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Rainy Season Safari in Tanzania

Elephants are among the Big Five to see on Safari.
Elephants are among the Big Five to see on Safari.
Janice McDonald

For those planning ahead to a safari in Tanzania, the rainy season can actually be one of the better times to travel if you don't mind the occasional deluge. The season lasts from mid to late March through late May. The rains do come, but they generally do not last long and there are many days with no rains at all.
This is considered low season and there a far fewer tourists in country than any other time of year. As such, game parks are less crowded and rates are lower on hotels and tour packages.
Another plus to the rainy season is that if you are there for the wildlife (and most people are), it's a very active time.
The time frame coincides with the migration of the wildebeest north towards the Mara of Kenya. The spectacle of thousands of wildebeests and their babies galloping across the Serengeti is alone worth the journey. The name Serengeti is derived from the word "serengit" in the Maasai language, meaning "endless plains." And you will soon see why.
Amazingly, all wildebeest calves are born within a two or three week period, so during the migration, all of the calves are the same age.
While it is referred to it as a wildebeest migration, you will also find thousands of zebras moving with along as well. The two rely on one another during migration. Zebra rely on the wildebeest to help them find water, while the zebra are more aware of their surroundings and any dangers which may come.
The rains also mean the scenery is incredibly green. Rivers and pools are full and food is readily available for the animals. Both the grazers and, by design, the predators alike.
Each safari hopes to see the "Big Five." The Big Five being a lion, a Cape Buffalo, an elephant, a rhinoceros and a leopard. The rhino is the hardest of the five to spot in Tanzania and your best bet is inside the Ngorongoro crater. The volcanic crater is a conservation site and its bowl provides a natural protective habitat for many species. (There are several other volcanic craters in Tanzania but Ngoronagoro is the largest.)
To get to the Ngorongoro Crater or the Serengeti, you must fly into to Kilimanjaro Airport near the city of Arusha. The drive is about two hours and there are game lodges available if you would like to spend time there. The drive to the Serengeti is another three hours, but the trip is a bombardment of the sense as you pass through small villages and across vast lands, watching day to day life and an array of animals along the way. (Charter flights can be arranged.)
The closer you get, you will find yourself also passing Maasai villages. While their mud huts have them blend into the surroundings, the tribes men and women stand out with their colorful dress. Visitors are generally always welcome, but it is best to have your guide make the arrangements.

A wildebeest pauses while eating grass in the Serengeti
Janice McDonald


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