Kenya's Weather and Average Temperatures

Kenya Weather and Average Temperatures
••• Samburu Women in the Sunshine. Bartosz Hadyniak/ Getty Images

Kenya is a country of many different landscapes, ranging from coastlines washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, to arid savannahs and snow-capped mountains. Each of these regions has its own unique climate, making it difficult to generalize Kenyan weather. On the coast, the climate is tropical, with warm temperatures and high humidity. In the lowlands, the weather is generally hot and dry; while the highlands are temperate.

Unlike the rest of the country, these mountainous regions have four distinct seasons. Elsewhere, the weather is split into rainy and dry seasons rather than summer, fall, winter and spring. 

 

Universal Truths

Despite the diversity of Kenya's climates, there are several rules that can be applied universally. Kenya's weather is dictated by monsoon winds, which help to make the high temperatures of the coast more bearable. The winds also influence the country's rainy seasons, the longest of which lasts from April to June. There is a second, shorter rainy season in November and December. Of the intervening dry months, the December to March period is the hottest; while the July to October period is the coolest. Generally, rainstorms in Kenya are intense but brief, with sunny weather in between.  

Nairobi & the Central Highlands

Nairobi is situated in Kenya's Central Highlands region and enjoys pleasant weather for most of the year.

Average annual temperatures fluctuate between 52 - 79ºF/ 11 - 26ºC, giving Nairobi a similar climate to California. Like most of the country, Nairobi has two rainy seasons, although they start a little earlier here than they do elsewhere. The long rainy season lasts from March to May, while the short rainy season lasts from October to November.

The sunniest time of year is December to March, while June to September is cooler and often more overcast. Average monthly temperatures can be seen below. 

MonthPrecipitationMaximumMinimum
Average Sunlight
 incmFCFCHours
January1.53.8772554129
February2.56.4792655139
March4.912.5772557149
April8.321.1752457147
May6.215.8722255136
June1.84.6702154126
July0.61.5702152114
August0.92.3702152114
September1.23.1752452116
October2.05.3752455137
November4.310.9732355137
December3.48.6732355138

 

Mombasa & the Coast

Located on Kenya's south coast, the popular coastal city of Mombasa enjoys consistent temperatures that remain hot throughout the year. The difference in daily mean temperatures between the hottest month (January) and the coldest months (July and August) is only 4.3ºC/ 6.5ºF. While the humidity levels are high on the coast, onshore ocean breezes prevent the heat from becoming uncomfortable. The wettest months are April to May, while January and February see the least rain. Mombasa's climate is comparable with that of other coastal destinations, including Lamu, Kilifi and Watamu. 

MonthPrecipitationMaximumMinimum
Average Sunlight
 incmFCFCHours
January1.02.5883175248
February0.71.8883175249
March2.56.4883177259
April7.719.6863075248
May12.632822873236
June4.711.9822873238
July3.58.9802772227
August2.56.4812771228
September2.56.4822872229
October3.48.6842973239
November3.89.7842975249
December2.46.1863075249


Northern Kenya

Northern Kenya is an arid region blessed with abundant year-round sunshine. Rainfall is limited, and this area may go for many months without any rain at all. When the rains do come, they often take the form of spectacular thunderstorms. November is the wettest month in Northern Kenya. Average temperatures range from 68 - 104ºF/  20 - 40ºC. The best time to travel Northern Kenyan highlights like Lake Turkana and Sibiloi National Park is during the southern hemisphere winter (June - August). At this time, temperatures are cooler and more pleasant. 

Western Kenya & the Maasai Mara National Reserve

Western Kenya is generally hot and humid with rain occurring throughout the year. Rain usually falls in the evenings and is interspersed with bright sunshine. The famous Maasai Mara National Reserve is located in Western Kenya.

The best time to visit is between July and October, after the long rains. At this time, the plains are covered with lush green grass, providing ample grazing for the wildebeest, zebra and other antelope of the annual Great Migration. Predators are attracted by the abundance of food, making for some of the best game-viewing on the planet. 

Mount Kenya

At 17,057 feet/ 5,199 meters, Mount Kenya's lofty summit is perennially capped with snow. At the highest elevations, it's cold all year round - especially at night, when the temperature can drop as low as 14ºF/ -10ºC. Typically, early mornings on the mountain are sunny and dry, with clouds often forming by midday. It is possible to hike Mount Kenya throughout the year, but conditions are easiest during the dry season. Like most of the country, Mount Kenya's dry seasons last from July to October, and from December to March.

This article was updated and re-written in part by Jessica Macdonald on April 10th 2017.