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Find out the best time to safari in Kenya considering all the top factors for your trip and what to expect in terms of weather, prices, crowds, and wildlife.
We’ll show you the best, cheapest, least busy, and worst times to safari in Kenya below!
What’s the Best Time to Safari in Kenya?
- Overall best time: Late June to September
- Cheapest time: March to mid-June
- Least busy time: November to December
- Worst time: April to May
Going on safari in Kenya presents you with so many incredible opportunities and options, but your experience will be better when you know the best time to safari in Kenya.
While Kenya is beautiful and full of diverse wildlife and flora year-round, the most rewarding safari trips happen during a relatively small portion of the year.
In this guide, we’ll explore the overall best time to safari in Kenya along with the cheapest, least busy, and worst times for a safari.
Overall, you can’t go wrong taking a safari from late June to September in Kenya. It’s the dry wintertime and wildlife is at peak visibility this time of year.
This is your best chance to see “the big 5” – lions, leopards, African buffalo, African elephants, and black rhinos – along with countless other species that take to the land, water, and air.
For budget-minders, March to mid-June is very rainy but also quite cheap for a safari in Kenya. Wait until November or December to face less rain with prices almost as cheap.
You’re more likely to see baby animals and fewer adult animals during these periods, but cost savings and smaller crowds may make it worth it for you.
Try to avoid going on safari in Kenya in April or May, the country’s 2 wettest months of the year with limited adult wildlife visibility.
You’ll battle near-constant rainfall, flooding, park closures, and humidity in April and May as well. Overall, this is the period you’re better off skipping while you plan your safari trip.
You’ll find more in-depth info on the best time to safari in Kenya below.
Read next: The Best Time for a Safari in Tanzania
Overall Best Time to Safari in Kenya
The overall best time to safari in Kenya is late June through September, when conditions are ideal for spotting wildlife.
Late June to September encompasses most of Kenya’s winter dry season, when precipitation is minimal and temperatures are comfortable for safaris.
Thanks to the lack of rain, grasses in the parks and reserves dry up and leave wildlife much easier to spot on safari. It’s one of the main perks of going on safari at this time of year!
Before this perfect period in early and mid June, parts of Kenya are still enduring the “long rains” with up to 6″ of rain on average in the first parts of the month.
Arriving in July or September will put you in a great position to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration, especially in Masai Mara National Reserve.
By October, once the best safari season for the region is over, areas in Kenya are getting a little more rain and safari weather isn’t as ideal.
The major downsides to winter safaris in Kenya are the higher costs, bigger crowds, and more limited booking availability at this time of year.
This means you’ll want to book early to ensure your preferred dates are available.
Since it’s ideal safari weather with peak wildlife conditions, more people choose to visit at this time and prices take a hike as a result.
Cheapest Time to Safari in Kenya
The cheapest time to safari in Kenya is from March to mid June. This lower-cost period is rainy with more greenery and less wildlife visibility.
Safari trips are cheaper when you go during the low season because fewer people are competing to book at this time of year.
From March to mid June, Kenya experiences masika, or the “long rains.” Lots of rainfall at this time can interfere with your safari plans and make conditions wet.
The increased, heavy rainfall deters some visitors, but so does the enhanced greenery and vegetation at this time of year. The grasses and plants spring to life, obscuring views of wildlife.
If you don’t mind seeing fewer animals and you want to pay less than the average African safari costs in Kenya, it may be well worth it to go sometime from March to mid June.
From your actual safari package to outside accommodations, food, and transportation, you may find cheaper prices across the board at this time of year.
Just don’t forget your rain gear!
Least Busy Time to Safari in Kenya
The least busy time to safari in Kenya is during the start of the low season from November to December. Fewer people come due to the wet conditions.
From November to December each year, Kenya experiences vuli, or the “short rains.”
It’s not quite as wet as April and May, but you could see up to 5″ of rain in a month on average.
In any case, the increased chances of rain and gradually-greener conditions make it less popular for people interested in going on safari in Kenya.
This period of time marks the start of Kenyan summertime, a wet season with less chances to spot wildlife throughout the area.
Driving through the reserves and parks on safari, you’ll have a harder time spotting animals – even the “Big 5” game – due to the lush greenery and tall grasses.
But if you’re all about avoiding crowds, want slightly cheaper rates, and need open booking availability, November and December can be a great time to go.
Worst Time to Safari in Kenya
The worst time to safari in Kenya is from April to May, the rainiest period of the year in most of Kenya.
With averages up to 12″ of rain in a month’s time in some areas, visiting between April and May guarantees a wet safari adventure.
Even if you don’t mind the rain, the effects of all this precipitation don’t make for a great safari experience.
More rain means the grasses and plants grow quickly, hiding the wildlife you’d come here to witness. Temperatures are also warmer with highs from the upper 70s to the upper 80s.
You’ll also miss the Great Wildebeest Migration, the best time to safari (late June to September), the best time to climb Mount Kenya (June to October), and the dry season if you come at this time of year.
It may be slightly cheaper to book a safari in Kenya during this time, but you’re better of coming in February or October to escape some of the rain and have more chances to see wildlife.
Where Should You Go on Safari in Kenya?
Kenya’s awe-inspiring landscapes and animals make it ideal for a safari, but what areas belong on your itinerary? Let’s take a look at the best spots for a safari in Kenya.
Kenya is well-known for 5 safari parks and reserves that are sure to impress you no matter when you go on safari.
