Best time to visit Kenya

Many visit Kenya for once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to see this nation's unique wildlife and landscapes. Yet, planning such a trip can be daunting due to Kenya's unpredictable weather — featuring two rainy and two dry seasons annually. On top of this, the optimal time for wildlife viewing varies throughout the year, making the planning process all the more complicated. Read on for our comprehensive, month-by-month guide to the best time to go to Kenya. 

When's the best time to visit Kenya?

The main tourist seasons tie in with the rainfall patterns: the biggest influxes of visitors are in December–January and July–August. Dry-season travel has a number of advantages, not least of which is the greater visibility of wildlife as animals are concentrated along the diminishing watercourses.

July to September is probably the best period, overall, for game viewing, with early September almost certain to coincide with the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. 

October, November, and March are the months with the clearest seas for snorkeling and diving. 

In the long rains, the mountain parks are occasionally closed, as the muddy tracks are undrivable. But the rainy seasons shouldn’t deter travel unduly: the rains usually come only in short afternoon or evening cloudbursts, and the landscape is strikingly green and fresh even if the skies may be cloudy. There are bonuses, too: fewer other tourists, reduced prices, and often perfect light for photography.

MonthJanFeb MarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg temp. (°C)252626252321202123242425
Avg rain (mm)504090150130504030406013080
Masai Mara, Kenya

Masai Mara, Kenya ©  Shutterstock

Weather in Kenya month by month

When planning a trip to Kenya, timing is everything. From the vast savannas of the Maasai Mara to the stunning beaches of the Kenyan coast, each month offers a unique experience. Here’s our month by month guide to the best time to visit Kenya. 

January: Best for safari adventures

January kicks off the year with fantastic weather and prime wildlife viewing opportunities. The temperatures soar, averaging around 28°C (82°F) during the day, which is great for those planning on safari adventures. The skies are clear, offering uninterrupted views of landscapes and wildlife. However, January does fall within Kenya's peak tourist season, which can mean higher accommodation costs and larger crowds.

February: Best for romantic getaway

With temperatures hovering around 29°C (84°F), February is the perfect time for a romantic Valentine’s getaway or a honeymoon safari. While February sees fewer crowds compared to January, it's still advisable to book accommodations and safaris in advance, especially in popular destinations like the Maasai Mara and Amboseli National Park

March: Best for a more secluded holiday

March marks the transition from the dry season to the long rains, bringing lush greenery and renewed vitality to Kenya's landscapes. Temperatures remain warm, averaging around 28°C (82°F), but the occasional rain showers can be expected, particularly towards the end of the month. March is considered the shoulder season with fewer tourists and lower accommodation rates compared to peak season.

Find even more options for your trip in our list of the best holiday destinations in March.

Zebra in Tsavo National Park - Kenya © ANTONIO JIMENO JIMENEZ/Shutterstock

Zebra in Tsavo National Park - Kenya © ANTONIO JIMENO JIMENEZ/Shutterstock

April: Best for birdwatching

April sees Kenya draped in vibrant greenery as the long rains continue to nourish the land. While rainfall can be more frequent, especially in the highland regions and coastal areas, it rarely disrupts travel plans. Temperatures remain comfortable, averaging around 26°C (79°F). Additionally, April presents fantastic opportunities for birdwatching enthusiasts as migratory birds flock to Kenya's wetlands and forests.

May: Best for watching the Great Migration

May signals the onset of the shoulder season in Kenya, with fewer tourists and lower accommodation rates. While rainfall may persist in some regions, particularly along the coast and the western part of the country, it's often brief and followed by clear skies. Temperatures range from 24°C to 26°C (75°F to 79°F), creating comfortable conditions for outdoor activities. May is also a time to witness the Great Migration as herds of wildebeest and zebras traverse the Maasai Mara in search of fresh grazing grounds.

Find even more options for your trip in our list of the best holiday destinations in May.

June: Best for vibrant festivals and events

June marks the beginning of the dry season in Kenya, bringing cooler temperatures and clear skies. With average temperatures ranging from 22°C to 25°C (72°F to 77°F), it's an excellent time for wildlife safaris, especially in parks like Tsavo and Samburu. June is a great time to visit for cultural festivals and events.

Landscape in Mount Elgon National Park, Kenya ©  Belikova Oksana/Shutterstock

Landscape in Mount Elgon National Park ©  Belikova Oksana/Shutterstock

July: Best for exploring the Masai Mara and Amboseli parks

July is the peak of the safari season in Kenya, attracting wildlife enthusiasts from around the globe. The weather remains dry and pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 21°C to 24°C (70°F to 75°F). July offers truly unparalleled opportunities to witness the iconic Big Five and other wildlife spectacles in parks like the Maasai Mara and Amboseli. However, it's essential to book accommodations and safaris well in advance, as July sees a surge in tourist arrivals and higher costs.

Thinking about a family trip to Kenya? Our tips for visiting Kenya with kids will help you manage the hassle and have a more relaxed trip.

Looking for even more ideas for your summer adventure? Explore our list of the best holiday destinations for July.

