The Best Time to Visit Kenya on a Safari & Tips for 2023/24

The optimal time to visit Kenya varies depending on the destination, budget, preferred accommodation, and your safari expectations. This article will provide detailed guidance on the optimal time to embark on a Kenyan safari throughout the remainder of 2023 and into the year 2024.

So, what’s the best time to visit Kenya?

To maximize your chances of spotting wild animals, the best safari period is from July to October which offer the most rewarding game-viewing experience, despite the higher costs associated with the peak tourist season in Kenya during this period. At this time, wildlife tends to gather around water sources as rainfall is scarce, making them more visible and easier to observe. Additionally, the weather during this period is ideal, with warm days and refreshing evenings, creating a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

To fully enjoy water-based activities such as snorkeling, swimming, and sunbathing, it’s best to visit the Kenyan Coastal regions of Mombasa, Lamu, and Diani during the dry and cool months of November. This period offers pleasant weather, breathtaking scenery, and ample opportunities for aquatic adventures. With clear blue skies, you can make the most of your safari experience. While July is also relatively cooler on the Coast, it falls within the peak tourist season, resulting in higher costs if you choose to visit during that month.

If you’re visiting Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, the perfect period to visit is usually Jan and February as the city experiences dry season making it the ideal period to spend the entire day and perhaps nights exploring the city. The other months are usually rainy or occur during peak tourist season when prices for accommodation are high.

So, what’s the best time to go on a safari in Kenya?

If you want to view the highest number of wild animals concentration, the best time to come to Kenya on a safari is during the dry season which runs from June to October. Wildlife tends to gather near water sources during this season because water is scarce across the country. As a result, it is more convenient for safari-goers to observe animals in their natural environments. However, this is the tourist peak season and may not be a good time for budget travelers.

If you are on a budget, the best time to come for a safari in Kenya is during the wet season which runs from November to April. This period offers amazing deals on hotels and flight tickets, but it has fewer animals due to flooding in some areas and the migration of wild animals to other parts.

According to Go2Africa, October to January is the recommended time to visit Kenya for a beach holiday, with November being the most favorable month due to the ideal conditions for diving, sunbathing, and snorkeling.

According to African Birding Trips, you can go bird watching in Kenya anytime, but the ideal time to spot more species is between September and April. During this period, you can see many migratory birds from Europe and northern Africa in the country.

As you can see from the responses above, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of when is the best time to go on a safari in Kenya. Depending on what activities you want to undertake or sights you wish to see, different times of the year can be more beneficial than others. To get the most out of your Kenyan safari experience, do your research beforehand and plan accordingly.

What do most people think is the best time to go on a safari in Kenya?

Based on my online research, it appears that the ideal time (as per several blogs) to embark on a safari in Kenya is during the extended dry season, which lasts from July until October. During this period, wildlife tends to cluster around water sources due to the absence of rainfall, making them more visible and simpler to study. Moreover, the weather is ideal during this time as the days are warm with low humidity, while evenings are refreshing.

What’s the cheapest time to go to Kenya on a safari?

The wet season between November and April is the best time for budget travelers. This period offers great deals on hotel rates and flights as there are fewer tourists in the country. Additionally, some national parks offer discounts during this time. However, it has to be noted that some areas can be impacted by flooding during this period, which can make game viewing more difficult.

I do not agree with this blog which states that the best time to visit Kenya and get cheap rates is April to July. I may agree with cheap hotel rates, cheap safari packages, and lower park entry fees in April but from May to July, the rates are the highest.

You will find accommodation costs to be low during the off-peak season which is the wet season when parks are not as busy.

Best time to see migration in Kenya:

While you can be able to see millions of herding mammals such as Zebra, gazelles and wildebeest crossing from as early as June to as late as October, the period of late August to early September is more guaranteed to give you the best viewing of the Great Migration.

The animals tend to gather in large herds, especially around this time, and so the sight of them crossing the crocodile-infested river is a truly breathtaking experience. This is the end of the peak tourism season in Kenya and rates may not be as favorable for budget travellers but you can follow our tips or camp at our Mara Camp to get discounted rates during the Great Migration season.

Best time to Visit Nairobi, Kenya’s Capital

To fully experience Nairobi without the inconvenience of traffic and muddy roads, it is advisable to visit during the dry season. Dry season also gives you an opportunity to fully explore Nairobi nightlife without any discomfort. The best time for this is from January to February and between June to September, as the remaining seasons are considered wet. By planning your trip accordingly, you can explore the city with ease and enjoy a hassle-free experience.

Best time to visit the Giraffe Center

The Giraffe Center welcomes visitors year-round, offering the opportunity to feed giraffes regardless of the month you choose to visit. Operating daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., including weekends and public holidays, it’s noteworthy that the optimal time to experience the center’s charm is between 9 and 10 am. I highly recommend planning your trip for a Sunday from around 9 to 10 am as other days are usually full of visitors, making it difficult to get close to the giraffes.

