When to go on a Kenya safari?
We are often asked, “when to go on a Kenya safari?”
If you live on the equator or are simply visiting Kenya, you might notice that the days and nights are of equal length. The transition from one to the other is over in a matter of minutes, with the darkness arriving while you are still setting up your camera. The equator is in neither the northern nor southern hemisphere but in an almost “twilight zone” between. Here, seasons don’t exist in the traditional sense. There is no hard distinction between winter, spring, summer or autumn.
Seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth’s axis, which either spreads the sun’s rays over a larger area (winter) or concentrates them in a smaller area (summer). On the equator, however, the sun’s rays strike the ground at the same angle, day after day after day. This means that the incoming solar radiation on the equator is constant. Temperatures and rainfall are affected by factors like altitude and onshore monsoon winds from the Indian Ocean rather than seasonal changes.
Kenya has one of the best climates in Africa…
In your decision-making journey of deciding when to go on a Kenya safari, consider that Kenya’s days are warm and pleasant but not scorching hot, and its nights are cool. Most of Kenya experiences two rainy periods: March to May’s “long rains” and October to December’s “short rains”. The long and short of it is that the long rains are heavier than the short rains. Global warming, however, is playing havoc with weather forecasting.
Generally, December, January and February are hot and dry months and are excellent for bird and wildlife viewing as the animals congregate at available water holes during this time. The best time to see baby wildebeest, zebra, and other hoofed species, is during calving season in January and February.
Intermittent rains begin to fall in March, and game-viewing is still excellent, with new grass beginning to sprout on the plains. Warm days are moderated by the rains, which are heaviest during the months of April and May. It is the dry season from June until October, with the peak tourist season in July and August. The short rains begin in November when the birds start arriving from the northern hemisphere.
Another reason to consider when to go on a Kenya safari is to see the world’s highest free-standing mountain!
You might dream of summiting Mount Kilimanjaro; maybe you’re training to break the record time of 6 hours, 42 minutes and 24 seconds set by Swiss veteran mountain guide Karl Egloff or simply hoping to get the world’s best photograph of the wonder that is Kilimanjaro.
At ol Donyo Lodge, in tChyulu Hills’ foothills, you will most likely get a clear view of the snow-capped peak in August – in the early morning. Due to the heat and humidity of the equator, cloud cover builds up during the day. Late afternoon skies are often a riot of thunderstorm clouds and the setting sun. Kilimanjaro lies across the border in Tanzania, but the iconic photographs with the giraffe-filled savanna in the foreground are taken from the Kenyan side.
The Great African Migration
While Kilimanjaro waits for your arrival, the wildebeest and zebra follow the rain and the promise of fresh new grass. Most years, they cross the Mara River in July and spend the next few months in the Maasai Mara. To see it for yourself, spend a few days on the borders of the incredible Maasai Mara ecosystem, at Mara Nyika in a valley, beside a small stream in the Naboisho Conservancy; Mara Plains Camp, on a bend in the Ntiakitiak River, inside the 35,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy; or Mara Expedition Camp, a few kilometres from Mara Plains, hidden from everyone. If you time it correctly, the wildebeest will come to you.
Read all about this incredible natural spectacle in our dispatch here >