The climate in Kenya varies depending on the location and ranges from generally cool to always warm. The climate along the coast is tropical. This means that rainfall and temperatures are higher throughout the year. In the coastal cities of Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi, the air changes from cool to warm almost every day.
The farther Kenya is from the coast, the drier the climate becomes. In an arid climate, there is almost no rainfall, and the temperature varies considerably depending on the general time of day and night. In many parts of Kenya, the daytime temperature increases by about 12°C (equivalent to about 22°F) almost daily.
Elevation is the main factor in temperature levels, with the highest areas averaging 20°F (11°C) cooler, both during the day and at night. In the many cities that are more than a kilometer high, there are temperature variations of about 50-79°F (10-26°C). In Nairobi, at 1,798 meters, temperatures range from 9 to 27°C (50-79°F); in Kitale, at 1,825 meters, temperatures range from 11 to 28°C (50-79°F). Heavy clothing or blankets are required at night in the highlands, when the temperature drops to about 10-12 °C each night.
At low altitudes, the temperature rise is like day and night, literally: like starting the morning with the highest point of the day on the highlands and then adding back the heat of the day. Thus, low night temperatures near sea level are almost identical to high temperatures on the Kenyan highlands. In locations across the Indian Ocean, on the other hand, there are generally more moderate temperatures, for example, in Mombasa
There are slight seasonal variations in temperature, from 4°C or 7.2°F, cooler in winter. Although Kenya is located on the equator, it has the same seasons as the Southern Hemisphere: the hottest summer months are in December-March and the coolest winter months are in June-August, although again, temperature variations vary across the country.
On the high mountains, such as Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and Kilimanjaro, it can get very cold almost all year round. Snowfall sometimes occurs on the highest mountains.
When to travel to Kenya
On the coast, the best months for a beach vacation are August and September, as these are the coolest months, but also the sunniest, with hardly any rain. If you want, you can also choose January and February, which are the driest months of the year, but also the hottest and most humid; on the other hand, in these months the sea is calmer and clearer and therefore best for diving.
If you want to visit the dry region, July and August are the least hot months, although there is not much difference with the rest of the year: the heat is always intense.
For a safari in the national parks and highlands, you can choose between two periods: June-September and January-February. In the first period, the risk of afternoon and evening showers is higher in the high altitudes, and in the second, the risk of intense heat is higher in the low altitudes. However, since it can be cool throughout the year in the early hours of the day and at high altitudes, it is best to dress in layers.
It is useful to remember that the equatorial sun is very strong and is even stronger at high altitudes; the sun is strongest during the two months when it passes directly over our heads at noon, i.e., March and September.
The days last about 12 hours all year round, so the sun rises at 6 am and sets at 6 pm and is used as a clock by the local population.
The worst period is the long rainy season, from March to May inland and from April to June on the coast, with a peak in April inland and in May on the coast: this is usually the wettest period and the one with the greatest risk of flooding.