The key reason to pick morning hours between 9 and 10 am is that Giraffes are usually more active in the mornings. Generally speaking, they start slowing down after mid-day which affects their feeding routine and behavior.

When you arrive at the center, you will be able to get an exclusive supply of pellets from the reception. Then, you can observe these majestic creatures and feed them yourself (as funny as it may sound, they love the taste of those pellets).

Best time to visit Kenya and Tanzania:

The optimal time to embark on a safari adventure in Tanzania and Kenya is typically from mid-June to late October, with the peak period occurring in August and September. This four-to-five-month span, nestled between East Africa’s two rainy seasons, offers the perfect blend of favorable weather conditions and exhilarating game-viewing opportunities.

During these months, herbivores from Serengeti such as zebras, gazelles, and wildebeests migrate to Maasai Mara in search of nourishment. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all wildlife enthusiasts to witness the Great Migration – one of nature’s grandest spectacles.

Moreover, during this time, game sightings are at their highest, and the air is warm and generally dry. With mild temperatures in the morning and night, it’s comfortable enough to take your time when exploring the area’s wildlife.

Best time to visit Mombasa:

Mombasa is a captivating destination that can be enjoyed throughout the year. However, for the perfect blend of pleasant weather, affordability, and avoiding crowds, the period from June to August shines as the ideal time to plan your visit. During these summer months, temperatures in Mombasa can reach up to 33℃ (91℉), creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. If you’re seeking a beach getaway in Kenya, the prime period falls between October and January, coinciding with the dry season. This timeframe attracts a multitude of tourists to the stunning Kenyan coast, spanning from the serene South coast regions of Diani to the enchanting North Coast regions of Lamu and Malindi.

Following the rains, the long dry season from July through October is particularly favorable for a visit, especially when combined with a safari. During this time, the sky is usually clear, with abundant sunshine and few, if any, clouds. You can also indulge in a variety of outdoor activities such as swimming or snorkeling during the June-August period.

Even though the winter season (November-February) may be a bit cooler, with temperatures averaging around 24℃ (75℉), Mombasa is still an ideal place to visit. During this time you can experience the pleasant atmosphere that brings together all the city’s attractions. Tourists can take a walk along the beach, enjoy delicious seafood, and admire the stunning Mombasa sunset.

What if I want to visit Kenyan beaches – which period is most ideal?

If you decide to go for a beach holiday in Kenya, the most ideal period is from October to January which happens to be the dry season and is the peak period for tourists visiting the Kenyan coast – from the South coast regions of Diani to North Coast regions of Lamu and Malindi.

The dry season and hot-humid weather make the period ideal for outdoor watersport activities such as sunbathing, diving, and snorkeling due to the favorable temperatures. Other sources make the case that the month of March is even more ideal as it has the highest temperatures – with an average daily maximum of 27 C and an average low of 15 C.

How about the best time to visit Masai Mara?

Maasai Mara ecosystem boasts of diverse wildlife including the popular pride of lions featured by BBC Wildlife Docuseries and the famous wildebeest migration that elevated Maasai Mara as the 8th Wonder of the world. Aside from roaming lions and a magnificent view of Wildebeest crossing the Mara River, Mara is also home to 90+ mammal species and more than 470 bird species so whichever period you come, you’ll most certainly see plenty of animals.

If you want to see the highest number of animals out in the wild, the period between July and October is the best period to visit. You can also catch the renowned wildebeest migration through the Masai Mara by scheduling your trip for early September.

Why July to October?

During this period, the vegetation is sparse due to the dry season and water sources are scarce. This means that there are plenty of animals roaming around searching for food and water. Furthermore, it is during this period that you can witness the wildebeest migration across Mara River as they search for greener pastures in Tanzania’s Serengeti.

Which is the best Month to Visit Kenya?

Overview of months you can visit Kenya

January:

January is a month with hot and dry weather in the capital, but the temperatures are still relatively comfortable compared to later in the spring. During the day, temperatures can get as high as around 75°F to 80°F while at night, they drop to about 57°F to 62°F. Remember to pack a jacket for the evenings as it can get chilly. Read more about visiting Kenya in January here.

February:

In February, Kenya is hot and dry, but temperatures are not as extreme as they are in April and May. Nairobi has an average temperature range of 72 to 82°F, whereas coastal cities like Mombasa and Malindi have early 90s temperatures. However, in the city, evenings tend to be cooler with temperatures sometimes dropping to 55°F, so plan accordingly.

March:

In March, Kenya tends to be hot and humid due to its position between summer and monsoon. This is especially true in cities such as Nairobi, located in the south-central highlands. During this time, anticipate daily high temperatures around 28°C and evening temperatures around 14°C.

