Any die-hard globetrotter will tell you; one of the unspoken rules of travel is getting your travel timing right. Indeed, whether you are going for a vacation locally, or intend to explore hidden gems at the farthest corners of the world, lots of time-bound factors come to mind. Think of your budget, travel bucket list, duration of your trip, seasonal attractions, and even the travel companions you want. And, if you intend to visit or transition through Kenya on your next trip, knowing the best time of the year to travel to Kenya matters.

Kenya is a diverse country strategically located as an entry point into Africa. Its majestic wildlife, scenic highlands, white sandy beaches, and rich cultural heritage always captures the world’s attention. Need I mention it is home to the infamous Great Wildebeest Migration, the world’s best long-distance runners, and 50 epic national parks and reserves for that unbeatable safari destination? More so, Kenya presents business travelers and digital nomads with comprehensive air routes, an entrepreneurial workforce, world-class public infrastructure, and one of the fastest-growing internet penetrations. Indeed, the country is the ultimate destination for business and recreational travelers. 

Then begs the question; why do you want to travel to Kenya? Are you transitioning to another African country? Or, are you planning to witness the world-renown wildebeest migration happening at the Maasai Mara every year? Whatever your travel goals, travel to Kenya as per the weather, your budget, and what you want to see or accomplish. And this quick guide seeks to inform you about the best timing for a memorable Kenya experience. Let’s get to it!

The Best Time to Travel to Kenya

Travel to Kenya

The Weather

Kenya enjoys mixed weather conditions, from the year-round hot and humid temperatures at the coast and lakeside Nyanza regions to the dry and windy conditions in the arid and semi-arid Tsavo regions and the cool and wet climate in the highlands. Then, check out our month-to-month analysis of the best time to travel to Kenya based on the anticipated weather conditions: –

January

  • Weather: Peak Summer; Hot and Dry Season
  • Rain: None
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Game Viewing and Beach Holidays
  • Events in January: Nairobi Restaurant Week

February

  • Weather: Warm Days and Cool Nights in the Highlands, Extremely hot days and nights at the coast
  • Rain: Lowest Precipitation
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Game Viewing, Beach Holidays, Conquering Mount Kenya- Africa’s second highest mountain peak

March

  • Weather: Transitions from Hot and Dry to Wet and Rainy, Some Roads Leading to National Parks and Game Reserves Become Impassible
  • Rain: Significant Precipitation
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Less Crowding in Most Tourist Spots, Best Wildlife Safari Rates
  • Events in March: Arts Festivals at KICC and the National Museum, Nairobi

April

  • Weather: Hot days and cool nights in the highlands, hot days and nights at the coast
  • Rain: Wettest and Rainiest Month of the Year, Most Roads are Muddy and Challenging
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Photography Safari – No dust, lush and green landscapes, moody sky backdrops
  • Events in April: Easter Celebrations by locals at the Kenya Coast, Special church masses in most cities

May

  • Weather: Wet and Cool Weather 
  • Rain: End of Long Rains, Slippery Mount Kenya Summits, Poor Wildlife Watching
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Business Travel in the Kenyan Cities, Bargain Rates at Most Tourist Sites
  • Events in May: Labor Day and Eid al-Fitr Celebrations

June

  • Weather:  Start of Dry Season
  • Rain: None
  • Best Time For: Game Viewing and Beach Holidays

Travel to Kenya

July

  • Weather : Warm and Dry Season 
  • Rain: None
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Game Viewing and Beach Holidays
  • Events in July: Eid al-Adha

August

  • Weather: Warm and Dry Season
  • Rain: None
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Game Viewing and Beach Holidays

September

  • Weather: Warm and Dry Season
  • Rain: None
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Game Viewing and Beach Holidays

October

  • Weather: Cool and Dry Season
  • Rain: Up to 5 Days of Rainfall
  • Best Time to Travel to Kenya For: Game Viewing and Beach Holidays

November 

December

Your Travel Goals

  • A Magical Wildlife Safari 

Most visitors to Kenya know it as the ultimate African destination for a magical safari and beach expedition. And, if you are planning to experience this charm, your timing dictates whether you will have that unique, authentic, or exceptional adventure or not. A typical Kenya Safari circuit passes through the savage wilderness in the Maasai Mara, award-winning beach destinations on the Kenyan coast, and yoga sunset locations in the Aberdares. Plus, it may extend to neighboring countries such as a day trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania or Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda.  

Then, plan to be in Kenya in January or February during the cool and dry climate. The conducive weather conditions make it easy for visitors to spot most wild animals near watering holes. Likewise, plan to be in Kenya anytime between June and October to witness the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. 

In contrast, Kenya experiences heavy rainfall from March to May. Hence, most roads leading to national parks and game reserves become impassable except via a specialized tour van. And, since there is ample vegetation at this time, it becomes almost impossible to spot the Big Five that stay hidden in the tall bushes as they hunt. 

