December can be a little wet – it is not yet the true green season, but December and November are known together as the short rainy season. Rainstorms will often appear in the early afternoon and be short, clearing to beautiful blue skies and excellent photographic conditions.
With the rain, the landscape blooms into lush, verdant beauty. December’s rainy period is a welcome respite from the constant sun of the long dry season and it awakens as a result. Temperatures are decent, and can get quite high with the humidity that the rain brings, hitting highs of 28°C and lows of 16°C.
Accommodation in December
December is a month with a definite divide when it comes to accommodation pricing and availability, and we are sure you will understand why. The first two weeks of December are high season, with tourism not quite as popular as other times due to the rain. However, the last two weeks of December are packed.
Because of the holidays at the end of December and the time off that comes with it, accommodation becomes full very quickly and prices are raised to match it in this quick peak season. If you’re planning on visiting Tanzania over Christmas or New Year, planning well in advance is key so contact us if holiday travels are on the cards!
Visiting the Northern Circuit of Tanzania in December
The wildebeest migration in December
The trek, which started in October, moving from north to south, is coming to an end. After the seasonal rains begin, the herd moves south and through the central Serengeti looking for new food sources, and finding them in the short grass plains of the southern Serengeti.
With this abundance of food and water, the wildebeests will settle in Ndutu and the southern Serengeti region for a time to feed and calve. However, this does not mean that life will get any easier. With a herd on the move and calving happening, canny predators will try to pick off easy targets.
Climbing mount Kilimanjaro in December
Kilimanjaro can be a little unpredictable in December. The short rainy season extends into December, meaning some people are more hesitant to attempt to summit the mountain due to difficult climbing conditions. However, December remains a good time to attempt the climb because there are fewer people.
Even though the Christmas/New Year’s holidays happen in December, many tourists decide to forego the climb due to the weather conditions. Kilimanjaro, however, is more than up to the task of a little rain, and people who try the climb in December are rewarded with a more satisfying feeling of accomplishment.
Game drives, wildlife and birds in December
The wildlife around Tanzania’s northern circuit is enjoying a delightful period of green growth and plentiful food. Because of the seasonal rains, December is an excellent time for bird-watching as migratory birds have arrived back in the national parks in full force.
While the green season does not hold the same wildlife density as the dry season, there are some spots in December that absolutely flourish – the Seronera region in central Serengeti along with the Ngorongoro Crater both have year-round high numbers of animals.
Visiting the beaches and islands of Tanzania in December
Zanzibar Island in December
Travelling to Zanzibar in December is like walking into a dream: beautiful, ancient buildings in Stone Town, scenic natural jungles, unblemished white beaches, and turquoise seas await you as you step away from reality and into paradise. December is also the last opportunity you may have to swim with whale sharks!
December is a transition period in Zanzibar – the infrequent bursts of rain gradually giving way to hot, sunny weather that will last for the next two months. Coming off a usually wet November, December sees the island’s vegetation flush with life, giving the island a particularly tropical feel.
Mafia Island in December
If your ideal Christmas getaway involves few people, pristine white beaches, and letting go of all your worries, Mafia Island is the perfect place for you. December has a few rainy days, but nothing that should interrupt a relaxing vacation. This beautiful island more than makes up for it with its high temperatures, plentiful sunshine, and warm ocean currents.
Pemba Island in December
A December vacation may look like snowdrifts and sleighbells in old American movies, but to 21st century tourists, it could look like Pemba Island: a long stretch of untouched beach, softly lapping waves from the Indian Ocean, and a cooling glass of something refreshing in your hand.
Visiting the Southern Circuit of Tanzania in December
Game drives, wildlife, and birds in December
With the return of the rain in November, the short rainy season is in effect, particularly in early December. This means that the landscape, though dry and dusty from June through October, has been revitalised, and the animals are migrating in search of new food sources.
While this does mean that wildlife is no longer concentrated in a few areas, it also means that the migratory birds have returned to the national parks of the southern circuit. Ruaha and Nyerere have excellent birding at this time of year, with birds in full breeding plumage!
Ruaha National Park in December
December follows closely in November’s wake, with the first two or so weeks bringing much-needed rain. This is often a lower season, but around the December holidays, the park will receive a relative influx of tourists compared to what it is used to. Visiting in December will be a treat, as the park is teeming with life and vegetation.
Nyerere National Park (formerly known as Selous Game Reserve) in December
December is a fantastic time of year to visit Nyerere to see the migratory birds arrive. With thousands of birds making their way south from colder northern climates, settling down for the winter, the birds set up in Nyerere much to the delight of all who visit as it is a spectacle to behold!
Visiting the Western Circuit of Tanzania in December
Mahale National Park in December
One of our favourite things about December in Mahale are the striking blue butterflies. Mahale, particularly in the wet season, is a dense jungle simply bursting with colours from both the flora and the fauna. Colourful wildlife, long stretches of lake, and towering mountain vistas: Mahale simply has everything.
Katavi National Park in December
The best thing about Katavi National Park when the wet season returns in December, is that with it comes the abundance of birds back to this area. Home to over 400 species of bird, the wet season marks the beginning of their migratory pattern, meaning the skies will be teeming with bird life!
Gombe National Park in December
December marks the beginning of the wet season in western Tanzania. The transition between the dusty, dry plains and the perpetually beige colouring of Gombe in dry season and the beautiful explosion of colours in wet season is a sight that none can rival. December is also quieter, and the park feels more intimate.