When to go to Kenya
When to go to Kenya
Our Guide on When to Visit Kenya
Sitting on the Equator, you can travel to Kenya throughout the year and experience warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Although there are key months to avoid, such as the rainy season in April and May which we will touch upon, it is still possible to travel year-round, especially if you are looking for dramatic photographs with the thundering sky as a backdrop.
Like many other safari destinations on the continent, the best period to travel to Kenya is the period between June and October. This is the driest period of the year – after the heavy rains of May, and before the lighter rains that arrive in November. It also offers warm weather with most days’ full sunshine. This makes it perfect conditions for game viewing, but it is worth noting that mornings can still be fresh, so layers of clothing are advised, and blankets are usually provided for the first hour or so on your game drive. As soon as the sun rises, it will warm up and you can enjoy your safari in shorts and t-shirt comfortably.
Aside from the weather – which is predictable year-round in Kenya – there are other things to consider when deciding when to go to Kenya. Of course, your trip is centered around your safari experience so knowing the best time of year to go on safari is essential. Generally speaking, wildlife sightings in Kenya are great throughout the year, especially in denser parks like the Masai Mara National Reserve in the south, and Samburu National Reserve in central Kenya.
That said, if you are looking for specific wildlife experiences or species, then it’s worth speaking to us so that we can advise the best times to visit. For example, for those who want to see the wildebeest migration herds, the best time of year to head to the Masai Mara is the period between July and October/November. For those interested in birding, the period between September and April are exceptionally good as you get the chance to see the migratory birds from Northern Africa, as well as the resident birds of East Africa, to which there are over 1,130 species. Find out more about specific times of year below.
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Best time to go to Kenya
Weather patterns do vary, this is a guide based on historical patterns and data.
Dry Peak Season
June to October
For Kenya, and most of East Africa, this is the best period to go on safari because of the dry conditions, warm weather and generally fantastic game viewing. This is a great time to visit the Masai Mara National Reserve and its greater conservancies in southern Kenya. During this period, you can see the huge numbers of resident wildlife – with elephant, hippo, leopard, crocodile, lion and giraffe aplenty, among many others. This is also the best time of year to see the Great Migration which is a pilgrimage of over 1.5 million wildebeest, accompanied by 200,000 zebra and a host of gazelle. Although it differs every year (based on rain patterns), the migration herds cross the Mara River from the Serengeti in Tanzania into the Masai Mara in Kenya. They graze the plains of the reserve and the conservancies until around October time when they head back to Tanzania.
Short Rainy Season
November to December
The short rains during this period usually arrive mid-November and last a few weeks. Unlike the heavy rains in April and May, these short rains are usually sporadic and only last a couple of hours every day. Heavy downpours usually arrive later in the afternoon which great dramatic landscapes, especially with the animals in the foreground. In terms of game viewing, it’s still a good time of year to go but it’s worth noting that the vegetation will be thicker and denser as a result of the rains. The parks become greener, which can make it harder to see the wildlife. By mid-December, the rains have usually stopped, and the weather is warm and comfortable. For those looking to go away at Christmas, a twin-center safari and beach trip works well but, as one of the busiest times of year, make sure you book the trip in advance.
January to March
This is another good time of year to visit Kenya. Generally, this period is the hottest time of year as it is between the two rainy periods. Humidity increases closer to the rains in April so mid-March onwards is usually very hot and, for those in tented camps without air conditioning, it may be uncomfortable for some. This period offers some of the best birding in Kenya as migratory birds head to East Africa from Europe and northern Africa. For those heading to the beach, southern Kenya like Watamu and Diani offer a range of beautiful accommodation with beach access and ocean views to add on either after or before your safari.
Long Rainy Season
April to May
This is the rainy period in East Africa which is generally avoided. A majority of the camps and lodges close during this period, the internal airlines reduce their flight schedules, and it gives the local safari guides and staff a well-deserved rest from tourism. That said, there are still some safari camps that remain open and interestingly, this is a unique time to go if you are a professional or amateur photographer. With very few vehicles in sight, photographs capture the dramatic scenes of the storms, along with the iconic wildlife that is unfazed by the rains.
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