Kenya in May: Low Season Travel Tips


May is a quiet month in Kenya. The tourist season has ended and it is the middle of the three-month-long wet season. The savannas are lush green with fresh grass beds and animals in abundance. Some safari operators and lodges are closed for the rainy season (March-May), but this is hardly a matter as tourist crowds are already low. In fact, the low season offers visitors cheaper hotel and tour rates. With a decent holiday budget, visitors can experience and explore more of Kenya in May than during the high season.

Kenya Weather in May

Masai Giraffe eating grass in Kenya in May
Vegetation is abundant for the wildlife to feed on in Kenya in May.

May falls plumb in the middle of Kenya’s wet season, but rainfall usually occurs in the afternoons. In Nairobi, the capital city, temperatures hover between 14℃ and 24℃. Daily rainfall averages at 80mm, but this holds true only during the first half of the month. Rains subside as the month progresses. The coastal city of Mombasa is hot, humid, and wet, where the daytime temperature could reach up to 33℃. Afternoon monsoon storms coming in off the Indian Ocean are also fairly common. In the Maasai Mara region, the mercury shifts between 14℃ and 24℃. Up in the highlands around Mount Kenya, the weather is warm and windy, with a daily high of 25℃.

For a seasonal overview, check out our guide on the best time to visit Kenya.

Weather in Kenya in May - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)262827252423222326272524
Avg Nightly (°C)131314151412111111131413
Avg Daily (°F)78.882.480.67775.273.471.673.478.880.67775.2
Avg Nightly (°F)55.455.457.25957.253.651.851.851.855.457.255.4
Avg Rainfall (mm)406090130120301010204011080

Why Visit Kenya in May

Karen Blixen house Nairobi Kenya
Trips to the museums and galleries in Nairobi can be a perfect escape from the rainy May weather.
flamingos in Lake Nayvasha, Kenya in July
The flocks of lesser and greater flamingos travel to Lake Nakuru in such vast numbers causing the water to turn pink.

Sparse tourist crowds make May one of the best times to visit Kenya. With fewer tourist arrivals, hotels and tour operators compete for customers by lowering their rates. Cooler weather conditions brought by rainfall means game animals are active throughout the day, increasing your chances of spotting them more easily. Here are some reasons why you should visit Kenya in May:

  • Rainy Season Safari: Safari in Kenya in May means smaller groups at the main game-viewing sites. So you will get the chance to spot the “Big Five” — lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo — without the usual hullabaloo of multiple vehicles carrying other safari parties.
  • Indoor Nairobi: The rainy May weather is a perfect time to visit Nairobi and explore some of its museums and galleries. The Nairobi National Museum has an extensive collection of East African art and archeological specimens of early humans from the Rift Valley. The Karen Blixen Museum dedicated to the Danish author of the book ‘Out of Africa’ and the Matbronze Art Gallery and Foundry is also popular museums in Nairobi.
  • Lake Adventures: May is the best time to visit Kenya’s great lakes. The shores of Lake Victoria teem with birdlife during this time. At Lake Nakuru, rains bring its shorelines closer to the surrounding hills, offering the best vantage point to spot the flamboyance of flamingos. Lake Turkana in northern Kenya is the world’s largest desert lake that supports the world’s largest population of crocodiles. The cool May weather is the perfect time to be here to see the congregation of crocodiles basking along the lake’s shore.
  • Hike the Highlands: While the monsoonal May rains saturate the Kenyan coast, the highlands around Mount Kenya stay relatively dry. There are numerous multi-day treks in Mount Kenya National Park and the warm May winds make hiking pleasant. The park has large populations of hyrax, mongoose and duiker antelope. Elephants are also easier to spot inside the park in May.

Where to Go and What to Do

Hippos in the river Mara National Park in Kenya in May
The water bodies in Kenya in May are full, providing a perfect shelter for the wildlife from the hot African sun.

Hell’s Gate National Park offers a different aspect to the usual savanna safaris. This volcanic landscape features several bubbling hot pools and fields of eroded lava flows. Because this area lacks predatory cats, you can safely explore on foot or by bicycle. In May, the park’s large population of raptors is highly active. Nearby Lake Naivasha supports large populations of native wading birds as well as flocks of migratory birds.

On May 1, shops, schools, and offices are closed in Kenya for Labor Day. Many Kenyan people attend public concerts and rallies, while families picnic together in every available park and green space on this day. This is the perfect time to interact with the locals on a more personal level. Following Ramadan, Kenya’s Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr in early May. Visit the Jamia Mosque in Nairobi to see how Kenya’s Islam faithful observe their religious holiday.

Despite the rainy weather, a visit to Kenya in May will reward you no end and at much lower costs. The abundance of food keeps the wildlife more localized and the predators are active, improving the chances of spotting them more closely. The Kenyan landscape is also at its most beautiful in May, as rains bring the lush grasses into full growth, rivers and water bodies are full and the passing May storms create those iconic African patterns of sunlight and shade on the savannas.

If you need assistance with planning a customized trip to Kenya in May, reach out to our local travel experts who can devise a tailored itinerary suiting your needs. For more information, browse through our Kenya tours in May.

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  • Thea Gillingham
    Thea Gillingham
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    Leonie Taylor
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    Victoria Erskine
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