Wondering whether Tanzania’s climate is all semi-arid desert and savanna? There’s actually comparatively little desert in Tanzania, but there’s a large amount of tropical and subtropical savanna. It’s also a big country with a long coastline, huge plateaus, mountainous regions, and inland geography that’s more suitable for agriculture. Like a lot of equatorial locations, the average temperature isn’t based so much on moving north or south—Tanzania is located just south of the Earth’s equator—but rather moving up or down in elevation and moving toward or away from the coastline.
Near the coast, it stays hot and humid pretty much year-round, with the months of December through March being the most oppressive. The plateaus greatly moderate temperatures into a generally comfortable zone, but this also means you’ll need to be prepared for both the warm and the cold. Get far enough into the mountains, and you’ll see snowfall and glacier formations. Tanzania is the home of Mount Kilimanjaro, after all.
Much of the country sees average precipitation in a moderate 40-50” range, but there are definitely drier and wetter spots. That said, this rainfall occurs disproportionately during two different rainy seasons. A major feature of the annual climate in Tanzania is the Intertropical Convergence Zone—an area where different equatorial trade winds converge. This zone sweeps south through the country from October to December, stays at the southern border of the country and then returns north from March to May. This first period in which the ICZ heads south at the end of the year is known as Mvuli or “short rains” and the second period from March to May is known as Masika or “long rains.” For this reason, there’s also something of a tourist pop during June and July—school’s out for the summer—and January and February as people look to avoid their winter back home in the Northern Hemisphere.
If you want to do an even deeper dive into the averages, records, and other details, you can check out this online resource.