The weather in Kenya undergoes a rapid change from “hot and dry” to “wet and rainy” during March. This precipitation makes several national parks of the country inaccessible, making it difficult to book safaris or witness wildlife. There is a positive to this weather. The prices are great this time of year and there aren’t many tourists. Additionally, if it rains later in the month, as it sometimes does, you can still have a great trip in March despite the potential bad weather.

April:

April is known for being a rainy month with high temperatures, particularly at the beginning of the month and near the coast. During the day, temperatures can reach 86 to 95°F in these regions. Nairobi tends to be cooler, with average daytime temperatures of 77 to 82°F and nighttime temperatures dropping to around 55°F. This makes this month the worst for tent camping but still super cool for car camping on our 4X4 converted safari campervan.

May:

May is among the months with high rainfall, similar to April. Rain mostly falls in the afternoons on numerous days during this month. However, mornings are typically dry and sunny. May is also warmer, although not as hot as in April.

According to Kimkim, the average daytime temperatures in the capital city range from 70 to 78°F, with hotter temperatures earlier in the month and cooler temperatures towards the end. Meanwhile, the coastal areas in Mombasa and Malindi are even hotter, with daytime temperatures reaching about 84 to 91°F.

Read more about visiting Kenya in the month of May

June:

In June, the amount of rainfall varies across the country. Generally, the northern region is less rainy than the south, although some areas in the south may still experience rainy weather in early June. If you are visiting the mountains around Mount Kenya, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and Hell’s Gate National Park, expect about a third of the days to be rainy.

If you’re planning to visit Nairobi, keep in mind that the temperature during the middle of the day ranges from 70 to 80°F, which is warm but not too hot. However, the evenings can get quite chilly, dropping to about 55°F. It’s a good idea to bring a jacket and long pants for those chilly evenings. While the coastal areas tend to be warmer, the temperature still remains pleasant, ranging from 85 to 90°F.

Read more about visiting Kenya in June

July:

Based on the data provided by weatherspark.com, the typical daily high temperature ranges from 66°F to 77°F and averages at 71°F, while the average daily low temperature is around 55°F and seldom drops below 50°F or rises above 58°F. On July 21, the lowest daily average high temperature is 71°F.

July in Kenya offers ideal weather for going on a safari. With clear skies, comfortable temperatures, and minimal rain, it’s the perfect time to enjoy wildlife-watching and spot animals up close at watering holes. Additionally, July presents great opportunities for bird watching, with migratory birds flocking to national parks like Amboseli and Lake Nakuru.

In July, you can enjoy comfortable and sunny weather without extreme heat. The only areas with precipitation are the mountains such as Mount Kenya, including Aberdares and Hells Gate National Parks. More details here

August:

August is a high tourist season, with warm and dry weather. This creates perfect conditions for watching the Great Wildebeest Migration in Maasai Mara or enjoying the stunning views of Mount Kilimanjaro. However, it’s important to note that this time of year is busier due to the pleasant weather attracting crowds.

Kenya’s August weather is mild with average temperatures of 68 to 80°F during the day and 52 to 60°F at night in Nairobi. Along the coast, it is warmer, with the town of Mombasa having daytime highs of 82 to 88°F and nighttime temperatures around 71°F. The ocean breeze makes it feel cooler and offers great opportunities to explore the coast during this time.

September:

If you want to visit Kenya, September is a great time to do it. It’s still sunny and warm, but there are fewer people around. You can still see the last of the wildebeest migration in Maasai Mara, and the rainy season hasn’t started yet. However, prices are still high because it’s considered peak season, but it’s better than dealing with the big crowds of mid-summer.

According to Kimkim.com, the weather in Nairobi starts to get warmer in September, but it’s still comfortable enough to enjoy without being too hot. Daytime temperatures are usually between 72 and 84°F, while nighttime temperatures range from about 52 to 62°F (don’t forget to bring a jacket for evening walks). It’s still hot along the coast, with southern towns like Mombasa and Malindi seeing daytime highs of 80 to 88°F. Whether you’re staying in the city, going to the coast, or exploring the savannah on a wildlife safari, be sure to bring a hat, plenty of sunscreen, and lots of water to stay hydrated.

Get more details here.

October:

If you’re planning to visit Kenya, it’s recommended to visit in the first half of October for optimal tourist conditions. During this time, the weather is dry and temperatures are pleasant. You’ll get the chance to witness large groups of wildlife such as wildebeests, giraffes, and zebras migrating across the Mara River. Towards the end of the month, rainy weather starts and it can be challenging to spot wildlife.

To prepare for your trip to Nairobi, keep in mind that temperatures range from 68 to 80°F. However, the temperature can drop to around 58°F at night. To ensure your comfort, it’s advisable to bring a waterproof jacket, long pants, a hat, and a sweatshirt. Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray. If you plan to visit the beach, note that the temperatures there are warmer, with highs averaging between 80 to 88°F and evening temperatures around 74°F.

