Kenya is the third largest tourism economy in Sub-Saharan Africa: world-class safaris, white sand beaches with crystal-clear waters and an ancient culture are just a few reasons for tourists to sort their Kenya visa and book a plane ticket.
Of course, the weather in Kenya can be just as varied as its attractions. This article features information about seasons in Kenya and the best time to travel.
Climate in Kenya
In order to plan and enjoy their vacation at its best, international tourists should be aware of the cycle of wet and dry seasons that affects Kenya’s climate. There are two separate rainy seasons in Kenya, one longer than the other. The same can be said of dry seasons.
Another factor to consider is the effect that climate change is having on weather around the world and that may result in unusually cool or hot temperatures off-season.
What Is the Rainy Season in Kenya?
Although there isn’t only one rainy season in Kenya, there is the main one and a shorter one. Here is a summary of the seasons in Kenya:
- The long wet reason (April to June) is brought about by the kusi wind. During this time of the year, visitors can expect the heaviest rain.
- The long dry season runs from May to October. It is also considered the cool dry season as temperatures are more moderate, especially in the first few months.
The short rainy season follows in November and early December. It’s not impossible to experience prolonged rains in Kenya. However, torrential rain is more common, with the bad weather lasting 30 to 60 minutes.
The northeast monsoon (also called kaskazi) blows hot dry air from the Persian Gulf, bringing the short dry reason that runs in January and February.
It goes without saying that temperatures and precipitations may change greatly depending on the location. The mountains, for example, follow a relatively different weather pattern from the rest of the country, similar to the traditional 4 seasons.
While Mombasa is a generally warm location with temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C, it’s safe to say that Nairobi weather is significantly cooler — expect the thermometer to stay below 10°C at night in July and August.
The Best Time to Visit Kenya
Visitors should plan their trip according to their Kenyan travel expectations. The best season to spot big predators in the savannah does not necessarily coincide with that for beach holidays or bird watching.
Best Time of the Year to Go to a Major Park
Absent or minimal rains limit the water sources wild animals have access to. Therefore, wildlife tends to gather around the remaining wet spots to drink. As vegetation dries out, herbivores keep close to permanent water sources surrounded by foliage and predators follow.
These are some of the reasons why the ideal time for safaris in Kenya is the long dry season and more specifically, July to October. Because there are fewer stagnant waters, visitors can also expect fewer mosquitos.
The later part of the dry season — July/August to October — coincides with the great wildebeest migration in the Masaai Mara. Herds of thousands of wildebeests and zebras enter Kenya offering a breathtaking spectacle for lovers of nature.
Indeed, the dry season is also the tourist peak season for Kenya. International tourists and local families alike choose this time of the year for a safari. Camps can become crowded and prices are at their highest.
Staying Warm on Safari
Even when they book a safari during the dry season, tourists are often surprised by unexpected cold temperatures. That’s because if it’s true that temperatures get quite high during the day, there is also a great temperature drop in the evenings and early mornings.
Evenings and early mornings are very special times for safari excursions and spotting big felines as they hunt. Most of the time, these types of tours are guided by park rangers and travelers may stay on the back of an open 4×4, exposed to the chilly air.
Consider the time to pack your bag to Kenya: packing windproof jackets, long-sleeve jumpers, long light trousers, and boots is always a good idea, regardless of the time of the year you’re traveling.
When to Travel to Find the Best Sea Conditions
When it’s cold and wet in Europe and the U.S., the opposite happens in Kenya. International travelers wishing to escape the northern winter will find Kenya’s eastern coast a summer paradise. The dry January and February season is therefore perfect for a beach vacation.
It is also the best time to do water sports in Kenya: diving, snorkeling, and observing marine life. Water clarity is high and the sea temperatures are well above 20°C.