- Masai Mara National Reserve
- Lake Nakuru National Park
- Amboseli National Park
- Tsavo National Parks
- Samburu National Reserve
1. Masai Mara National Reserve
Tons of people visit Masai Mara National Reserve each year to see the “Big 5” game in the southwestern part of Kenya.
It’s one of the best places to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration (July to November) and home to all the scenery and wildlife safari-goers want to see.
The best time to visit Masai Mara National Reserve for a safari is from June to October. Visiting in January, February, or May can also be a great safari experience!
2. Lake Nakuru National Park
You might go to Lake Nakuru National Park to spot rhinos, giraffes, hippos, and flamingos in the midwestern part of Kenya.
You’ll see millions of flamingoes on its shores and enjoy the scenery here year-round. In fact, this park is great for a visit throughout most of the year!
Lake Nakuru is really at its best when you visit sometime between June and February. Try to avoid going in April or May.
3. Amboseli National Park
Amboseli National Park in the south is another popular safari spot with amazing views of Mount Kilamanjaro and chances to see wildebeest, hyenas, leopards, giraffes, and more.
Natural springs, tons of bird species, and all the quintessential safari animals can be seen in the borders of Amboseli National Park.
June through October is the best time to visit Amboseli, with January and February a close second. March and December make great shoulder-season months to visit.
4. Tsavo National Parks
Tsavo National Parks (there are two) together make up the largest protected wildlife sanctuary in Kenya and are home to just about every living thing you could imagine.
From 500+ bird species to big game and massive herds of buffalo and antelope, you’ll see amazing sights and animals in each of these remote parks.
Try to visit during the best time of year for each park – June through October for both the west and eastern locations. January and February are other good times to come.
5. Samburu National Reserve
The Samburu National Reserve is in the northern part of Kenya famous for offering camel safaris. It’s also known for its wide-ranging and diverse animal population including the “Special 5.”
That’s the Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx (antelope), Somali ostrich, gerenuk (giraffe gazelle), and reticulated giraffe.
The best time to visit Samburu National Reserve is June to October, then January to February.
Whether you’ll make plans to visit one, a few, or all of these safari parks in Kenya, you’re sure to see amazing wildlife and scenery that make your trip well-worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some lingering questions about the best time to safari in Kenya? Read through the most commonly asked questions to find your answers.
What is the best month to go to Kenya?
August may be the best month to go to Kenya if you're interested in seeing wildlife. You'll catch the peak of the Great Wildebeest Migration and have ample chances to see big game.
Kenya's temperatures are pleasant in the mid-70s and mid-80s in August with little rainfall for a great safari or visit.
What is the best month to go on an African safari?
Any month from July to October will be the best for an African safari. This is the dry season when wildlife is easily visible and temperatures are pleasant.
You'll also be able to see the Great Wildebeest Migration that travels in a loop through Southern Africa during this period!
Which is the best month to visit Masai Mara?
July and August get the least amount of rain in Masai Mara National Reserve, making these the best 3 months to visit the park.
July and August are part of the dry season when wildlife is easily visible with shorter grasses. Prices may be higher at this time of year, so keep that in mind!
What is the best time of year to see animals in Kenya?
The dry season, from late June to September or October, is the best time to see animals in Kenya.
With little rainfall, this part of the year gives wildlife fewer places to hide and makes safaris more rewarding!
How many days do you need for a safari in Kenya?
Plan on 7-10 days for a Kenyan safari - this is how much time you'll need to see the different safari parks and increase your chances of spotting diverse wildlife.
If you'll be spending fewer than 7 days, maximize your visit by going to the most famous safari park here - Masai Mara National Reserve.
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So, What’s the Best Time to Safari in Kenya?
We’ve looked at the best time for a safari in Kenya, but a quick recap might help you decide which time of year is right for your trip!
Overall, there’s no better time to safari in Kenya than the dry, winter months of late June to September.
This is when wildlife viewing opportunities are at their peak as grasses and vegetation dry up, leaving fewer places for animals to hide as you traverse the country’s safari parks.
Since it’s the dry season, you’ll encounter very little rainfall and pleasant, balmy temperatures at this time of year. On the downside, it’s the peak tourism season and prices rise as a result.
If budget is your top concern, go on safari in Kenya during the cheaper months of March through mid-June. This part of the year is rainy, but costs reflect that fairly.
March to mid-June is dubbed the “long rains” locally – and greenery is lush and vibrant, making wildlife viewing harder.
For safari-goers who cherish laid-back adventures with fewer crowds, the months of November and December will be ideal for a safari in Kenya.
This period is known as the “short rains” in Kenya, so it’s wet, but not as rainy as March to mid-June.
Prices from November to December are lower than peak season and you’ll be able to see a bit more wildlife than during the long rains.
Try to avoid going on safari in Kenya during April or May. These are the 2 rainiest months of the year here, flooding the country with up to a foot of rain in a month’s time!
The heavy downpours lead to very lush greenery and grass growth, giving the wildlife here more spots to hide from eager safari-goers.
You’ll also miss some of the biggest reasons to safari in Kenya if you come in April or May – the wildebeest migration, chances to climb Mount Kenya, and the pleasant weather of the dry season.
Try to arrange your safari sometime between late June and September – maybe October – if you want to make the most of your trip.
You’ll benefit with great weather, little rainfall, tons of wildlife viewing chances, and beautiful scenery that surrounds you.