November:

If you are into birdwatching, November is a great month to view a large number of intra-African and Palaearctic migrant birds migrating from Europe. The warm weather is also warm and is perfect for beach safari with the Mombasa Carnival happening in this month.

November is a good time for game viewing in most safari destinations, but there is a chance of being interrupted by storms during the short rains. You should be prepared for some rain, as it is the shoulder season and you may experience both sunny days and rain showers. The rain showers usually don’t last long, so if you bring a good rain jacket, you will still be able to enjoy yourself.

In November, the daytime temperature in Nairobi ranges from 73 to 80°F, with occasional rain and some dry days. At night, the temperature drops to about 60 to 65°F. In Mombasa, situated on the southern coast of the Indian Ocean, the temperature stays between 80 to 92°F, with evening temperatures dropping only slightly to 75°F.

December:

Visiting Kenya in December is a great idea because the weather is warm and dry, making it perfect for beach, birding, and game safaris. The beginning of the month is less crowded and there is some rain, but it is not constant, allowing for wildlife safaris and city walks in Nairobi. Plus, you can find good deals on hotels and airfare during this shoulder season.

The temperatures in Kenya during the month of December vary based on location. Nairobi experiences daytime temperatures ranging from 75 to 80°F and nighttime temperatures around 60°F. In contrast, the coast is much hotter with daytime temperatures averaging between 88 to 93°F and nighttime temperatures staying around 73 to 77°F. It is recommended to bring a jacket for cooler evenings in the city while packing lighter if staying at the beach.

Read more about visiting Kenya in the shoulder season including the month of December.

What’s the best time to go to Kenya and Tanzania?

If you are looking for game-viewing experiences, the best time to go to Kenya and Tanzania is between the months of mid-June and October when animals roam the vast Mara-Serengeti ecosystem. During these months, the weather in both countries is dry, warm, and sunny – perfect for game-viewing safaris, birding expeditions, and other outdoor activities. The warmer months of December through February are also a great time to visit if you don’t mind the hot weather and the occasional rain showers.

The best time of year to visit these two East African countries is typically between mid-June and October – with the peak being August and September. This is a four-to-five-month period between East Africa’s two rainy seasons when the weather is optimal and wildlife viewing is most exciting. Read more on this blog.

Is May a good time to visit Kenya?

Yes, May is a good time to visit Kenya. The weather is warm and humid during this period with an average maximum daily temperature of 25°C (77°F). It is also the beginning of the dry season, so you can witness plenty of animals out in the wild searching for food and water.

Moreover, it is during the month of May that you can witness some of the most exotic bird migrations in East Africa. The shores of the Indian Ocean also offer crystal clear waters ideal for snorkeling and diving during this period.

However, it is important to note that May falls in the peak season (beginning), which means prices will be higher for flights and accommodations than at other times throughout the year. So if you are looking for a bargain, then it is best to look elsewhere.

How to pick the best time to go on a Kenya Safari: 7 tips

1. Consider the activities you wish to do while in Kenya: If you would like to partake in outdoor activities such as snorkeling or diving, then the dry season from October to January is best for that.

2. Research wildlife movements: Wildlife tend to move around different regions of Kenya depending on the season and availability of food and water sources, so do your research on when and where different animals tend to congregate.

3. Research the weather: Kenya’s climate is diverse, depending on the region you are visiting. Take into account rainfall patterns and temperatures before making a decision.

4. Consider prices: Generally speaking, in-season periods tend to be more expensive than off-peak times throughout the year.

5. Consider your budget and time: If you are on a tight budget or limited amount of time, then it is best to stick to the dry season as this offers the best conditions for game viewing and safari activities.

6. Check national park restrictions: Some parks suffer from overcrowding during peak periods, so if possible it is good to check whether you need to book in advance or not.

7. Research travel advisories: Due to the pandemic, it is important to do your research and familiarise yourself with any applicable travel advisories before booking a trip to Kenya.

It is difficult to predict the ideal period due to unpredictable changes in weather patterns.

The weather in 2023 in Kenya suggested a change in the traditional pattern of long rainy periods and dry seasons. During our visit to Mara North Conservancy in May-June to see the Marsh Pride, it rained for an unusually long period of time, almost a third of our trip. The country has been experiencing rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall patterns in recent years, making it harder to determine the best time to visit Kenya. Read more about the risk faced by tourism and agriculture sectors due to climate change in Kenya here.

Despite this, if you plan your trip wisely and factor in the conditions described above, then you should still have a great time when visiting Kenya! Regardless of when you decide to go on your safari adventure, you can expect plenty of awe-inspiring wildlife encounters. A visit to Kenya is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one you won’t soon forget! Good luck!

Happy Safariing!

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