Kenya is a popular safari destination that never fails to amaze its visitors with stunning displays of a variety of wildlife.
There are many parks to choose from if you want to go on a Kenya safari. And most of them are open year-round.
The question of the best time to go on safari in Kenya depends entirely on what you want from your holiday.
Do you want to be in the middle of all the excitement, or do you wish to avoid the crowds? Are you interested in the famous wildebeest migration, or would you rather see adorable newborn animals?
Read on to discover the details of Kenya’s seasons and decide when would be the perfect time for you to go on safari.
Seasons in Kenya
When thinking about going on a safari, people usually talk in terms of dry and wet seasons. In Kenya there are two of each of these seasons. In each season there are different things you will be able to see and different weather conditions to keep in mind.
The two dry seasons in Kenya run from January to March and from July to October. During this time, the climate is mild and mostly dry. It is rather warm during the day, but the odd shower does come along to cool things down.
During the dry seasons the grass is shorter and the bush less dense. This makes it easier to spot wildlife. As the weather gets warmer, animals are also drawn to the limited water sources. Taking a trip to a river or waterhole can guarantee you some wonderful wildlife viewings.
Some other benefits of this time is that there are fewer mosquitoes around, and there won’t be any heavy rains to spoil your safari ride. The dry season between January and March is known as a shoulder season, so prices are lower and parks are less crowded.
The Great Wildebeest Migration – July to October
The wildebeest migration is a spectacular event that takes place during the second dry season. This event was named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2013.
Millions of wildebeest, zebra and gazelles travel from the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya. These magnificent hordes of animals cross rivers filled with dangerous crocodiles so that they can reach the next grassy plain.
The timing of their migration is slightly different each year, because it depends on the rainfall, since the animals follow the rain to feed off the new grass. But the great migration is usually at its peak in August.
If you want to see this phenomenal event, be aware that you will have to book well in advance. Prices will also be higher and the parks more crowded than at other times of the year.
If you want to combine a Kenya and Tanzania safari, this is the best season to do it. You can follow the wildebeest as they complete their long trek from one country to the other.
Kenya’s two wet seasons run from mid-March to June and from November to December. During these seasons the landscape is a beautiful lush green.
This is the perfect time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds from peak-season and take advantage of lower prices. Just be aware that days are often more cloudy and humidity can be higher.
November to December is known as the short wet season. Most animals will have recently given birth, so you’ll see lots of lovely new-born animals. There are also a wide variety of migratory birds to see at the lakes.
While there are only some afternoon rain showers in the short wet season, the longer wet season from March to May often has continuous rains. Some lodges close down entirely for these few months of Kenya’s rainy season.
If you are an adventurous type, this long wet season is the perfect time for you to go on safari. Experience the excitement of your vehicle fighting through muddy roads during a thunderstorm. And even though the bush is thicker, wildlife viewing can still be excellent.
General Weather in Kenya
Kenya lies on the equator, but its seasons are the same as those of the southern hemisphere. This means that December to March are the warmer summer months and June to August is the coolest part of winter.
Kenya Climate and Average Temperatures
Kenya has a diverse geography, which causes the climate to vary across different parts of the country. The climate is tropical along the coast, but gets more arid as you travel inland.
At higher altitudes, such as at the Masai Mara, temperatures range from 24°C (75°F) to 10°C (50°F). At lower altitudes, like at Amboseli and Tsavo National Park, temperatures are higher and can range from 30°C (86°F) to 10°C (50°F).
Overall, days in Kenya are warm throughout the year. In the early morning and during the evening it gets chilly.
You can read our in-depth guide for more information about what clothes and gear to pack for your safari in Kenya.
Final Thoughts on the Best Time to Visit Kenya for Safari Holidays
A safari in Kenya is always a memorable experience. The best time to go on safari depends on the type of weather you prefer, how much money you are willing to spend, and the wildlife you want to see.
If you go on safari during the dry seasons, it is easier to spot animals. You also don’t have to worry about mud and rain. On the other hand, if you prefer the wet seasons, there will be fewer crowds and more excitement.
Visit the parks during August if you want to witness the spectacular migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. Or, book your safari holiday for December if you would like to see adorable baby animals everywhere.
No matter what time of year you choose to visit, there will always be great wildlife viewing opportunities in Kenya.