If you’re considering a trip to Kenya it’s likely you’re trying to figure out the best time to go, while trying to wrap your head around its rather ‘unusual’ climate. Firstly, it’s important to understand that weather conditions vary greatly throughout the country and from month to month. Kenya also experiences two rainy seasons (which we’ll explain in more detail), but even so, most visitors believe Kenya to be a great place to visit throughout the year. Since Kenya is in the eastern regions of the African continent temperatures are typically warm no matter what the season. To put this into perspective, temperatures in winter range between 20°C and 25°C.
About Kenya and it’s rainy seasons
Kenya’s two rainy seasons are largely determined by wind. The cooler ‘Kusi’ wind, brings with it the heaviest rains. This is known as the ‘long rains’, between the months of April, May and early June. The monsoon winds bring the second rainy season, known as the ‘short rains’ and are between the months of November and December, but are usually intermittent. However from mid December to March, Kenya has it’s driest season with almost no rainfall.
It’s not unusual for Kenya to experience prolonged rainfall. Although torrential downpours which last around half an hour to an hour, are a lot more common during the two rainy seasons. After the rains, the sun usually makes an appearance and heats up the region while drying the grounds.
Temperatures on safari, and tracking the Great Wildebeest Migration
Though Kenya is rather warm throughout the year, we thought we’d give you a heads up with regards to temperatures you can expect while on safari. During the day you will likely experience sun and very warm weather, yet the evenings and early mornings are crisp and very cool. The reason for this is that the great open grasslands of the Masai Mara are similar to that of a desert and therefore experiences a similar climate. As in a desert, you will experience extreme temperatures while travelling through the open plains.
Expect sometimes blistering hot days and freezing nights. Because of this stark contrast you will want to pack accordingly. We recommend summer safari clothing, complete with sunscreen and sun hats, as well as warm winter clothing, including gloves and a scarf for morning and evening game drives. Remember you’ll often be driving in an open air vehicle when on a game drive, making it that much cooler.
Safari with us through one of Africa’s most densely populated wildlife regions: the Masai Mara
The Great Wildebeest Migration is dependent on the rainfall. The herds of around 2 million mammals move between the Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti, in search of greener pastures and a place to give birth to their young. The herds usually enter Kenya around July or August and then leave for the Serengeti in October. However in recent years migrating herds have entered Kenya as early as June and sometimes leave as late as November. It does not necessarily matter if the herds are ‘early’ or ‘late’, as long as you visit around July to October, you will certainly witness the Great Wildebeest Migration.
Conditions at Sea
If you’ll be visiting Kenya’s coastal region, including Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi and plan to enjoy diving or snorkelling activities, take note of the varying conditions at sea. The best months for water based activities in Kenya is between October and March, and January and February. During these months the water is noticeably clearer. The ‘long rains’ flush sand and river debris into the oceans during the months of April, May and June, making it the least favourable time for diving and snorkelling. Sea temperatures are very warm throughout the year, averaging around 23°C during mid year and 25-27°C towards December.
Weather in Kenya by Month
January: January and February are the hottest months. Expect very hot temperatures during the day with warm nights. This is ‘high season’ and the best time for safaris, diving and snorkelling.
Average temperatures are around 32°C along the coast with western regions (Nairobi and the Masai Mara) a high of around 30°C and lows of 23°C.
February: Little rain can be expected, with low grass while wildlife stay close to the few water sources. A great time for safaris and water based activities.
Average temperatures: 32°C along the coast with western regions a high of around 30°C and lows of 23°C.
March: Humid weather is typical inland and along the coast, but cooler than January and February. Rainfall is common at the end of the month.
Average temperatures: 30°C along the coast with western regions a high of around 28°C and lows of 21°C.
Long Rains in Kenya – April, May and June
April: April is the start of Kenya’s long rains. It’s also low season, with less tourists and lower rates.
Average temperatures: 26°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 24°C and lows of 16°C.
May: Heavy rains have fed the vegetation, making it more difficult to spot wildlife. The grasslands are, however, a beautiful healthy shade of green.
Average temperatures: 26°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 23°C and lows of 12°C.
June: Rains begin to subside and temperatures get cooler as Kenya’s ‘winter’ begins. Not the ideal time for water based activities, but still pleasant outdoors.
Average temperatures: 25°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 22°C and lows of 12°C.
July Kenya’s ‘winter’ arrives, bringing grey skies especially over the highlands. Wildebeest arrive in the Masai Mara and of course, one of the best months to visit. Not ideal for water based activities.
Average temperatures: 22°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 21°C and lows of 10°C.
August The Masai Mara is dotted with wildlife and temperatures are cool.
Average temperatures: 22°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 21°C and lows of 9°C.
September: The skies begin to clear and temperatures rise as spring begins. The wildebeest of the Masai Mara are slowly beginning to leave.
Average temperatures: 25°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 23°C and lows of 11°C.
October The weather is warm and there is little rainfall. This is a great time to safari and see the wildebeest leaving the Masai Mara, as well as enjoy water based activities.
Average temperatures: 26°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 23°C and lows of 13°C.
Shorts Rains in Kenya – November and December
November The ‘short rains’ begin in late November, though the temperatures are warm as it is officially summer in Kenya. The Mara is quieter than previous months.
Average temperatures: 27°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 25°C and lows of 18°C.
December By mid December the rains subside. The landscapes are lush, skies are blue and temperatures rise dramatically. This is a great time for diving and snorkelling and one of the busiest times of the year for a safari.
Average temperatures: 30°C along the coast, with western regions a high of around 27°C and lows of 19°C.