Tanzania has a tropical climate, and temperatures are fairly consistent year-round, at about 77°F–86°F (25°C–30°C) on the lowlands and at the coast, and around 59°F–68°F (15°C–20°C) in the highlands. The most significant variables are altitude and rainfall. The weather conditions in Tanzania in December can be roughly divided into two halves: Early December sees more rain, with the lingering short rains that started in November. By later in December, the weather is drier, although there's still a chance of showers, especially at night.
The period between November and March is often referred to as the "green season" because the rain brings the vegetation back to life after the prolonged dry season (June to October).
Crowds & Costs
Early December is shoulder season in Tanzania, as the rains keep some travelers away even though there are still great wildlife-viewing opportunities to be enjoyed. You may get a good deal on some safari accommodation in early December because even though it's not the peak season, most lodges remain open during the short rains, unlike during the much wetter long rains (April/May).
Things change in late December when travelers from around the world, particularly Europe and North America, make the most of Christmas and New Year vacations to travel somewhere warm. The beach resorts of Zanzibar and other Indian Ocean islands get booked up at this time, so plan well in advance if you want to spend Christmas or New Year in Tanzania.
Where to Go
December is an excellent time to catch the Great Migration of wildebeest in northern parts of Tanzania, as the huge herds of animals start arriving in Tanzania from Kenya in November. By December, numbers will have become more steady, and calving is underway. Northern areas of the Serengeti National Park are the best place to see these herds in December, although herds move south, so get local on-the-ground suggestions for the best places to go.
Migrating herds and birds, head south to Ndutu Lake, between the Maswa Game Reserve and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The area offers consistent game and other wildlife viewings during the green season. As well as millions of wildebeest, come here to see lions, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, leopards, eagle owls, and striped hyenas.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
If swimming with the largest fish in the world, the whale shark, has been on your bucket list, Tanzania is a great place to do it. Whale sharks can be seen near the shores of Zanzibar and the island of Mafia, south of Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, between November and March. Although sea clarity can be affected by the rains, you can still enjoy swimming, diving, or snorkeling with the world's biggest fish. Anyone in the party that doesn't like this idea can enjoy the beautiful white-sand beaches instead.
December is also an excellent time to embark on another classic Tanzanian adventure: scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. This dormant volcano in northeastern Tanzania is the tallest mountain in Africa at 19,340 feet (5,895 m). Climbs can take five to 10 days, depending on the route taken and the number of days reserved for acclimation. It's a great challenge for keen hikers and is not considered a technical climb—it's known as a "walk up." However, don't underestimate the challenge because the altitude can significantly affect climbers.
For a slightly easier, shorter alternative, try Mount Meru (14,967 ft/ 4,562 m) instead. The views from both mountains are exceptional.
Events in December
Swahili Fashion Week, Dar es Salaam. The biggest fashion event in Central-Eastern Africa is held in Dar es Salaam over three days in early December.
Traveling to Tanzania in December? Check out these great itineraries
Hiking Kilimanjaro - 7 Days. An ideal itinerary if you only have a week in Tanzania but want to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. You won't have to rush, either, as this scenic route passes through different ecosystems with incredible views at every step.
Parks & Beaches of Tanzania: Tarangire, Serengeti, Ngorongoro & Zanzibar - 13 Days. Enjoy game drives of Tarangire National Park, Serengeti National Park, and Ngorongoro Conservation Area before flying over to the Zanzibar archipelago, where you'll spend days swimming in crystal-clear waters and diving around corals.