When to go to Kenya: climate and best time for a safari

Who I am
Martí Micolau
@martimicolau
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Overlooking the Indian Ocean, Kenya has a coast of 400 km full of shells and corals, mountain ranges and boundless spaces of savannahs where the red color of the earth contrasts with the intense blue of the sky: it is the most representative country of the African continent. In fact, it is an ideal destination for many people and is besieged by mass tourism.
Here you can find wild animals such as lions, elephants and rhinos. Several safaris depart from the capital, Nairobi crossing the Masai Mara reserve, famous for the annual migrations of wildebeest, and the Amboseli National Park, from where you can admire the famous Mount of Kilimanjaro (5.895 meters high), located in Tanzania.



Index

  1. Best time for a Safari
  2. Period to avoid
  3. Climate and seasons
  4. What to bring in your suitcase
  5. Info
  6. User questions and comments

Best time for a Safari

The climate in Kenya varies from area to area, therefore to know in which period it is convenient to go, a distinction must be made according to the region.

  1. Plateau and National Parks (Nairobi, Masai Mara, Amboseli and Tsavo): the most suitable period is in correspondence with the months of January, February, March, October and November.
  2. Coastal areas (Malindi, Mombasa): the period is from October to March, which corresponds to the Kenyan summer as well as the high tourist season.
  3. Northern Region (Lake Turkana, Lodwar): July and August are the least hot months. There may be scarce and irregular rains in the periods March-May and October-December.

The best time for a Safari in Kenya is in the months of January and February during the dry season or between June and September, a moment in which you can admire the great migration of wildebeest from the Serengeti in Tanzania, in the Masai Mara nature reserve.
The high tourist season runs from January to February and, thereafter, from June to September.
Between March and May (and to a lesser extent from October to December) rains occur which usually do not prevent hiking. So it is in these months that you will find a good compromise between climate and cost.

Here are some excursions and safaris in Kenya:



Period to avoid

  • On the highlands and national parks: the least indicated period is from March to May;
  • On the coast: April-June are generally the wettest and those with the greatest risk of flooding, especially in April in inland areas and May on the coast;
  • In the northern part: the climate is arid all year round, with relatively lower temperatures in July and August.

Risks and dangers

Kenya is not in the trajectory of tropical cyclones, however, the coast south of the Equator may be affected (in fact it has never happened in recent decades). In rare cases the coast can suffer the effects of cyclones that form in the Indian Ocean, which bring rain in the months of November and December.

Climate and seasons

Kenya is cut in two by the equator and has three types of climate different from each other: hot and humid along the coast; temperate in the west and southwest where there are mountains, parks and plateaus; torrid in the northern part.
In general, February-March is the hottest period, July-August the coolest.

Based on the wind, the dry season is determined from October to March, when the warm winds coming from Arabia prevail, and the humid season from April to September with the cooler winds coming from the Indian Ocean. At the beginning of the two periods, rainfall is defined: the "season of long rains" from March to May, and the less intense "season of short rains" from October to December.
Precipitation, more abundant on the coast and in the south-west, occurs in the form of an afternoon or evening thunderstorm and is quite irregular.



Average temperatures and precipitation - Plateau and parks (Nairobi - Masai Mara, Amboseli, Tsavo)

On the highlands the climate is mild and the temperature, as well as the rainfall, vary according to altitude and exposure. The higher you go, the greater the risk of rain.
In the capital Nairobi it is pleasant during the day, cool at night with maximum temperatures of 21/22 ° C from June to August and minimums of 10/11 ° C, while from January to March (hottest months) maximum temperatures of 25/26 ° C and minimums of 12/14 degrees.
The rainy season is March-May and October-December and come in the form of a reverse. The sunniest months are January and February.

The Masai Mara wildlife reserve, located at 1500 meters, does not have completely dry periods but the wettest month is April, the least is July. Temperatures vary from 25 to 28 degrees throughout the year, the minimum is about 12 ° C.
The parks in the south-eastern area of ​​Kenya are also hot and arid, but to a greater extent than in the heart of the plateau: Amboseli National Park and Tsavo National Park have highs almost always above 30 ° C, the minimums are around 20.

