Kenya’s Weather and Climate

Kenya’s Weather and Climate  : Kenya is located in Eastern Africa. At 580,367 square kilometers (224,081 sq. mi), Kenya is the world’s 48th largest country by area. With a population of more than 47.6 million in the 2009 census, Kenya is the 29th most populous country in the world. Kenya’s capital and largest city is Nairobi, while its oldest, currently second largest, and first capital is the coastal city of Mombasa. Kisumu city is the third-largest city and also an inland port on Lake Victoria. Other important urban centers include Nakuru and Eldoret. Kenya is bordered by south Sudan to the northwest, Ethiopia to the north, Somalia to the east, Uganda to the west, Tanzania to the south, and the Indian Ocean to the southeast.


Deciding when to go to Kenya is a perennial question for the tourists. There is no simple best time to visit Kenya as good conditions vary across the country, and one person’s ideal weather will be another disappointment. Having said that, most visitors will find something positive about the weather through most of the year. Whatever the ambient temperature in the shade, when the sun is out which is a good deal of the time, and often from dawn until dusk for weeks on end, it is always fierce: you are on the equator, and you will know all about it if you neglect the sunscreen.

There are two dominant influences on the climate in Kenya: the onshore monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean, and altitude. The winds determine the onset of Kenya’s two rainy seasons, with the hot northeast monsoon or the Kaskazi blowing dry air in from the Persian Gulf from November to March/April and the warm, moist Kusi monsoon blowing in from the southeast from April/May to October. It’s the slightly cooler Kusi that normally delivers that heaviest rain, a season known as the ‘’Long rains’’ in late April, May and early June. The relatively cool season, from late June to October, gets much less rain. There’s a second rainy season, the ‘’short rains’’, for a few weeks in November and December, followed roughly from Mid-December to March by a dry season of hot, usually rainless, weather.

Kenya's Weather and Climate
Kenya’s Weather and Climate

Although prolonged rainfall is not that uncommon, the typical pattern is for rain to fall as a torrential downpour, lasting perhaps half and an hour to an hour, with the sun then coming out and drying the wet ground minutes. Camps and lodges always provide umbrellas, though your foot wear will get muddy and you are still likely to get wet if you happen to be outside. There is little point in bringing waterproofs.

The theory of Kenya’s climate is one thing: predicting the actual weather for specific dates is increasing difficult as climate change impacts more and more, bringing floods and droughts, unseasonably cool and unseasonably hot weather. These impacts can be more than inconvenient: a dramatic flash flood swept the seasonally dry course of the Ewaso Nyiro in March 2010, destroying the bridge linking Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves and badly damaging several camps and lodges. Although the bridge was repaired, the same thing happened again in 2011 and the bridge was only reopened in 2015.

Two other points to bear in mind about the weather in Kenya: firstly, swimming pools are rarely heated, and only those on the coast are guaranteed to be warm, and secondly, although people sometimes talk about Kenya ‘’winter’’ and Kenyans themselves tend to make a big fuss about the temperatures that most visitors would consider quite warm they are simply referring to a slightly cooler time of year, not the sort of precipitate drop in the mercury that we experience at higher altitudes.

Staying on a warm safari.

One of the biggest surprises for most first time visitors to Kenya is the experience of a chilly game drive on safari, especially early morning. If you remember your school geography, you will know that for every 100 meters you climb from seas level, you can reckon on a drop in temperature of 0.60C (60C per 1000 meters). In Mombasa you along the rest of the coast, the thermometer rarely ever drops below 200C, even just before dawn, while in Nairobi, up at 1660 meters, temperatures can drop to well 100 C at night in July and August, even tough daytime highs in the shade at that time of the year into the mid-20s. When you are on safari in higher altitude areas the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Laikipia and the Samburu reserves you should be prepared with layers of clothing for your early morning game drive, the end of the afternoon game drive and for night drives if they are available. You need to take account of the chill in open vehicles, too which can make it feel like 50C or below, especially if you’re driving at 30 kph or more. Some people take gloves, and it’s certainly if you are driving at 30 kph or more. Some even recommended a woolly hat. If you are on safari at the somewhat lower altitudes of Meru, Tsavo East, Tsavo West or Amboseli national park, you will find temperatures are a little higher, just enough to make a fleece about the only warm clothing you will need at the cooler times of day.

Sea conditions.

If you plan to do diving or snorkeling while on the coast, you will find sea conditions vary through the year, with the most reliable months for good water clarity falling between October and March, and especially January and February. Heavy rains brings run-off into the rivers, subsequently reducing visibility. Sea temperatures are consistently high throughout the year, ranging from 230C in July to 270C in March.

The great migration.

Many tourists visit Kenya to see the great wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. Linked to annual rainfall patterns and the growth of the new grass, this remarkable migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra is constant movement of huge, nomadic herds. In Tanzania it can be seen throughout the year, you need to know where to look. The migrating herds enter Kenya for a much short period, roughly from July or August until October.

Kenya's Weather and Climate
Wildebeest Migration

Weather thought the year in Kenya.

January: Clear, hot and warm nights make this high season a popular time for safari and good for diving and snorkeling. lt’s the long dry season well established, the grass grazed down and wildlife gathering close to water points, this is still a good time for a safari and good water clarity makes for excellent diving conditions.

March: Hot, increasingly humid weather with good diving and snorkeling conditions at the start of the month gives way to rains and lower rates.

April: Temperatures drop soon after the rains are established and you will often have facilities largely to yourself in this more affordable low or ‘’green’’ season.

May: While game viewing can be trickier as vegetation runs riot, the colours and light are great for photography at this time of year.

June: The rains give way to cloudy, cooler weather making for very comfortable conditions, especially in the highlands.

July  :Kenya’s ‘’cool’’ season sets in, with the highlands sometimes rather grey, but wildebeest, migrating from Serengeti, start arriving in the Maasai Mara national reserve, Kenya’s Weather and Climate.

August: The Great Migrating fills the Mara plains and school’s out, so the park roads are full of tourists.

September: The clearing skies signal the start of hot, dry weather with little chance of rain and fewer visitors making the latter part of this month a good time for a quieter Kenya safari.

October: Still hot, mostly dry and not too busy, this is many people’s preferred month for a safari, and it’s also good for diving and snorkeling, Kenya’s Weather and Climate.

November: The ‘’short rains’’ usually start in the second half, so this is low season, with accordingly lower rates and visitor numbers.

December: The rains usually finish by mid-month and landscapes often look their best, under clear blue skies, heralding the start of the peak tourist season.

book a trip