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Time & weather
  • Time: What is the local time in Kenya?
  • Weather: Is it very hot? Are there heavy rains?

Kenya is GMT+3 all the year with no Daylight Saving Time changes

Local time in Kenya is GMT/UTC +3 hours all the year round. Daylight Saving Time (DST) changes are not applied, so the time difference with DST operating countries varies along the year. As an example, Kenya is 2 hours ahead of Britain from March to October, but 3 hours ahead from October to March.

The traditional Swahili time system is based on the sun. Since the country is crossed by the Equator, it has 12 hours of sunlight. The sun rises at 6 a.m., which corresponds to 00.00 hours in Swahili time, and sets at 6 p.m., 12.00 in Swahili time. This dawn-to-dusk rule is followed in places like national parks and reserves, where no driving is allowed after dark. However, the Swahili time system is only used when speaking in Swahili, so you will hardly have to worry about this.


Kenya is not the frying pan you thought it was // The long rains season goes from March to June
Click here for the Fahrenheit version

So you just think of Africa and start sweating, right? Then think twice: Kenya is not as hot as you might believe. Or strictly speaking, the central patch of Kenya where the most popular safari destinations concentrate. During your safari you will rarely find a scorching summer, but more of an eternal spring or, say, a mild nordic summer.

The main reason for this temperate climate is altitude. Nairobi sits at an elevation of 5,450 feet (1,661 m), so temperatures normally stay around 25ºC and nights can be chilly. Along your safari you will be moving around the 6,000 ft (1,800 m) mark, that can peak at 8,000 ft (2,500 m) or higher if you are travelling around Mount Kenya or Aberdare mountains.

Of course this welcoming feel vanishes if you make it down to the coast, where you will be beaten by a tropical punch of severe heat and humidity. And if you venture off the usual safari routes, you will find out that the north and northeast, which actually account for most of the country's area, are very arid and hot.

Although Kenya sits astride the Equator, seasons follow the southern hemisphere pattern. The weather is hotter and drier in summer, from December to March, while temperatures are lower (always slightly) in winter, from June to September. There are two wet seasons, the long rains from March to June and the short rains from October to December. Rainfall is usually heavier during the long rains (see "when to go").

Besides this general rule, Kenya actually bears a huge climatic diversity among geographic regions, with remarkable differences in average temperatures and rainfall due to altitude and winds. This range of climates gives rise to a wide spectrum of natural environments, where you can travel from alpine forests to deserts along a single morning drive.

The climate by regions:

  • Lake Victoria basin

    Climate at the shores of Lake Victoria is modulated by altitude, around 4,000 ft (1,200 m), and by the moist winds coming from the Great Lakes. Temperatures are high during the day and moderate at night, with annual highs of 31ºC and lows of 17ºC.

  • Rift Valley and Highlands

    Elevation and winds in this region provide a moderate and mild climate. In Nairobi, highest temperatures are 26-27ºC in the boreal winter (summer in Kenya) and 23ºC during the boreal summer (winter in Kenya). The lows are in the range of 12-15ºC. In the Mount Kenya region, average temperatures are between 12 and 18ºC, falling below 10ºC at night. The same applies to the Aberdare area. Showers are usually plentiful, which can turn to hail at the high slopes of Aberdare and snow up the peaks of Mount Kenya.

  • N, NE and Eastern Highlands (Nyika)

    The northern and northeastern regions have the toughest climate, which is reflected in the arid landscape. Rainfall is scarce, with annual levels around 350 mm. Temperatures are high all the year round, rising to 37ºC during the day in the hottest months. Night temperatures do not usually fall below 21ºC. In the Eastern Highlands, temperatures are also hot but somewhat lower, around 30ºC during the day and 20ºC at night with higher average rainfall, especially in the areas around Kilimanjaro.

  • The coast

    The average annual temperatures at the Kenyan Indian Ocean coast are around 28ºC. Weather at the coast is tropical, warm and humid. Storms are frequent and temperatures rarely drop below 21ºC, with the highs around 32ºC during the boreal winter months, which are generally drier and warmer. Total annual rainfall rises to 1,100 mm.


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