When is the best time of year to visit Kenya?
Kenya is a year-round destination with many drawcards depending on the activities you'd like to do, the animals you'd like to see and the type of weather you'd prefer to experience. Most safari destinations like Lake Nakuru National Park and Samburu National Reserve are at their best from June to October, and from December through February. The weather during these periods is mild and mostly dry with warm daytime temperatures, which makes for excellent conditions to go on a safari and view wildlife. The good weather also coincides with the high tourist season (January to February) so expect bigger crowds and higher peak season rates. If big crowds aren't your thing, you could visit during the low/rainy seasons between November and December or late March and May (however, this is when the weather is at its worst). During this time tourist sites are less crowded, hotels have more rooms available and prices are usually cheaper. However, this might not be such a good idea if you don't fancy torrential downpours every day.
July through September is also considered one of the best times to do a safari to witness the annual Maasai Mara wildebeest migration. If you're in the Maasai Mara you can expect the wildebeest to make their arrival as early as July, but they generally arrive between August and September and remain in the Mara between October and November before returning to the Serengeti in Tanzania.
Climate & weather in Kenya
Kenya is located on the equator and experiences three climate zones due to the diversity of the landscapes ranging from high altitude areas like the Maasai Mara to coastal cities fringed by the Indian Ocean. It's hot and humid along the coast, temperate and subtropical in the mountainous and plateau regions of the west and south-west (where Nairobi and Masai Mara National Reserve are located), and hot and dry in the north and east. Due to its location, Kenya experiences only two distinct seasons: dry (June to October) and wet (November to May). The dry season sees clear skies and cooler temperatures, although the sun is always strong in Kenya so make sure you bring sun protection. The wet season starts in November with about a month of 'short rains' which typically fall in the afternoon or early evening. There's then a two-month dry spell in January and February before the 'long rains' arrive in March through May. This is when humidity and rainfall are at their peak. Mosquitos are also out in full force, so it's best to head to higher ground if you want to avoid pesky bites.
Visiting Kenya during the dry season (June-October)
- This is the best time for bird watching as birds migrate to the lakes of the Rift Valley in large numbers
- It's a great time for diving in the Indian Ocean along the coast as water visibility and diving conditions are excellent with low runoff
- June is a great time to see an abundance of animals by waterholes and river banks following the long rains
- If you're lucky you'll get to see the Maasai Mara wildebeest migration from July to September
- It's busier and more crowded in popular tourist spots
- Bigger crowds drive prices up
Visiting Kenya during the wet season (November-May)
- The rainfall turns the landscapes lush shades of green and creates prime habitats for wildlife
- December is a great time to see gorgeous newborn wildlife in the national parks
- Watch magnificent flocks of birds between September and April during the European and Northern African bird migration
- Aside from March-May during the long rains, rainfall isn't too bad with short showers or heavier downpours in the afternoon or early evening only
- The humidity and rain can make it difficult to see wildlife in some parks and reserves
- Some hotels and campsites close during the rainy season which may require more careful trip planning
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