Geography and Climate: What’s the Weather Like in Tanzania?

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Tanzania is no small country, geographically. There are approximately 196 countries in the world and Tanzania ranks as the 31st largest, with a land area of 945,087 sqm and 1,424 sqm of coastline to its name. It’s no wonder then that this East African nation is not only the biggest in the region but is also bordered by 6 others, namely Kenya & Uganda in the north; Rwanda, Burundi & the Democratic Republic of Congo in the West; with Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi in the south.

Famous for its unique combination of vast wilderness & tropical islands, Tanzania’s Geography is matched by very few whilst being the envy of very many a country in the world.

The North Regions

It only makes sense to start this off from the top of Africa; Mount Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro, who’s Uhuru Peak is the highest point in Africa, and Mount Meru, once quite the volcanic mountain, are both in the North. Their slopes lay the foundation for two towns, Arusha and Moshi The natural beauty of both mountains, Kilimanjaro especially, draws large numbers of tourists yearly. Moreover, they both present a special treat for the Mountain Climbing enthusiasts; Kilimanjaro is accepted as and desirable because its peak is that of Africa. However, Mount Meru is often described as the tougher, trickier climb.

Nevertheless, there are huge plains, one of which is so large that it stretches north-westerly into the southern parts of Kenya. It’s name? The Serengeti. Famed for it’s wildlife and animal migrations, the name has its origins from the Maasai word Serengit, which means ‘endless plains’. Alone, the Serengeti spans across 30,000sqm of land.  With such size, it’s safe to say it’s been appropriately named.

161 km away (approximately a 2hr drive) lies the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Covering 8,982sqm, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area forms one of the most beautiful sights in the country. Volcanic craters form breathtaking backdrops and it is home to the Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll find all the Big 5 animals present here, making full use of the fertile & rich grazing grounds of which the Ngorongoro Crater is comprised of.

The East (Coastal Regions)

East Tanzania is comprised of three main regions; Pwani, Tanga & the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar Es Salaam.

All the coastal regions share the Indian Ocean as their neighbour and have similar geographic traits. They lie on flat lands, with occasional valleys running through. Of the three, however, Pwani is by far the largest. At over 32,000sqm, it could fit both Dar Es Salaam and Tanga, in its borders.

The islands of Pemba and Unguja which form Zanzibar, lie east to the mainland. The Indian Ocean isn’t their neighbor; they lie on it. As such, crystal waters & pristine beaches form major parts of Zanzibar.

The South Regions

At the southern most points of Tanzania lie, Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma. Mtwara is by far the smallest in the area of the three with Lindi & Ruvuma especially at over 60,000sqm dwarfing it considerably.

However, size truly doesn’t matter. This is the case with regards to Mtwara’s economic potential compared to its size. It lies on the South East border and so has the Indian Ocean & subsequently, the third largest port in the country. Development of the port will be highly influentially to improvement of the entire region, especially with the discovery of Oil & Gas in the south. These economic advancements and the draw of Mtwara’s potential are seen in its population which spectacularly dwarfs those of Lindi and Ruvuma.

The West Regions

Kigoma, Mbeya, and Rukwa are the most westerly regions in Tanzania. All very sizeable, they share important borders with neighbouring countries and vessels.

Kigoma shares its border with Burundi and Lake Tanganyika; the latter being the second largest and second deepest freshwater lake on Earth. Furthermore, with Burundi next door and the DRC in close proximity it serves a very important security purpose. Mbeya borders Zambia, with the famous Tanzania Zambia Railway line (TAZARA) passing through it. This railway line is one of its kind in-country and serves to connect the Dar Es Salaam port with Zambia. Positioned in between Mbeya and Kigoma, Rukwa shares its border with both Zambia and Lake Tanganyika. Within it is the 48 km wide 200 miles long Rukwa Rift Valley. It is part of the Great Rift Valley and includes the Kafufu, Myakaliza, Magamba, Ambala & Luhumuka rivers.

Climate

Practically sitting on the Equator, Tanzania enjoys a tropical climate where the coastal regions are the hottest & most humid. The North is considerably cooler and more temperate than the coast or any other regions in Tanzania. Central Tanzania generally remains dry throughout the year whilst the west and south are hot but less humid. Generally, temperatures drop by 6.5 degrees Celsius for every 1000m climbed.

Seasons

Tanzania experiences two main seasons yearly; the Dry season and the Wet season. The Dry season runs from June to September and virtually no rainfall. Average temperatures range between 20 & 30 degrees Celsius, with temperatures decreasing according to altitude.  The Wet season runs from November to May, where temperatures are virtually consistent countrywide, averaging in the mid-low 30 degrees Celsius during the day and the upper 20 degrees at nightfall. Humidity also increases considerably in this season.

These two different times of the year require two different types of dress. Jeans, a shirt, a t-shirt, a blazer and possibly even a sweater (more in-land mostly) will be needed during the Dry season as temperatures decrease. Depending on where one is, however, a scarf and gloves may also to be useful accessories to have.

The wet season is when typical ‘summer’ clothing should be brought out. T-shirts/blouses, shorts, jeans, basically anything with light fabric will prove to be a favourite at this time of the year. Nevertheless, for both seasons, accessorizing to any extent is allowed. The Wet season can be divided into three core periods:

  • November & December – Short rain period

  • January & February – Coastal areas have a break from or experience no rain entirely in these 2 months

  • March, April & May – Long rain period

It’s always sunny in Tanzania

All in all, the combination of Tanzania’s climate with the attractions Mother Nature blessed it with making it a pleasurable place to live. Also, these make Tanzania an ideal holiday destination. Those north of the equator can easily trade in the winter for sun, sea and sand, mountain climbing, and game-reserve visiting &…you get the picture. The opportunity to experience the finest East Africa has to offer is an opportunity that should never be passed up.

Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.