The weather in July can be characterized as dry and sunny. The landscape
is now in stark contrast to the green season of only two months prior.
The long grass is dying back and as the season progresses more and more
animals congregate in the woodlands and around the remaining permanent
sources of water.
Temperatures are pleasant with an average high of 83 degrees and an average low of 60 degrees. However, the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater can get quite cold at night and in the early morning. Visitor numbers increase dramatically over July and they peak in August. The good news is that the vast majority of people are on package tours staying at the main lodges and zipping around the main roads in only a few popular areas. With careful planning we can customize your safari so you will encounter more lions than people in even the busiest months of July and August.
Seasonal Wildlife Highlights
Serengeti National Park
Northern Serengeti (Woodlands)
July Recommended Duration of Game Drives: 1 - 2 Days (mid July - late July)
July Wildlife Highlights: Wildebeest Migration, Zebra Migration, Lion, Elephant, Giraffe, Impala, Buffalo, Hippo
As the plains dried out sometime in May or early June, the wildebeest and zebra migration moved north and west off the plains into the Western and Central Serengeti. During June many wildebeest occupied their transitional zone in the Western Serengeti. Other wildebeest and zebra began to move directly north through the Central Serengeti. As the dry season progresses in July, the great herds continue to shift northward towards the Northern Serengeti and the Masai Mara in Kenya. Zebra tend to reach the Northern Serengeti sometime in early July while the wildebeest herds usually begin to appear in the northern Serengeti towards mid July and do not usually reach the Masai Mara until late July or early August.
During July it is expected that the migration will be on the move from its transitional range in the Western Serengeti to the Mara watershed due north. The later your travel dates are in July, the more the focus should be shifted from the Western Serengeti to the Northern Serengeti in order to be assured that you will witness this incredible wildlife spectacle. During July, it would be best to spend some time in both the north and the west, but this will likely be difficult due to time constraints on most safaris. The need to see the Central Serengeti and Tarangire during July usually means that you will likely need to weigh your options carefully.
The northern region of the Serengeti is a vast pristine area of wooded rolling hills interspersed with open grassy patches and large granite outcrops. This region extends north about 55 miles from Seronera in the Central Serengeti to the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya. Most visitors to the Serengeti never see the northern region. It is only rarely visited and remains an unexplored and untouched wilderness packed with stunning landscapes and good concentrations of wildlife.
The Northern Serengeti supports a good number of resident herbivores including giraffe, hippo, topi, impala and Thomson’s gazelle. This area is home to the largest remaining concentrations of elephants in the Serengeti. All four large carnivores (lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena) are also resident in the northern Serengeti, though not to the extent seen in the Central Serengeti.
Western Serengeti (Woodlands)
July Recommended Duration of Game Drives: 1 - 2 Days (early July - mid July)
July Wildlife Highlights: Wildebeest Migration, Lion, Giraffe, Impala, Crocodile, Hippo
While the month of June is the best time of year for wildlife viewing in the western corridor of the Serengeti, early to mid July is a close second. During July it is expected that the migration will be on the move from its transitional range in the Western Serengeti to the Mara watershed due north. The later your safari in July the more the focus should be shifted from the Western to the Northern serengeti. The western area of the park is still a good call, but a greater area of coverage is needed as the migration may be in the northern corridor.
The western corridor straddles the northward migration route of the wildebeest migration. Typically in mid May (the end of the wet season), the great herds will depart the southern and eastern Serengeti plains and begin their long journey around the Serengeti ecosystem in search of greener pastures. The northward wildebeest migration is divided between two main population groups that have two different northward migration routes. The first and largest group follows the Mbalageti and Seronera Rivers from the southern plains into the western corridor. These herds will remain in the western corridor until about July when the dry season completely parches the land and they must venture north towards Kenya and its greener pastures. The second main group heads directly north from the plains through the Central Serengeti and directly into the Northern Serengeti and Masai Mara without entering the Western Serengeti.
By July, water has become scarce out on the plains and the vast grasslands have been reduced to stubbles. The great herds and many other animals have been forced to the woodlands for foraging and water. The migration should be in full swing as the herds make their way from the plains to their transitional range located in the Western Serengeti and further to the northern woodlands. Predators will also be highly visible as some follow the migration and other resident ones take advantage of this time of plenty.
The Western Serengeti is also home to significant numbers of resident wildlife. There are large populations of resident wildebeest and zebra that do not join their migratory cousins as they pass through every year on their journey northwards. Other resident animals include giraffe, buffalo, eland, topi, impala, waterbuck and Thomson’s gazelle. These resident animals support large concentrations of predators including lion, leopard, cheetah and hyena. The big cats are frequently sighted but not to the extent as seen in the central Serengeti.
Central Serengeti (Plains/Woodlands Border)
July Recommended Duration of Game Drives: 2 - 3 Days
July Wildlife Highlights: Thomson’s Gazelle Migration, Cheetah, Leopard, Lion, Giraffe, Impala, Buffalo, Hippo
The Central Serengeti offers superb game viewing year round due to its abundance of resident animals. Specifically, the Seronera River Valley in the Central Serengeti is a ‘must see’ on every safari regardless of the specific month of travel.
Game viewing in Central Serengeti is at its best during the dry season (June - November) as resident animals are more concentrated in the immediate area due to the lack of water on the plains. Resident herbivores include impala, buffalo, hippo, warthog, topi, hartebeest and giraffe. Resident carnivores include lion and leopard.
