season, then January and February are great months to visit the southern part of Serengeti National Park, particularly the Ndutu area.

Around this time, the Serengeti plains are still lush, and it's calving season, which makes it an attractive time for photographers to take a safari in Ndutu or Ngorongoro crater. You can also see migratory birds at this time.

That being said, January can be expensive for safari lodges with prices starting to fall around February to March before the rains begin again. As the plains dry out, it can be easier to spot lions during this time and road conditions tend to be better.

Keep in mind that Tanzania has some of its hottest weather during January and February, so make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen.

Ndutu  Safari  Lodge  Wildlife
Ndutu safari lodge
Ngorongoro Crater
Ngorongoro Crater

March - May

This is the beginning of the wet season in Serengeti, the plains will grow to be lush, and crowds will be less as you enter the low season, allowing you to have a more budget-friendly safari.

Visiting at the beginning of March can be a very rewarding time, as before the rains, there is plenty of opportunity to see wildlife around watering holes where they will gather if the plains are dry. It is also a wonderful time to visit the Ngorongoro Crater which can become very busy in peak times.

During April which is the peak rainy season, the roads which can become difficult due to the heavy rains, and some lodges also close due to the lack of visitors, making it a peaceful time to explore the off-beat tracks around south and central Serengeti.

Serengeti Rainy Season
Rainy season
Lions Ngorongoro
Lions in Ngoronogoro


Once the long rains start to taper off, this is known as the shoulder season in Serengeti; it's a photographer's dream, with luscious green plains and the wildebeest begin moving north.

As herds start to move North, staying in Southern/Central Serengeti in a region called Seronera during this time is recommended, although some roads might be impassable with the heavy rains. In June, the majority of herds will be at the Grumeti River, which whilst not as dramatic as the Mara river crossings, is still a spectacle of wildebeest battling through the crocodile-infested waters in hunt of fresh pastures.

You might even get lucky and spot some leopards at the Seronera River where their population is dense.

Wildlife In The Seronera Area Game Drive From Kubu Kubu Tented Lodge
Grumeti  River  Camp  Resident  Hippo
Hippo at Grumeti river

July - August

This is peak season in Serengeti and perhaps the ultimate period to travel to Northern Serengeti and witness the migration crossing the Mara River, wildlife viewing is optimal thanks to the rains drying up, making road conditions better. Staying in the Western corridor is ideal during this time.

The weather is dry and pleasant, but it can get chilly at night, so bring a jacket.

Since this is peak season, prices will also be the most expensive, but it can be a great time to combine your safari with a Masai Mara visit or to the beaches of Zanzibar.

Masai Mara Wildebeest Migration
Mara river crossing
Serengeti Wildebeest Migration
Wildebeest migration

September - October

As the Wildebeest start to cross the Mara River again and return south, this is also an excellent time to visit the North of Serengeti in particular if you plan to see the migration.

Since the weather is still dry, you could participate in activities such as hot air balloon rides, a great way to see the plains, wildlife and migration from above as well as other animals such as zebras and gazelles.

Cheetah Serengeti
Viewing Zebra From The Balloon
Hot air balloon

November - December

With only the occasional showers in the afternoon and hot temperatures during the day, visiting the Serengeti during November and December is ideal.

The park is lush and green, making it perfect for wildlife viewing and photo opportunities; plus, it's low season, so prices will start to fall, although expect peak prices during Christmas and New Year.

This is also a pivotal time to view Migratory bird species and famous birds such as the Secretary bird and Kori bustard due to it being the start of the breeding season till April.

Serengeti Sunrise
Sunrise in the Serengeti
Secretary Bird Kenya
Secretary bird


When is peak season?

The peak season from Jun - September coincides with the dry season. The bush thins out making wildlife easier to spot, the days are sunny and warm, and the river crossing migration also happens during this time from Western to Northern Serengeti.

The disadvantages are that it is the most crowded time to visit Serengeti National Park, with peak prices during July and August.

When is the low season?

The low season is around April to May and October to November since these are the rainy seasons, still, they are less crowded, making it an attractive time to visit if you want a more budget-friendly safari and are okay with getting wet occasionally, temperatures are also more pleasant and cool.

Can you explain the wet and dry seasons?

There are four weather seasons in Tanzania; short rains, dry season, long rains and hot season. The dry period is also known as the 'peak season' in Tanzania, this is between June to October.

During the dry season, there are many benefits to going on a wildlife safari in Serengeti, the first being it is easier to spot wildlife since the vegetation is drier, and second, water is sparse, which means wild animals gather around watering holes making them easier to spot. Temperatures during this time are hot, but not as high as the months of January and February.

However, you can enjoy magnificent wildlife viewing during the rainy season too. Between November and May, the vegetation becomes lush and green; this attracts bird species such as the Secretary bird and is also great for photography.

It is worth noting that during the long rainy season April - May, many lodges tend to close around Serengeti National Park since roads and terrain can become challenging to navigate due to the heavy rains.

Weather seasons in Tanzania are becoming more unpredictable due to changing weather patterns because of climate change, so the rainy season can be a great time to book if you're on a budget.

Can I visit the Serengeti in the rainy season?

Nowadays, due to climate change, the rainy seasons in Serengeti can be unpredictable, starting later than usual. This makes March and early April a great time to go on safari to avoid peak prices and crowds.

Many people avoid planning their Serengeti safari around these times but the rainy season can be a perfect time for viewing baby animals after the birthing season; with lush green plains, you can still see active wildlife.

You can also combine your safari with cultural trips visiting the Maasai and local villages in surrounding areas and the tourist hub Arusha.

Other articles you might enjoy:

Walking Safaris in Tanzania

Driving vs Fly-In Safaris Tanzania

Where to see the Big Five in Tanzania

Kenya vs Tanzania safari - which is best?

The wildebeest migration: ultimate viewing guide

Best Time To Visit Tanzania

If you'd like to plan a safari to Tanzania, chat to one of our team who will be able to advise on the best time to visit and where to stay.


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