August: Best for watching the Great Wildebeest Migration

August is synonymous with the Great Wildebeest Migration, a natural spectacle that unfolds in the vast plains of the Maasai Mara. Millions of wildebeest, accompanied by zebras and gazelles, cross the Mara River in search of greener pastures, creating a thrilling sight for safari-goers. The weather remains dry and mild, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 23°C (68°F to 73°F), perfect for outdoor adventures and wildlife photography. However, August is one of the busiest months in Kenya, so expect larger crowds and higher prices.

Still haven't decided where you're going this summer? Explore our list of the best August holiday destinations.

September: Best for wildlife watching

Though September is still peak tourist season, you’ll find fewer crowds and slightly lower prices. The weather remains dry and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). While the Great Migration may be winding down, there are still plenty of wildlife sightings to be enjoyed, from lion prides to cheetah hunts. 

Sunset at Shimba Hills, Kenya © Shutterstock

Sunset at Shimba Hills, Kenya © Shutterstock

October: Best for beach getaways

October marks the end of the dry season in Kenya, with temperatures gradually warming up as the short rains approach. Average temperatures range from 22°C to 27°C (72°F to 81°F), creating comfortable conditions for both wildlife safaris and beach getaways. While occasional showers may occur, especially in coastal areas, they rarely disrupt travel plans.

Looking for more options for an autumn holiday? Also check out our list of the best destinations for an unforgettable holiday in October.

November: Best for a quieter experience

See Kenya in November to see the country cloaked in lush greenery as the short rains rejuvenate the land. While rainfall may be more frequent, it's often short-lived, allowing for uninterrupted travel experiences. Temperatures range from 23°C to 28°C (73°F to 82°F). November offers the chance to witness newborn wildlife and migratory bird arrivals.

December: Best for the festive season celebrations

December brings festive cheer and fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities to Kenya. With temperatures ranging from 24°C to 29°C (75°F to 84°F), it's the perfect time for outdoor adventures and safari excursions. While occasional showers may occur, this is still a great time to visit. December is a popular time as many seek to celebrate the festive season amidst Kenya's stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife.

National Park for Rothschild Giraffes Giraffe Manor in Kenya © Shutterstock

National Park for Rothschild Giraffes Giraffe Manor © Shutterstock

Seasons in Kenya

Broadly, the seasons are as follows: January to March typically brings hot and dry weather; April to June is characterized by hot and wet conditions known as the “long rains.” July to October usually sees warm and dry weather, while November and early December experience warmth accompanied by brief periods of heavy rainfall known as the “short rains.”

At high altitudes, it may rain at almost any time. Western Kenya, including the Maasai Mara, has a scattered rainfall pattern influenced by Lake Victoria. At the same time, the eastern half of the country, and especially the coast itself, is largely controlled by the Indian Ocean’s monsoon winds – the dry northeast monsoon (kaskazi) blowing in from November to March or April and the moist southeast monsoon (kusi) blowing in from May to October. The kusi normally brings the heaviest rains to the coast in May and June.

Temperatures are determined largely by altitude: you can reckon on a drop of 0.6°C for every 100m you climb from sea level. 

Nairobi National Museum © Shutterstock

Nairobi National Museum © Shutterstock

Festivals and holidays in Kenya

Lamu Cultural Festival

The Lamu Cultural Festival celebrates the rich Swahili heritage of Lamu Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its historical significance and traditional architecture, with events spanning over several days, including traditional dances, dhow sailing competitions, donkey races, and showcases of local crafts and cuisine.

Lake Turkana Festival

The Lake Turkana Festival celebrates the cultural diversity of the communities residing around Lake Turkana, the largest desert lake in the world, through a vibrant display of traditional performances, music, dances, and exhibitions of artifacts and traditional attire, fostering cultural exchange and appreciation.

Mombasa Carnival

The Mombasa Carnival, held in Kenya's second-largest city situated along the Indian Ocean coast, is a colorful extravaganza featuring elaborate parades, pulsating music, energetic dance performances, and street festivities, serving as a dynamic celebration of the cultural mosaic that defines Mombasa.

Jamhuri Day

Jamhuri Day, celebrated on December 12th, marks Kenya's independence from British colonial rule in 1963, symbolizing the nation's journey towards sovereignty and self-determination, with festivities including grand parades, cultural performances, and patriotic displays across the country.

Diani Beach in Kenya © Shutterstock

Diani Beach in Kenya © Shutterstock

Maulidi Festival

The Maulidi Festival, observed in Lamu to commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad, reflects the deep-rooted Islamic heritage of the region, attracting devotees and visitors alike for prayers, processions, spiritual gatherings, and cultural events that emphasize the values of peace, unity, and community.

Eid ul Fitr

Eid ul Fitr, one of the most significant Islamic festivals, marks the conclusion of Ramadan, a month of fasting and spiritual reflection, with joyous celebrations characterized by communal prayers, festive feasts, and acts of charity, fostering bonds of kinship and solidarity among Muslims in Kenya.

New Year

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day in Kenya are celebrated with exuberant parties, lively street festivities, and spectacular fireworks displays, as people bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one with optimism, hope, and resolutions for a prosperous future.

Nairobi Restaurant Week

Nairobi Restaurant Week, a culinary extravaganza held annually in the vibrant capital city, showcases the diversity and creativity of Nairobi's dining scene, with participating restaurants offering special menus, culinary experiences, and discounts, inviting food enthusiasts to indulge in a gastronomic journey through various cuisines and flavors.

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 12.06.2024

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