Want to explore Kenya? Kenya is known as the “Jewel of East Africa,” and it’s easy to see why – its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant cultures. Whether you’re after exciting safaris, idyllic beaches, or a taste of city life, Kenya won’t disappoint.
With something to suit everyone’s tastes, it’s no wonder Kenya is one of East Africa’s top destinations. When planning your trip to Kenya, it may be tempting to dive into the fun parts but forget to research the best time to go.
However, locking down the ideal time for your preferred activities will ensure the best trip possible. Read on to learn about the best time to visit, how to score deals and discounts for hotels and flights, helpful travel tips, and more.
Why You Should Visit Kenya
Kenya is one of the top-visited countries in Africa due to its captivating mix of wildlife, culture, food, and stunning landscapes. Home to the Big Five – elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalo – its national parks provide some of the continent’s best safari experiences.
The country’s coastline also offers a tropical paradise, with white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. There’s plenty of history to explore in the cities, with interesting local markets, unique local cuisine, and a range of cultural attractions.
Visiting the national parks in Kenya is one of the top things to do. Kenya has a variety of parks, each with its stunning landscape and diverse wildlife. It’s one of the most amazing places on the globe to observe wild animals in their natural habitat!
Here are the three best national parks:
- Amboseli National Park is home to large elephants, zebras, cheetahs, and giraffes.
- Maasai Mara Travel is a natural reserve featuring zebras, lions, hippos, elephants, and more. Massai people live in villages dotting the area.
- Nairobi National Park is an expansive stretch of land that allows wildlife to migrate to and fro. This park also provides many educational opportunities that the whole group will surely appreciate.
Overall Best Time to Visit Kenya
The overall best time to visit Kenya is between July and September. This period is the dry season, when travel is more comfortable, with warm days and relatively cool nights.
During this time, the animals are also brought to the waterholes and grasslands for grazing and drinking. Therefore, you’re more likely to catch the Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra, and other animals.
For beach holidays, the best season is from December to February, when temperatures are cooler, and there’s still very little rainfall. This time is typically the best for experiencing safaris if you want to prioritize game viewing and avoid extremely hot temperatures.
Cheapest Time to Visit Kenya
The cheapest time to visit Kenya is usually between April and July. These months correspond to Kenya’s low, very rainy season, so hotels tend to offer discounts and more competitive rates.
Kenya’s weather during this season can be unpredictable, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on the forecast as you plan your trip. Some areas may experience heavier rainfall than expected and cause road closures or other difficulties during your stay.
Visiting during this time, as opposed to the main tourist season from July to September, could be a fantastic way to save on your overall travel costs while still experiencing a great (albeit wetter) time in Kenya.
Avoid the coast and southwest zones if you want to avoid as much rainfall as possible.
How to Score Deals & Discounts
Planning ahead is key to scoring deals and discounts when visiting Kenya. The most popular hotels and safari lodges are often fully booked during the peak season, so it’s best to book in advance if possible.
Regarding flights, using flight tracking apps like Hopper can alert you to any drops in prices, so you can get the best deal when booking.
Least Busy Time to Visit Kenya
Suppose you want to prioritize fewer people around, which may even increase your chance of seeing animals, as wildlife is more likely to come out when there aren’t loads of safari trucks gathered around.
In that case, you might want to avoid peak tourism between July and September. Instead, the least busy time to go is during the rainy season, from Mid-March to Mid-May and October to December.
This will allow you to explore Kenya without the crowds and make your budget stretch a bit further, given the discounted tour and hotel rates at this time.
Additionally, you will be able to see some of the beautiful green vegetation that the rainy season brings to the region, which you won’t be able to admire during the dry season.
The milder rainy season is between October and December, so if you want fewer crowds but also want to avoid torrential downpours, we recommend this time.
Worst Time to Visit Kenya
While Kenya gets short rains from October to December, the country receives “long rains” between March and May, which is typically the worst time to visit.
Heavy downpours are likely during this time, and some areas you’d like to visit may be inaccessible due to road closures or flooding. Malaria is also more prevalent during this period, so take the necessary precautions when traveling.
If you still want to visit Kenya during the long rainy season, make sure to pack light, waterproof items like jackets and shoes so that they stay dry for longer, don’t get heavy when wet, and can dry out quickly. You also might want to bring extra sets of undergarments for additional comfort.
Things to Consider
Regardless of when you choose to visit Kenya, there are some key factors you might want to keep in mind when planning your trip:
- Carry both Kenyan shillings and USD currency with you, as some places quote in USD, especially in the cities like Nairobi.
- Ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date before traveling to prevent yourself from getting ill.
- Wear light, long-sleeve shirts and pants and spray mosquito repellent throughout the day to protect yourself from malaria, a mosquito-born illness.
- Understand your transportation options ahead of time. For example, it’s important to know that you must be at least 23 to rent a car.
- In addition to researching places to eat, don’t be afraid to try out street foods along the way, such as matoke, a plantain stew.
- Use reliable and trusted websites for researching resorts and tour operators. Most of the tourism websites in Kenya are .go.ke, a government-approved source for tourism activities in the country.
- Visit beach towns for not just beaches but a variety of experiences. For example, you can visit Watumu for its beaches, ancient ruins, and beautiful jungles.
- Understand that security is a major priority in Kenya, so it’s important to plan extra time for transportation in case there are unexpected security checks.
