Best Time to Visit Kenya for Safaris
Although the actual word safari was historically used to plan holidays around animal hunting, this word has now reformed and taken a fresher breath in it’s description of being around animals not just in the Savannah but being and observing animals and nature in their natural habitat. Since the equator passes through Nyanyuki, in Likipia county in Kenya, the country can host tourists all year round due to its warm temperatures, no ‘best time’ per say is noted to visit. Yes Kenyans themselves talk of so called winter which is just as warm as summers in the west. Having said that, when planning a trip to Kenya the punch line should be what exactly you are visiting for? This will help you pan out the right month or season for your visit. Let’s look at a few activities that will help you plan the timing of your vacation.
January and February are pleasant times to visit the savannah as the weather is pleasant and animals in plenty. However this is peak season time where lodges, campsites and hotels are packed with tourists. If you are the quiet peace seeking visitor, this may not be the best time to visit Kenya. In terms of watching game, it can be an enjoyable site.
March, April & May aren’t the best times to visit as heavy rain fall means that some lodges close down and due to the rain and growing plantations, it is particularly difficult to search for animals and get good snap shots. However, if your trip is one that requires you to observe plants, thick trees and botany in general, than this time of the year is perfect for your trip.
One of the most visited periods in the Masai Maraa region is obviously the migration. Penned down as one of the wonders of the world the ‘Great Migration’ encapsules a time when wilder beast migrate from Tanzania, Serengeti into Masaai Mara, Kenya. This normally takes place from mid-July all the way to October. If you are a game enthusiast yearning to stay glued to a quick kill, then visiting between July-October is the best time. The sun isn’t at its peak and due to the Wilder Beast migration, the chances of you snapping a shot of a crocodiles jaw clasping a Wilder beast or a lioness hunting down the migrator are much higher compared to any other time of the year.
In order to watch the migration, you will have to spend a few nights in the Maraa and stick around the game reserve as this magical travel is not a daily activity but happens suddenly as the wilder beast decide to gather close by and spot a quiet route of the Maraa river, away from hiding predators to migrate. This season is not recommended to budget travellers are rates all around shoot-up and mostly all lodges are pre-booked. Also, to avoid noisy children, September is a preferred time as summer holidays see an influx of children in the hotels & lodges. In recent years it has become slightly difficult to predict when the migration will start and end in definite, hence it is better to plan your vacation somewhere in the middle of migration instead of the very beginning or early October. The famous big 5 animals: Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, Rhino can be easily spotted during this period as heat will bring animals close to water wholes for a refresher.
Another spectacular reason Kenya is opted for as a safari destination is bird watching. Kenya, a home to over a 1000 species of birds is a paradise to any bird watcher who can enjoy observing array of species in their natural habitat in about 2-3 weeks. Lake Baringo, Nairobi national Park, Rift Valley lake region, Lake Bogoria, Magadi are all fabulous sites for bird lovers. Birds migrate from far north to seek warmth and shelter in southern regions from harsh winter conditions and Kenya has proved to be a loved destination not only by humans but birds as well. Birds from as far as the northern tip of Norway have been witnessed in Kenya; being a few of the 6 billion birds that have been recorded to migrate to land of the Massai. Although the best time to visit for birdwatching is during the wet season. The famous big 5 animals: Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, Rhino can be easily spotted during this period as heat will bring animals close to water wholes for a refresher. Visitors in June and July will get to see many birds visiting the Eastern African region from South Africa, and between October and February birds from the norther part of the Himalayas, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula come to spread their wings and enjoy the Kenyan breeze. However the later parts of July and August see a minimal bird activity and may not be enjoyed by bird watchers.
Safaris are not limited to land but extend into the welcoming waters of the Indian Ocean in the coastal region of Kenya. Mombasa (both north and south coast and Malindi have all made a name in every diver and snorkelers list. Oct- Ending February is the best time to get your divers suite out as the warm weather keeps the ocean temperatures balanced and waters are clear. Once the rainfall in March starts, the waters start losing clarity and from June-August the sea is noted to be pretty rough.
As drawn out, there is always something for someone in every season. Kenya is a place to be visited all year round as temperatures may be cool but do not reach freezing point. Animals can be viewed in the wet season as well where lower prices in lodges and a quiet time can be enjoyed, however you may not be able to see as many animals as in the peak of summer or during the migration.