Tanzania Weather in December 2024: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By Edward | Updated Apr. 16, 2024

December is a part of the "short rains" season. The weather conditions are not optimal for outdoor activities such as safaris, mountain climbing, and beach going, but the end of the month is usually drier. Tourism is moderate except during the Christmas holiday season. We recommend going on wilderness excursions, sightseeing, and seeing urban attractions in December.

Read on for our weather information and travel advice including average temperatures and rainfall, places to go, and travel tips…

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Weather in December: Overview

Averages:

  • Temperature range: 18–30°C (63–85°F)
  • Rainfall: 12 cm (5 inches)
  • Rainy days: 9
  • Sunshine hours/day: 8 hours

Climate Comparison (Averages) for Tanzania's Top Tourism Areas

Tanzania City/Area Temp. Rainfall
Dar Es Salaam (Largest city, travel hub) Hot Moderate
Arusha (Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater) Warm Moderate
Serengeti (Wildlife safaris, Maasai culture) Hot Moderate
Zanzibar (Beaches, island resorts) Very Hot Moderate
Tanzania City/Area Daily High Daily Low
Dar Es Salaam (Largest city, travel hub) 32ºC (90ºF) 23ºC (73ºF)
Arusha (Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater) 27ºC (81ºF) 10ºC (50ºF)
Serengeti (Wildlife safaris, Maasai culture) 28ºC (82ºF) 16ºC (61ºF)
Zanzibar (Beaches, island resorts) 33ºC (91ºF) 23ºC (73ºF)
Tanzania City/Area Rain (cm) Rain (in)
Dar Es Salaam (Largest city, travel hub) 12 5
Arusha (Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater) 10 4
Serengeti (Wildlife safaris, Maasai culture) 11 4
Zanzibar (Beaches, island resorts) 14 6

The weather in December is similar to the weather in November, except that the rainfall conveniently diminishes at the end of the month during the Christmas and New Years' holiday season. The rainfall is moderate, and it usually rains only for a short time in the afternoons. Tanzania has warm to very hot temperatures across the country.

Northern Tanzania: The northern highlands along the Kenyan border are generally cooler than the south. You will have comfortable weather for sightseeing treks and safaris since it is generally only warm. You could enjoy outdoor activities and safaris by going when rain isn't forecasted. Zanzibar's weather is hotter, rainier, and less predictable.

Southern Tanzania: There is less rainfall in the south, so safaris, hiking and other activities are not affected as much as in the north. The big southern national parks, Nyerere and Ruaha, are hotter than the northern ones, and there is moderate to low rainfall, so the weather is usually fine for safaris, hiking, boating, and balloon rides.

Best Places to Visit in Tanzania in December

Top things to do in December include hiking and spending time in the wildernesses, seeing wildlife, and going to the beaches. You could also tour urban tourist places. Consider touring in the huge, wild, and drier southern parks.

1) Dar Es Salaam — Tour the Highlights

The capital, Dar Es Salaam, has both natural and urban attractions to enjoy during your visit. Some tourists use its airport to fly to Zanzibar, and many use it to access the central and southern wilderness preserves. In December, the weather is hot and sunny with moderate rainfall.

You could visit DES's urban attractions when it rains, such as the National Museum, to learn about Tanzania's culture and history. You could also visit street market areas such as Kariakoo to buy some souvenirs, products, fruit and food. The street markets offer a variety of locally-produced and imported goods.

When it is not raining you could go to the beaches, such as South Beach that is crowded and has hotels along it or Bongoyo Island offshore — a protected marine preserve with fine beaches.

Wilderness preserves that are within driving distance of Dar Es Salaam: Pugu Hills Forest Reserve is an hour's drive, and Mikumi National Park is about a 4½ hours' drive away. Nyerere National Park is about 5 to 6 hours away over rough roads.

2) Ngorongoro Crater — Safaris, Hikes, and Lodge Stays

The weather for a safari is good in December at the Ngorongoro crater because if it rains, the rains are short, and the floor has a sheltered drier microclimate. The world's largest unfilled volcanic caldera is a scenic highlight in itself.

