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Kenya is a popular East African destination known for its diverse landscape and abundant wildlife. Ideally, the best time to visit Kenya is during the dry season that runs from July to October, when the conditions are optimum for outdoor adventures like hiking and safari. The period coincides with the Great Wildebeest Migration season, the main tourist draw to Maasai Mara. The short dry season from mid-December to March also offers good game viewing and hiking opportunities at cheaper rates. Kenya has two rainy seasons: short (November–December) and long (April–June). These periods offer lower rates, fewer crowds, and greener landscapes, but some roads may be impassable due to rainfall. So, there are a lot of factors to consider when planning a Kenya trip, ranging from weather to personal preferences.
Continue reading to find out what a visit to Kenya looks like in each season.
- Mark Bromley
- From USA
|Long dry season–July to October
|Long rainy season–April to June and Short rainy season–November and mid-December
|Short dry season–mid-December to March
|mid-December to March (short dry season), April to June (long rainy season), July to October (long dry season) , and November to December (short rainy season)
Short Dry Season in Kenya—January to March
The short dry season from January to March is summer in Kenya. The air is dry, and the temperature reaches its maximum, driving wildlife to congregate near water bodies. As January falls on the heels of the short rainy season, you can expect to see lush landscapes. February and March see parched conditions with thinner vegetation, making it easier to spot wildlife. Tourist crowds and accommodation rates are also relatively low during this period. However, this is not the time to go if you want to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration, which takes place during the long dry season.
|14°C (58°F) to 27°C (81°F) (in Nairobi)
|Is the short dry season a good time to visit Kenya?
|Yes. It has prime safari, beach tour, and trekking conditions.
- Head to Mombasa and Malindi for diving and snorkeling. The waters are calm, and underwater visibility can reach up to 30 meters during this period.
- Spot the Big Five in national parks such as Maasai Mara and Amboseli National Park on a game drive.
- Utilize the best time to climb Mount Kenya from the southern side from January through March.
- Relax on Diani Beach and soak up the sun as temperatures soar to 32°C (89°F).
- Although the short dry season boasts the best safari conditions, walking safari is not recommended since some national parks' daily temperatures can get as high as 31°C (88°F).
- Roads are quite dusty during this season. So when traveling in open-roof jeeps, make sure to put on scarves and hats and also use dust-resistant bags for your electronic equipment.
- If you are looking for the best flight and accommodation rates, January is the best month to travel to Kenya.
Long Rainy Season of Kenya—April to June
Kenya's long rainy season (masika) is brought by the cool (kusi) wind and runs from April to June. These are the months when you can expect heavy rainfall on a daily basis, with April facing the heaviest downpours. This will greatly impact any safaris you might have planned during your Kenya trip. A lot of lodges and accommodations are also closed during this period. While the first half of June is a bad time for safari due to the dense vegetation and long grasses, you can still take cultural trips and visit local tribes. Safari prospects get a bit better by June end, when the vegetation starts getting drier. Overall, the one thing you can look forward to during the long rainy season is its impressive cultural festivals and events lineup.
|14°C (58°F) to 23°C (74°F) (in Nairobi)
|Is the long rainy season a good time to visit Kenya?
|No. This is not the best time for safari; hiking is too dangerous. Go if you are interested in events and culture.
- Visit indoor museums such as the National Museum of Kenya and Kitale Museum to learn about the country’s history and culture.
- Celebrate some of Kenya's biggest cultural festivals and events of, including Eid ul Fitr, Madaraka Day, and Lake Turkana Festival.
- Some people still trek up to Mount Kenya during this period, but the slope will be rather slippery, so caution is advised. Unless you are an experienced trekker, do not attempt to take the route that requires some technical ability; stick to easier routes.
- Take advantage of the low-season flight and accommodation prices.
- Due to the low visibility and harsh waves, you are advised not to undertake water sports or related activities in April and May.
Long Dry Season of Kenya—July to mid-October
The long dry season, which extends from July to mid-October, is the best time to go to Kenya. The skies remain clear, the air is dry, and the landscapes become lush green as the season comes right after the long rainy season. Animals also tend to gather around watering holes, making them easier to spot. Besides game viewing, this is also the best time to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration. Additionally, temperatures are cooler and more pleasant than the short dry season. You can also partake in several outdoor activities like hiking, hot air ballooning, mountain climbing, and beach visits. But since this is the peak tourist season in Kenya, expect large crowds and higher prices.
|14°C (58°F) to 24°C (76°F) (in Nairobi)
|Is the long dry season a good time to visit Kenya?
|Yes. This is the best time to visit Kenya for its world-famous safari, the Great Wildebeest Migration, and excellent hiking conditions.
- Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration, where millions of wildebeests and thousands of zebras enter Maasai Mara in Kenya, crossing the Mara River starting in late July.
- Hike the Hell’s Gate National Park, taking advantage of the dry and less harsh weather conditions.
- Utilize the best time to climb Mount Kenya from the northern side from July through September.
- Spot the Big Five in national parks such as Maasai Mara and Nairobi National Park on a game drive, hot air balloon, or walking safari.
- Partake in or observe the annual Maralal Camel Derby in August.
- Join a group tour rather than booking a solo or private trip to take advantage of group pricing and discounts during this peak tourist season.
- This is the best time to visit Kenya and Tanzania on a combined trip, as you can follow the Great Wildebeest Migration from Serengeti to Maasai Mara.
- Book your accommodation in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles during this peak tourist season.
Short Rainy Season in Kenya—Mid-October to December
Kenya’s short rainy season (vuli) runs from mid-October to December. Light showers start from mid-October, but you can still get great wildlife viewing opportunities throughout the month. Although not as intense as the long dry season, November and December are two months that still get long periods of rain. While the Maasai Mara remains open, most of the northern camps are closed by December. Since this rainy season is short and downpours are not as heavy, traveling during this season is ideal for those who are willing to keep their itineraries flexible.
|14°C (58°F) to 24°C (76°F) (in Nairobi)
|Is the short rainy season a good time to visit Kenya?
- Catch the start of the prime bird-watching season in November. Spot migratory birds such as yellow-billed stork, south polar skua, and arctic skua in almost all the national parks.
- Join the locals in celebrating their Mombasa Carnival in November and witness the Jamhuri Day parade in December.
- Low season pricing makes the short dry season a great time for budget travel around Kenya.
- Plan your trips to wildlife areas towards the north, like Meru, Laikipia, and Samburu, which are comparatively drier.
- Learn some Swahili phrases to interact with the locals.