In addition to the resident wildlife, significant concentrations of migratory animals are found in the Central Serengeti during the dry season including cheetah, Thomson’s gazelle and hyena. The Thomson’s gazelles migrate to the eastern short grass plains during the wet season and then back to the Central Serengeti during the dry season. The majority of the cheetahs in the Serengeti are also migratory in that many of them follow the Thomson’s Gazelle migration. Additionally, hyenas are semi-nomadic and many of them can be found in the Central Serengeti during the dry season, where the majority of their den sites are located. During the wet season, they ‘commute’ to the Eastern Plains to take advantage of the abundance of animals found on the plains during this time. Accordingly, you will likely encounter an array of resident animals plus migratory gazelles, cheetahs and hyena from about June to November in the Central Serengeti.
There are 12 documented resident lion prides just within a one-hour game drive radius from Seronera. During the dry season, the resident prides begin to shift west and north in their territories and concentrate in the central region of the park. The dry season is a particularly good time for lion viewing in the Central Serengeti.
The Seronera Valley in the Central Serengeti is also one of the best areas in Africa to spot the elusive leopard. You will likely encounter this majestic cat in the branches of the sausage trees that dot the banks of the Seronera River.
Eastern Serengeti (Plains)
Not recommended during July.
Southern Serengeti (Plains)
July Recommended Duration of Game Drives: 0 - 1 Day
July Highlights: Walking Safari and Cultural Interactions
The Southern Plains of the Serengeti are extremely seasonal. During the dry season, you will likely encounter only a few hearty Grant’s gazelle and the occasional giraffe. However, the southern plains come to life in the wet season (November - mid June) and offer unparalleled game viewing.
By July, water has usually become scarce out on the southern plains and the vast grasslands have been reduced to stubbles forcing the great herds to the woodlands. The southern plains dry out quickly due to the shallow soil base and the migratory animals tend to depart quickly.
During the dry season (including July) when the migratory animals have moved off the southern plains and into the woodlands, we recommend a one-night stopover (as time permits) on your way from the Central Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater. A night in the southern plains will provide for excellent walking and hiking options, cultural interactions with the Maasai and a chance to explore this beautiful part of the Serengeti ecosystem. The southern plains of the ecosystem in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) offer the best walking safari options and cultural opportunities. Olduvai Camp, located on the southern plains of the NCA, is the ideal place to spend a night if you are interested in the aforementioned activities. More Serengeti National Park Information.
July Recommended Duration of Game Drives: 1 - 2 Days
July Wildlife Highlights: Black Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Cheetah
The Ngorongoro Crater, described as one of the wonders of the world, is an amazing natural sanctuary not to be missed. Game viewing here is among the very best Africa has to offer and is excellent at any time of year. The crater is very small at only about 10 miles across. With just one game drive in the Crater, it is possible to circumnavigate the crater several times and see all the main highlights. However, every safari we offer includes two separate game drives in the Crater over a course of two days including one early morning 6AM drive. The goal on the early morning game drive is to be the first person in the Crater that day. Animals are generally more active in the morning, which makes the early morning game drive option an excellent choice.
The crater is not a self-contained ecosystem and some animals do migrate in and out of the surrounding NCA but not in any significant numbers to warrant tailoring your itinerary. The main factors for planning are weather and visitor numbers. Weather will be nice in July but visitor numbers will very high. More Ngorongoro Crater Information.
Tarangire National Park
July Recommended Duration of Game Drives: 2 - 4 Days
July Wildlife Highlights: Elephant, Wildebeest, Zebra, Lion, Giraffe, Impala, Raptors
At 1,600 square miles, Tarangire National Park is much smaller and lesser known than its famous neighbors to the north. However, during the dry season wildlife concentrations rival that of the Serengeti. The wildlife rhythms of Tarangire are almost directly opposite to those of the Serengeti. Tarangire comes into its own during the dry season (July - November) when enormous populations of elephants and other animals are drawn to the Tarangire River and other sources of permanent water within the park. During the wet season, many of the animals disperse into the surrounding areas of the greater ecosystem.
During June, the surrounding areas are beginning to dry out and many of the animals will begin to migrate back into Tarangire from the greater ecosystem. The large herds of wildebeest, zebra and elephants start to appear usually sometime in June.
By July, the surrounding areas have almost completely dried out and many of the animals have migrated back into Tarangire from the greater ecosystem. The outlying areas are parched and thousands of animals will begin to concentrate in and around the Tarangire River. Elephant viewing will be outstanding and it is likely that you will see over 200 of them on a single game drive. This combined with the spectacular scenery will surely make for a memorable visit. Expect to also see giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and several species of antelope. With a little luck you will also encounter a leopard and some of the rarer antelopes including elands, kudus and oryx. This is the favorite time of year for the lions of Tarangire as their main quarry, wildebeest and zebra are in abundance. Tarangire is a must see on every safari from mid July to late November. More Tarangire Information.
Lake Manyara National Park
July Recommended Duration of Game Drives: 0 - 1 Day
July Wildlife Highlights: Elephant, Baboons, Giraffe, Impala, Birding
Game viewing is generally fair to good in Lake Manyara at any time of year. However, Lake Manyara does not offer the abundance of wildlife nor quality of wildlife viewing experiences found in the other parks of Northern Tanzania. Similar to Ngorongoro Crater, seasonal wildlife patterns are not significant enough to warrant tailoring your itinerary.
Lake Manyara is a beautiful little park and is famous for its tree-climbing lions, elephants and large troops of baboons. The park is home to an amazing variety of birds and animals considering its small size. A short visit to this serene park will greatly diversify your safari experience as the lush green jungle habitat is of stark contrast to the other parks you will visit during your safari.
We find that a quick day visit to Lake Manyara before either heading back towards Kilimanjaro or on the way from the Crater to Tarangire is sufficient and ideal for most travelers. The park gate is just a few feet from the main road and this combined with the fact that the park is small allows for quick and rewarding forays into the park. A one to four hour visit to Lake Manyara makes a superb addition to any safari itinerary. More Lake Manyara Information.
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