The seasons in Kenya are influenced by the monsoon winds blowing across from the Indian Ocean, bringing with them two distinct rainy periods. Altitude affects the weather too, and the central plateaus of Laikipia, Meru and Samburu are generally a little cooler than their lower lying counterparts.
Kenya’s ‘hot dry season’ experiences very little rain between December and March. The short rains of previous months have brought life to the plains, so this is an excellent time for wildlife viewing. The national parks and reserves will be less crowded than during the popular long dry season between June and October, so safaris can feel more exclusive, with less competition for the best spots and sightings.
Photo credit: Elsa's Kopje
The ‘long rains’ fall between late March and early June, with heavy daily rainfall making travelling difficult, particularly in the parks where mud makes the trails slippery. Some camps and lodges close, and animal sightings are tricker thanks to the abundance of water and thick vegetation. However, photographers find this time of year particularly rewarding, with stormy skies and lush landscapes making for the perfect shot.
The most popular time to visit Kenya is during the ‘cool dry season’ between June and October. There’s little rain at this time of year, and the temperatures are less intense, making it more pleasant for safaris and bush walks in areas like Laikipia and Samburu. The lack of rain means that animals congregate around watering holes so they’re easier to spot. If you want to witness the Great Migration in the Masai Mara, time your visit between mid-July to mid-October, although make sure you book well in advance and be prepared for higher prices.
The ‘short rains’ between November and December are less disruptive, with brief downpours giving way to sunny skies, leaving behind vibrant green landscapes. This can be a superb time for wildlife spotting, with many new-born animals making an appearance on the plains. This period also heralds the arrival of migratory birds. The parks are quieter too, meaning you’ll often have sightings to yourself.