The Best Time of The Year for a Kenya Safari

By Sarah Gold February 22, 2022

It’s little wonder that a safari in Kenya is the first choice for many safari travellers. The country is, after all, home to many of Africa’s most deservedly famous safari destinations—including the iconic Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Laikipia Plateau, Amboseli National Park, and more than 50 other game parks and preserves. Kenya’s rich biodiversity, robust infrastructure, and plethora of luxury lodgings make it enticing to visitors year-round, so when planning a trip here, there’s really only one question to ask yourself: Which aspect of this dazzling country would you most like to see?

While your best resource for considering your options is a talk with one of Micato’s safari experts, here’s a primer on the seasonal differences you can expect in what is widely considered to be “the original safari destination.”

Migration Season: July to October

One of the most breathtaking spectacles of the natural world is The Great Migration: The vast annual parade of some two million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope across the plains of East Africa in pursuit of fresh grazing lands and water. While their journey is cyclical and continuous, the massive herds typically follow a well-worn path that brings them to spots where they can be easily observed.

The biggest concentrations of migrating animals begin to move north from the Serengeti into the Maasai Mara National Reserve in July. August is usually considered the prime migration-viewing month here, when hordes of beasts slowly cross the Mara and Talek Rivers—a boon for photographers seeking dramatic images, and for prowling predators like lions and crocodiles. The migrant herds often stay thick in the Mara throughout September, before tapering off in October as the animals begin their return journey south.

wildebeest and zebra cross the river
Endless streams of wildebeest and zebra are the stars of East Africa’s Great Migration. Photo by Micato Safari Guest Frank Newton.

The Dry Seasons: June to October and January to March

While The Great Migration is one reason why the months between June and October are considered Kenya’s safari high season, there are many other reasons to visit this time of year. For starters, the weather is blissful: dry, sunny, and clear, with daytime temperatures in the high 70s F (and nighttime averages of 54 degrees F—great for after-dark game drives or stargazing). The savannahs of Maasai Mara, Laikipia, Amboseli, and Samburu National Reserve are flush with grasses and leafy trees and shrubs, which draw a profusion of browsing herbivores like elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and Cape buffalo. The hot weather also prompts crowds of wildlife species to gather along rivers and lakes, which they share with water-loving species like hippos, crocs, and fish eagles.

The peak summer months of January and February are a less-crowded but still excellent time to visit Kenya’s safari parks. The weather can be a little more dicey; daytime temperatures can rise to the lower 90s F, and there are occasional (usually brief) rainstorms. But these help to keep the greenery lush, and the wildlife plentiful. Several species also start giving birth during this period, including various antelopes and warthogs, so you’ll have a good chance of seeing both baby animals and (as is the way of nature) the big cats that prey on them.

The Green Season: November and December

Also known as the “short rain” months (as opposed to the truly sodden “long rain” months of April and May), this season casts an enchanting spell for the few travellers who experience it. The higher humidity—especially in the Mara but also in Amboseli, Tsavo, and even Samburu—culminates in near-daily, and quite stunning, afternoon thunderstorms. Equally photogenic are the vivid, emerald-green grasslands made verdant by the frequent showers, and the increasing number of baby animals you’re likely to see frolicking among them—including cheetah, elephants, and zebras. These are also the months when many of the country’s most gorgeous migratory bird species (such as rollers, sunbirds, cuckoos, and warblers) return to the game parks sporting their most vibrant breeding plumage.

lion in green grass
A male lion taking in the scents before the afternoon rains begin. Photo by Micato Safari Director Peter Githaka

To learn more about the marvels of Kenya, and start planning your visit there, request our brochure of luxury safaris and speak with one of Micato’s safari experts.

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