The climate of much of Tanzania is dictated by the two seasonal Indian Ocean trade winds, or monsoons, though across the country there are many local variations, mainly due to altitude differences and by the presence, in the west, of large bodies of surface water.

The northeast trades blow from late December to the beginning of March, bringing the "short Rains", the less welcome heat of the Arabian Gulf, and a sometimes oppressive sultriness to the coastal regions.

On its tail, from approximately mid-March to mid-May, come the "Long Rains". The southeast trades, which generally blow from May to the end of September, curve in from the Southern Oceans, bringing pleasantly cooler, less humid air across the coast and far inland.

Their arrival marks the beginning of the five or six-month "Dry Season", when plant growth, especially away from the coast, comes to a standstill and many rivers and streams cease to flow.

Because of the country's varied topography, the climate of Tanzania is not as predictable as other tropical climates. Rain might fall when least expected – or not fall when it is expected. And the two distinct rainy seasons, which are characteristic of equatorial regions, will sometimes merge into one or vary considerably in length and intensity. On the whole, however, visitors to northern Tanzania can expect to find dry weather between June and the end of October, and a shorter dry spell from early January to mid-March.

Tanzania includes the highest and lowest points on the continent: snow-capped Kilimanjaro at 5,896 meters (19,340 feet) and the bottom of Lake Tanganyika at 358 meters, (1, 174 feet) below sea-level.

On the equator, the sun passes its zenith twice a year. Because of the phenomenon known as the inter tropical convergence zone, about four weeks later the northeast and southwest trade winds converge, causing torrential rainfall typical of the tropic.

General speaking, the Short Rains (mid-October to mid-December) are lighter and much less predictable than the Long Rains (mid-March to mid-May). Even during the Long Rains there are generally dry and sunny days in most areas. But visitors in April can assume that it will be pretty wet throughout East Africa. However, this is not necessarily a deterrent to travel.

Most Parks and tourist attractions are quite accessible even in April, and in terms of scenery, they are often at their best. -- Shaaban


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