Finally, in the highlands north-west of Nairobi, above 2.000 meters in July and August, the rains are abundant, months that are generally not very rainy in the rest of Kenya; the relatively dry time is from October to March.

Recommended period: in January and February it is ideal, from March the rains begin and reach their maximum peak in April and May (months not recommended). From June to September the climate is perfect, in fact it is the other peak of the high season after January / February. From October to December tourists decrease, there is less sun and rain, but it is still a good time to visit Kenya.



Average temperatures and rainfall - Coastal areas (Malindi, Mombasa)

On the coast, it is very hot from November to March, with a lot of humidity and highs around 31/32 degrees (and peaks of 36/37). More pleasant from June to August, when it drops to around 28 degrees. In January and February it rains little, in March and December some showers are possible, especially in the south (Mombasa).

The long rainy season is from April to June, with May being the wettest month. The best months are August and September as the least hot and with not abundant rains.

Recommended period: the months from June to September (especially August and September) are the ideal ones as temperatures are relatively lower and it rains little. January / February and March / December are pleasant months but the climate is hot. April and May are the wettest months, while in October / November some showers are possible that immediately leave room for the sun.

Average Temperatures and Precipitation - Northern Zone (Lake Turkana, Lodwar)

The northern area is the driest and hottest area in Kenya, especially areas that are located in lower elevations such as Lake Turkana.
There is a sultry climate all year round and the rains are irregular (and sporadic), with probability of downpour in rainy periods (3-4 days), i.e. from March to May and from October to December.

The maximums are around 30 ° C all year round with peaks of 35/36 degrees, while the minimums are around 24 ° C.
The only months, if we want to define them as "cooler", are July and August, when it drops to 28/29 ° C.

Recommended period: July and August are the preferred months to the rest of the year.

What to bring in your suitcase

Winter (June-August)

  • for the coast (Malindi, Mombasa) and Tsavo National Park: light clothes, sweatshirt for the evening, scarf for the breeze, light raincoat;
  • for Nairobi, the Masai Mara and the plateau at intermediate altitudes: light clothes for the day, sweater and jacket for the evening, a light raincoat or umbrella;
  • for the highlands: above 2.000 meters, spring / autumn clothes, while above 3.000 meters, warm jacket and hat;
  • for the north and Lake Turkana: very light, opaque clothes in natural fabric, desert turban, sun hat.

Summer (December-February)

  • for the coast (Malindi, Mombasa) and Tsavo National Park: light clothes and natural fiber, light sweatshirt for the evening;
  • for Nairobi, the Masai Mara and the plateau at intermediate altitudes: light clothes for the day, jacket and sweater for the evening;
  • for the highlands: above 2.000 meters, spring / autumn clothes, raincoat or umbrella, while above 3.000 meters, warm jacket and hat;
  • for the north and Lake Turkana: I recommend very light, opaque clothing in natural fabric, a desert turban, a sun hat.

General indications

  • for the plateau I recommend layered clothing, sun hat, sunscreen, raincoat for possible showers;
  • for reserves, neutral colored clothes and comfortable canvas shoes;
  • for the mountains wear trekking shoes and, for the top of Mount Kenya (all year round), suitable clothing for the cold, jacket, cap, gloves, scarf, sunglasses, sunscreen;
  • finally, for the coral reef, snorkeling equipment and water shoes.

Info

  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Population: 48,46 million
  • Area: 580.367 sq. Km
  • Languages: Swahili language and English language
  • Currency: Kenyan shilling (Ksh or Kes) / Exchange rate: € 1,00 = 118,14 Kes; 1 Kes = 0, € 0085
  • Documents: Italian citizens must have a passport with a residual validity of at least six months and a tourist visa. The stay is limited to three months.
  • Time zone: + 2h compared to Italy, + 1h when summer time is in force in Italy
  • vaccinations: there are no compulsory vaccinations, but those for yellow fever, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, typhus are recommended. The most recommended by doctors is malaria prophylaxis. Furthermore, to avoid widespread gastrointestinal infections, it is recommended not to eat raw food, to drink filtered water without ice or bottled.

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