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Best Time to Visit Kenya

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Rothschild's giraffe and pelicans at Lake Nakuru in Kenya

Rothschild's giraffe and pelicans at Lake Nakuru in Kenya

Kenya is a land of abundant wildlife and dynamic scenery, making it a prime destination for unparalleled safari experiences. 

With great predators and epic herds traveling during the Great Migration, it feels as though the entire landscape wakes and heaves with the call of the wild. Kenya is a fascinating and dazzling place to visit year-round, but the different seasons can affect your experience. 

Use the information below to help you navigate your perfect Kenya safari.

Year-Round Safari Highlights

Lioness and her cubs in Maasai Mara, Kenya

Lioness and her cubs in Maasai Mara, Kenya

January:  Calving season begins, birding life is amazing, short rains continue

February:  Green season with calving in full swing and bird life prolific

March:  Long rains start towards the end of the month with active predators

April   Rainy season, parks are less crowded, some lodges are closed

May  A green, lush time in Kenya as the rains start to dissipate at the end of the month

June      Prime safari season begins and a wonderful time to see flamingos

July   Peak safari season with busy parks and the great migration into Kenya begins

August   Enjoy the dry season, cooler days and crisp nights with fantastic game drives

September   The bush is quieter and this is a good time for beach and bush combination trips

October  The migration heads into Tanzania and game spotting slows down

November   Short rains, warmer weather and quieter parks

December  Green Season as migratory birds abound and animals come out into the open

The Great Wildebeest & Zebra Migration

Zebra migration in Maasai Mara, Kenya

Zebra migration in Maasai Mara, Kenya

Best Months: July | August | September | October

The Great Migration occurs between July and October during the dry season in Kenya and is a sight to behold. Approximately 1.5 million wildebeest, herds of zebra and antelope cross between the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti literally in search of greener pastures. It is an unparalleled safari experience that, even when witnessed more than once, never feels the same. The classic scene embodies thundering hooves, impressive dust clouds, and an endless line of wildebeest leading to the horizon.

Best Time for Game Drives

White rhino in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

White rhino in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

Best Months: July | August | September

The best time for a game drive in Kenya occurs from July to September. The dry season brings sparse vegetation and limited waterholes, allowing for better visuals of the wildlife and more predictable locations to find all kinds of wildlife. Both undulates and predators tend to congregate near accessible water, and as the weather is mild during the day, you can sit for ages at a sighting with no worry of being too hot. Cool evenings call for cozy campfires, and the bush is alive with sounds of the wild at night.

Best Time for Walking Safaris

Bush walk with Maasai guides in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya

Bush walk with Maasai guides in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya

Best Months: January | February | July | August | September

The best time for a walking safari in Kenya is January and February, as the short rains leave most of the day dry and fresh, and again between the dry season of July to September. A walking safari offers you a very different experience than a classic game drive, giving you a much more intimate experience with the wildlife and landscape. You can find insect life or signs of leopard prints in the dust while also using the low-lying grass and sparse vegetation to your advantage for seeing the surrounding wildlife.

Best Time for Bird Life

Close up of crowned crane in Kenya

Close up of crowned crane in Kenya

Best Months: November | December | January | February

The remarkable birdlife in Kenya is the best for you to experience during the wet season between November and February. Kenya is one of the best destinations for birding in Africa, with over 1,100 recorded species with endemic, near-endemic, and migratory birds for a stunning array of color and sound. No matter where you visit in Kenya, the birds offer an immersive experience, especially as the search for insects is brought about by the wet season.

Best Time for a Family Safari

Mother and kids on African safari enjoying elephants at watering hole

Best Months: July | August | September

Kenya is a fantastic destination for a family safari. The dry season between July to September is the best time for everyone to have an ideal experience. The diversity of scenery and activity makes Kenya such a marvelous place for children of all ages. The dry season brings about the best chance for seeing the traditional images of a safari, from elephants to buffalo, lions to giraffe. It also gives you the opportunity to see rarer wildlife like the elephant shrew and leopard tortoise.

Best Time for a Romantic Honeymoon Safari

Sunrise hot air balloon ride over Maasai Mara, Kenya

Sunrise hot air balloon ride over Maasai Mara, Kenya

Best Months: August | September | October

Kenya is a sensational place for a couples getaway from August to October for the best chance of romance and adventure intertwined with the timeless beauty of a traditional safari experience. Whether you are looking for an unforgettable honeymoon or an exciting couple’s escape, Kenya can give you the luxury with views of the unadulterated majesty stemming from the untouched wilderness.  Add a few nights at the end on either Mombassa’s pristine beaches or Tanzania’s Zanzibar to round off a truly romantic escape.

Best to Visit Kenya by Season

Zebras in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Zebras in Samburu National Reserve, Kenya

Kenya has a unique climate due to its placement along the equator with part of the country in the Northern Hemisphere and part in the Southern Hemisphere. The mountainous regions in Kenya have four seasons, but most of the country sees two main seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. Below is an idea of what to expect during each month of the year.

Winter:  June | July |  August

June, July and August are the heart of the dry season and the peak tourist seasons for a safari. The drier weather leads to sparse foliage that makes it much easier to spot the wildlife, especially as the water sources diminish. This means the animals are far more likely to gather at waterholes around the national parks, a great time to see the famous wildlife of a safari, from elephants to lions, or the essential raw power of the Great Migration. In addition, the weather is much cooler than summer and gives you a more comfortable experience throughout the day to search for wildlife across the country. The density of wildlife is also greater due to the scant and scattered vegetation.

Spring:  September | October | November

September and October are the heart of the cooler dry season. These months also bring fewer crowds across Kenya, so being out on a game drive can truly feel like a private experience at times. The weather remains typical of an equatorial country but has dynamic differences between the regions, especially when comparing the plains of Masai Mara to the slopes of Mount Kenya. It is still very easy to find the wildlife active and engaged around the lasting water holes throughout the county, making it an excellent time for you to experience the glories of a classic safari.

Summer:  December | January | February

The green season is generally a quieter time in Kenya with lower visitor numbers, which means a more exclusive experience. The scenery is spectacular, changing from browns to greens as the lush land invites animals from far and wide to come and explore. January and February bring new life to the bush with calving season in full swing and the savannas and forests alive with young wildlife of all types. Birds start to migrate a few months earlier for a total cacophony of sound filtering the trees, especially in January and February. The coastal areas will be humid during this time.

Fall:   March | April | May

March straddles the edge of the green season with powerful but short rains leading to intermittent showers. The birdlife excels, and animal viewing is truly wondrous around Kenya. The tall, long grass makes it difficult to spot smaller species. Still, the sheer number of prey and predators scattered throughout the landscape is inspiring, especially when you consider the baby animals during the calving season, such as wildebeest and zebra. April and May are really at the center of the rainy season resulting in the heaviest rains across the country, so finding wildlife is usually more difficult due to accessible waterholes abounding.

How to Get Your Safari Plans Started

Lion and lioness in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya

Lion and lioness in Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya

Kenya is a haven for wildlife and wilderness with ample opportunities to experience the bounty of natural wonder no matter the season. With so many fascinating places to visit, knowing the type of experiences you want could help decide the best time to explore the Massai Mara or the Laikipia Plateau. Zicasso’s Kenya Travel Guide has much more helpful tips and information on how to craft your ultimate safari adventure. Thinking of planning a trip? You can speak with a Kenya safari specialist by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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