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Kenya has great wildlife viewing opportunities year round, but by far the most popular time to visit is in July and August as the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebras cross the Tanzanian border into the Masai Mara Reserve. The best time to see the incredible variety of wildlife in Kenya is towards the end of the dry season, July- October, and February after the shorter rains. During the rains, and just after, wildlife is harder to spot as the “green season’ vegetation hides them from view.
Temperatures all year round are warm, with averages hovering around 23-26°c. In Kenya's 'winter’ season (June- September), evenings can feel cold and nighttime temperatures drop to as low as 7°c at higher altitudes. The coastal region usually feels hotter than the mainland, because of the humidity levels, and ocean temperatures remain at a warm 23-27°c all year round. From November to March underwater visibility is excellent for snorkelling. The hottest time of year to visit is between January and March, but this is a great time to see most of Africa’s famous wildlife. You might even see some clashes between predators and prey as access to water becomes more difficult and animals are hungry.
A beautiful sunny month, January in Kenya is warm and mostly dry with a few light showers. Temperatures in January range from daytime highs of 26-27°c to cooler evenings hovering around 15°c. Thanks to the short rains in November and early December the country is a bright shade of green, but it's still easy to spot wildlife in national parks and reserves, such as around Lake Nakuru, Samburu, Tsavo West and Tsavo East. While the herds of the Great Migration are deep in Tanzania’s Serengeti, the Masai Mara’s short grass is still filled with countless other animals. Bird watching opportunities are also good this month as lots of migratory birds can be seen in Kenya enjoying the warm weather.
Amboseli National Park is a good place to explore in January, as wildlife are attracted to the grasslands with a backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. There are always animals grazing across the plains of Amboseli but for photographers, January offers incredible photographic opportunities. Along the coast, it’s a good month for diving as underwater visibility conditions are great.
February is another good month to visit Kenya, as the country is still green from the short rains so most animals can be easily spotted grazing on the open plains. This is a great time to visit the Masai Mara game reserve, Lake Nakuru, Samburu, Amboseli, Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Parks. In the Masai Mara, some light showers are possible, as neighbouring Tanzania still has rain, but the days will mostly be dry and warm. In the North of Kenya, the vegetation starts to dry up, so it will be easier to spot animals on safari as they start to stick near to watering holes.
Temperatures in February tend to stay around the 25-30°c range, with evenings dropping to 18-20°c. Pack a few warm layers for morning drives, but it's rare to feel cold in February. Underwater visibility is good in the Indian Ocean so February is a good time to go diving or snorkelling in the waters near Diani Beach.
The start of March is hot, sunny and a great time to visit Kenya for a safari. Temperatures reach 30°c with some areas like Samburu National Reserve reaching peaks of up to 34°c. Along with February, this is the hottest month in Kenya, but towards the end of the month, the weather becomes more unpredictable as the start of the long rainy season begins. The rain brings temperatures down a few degrees but increases humidity levels.
Since the rains are sometimes late, safaris in late March offer incredible wildlife sightings, with predators and prey standing side by side at watering holes and near rivers, so expect clashes over access to water. Seas temperatures will be around 27°c and at the start of the month, there will be good underwater visibility, which is reduced after the rains start. Head to Diani Beach or Zanzibar at the start of your Kenyan holiday if you plan on seeing some of the diverse marine life underwater, as you might just be able to miss the rains.
In April, Kenya sees the highest rainfall of the year, and so this is not the best month to travel there. The long rains usually occur daily, and while the days do offer sunshine between the rains, some national park roads flood making travel difficult or inaccessible. As the rains continue the landscape flourishes, making it difficult to spot wildlife as animals roam around the reserves instead of sticking to the watering holes. If you do have the patience to go on safari then you will find animals interacting in their natural habitats and often with young, which makes for excellent photographs.
Temperatures are warm but a little cooler than the previous months, as the rain cools the country down. However still expect highs of up to 30°c, with most daytime temperatures averaging around 25°c. There is also rain on the coast, so this isn’t the best time for a beach holiday. However, as the weather in Kenya can be unpredictable, there are occasional periods in April which are dry with blue skies, meaning long pristine beaches all to yourselves.
Like April, May sees a lot of rain. Kenya is in its long rainy season, and May sees daily downpours and lots of mud. As the country has already had a month of rain, a lot of safari routes are muddy and inaccessible. Safaris are difficult in May and patience is needed, as the lush green vegetation obscures many animals from view. However animals are often accompanied by their young in May so if you do go on safari, you will be rewarded with views of baby versions of Africa’s Big Five.
Temperatures in May are getting a little cooler, with national parks and the Masai Mara National Reserve hovering around 26°c. The coastal areas are warmer and wetter, seeing temperatures of up to 30°c still and high humidity. Some lodges and resorts close for April and May as the country doesn't see many tourists.