- Because of security checks, carrying a copy of your passport with you is useful, so you can always provide some form of identification.
Frequently Asked Questions
Want to ensure you make the most out of your visit to Kenya? Here are some other frequently asked questions related to planning a trip to Kenya:
What should I do in Kenya?
There are so many fantastic attractions and things to do in Kenya. Here’s a brief list of some of the best things to do in Kenya:
- Go on safari in the various national parks
- Visit Maasai Mara National Reserve, home to The Great Migration
- Visit the colorful markets at Kisumu
- Go hiking or camping in Mount Kenya National Park
- Explore Lamu Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Go diving and snorkeling in the beautiful coral reefs off the coast of Lamu
- Visit the unique Hell’s Gate National Park and observe the wildlife
- Explore Nairobi National Museum to learn about Kenyan culture
- Enjoy a traditional Swahili meal in Mombasa
- Go up on a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti National Park.
- Visit the beaches at Watamu, Malindi, and Kilifi for a relaxing getaway.
No matter what you’re hoping to do in Kenya, check out the government website for up-to-date information about travel advisories and safety tips.
What should I avoid in Kenya?
There are a few things that you should not do as a tourist in Kenya, including:
- Taking pictures of people without their explicit consent.
- Purchase items that come from endangered species
- Touch, feed, or try to interact with wildlife in any way other than just observing
- Ask strangers what tribe they’re in without any conversational context.
- Be unaware of your surroundings and wander around alone at night.
What food is commonly eaten in Kenya?
Kenyan cuisine has a variety of traditional dishes enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Some of the most popular dishes include:
- Ugali, which is a maize porridge
- Nyama Choma, which is roasted meat
- Pilau, a rice dish cooked in spices and herbs
- Kuku Choma, which is fried and grilled chicken
- Samaki was Kupaka, a fish dish cooked in coconut milk
- Githeri, a mix of corn, beans, and vegetables
- Kachumbari, a tomato and onion salad
Be sure to try these delicious dishes on your travels!
What is the best time to safari in Kenya?
The best time to take a safari in Kenya is between December and February. This period has mild, cool temperatures, so you won’t overheat during the day. Plus, there’s a higher chance of seeing wildlife in the national parks during this time.
When is the hottest month in Kenya?
In March, temperatures pick up the most, with an average high of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
When is the cheapest month to fly to Kenya?
The cheapest time to fly to Kenya from the U.S. is typically November. November is one of Kenya’s two wet seasons, but it’s an ideal time to go if you are looking to save money or avoid crowds.
How many days do you need in Kenya?
If you are only visiting Kenya for a safari or two, a week should be enough time to explore one area. However, if you want to delve in and explore all that Kenya has to offer, we recommend staying for at least two to three weeks.
With this time, you can go on safaris, visit beaches, go on various wildlife explorations, and get a better sense of Kenyan culture, art, and food.
What is Kenya famous for?
Kenya is famous for its stunning landscapes, safaris, national parks, and beautiful beaches. It’s also a great place to spot “The Big 5”: African elephant, African lion, Cape buffalo, leopard, and black rhinoceros.
Plus, you can also visit various archaeological sites and explore a variety of cultures and traditions. All in all, Kenya is a great destination for travelers seeking adventure, wildlife viewing, and cultural exploration.
Are Kenyans friendly?
Yes, Kenyans tend to be very friendly and welcoming people. They are very open to meeting new people and are hospitable when it comes to hosting guests. Make sure to greet everyone you meet with a warm “Jambo!” (hello in Swahili), and don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have.
What is the currency in Kenya?
The official currency of Kenya is the Kenyan Shilling (KES). Major credit and debit cards are accepted at most tourist spots, but it’s best to carry cash just in case. It’s also good to have small denominations and coins for tipping.
Are there ATMs in Kenya?
Yes, most major cities have numerous ATMs that accept foreign cards. However, make sure to check with your bank if there are any withdrawal fees that may apply before using a local ATM in Kenya. It’s also important to inform your bank that you are traveling.
Are there vaccinations needed to travel to Kenya?
Yes, it’s best to get the recommended vaccinations before traveling to Kenya, as certain regions may require specific ones.
The CDC recommends you get vaccinated against hepatitis A, typhoid fever, yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis, rabies, and more. Be sure to check out the full list of recommended vaccinations on the CDC's website.
What is considered rude in Kenya?
It’s considered rude to point with your index finger in Kenya. Instead, you should use your thumb and the other four fingers to gesture. Additionally, it’s considered rude to take something from someone with your left hand.
The left hand is reserved for bathroom use, while the right hand is meant for eating, gesturing, exchanging items, etc. It’s also rude to take pictures of people without their consent, especially in village areas. Ask for permission before taking photos.
If you cannot ask verbally due to language barriers, gesture with your camera or phone that you would like to get a picture and wait for explicit agreement. If you do not receive an agreement or are unsure, do not take a photo.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Kenya?
Overall, the best time to visit Kenya depends on your desired experience and preferences. Going between June and September, the peak tourist season is ideal if you want to go during the hottest, driest months and check out the Great Migration.
However, if you’re looking for a unique experience or fewer crowds, you might want to go during the mild, rainy season. Otherwise, you can get the best of all worlds with fewer people but nice temperatures between December and February.