Extra Tip: Unlike in a Zoo where you can spot a vast number of wild animals within an hour, most national parks and game reserves in Kenya are sweeping plains where wildlife roams free. Then, we suggest investing in a trusted tour guide who understands the wild terrain and the movement of the animals within it. 

  • A Beach Expedition

Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastline has a hot and humid climate, a sharp contrast to the cold and dry weather in the highlands. After the bush safari, plan a cultural tour of the Lamu Archipelago, swim and sunbathe on the white sandy beaches of Diani, or go on a coastal food tour in Mombasa. Visit the Kenyan coast between October and January, when the ocean waters are clearest, ideal for scuba diving and snorkeling. At this time, all the surroundings along the coastline look lush and green following the November and December rainfall.  

Extra Tip: Plan your beach expedition in November to coincide with the Lamu festivals and events. They include the Lamu Food Festival, Lamu Maulid Festival, Lamu Yoga Festival, Lamu Arts Festival, and the Lamu Cultural Festival.

  • Photography Kenya Safari

Are you a photographer looking to capture your magical Kenya experience in photos and video? If so, travel to Kenya in April during the long rains. See, the wettest and rainiest months of the year in Kenya also happen to be less crowded and dust-free, with green vegetation all around, ideal for incredible safari images. 

Extra Tip: Even though the wettest and rainiest times in Kenya is a fantastic time for a photography tour, make prior arrangements to protect your expensive cameras and photography equipment from the elements. 

Travel to Kenya

Your Budget

Are you a backpacker seeking information on the best time to travel to Kenya on a budget? Well, let’s face it; most tours to the African continent are never cheap. Besides, did you know that it is often cheaper to travel from one European country to another than from one African country to the next? Indeed, the continental as a whole presents lots of travel challenges for the backpacker as follows: –

  • Getting a visa to most African countries is unbelievably costly and ambiguous. For example, a backpacker may pay as much as $125 for a one-month Visa to Burkina Faso. And most embassies hardly update their websites with active contact information. 
  • Few African countries accept payments in US dollar, Euro, or  the Sterling Pound 
  • Tourism industries in many African countries are still underdeveloped. Hence, there is a shortage of tourist facilities where visitors can reside while enjoying the rich African history, culture, and natural beauty.

Gladly, Kenya is one of the few countries in Africa that are backpacker friendly. Most shopping malls, ATMs, and tourist markets accept the US dollar, euro, and sterling pound. Likewise, the country has some of the most affordable and world-class domestic flights. And its tourist facilities include 24 national parks, six marine parks, 15 national reserves, idyllic beaches, a modern transport network, national museums, historical sites, and robust communication networks. Then, here are tips for a budget-friendly escapade to Kenya: –

  • Find cheap flights to Kenya by booking them at least one week in advance. Fly into Kenya during the low season, preferably in September, to enjoy discounted airfares and hotel accommodations
  • Most flights to Kenya have a layover at Doha Hamad International Airport. Take advantage of the layover to go on duty-free shopping and keep fit as you travel.
  • When traveling to Nairobi on a business trip, visit the Nairobi National Park within the city for a quick game drive. Use a taxi, shared-ride minibuses, or the park courtesy bus that picks and drops visitors from the city center. 
  • Visit the Maasai Mara in January to escape the significant crowds in most tourist sites. That way, you can tap into the low season rates and witness as many migratory birds as possible.
  • Plan your trip to coincide with the numerous local events happening in Kenya. Then, you can interact with locals, commute on public transport, survive on street food, and find affordable accommodation.
  • If you hold a passport from the UK, USA, Canada, or most European countries, you will need a visa to enter Kenya. Even though you can apply online for an e-visa to Kenya, your passport should be valid for at least six more months after you arrive in Kenya. Likewise, plan your trip around the 3-months visa validity period. And, if you intend to extend your travel to another neighboring country, you can obtain their visas in advance while still in Nairobi, Kenya.

Final Thoughts – Tourism Seasons in Kenya

Finally, most visitors peg their travel to Kenya during the tourism seasons. The high season is between July and October and then January and February. At this time, most famous parks like the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Amboseli National Park, and Lake Nakuru National Parks get very crowded. 

Travel to Kenya during the high season if you intend to go on a hot air balloon safari (clear skies, lots of wild animals grazing freely), witness the wildebeest migration and spot migratory birds, and don’t mind the crowds in the most popular parks.

In contrast, the low season starts in March and ends in May. The period is also the peak of wet weather in Kenya. In turn, some lodges in areas experiencing heavy rainfall opt to remain shut during this period. 

Then, travel to Kenya during the low season to get discounted rates on world-class accommodations and flights. The off-peak season is the best time to escape the crowds in most tourist attraction sites and enjoy magical sunsets and sunrises with plenty of animals and migratory birds nurturing their young ones. Likewise, it is the ideal time when planning a photography Kenya safari.

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