June is a beautiful month in Kenya. The long rains have watered the country and made it pop a bright shade of green. The landscape and national parks look great, although the thicker vegetation still makes it harder to spot animals in the wild. When you do find the wildlife, you will see them interacting with their habitat; cheetahs running over the lush grasslands, giraffes munching the leaves at the top of trees and herds of elephants wandering through Amboseli National Park with a backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Temperatures throughout the month are pleasant, with highs of 30°c in the wide open plains of the national reserves. Higher altitudes, like Chyulu Hills National Park, are cooler in the daytime (around a pleasant 23°c) but at night temperatures can drop to 9°c. Warm layers are needed for evening and morning drives as they can feel very cold. Along the coast, the temperatures are hot and there is still humidity in the air. Underwater visibility for snorkelling is not so good as the previous months of rain have brought a lot of debris into the water.
July is a great month to visit Kenya. The first of the wildebeest and zebras start to arrive in the Masai Mara Reserve as the Great Migration begins to cross the border from Tanzania. This incredible wildlife spectacle brings a lot of tourists to Kenya so book accommodation in advance in this popular month. Elsewhere, the heat of June has dried out most of the national parks, so spotting wildlife on safari is becoming easier.
The temperatures are warm in the day and cool at night, averaging around 25-28°c in the daytime. Higher altitude areas can get quite cold at night, so if you are planning on visiting Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru or the Chyulu Hills National Park then expect nighttime lows around 10°c. Pack some warm clothing for early morning game drives before the parks warm up. There are still occasional showers, but these will be light and are welcomed; Kenya starts to get dusty in July.
August is a popular month to visit Kenya and to combine it with a trip to the beaches of Zanzibar or climbing Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The weather is pleasant and this is the best month to see the millions of wildebeest and zebra flooding into the Masai Mara National Reserve and crossing the treacherous rivers. The migration is best seen in early August as by the end of the month the mammals will have crossed the border and rest in the Masai Mara Reserve. The country starts to get dusty and many animals can be easily found near to watering holes as food and water becomes more scarce.
Being one of the ‘coldest’ months in Kenya, you should pack some warm clothing for visits in August. The higher altitude parks (including Masai Mara National Reserve, Laikipia and Samburu) will see nighttime temperatures drop into single digits, and morning drives will feel cold. Tsavo East, Tsavo West and Amboseli National Park will be warmer, but even they will need a warm jumper for the mornings. As August is one of the busiest months for tourists, you should book accommodation well in advance.
Another great month in Kenya, with warm, dry conditions and great wildlife views in all the national parks. Weather-wise, expect blue skies and temperatures around 25-30°c in the daytime, with cooler evenings and mornings. The Masai Mara and Samburu National Reserve can drop into single digits at night, and mornings there will feel chilly. The Masai Mara is now filled with upwards of a million wildebeest and zebra who’ve come to a stop after their incredible migration. There is still a chance to see some of the last mammals to arrive, but in general, September is a rest month for them. Elsewhere the vegetation has all dried up and the country can feel dusty, but this makes for excellent chances of seeing Africa’s Big Five. September is a great month for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro so consider combing your trip to Kenya with Tanzania.
October is an excellent month to visit Kenya. Game viewing is at its best as the months of dry weather have forced animals to congregate around the remaining watering holes, so you are likely to see lions and antelope standing side by side. In the Masai Mara Reserve, the Great Migration herds of wildebeest and zebras are starting to make the long journey back to the Serengeti and this is a spectacular sight to see. Although October isn't as busy as July and August, accommodation around the Masai Mara fills up quickly so booking in advance is advised.
Temperatures in October reach highs of 28-30°c and there are occasional showers towards the end of the month as the country moves towards the shorter rainy season. With the rains come the migratory birds so this is a great month for birdwatchers.
November is an unpredictable month in terms of weather. Expect rain as Kenya enters its short rainy season, and while the showers are heavy, they tend to last only a few hours, leaving the rest of the day with sun and blue skies. Humidity is quite high in November and temperatures range from 23-27°c in the daytime.
Some camps close for refurbishment in the November rains (before high season of December and January), but since it isn't such a busy month, others will be open and somewhat empty. In the Masai Mara Reserve, the last of the wildebeest will be departing for their long journey back to the Serengeti. The best chance of seeing this is in early November.
The start of December in Kenya is mostly rainy, with short light rainfall daily. This month falls in the short rain season, but by the middle of the month the rains mostly taper off leaving an abundant, green landscape. Temperatures in December hover around 20°c with highs of 25°c and cool evenings, especially in the national parks and reserves. Bring warm clothing for morning game drives as the temperatures can drop to as low as 12°c. As the landscape is well watered this is a great month to go on safari as wildlife is playfully interacting with their habitats and energetic from sufficient food. This is also a great month for birdwatchers, as the migratory birds of Europe make their winter homes here.
Towards the end of the month travellers flock to Kenya for the Christmas holiday period, and so accommodation fills up fast. If you are planning on visiting in late December, you will need to book in advance as Kenya’s sunny days and incredible access to nature become a sought-after destination for Christmas and New Year holidays. This is a good time to visit the beach or neighbouring Zanzibar, as while there will be some light rainfall, the beaches mostly see sunshine.