Timing your visit to Kenya
Need help with timing your visit to Kenya? In this article we discuss the dry season and rainy season, and peak season and low season. Good to know that Kenya is nice to visit year-round, it's always summer!
How is the weather in Kenya?
Kenya lies on the equator and has a pleasant, tropical climate, but there are large regional climatic variations. Amboseli, Meru, Samburu and Tsavo are at a lower altitude and, therefore, warmer. Also, the coast is hot. The cooler regions are obviously at higher altitudes - Nairobi, Masai Mara, Laikipia Plateau ( Nanyuki, Ol Pajeta Conservancy), Mount Kenya and the Western highlands.
Dry season - June to October
The dry season typically runs from June to October and these are the coldest months. Daytime temperatures are usually around 23°C/73°F at higher altitudes, such as the Masai Mara, and 28°C/82°F at lower altitudes, such as the coastal areas. The sky is clear, days are sunny, and there shall be very little to no rainfall. Early morning temperatures at higher altitudes are typically 10°C/50°F. It is advisable to pack some warm clothing, for your early morning game drives or campfire evenings.
Wet season - November to May
Kenya has a semi-arid climate and does not receive much rainfall. The wettest months though are from November to May, and these are also the warmest months. Daytime temperatures are between 24°C/75°F and 27°C/81°F at higher altitudes. At lower altitudes, daytime temperatures are more consistent and hover around 30°C/86°F. Mornings stay cool at higher altitudes, and it is advisable to pack warm clothes for early morning game drives.
November & December – 'Short rains' – A period of unpredictable, short rains between November and December that lasts about a month. However, weather patterns are changing worldwide and are becoming less predictable. Kenya is suffering from drought and is receiving too little rainfall in this period.
January & February – There's usually a dry spell in the rainy season, with no rainfall. This is also the hottest time of the year.
March, April & May – These months receive the most rainfall, particularly in April. It’s cloudy with usually a heavy shower late afternoon/evening.
When is the high season in Kenya?
Tourists come to visit Kenya year-round, but the busiest season is from July to October, with peak season in the summer holiday, the Christmas holidays and easter. Most lodges in Kenya adopt their pricing according to the season, and there can be a 50% price difference between the low and peak season rate. You'll also have to reserve your car well in advance, as Roadtrip Africa is fully booked in these months.
Lake Nakuru and Amboseli National Park can feel crowded in peak season, as these are small but popular safari parks. The busiest time of the year in the Masai Mara is from mid -June to October (general wildlife viewing) and from September to October (for wildebeest migration). We'd like to stress that the Mara offers superb wildlife viewing year-round. With the best will in the world, you can never be sure of coinciding your few days in the Mara with the crossing and taking this sought-after picture of a crocodile having a frantic wildebeest in its jaws. Expect to pay exorbitant prices for the Mobile Camps that congregate near the river crossing, and to see plenty of other safari vehicles lined up. Read our Travel Guide on the Masai Mara for more practical information and tips.
Why you should travel to Kenya in the low season
If you have the ability to travel outside of the peak season, consider going in the low season ( April, May, November). Okke and Laura ( the founders of Roadtrip Africa) spend last January and February in Kenya, and could not believe the pictures they saw from their colleague Sam, who just returned from a months' stay in Kenya in May 2023. Kenya was suffering from a real drought in January and February. The grass was barren or disappeared, with dust being the biggest enemy on their travels. Along the coast, it's so warm and the sun is so bright, that the time you can enjoy being on the beach is before 09:30 AM and after 5 PM. Sam, on the other hand, showed pictures of lush landscapes and enjoyed lazy days on Watamu beach as because of the cloudy skies, it was actually very pleasant to be on the beach.
You are more likely to be surrounded by and meet fellow travelers, ex-pats, digital nomads, instead of tourists. People are genuinely happy to meet you and be of assistance when you eat at a popular, and normally busy restaurant. In addition, most lodges drop their room rates between 25-50% (!), and it's not needed to book your accommodation well in advance.
Ol Pajeta Conservancy in February
Ol Pajeta Conservancy in May