Besides fantastic high-altitude scenery, you can ride up close to numerous animals who live in a diverse habitats such as lake, savannah, and woodlands in the huge bowl measuring 260 square kilometers (100 square miles). The floor of the crater is at 1,700 meters (5,577 feet) and the daily highs are about 25°C (76°F).

The rim, at an elevation of 2,300 meters (8,530 feet), is much colder, but it is a tourist highlight in itself because it has posh hotels with fantastic views and good hiking routes. It is cold at night when it sometimes freezes. Ngorongoro is about a 3-hour drive from Arusha.

3) The Southeastern Serengeti — Follow the Great Migration

The most popular national park in Tanzania is the Serengeti because nowhere else on earth do two million herd animals of several kinds congregate together on such a big plain. They wander seemingly in unison in a large circuit, and in December, they are usually in the southern Serengeti and wandering close to the Ngorongoro volcano region.

The short rainy season is when they give birth to their calves and raise them. That is an amazing sight to see. The predators also abound in December. December is a good time to see the migration since the short rains do not usually hamper a safari. You could safari and tour while the crowds and costs are more moderate. Expect warm or hot weather.

The southeast region of the Serengeti is more easily accessible because it is closer to Arusha at about a 7½-hour drive away. It is about 4½ hours away when driving from Ngorongoro. There are direct flights from Arusha airport and other airports.

4) Arusha — Resting, Fine Dining, Shopping and Excursions

Arusha is the 'Safari Capital' for people going on wilderness excursions. It is a good city to use as a base for touring since it has luxurious hotels, backpacker lodges, spas, interesting places to go, and a domestic airport. In December, the weather is warm and the rainfall is moderate.

When it is rainy, you could visit the Natural History Museum, learn about a unique precious gemstone and shop at the Tanzanite Museum, or go to the Sparke Park. Tanzanite is a beautiful, recently discovered colorful gemstone that changes colors based on viewpoint. It is only mined near Kilimanjaro.

Transport: Arusha NP is about an hour away, Ngorongoro 3 hours away, Nairobi 5 hours, Kilimanjaro International Airport an hour.

5) Lake Manyara National Park — Safari and Watch the Birds

Another beautiful national park conveniently close to Arusha for a day excursion is Lake Manyara. Driving from Arusha on the good road only takes 1½ hours by car, and if you are visiting from the Ngorongoro crater, the driving time is only about two hours. So you could have a good day trip and get back to rest and dine at your accommodations.

The park is green and lush, and bird watching is better at this time. Manyara has good wildlife viewing throughout the year. The short rains will usually not affect your trip.

Tips for Visiting Tanzania in December

The first half of the month is a moderate tourism season, but when the Christmas and New Year's holidays arrive, there is a peak travel and tourism period.

The Christmas season is also usually when the weather transitions to a short dry season, so tourists flock in to enjoy the drier weather and festive activities, but you could enjoy lush green scenery with more moderate prices in the first half of December.

Hotels and lodges around the wilderness preserves are often fully booked in December, so book your tours and reservations early. Consider safari and hiking in the big southern preserves for better weather conditions. Zanzibar's hotels are heavily booked during the holidays.

Public holidays in December: There are three major national holidays in Tanzania.

  • December 9 is Independence and Republic Day.
  • December 25, Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus.
  • December 26, Boxing Day is the traditional day for giving gifts.

What to Wear in December

During the short rains, mosquitoes and bugs abound, so wear a lightweight and "breathable" waterproof rain coat or rain jacket, rain pants or a rain poncho. Because it is sunny when it is not raining, a long-sleeved shirt, light trousers or a long dress, and a sunhat to help avoid sunburn.

The mosquitoes, flies and other insects propagate in the rainy weather, so you can avoid them by applying oils of citronella or lemon grass. Bring warm clothing if you are going to northern areas such as the Serengeti and Arusha or to higher elevations because mornings and nights might get chilly.

Clothes for wildlife parks: Dark colors attract tsetse flies. It is important to wear neutral-colored clothes to avoid alarming the animals.

Monthly Weather in Tanzania

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