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By: Thomes Schmitz

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Kenya Safari: Timing it Right

Kenya's location on the equator ensures that there's year-round sunshine, but its altitude and topography also provide variable climate and temperatures. Hot and humid along the western coastline, with cool dry temperatures in Nairobi at an altitude of nearly 1700 ft, and hot, dry weather in the northern plains. Nights and early mornings are generally cool all over the country. There are two rainy seasons: the Long (April-June) and the Short (October-December). Summers are hottest in February-March and the weather turns cool in July-August.

While planning a Kenya Safari, if possible, plan it around the weather, especially if you have some particular animal or feature you want to particularly see. Another factor would be the fluctuating prices and rates of flights and accommodation. Rates are generally discounted in April, but you can still make a quick trip before the heavy rains start. July-September is peak season in Kenya, so the rates would be highest, and accommodation difficult to find. Don't expect to find budget deals at this time. December and the Christmas-New Year are again a great time to visit, but you could find it tough to get good deals unless you book well in advance.

A great time to visit would be between January and March or July and October, since the rains make road travel impossible and the safari trails are flooded out. The most spectacular animal show on earth, The Great Migration, between Serengeti in Tanzania and Masai Mara in Kenya takes place during June-September. Nearly two million animals including wildebeest, zebra followed closely by thousands of hungry predators moving across the savannah is an unforgettable sight. With water drying up on the plains, animals gather in huge numbers near the water-holes, rivers or lakes, providing wonderful photo opportunities and the chance to witness the sheer drama of life and death.

For climbers, this is also the best time to scale the slopes of Mt Kenya. With eternal snows on the peak, the weather remains cold all the year through, though dawns are sunny and dry, with the afternoons turning cloudy and overcast. Generally, guided climbs are organized for small groups to reduce the environmental impact and give a more personalized experience. Great wild-life viewing opportunities are there all along the trek and climb, with sightings of rare primate species, mountain hyrax and smaller animals like porcupines.

Beach holidays in Kenya can be planned between December and March. Ramadan and some Swahili festivals occur during this period and add great cultural flavor to your holiday, with the chance to sample delicious local cuisine. You can also visit Mombasa, Zanzibar or smaller towns like Malindi, Watamu or Lamu.

The northern parts of Kenya can be visited almost all the year round, since it's mostly dry. The temperatures can go up into the 40s degree Celsius and this area is less populated. There are several small tribal populations here and the landscape is mountainous and beautiful.

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