Tanzania Weather in May: Travel Tips for First-Timers

Tanzania Weather in May: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By Edward | Updated Feb. 21, 2024

May is in the rainy season, and it is usually cloudy. There is moderate to high rainfall all over the country that disrupts beach going, safaris, and hiking. So, we mainly recommend seeing the highlights in the urban areas and going to the wilderness preserves near them as weather conditions permit.

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

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Tanzania Weather in May: Overview

Averages:

  • Temperature range: 18–28°C (64–82°F)
  • Rainfall: 19 cm (7 inches)
  • Rainy days: 13
  • Sunshine hours/day:7 hours

Weather of Tanzania's Major Cities in April

Tanzania City Temperature Rainfall
Dar Es Salaam (Largest city, travel hub) Hot High
Arusha (Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater) Warm High
Serengeti (Wildlife safaris, Maasai culture) Hot Moderate
Zanzibar (Beaches, island resorts) Hot High
Tanzania City Daily High Temp. Daily Low Temp.
Dar Es Salaam (Largest city, travel hub) 30ºC (86ºF) 21ºC (70ºF)
Arusha (Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater) 22ºC (72ºF) 11ºC (52ºF)
Serengeti (Wildlife safaris, Maasai culture) 27ºC (81ºF) 15ºC (59ºF)
Zanzibar (Beaches, island resorts) 31ºC (88ºF) 23ºC (73ºF)
Tanzania City Rain (cm) Rain (in)
Dar Es Salaam (Largest city, travel hub) 20 8
Arusha (Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater) 21 8
Serengeti (Wildlife safaris, Maasai culture) 9 4
Zanzibar (Beaches, island resorts) 26 10

Northern Tanzania: It rains half of the days of the month, but seldom all day, at the famous northern attractions. There are warm to hot temperatures and moderate to high rainfall. Tanzania has the greatest concentration of large wild animals in the world, and though conditions are not the best for spotting the most wildlife, with a good guide, you still can see many amid beautiful scenery.

Southern Tanzania: In May, there is moderate to low rainfall since some areas such as Ruaha National Park are in dry season earlier than the rest of Tanzania. Weather conditions are usually fair or good in both Ruaha and Nyerere by the end of May.

The Best Places to Visit in Tanzania in May

Top things to do in May include enjoying the urban highlights and seeing wildlife.

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1. Dar Es Salaam — Tour the Highlights

Dar Es Salaam is the capital city with a population of 6 million. Many tourists use its airport, and the airport is the largest in Tanzania. It is hot, and its rainfall is high with flooding possible.

Things to do in the city when rain hampers outdoors activities include visiting the The National Museum to learn about Tanzanian history and culture. When it is not raining, you could shop at the local street markets such as Kariakoo and the see the Botanical Gardens. Bongoyo Island is a protected island offshore for a natural get away.

Natural parklands within driving distance of Dar Es Salaam: Pugu Hills Forest Reserve (1 hour's drive) and Mikumi National Park (4½ hours' drive).

2. Ngorongoro Crater — Safari

Of all the famous safari areas of Tanzania you could visit in May, Ngorongoro is recommended for best weather conditions and animal sightings. There are a lot of big animals such as elephants in the biggest volcanic crater on the planet, and conditions for driving and sightseeing are usually fine.

The crater floor is milder and drier because the altitude-2,300-meter (8,500-feet) rim shelters it and forms a drier micro-climate. The floor is about 1,700 meters (5,600 feet) above sea level. Expect freezing temperatures and more precipitation on the rim.

An advantage of going in May is that there are thinner crowds and lower costs. Tanzania is green, lush and beautiful. As of 2024, the entrance fee per adult is 70 USD. Driving from Arusha takes about 3 hours.

3. Tarangire NP — Wildlife and Beautiful Wilderness Close to Arusha

Tarangire preserve is in the plain below Ngorongoro. It is a good place to safari in May, especially at the end of the month when it is drier, because it is much like the Serengeti and conveniently close to both Arusha and the Ngorongoro rim where you could stay in a guesthouse or hotel.

It is suited for a day trip from Arusha since there are good roads. Tarangire is known for its elephant herds and river animals, but the big baobab trees and other vegetation often block the views.

Transport: Tarangire is located 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Arusha and is about a 2-hour drive away. There are landing strips for flights. It is a 3-hour drive from Ngorongoro.

4. Central Serengeti — See the Great Migration

The Serengeti and Maasai Mara are world famous for the annual Great Migration of about 1.5 million wildebeest, 300,000 gazelles, 200,000 zebras, and 100,000 buffaloes along with hyenas and other animals in the vast plains. Serengeti has the most lions in Tanzania, about 3,500.

The Serengeti is the third largest national park in Tanzania and attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year. A perk for visiting in May is that costs are low since it is low season. There are many fewer people competing to see one of the most impressive natural events.

You can take full advantage of the permanent central Serengeti camps for about half the price when it is quieter with fewer people. The rainfall is moderate though. While the rains are heaviest in the first half of May, the herds congregate in the central Serengeti. Then they start going to the Western Corridor.

Transport: It takes about 9 hours to drive there from Arusha airport. There are direct flights.

5. Arusha — Resting, Food, and Excursions

The little city of Arusha is called the Safari Capital because people going on wilderness excursions use it as a base. There are luxurious lodges and hotels, spas, places to go, and a domestic airport. In May, the weather is warm and the rainfall is high.

You could visit the Natural History Museum, the Tanzanite Museum, or the Snake Park. Tanzanite, a unique beautiful gemstone that changes colors based on viewpoint, is mined only near Kilimanjaro. It would be an excellent souvenir, and you can buy it locally.

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

Low Tourist Season: Touring Advice for May

May is in Tanzania's low tourist season, so there is a mix of lower prices for accommodations, thinner crowds, and great lush green wilderness. High vegetation hampers views. Though heavy rains could hamper tourist activities, you could visit near the end the month to avoid much of the May rains.

We recommend you tour in the northern Tanzania in May for better weather conditions, better nature preserves, and more things to do. In May, the parks in the north still get a lot of visitors, but many lodges and hotels are closed in the southern and western park areas.

Public holidays in May: May 1 is Labor Day.

What to Wear in May

We recommend that you wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt, and light trousers or a long dress to avoid sunburn and help protect you from mosquito and tsetse fly bites. Avoid dark colors as they attract tsetse flies. A mosquito net might be needed. Carry mosquito repellent.

Wildlife parks: Bring a jacket for the highlands and winter clothes for the high mountains such as Ngorongoro. Bring an umbrella and a rainproof jacket or raincoat since umbrellas won't be suitable in some situations. Neutral-colored clothes are recommended to avoid alarming the animals.

Monthly Weather in Tanzania

We recommend a private tour for Tanzania. Our travel experts know the local conditions and are good at optimizing your trip for comfort, enjoyment, safety, and speed of travel. Our guides and private drivers speak the local languages to help you communicate better with the people and shop.

We at Global Highlights recognize that you may want some private time with your traveling companion or companions while doing things such as hiking in a wilderness preserve or going on safari. We are flexible to do as much itinerary tailoring and expert arranging as you would wish to make the best trip for you.

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