Best time to visit East Africa

Wildlife, wonderful landscapes and Maasai culture await almost year-round – just take a waterproof from March to early May.
Kenya and Tanzania are year-round destinations. The rains come March-early May, but there’s still wildlife around, particularly in the Ngorongoro, where the crater keeps animal in one place! You might bag a bargain now, too. Unlike in Kenya, the Great Migration can be seen most of the year somewhere in Tanzania, but to catch it at its most dramatic, the best time to go is late June-Sept, when animals cross the Mara River, with the weeks outside August school holidays quieter. The short rains Nov-Dec don’t cause much disruption, while Jan and Feb is green and babies are born. Feb is hottest, at max 25°C, July is coolest, around 20°C.

Nairobi, Kenya Weather Chart

RAIN (mm)

East Africa travel advice

When to go to East Africa

Brad John-Davis, from our supplier Intrepid Travel, has tips on when to visit:
“East Africa is very lucky to be a year-round destination and game viewing is great all year. In any given month there will be the chance to see the migration at some point in the Mara/Serengeti/Ngorongoro ecosystem, and there aren’t really any times of year where visitors are more or less likely to miss any of the most exciting sightings. April, May and November are the wetter months and usually the quietest, but the plus side to this is fewer crowds giving a more exclusive feel and slippery tracks in the game parks lending a real sense of adventure! A personal favourite of mine is February – a quieter month with great weather for European visitors, hot and dry!”)

Viewing the Great Migration

Andrew Appleyard, from our supplier Exodus, explains why this is such an extraordinary spectacle: “For me, it is one of the top five wildlife sights in the world, it’s quite unbelievable. You can see the migration from miles away as there’s a huge spiral of vultures in the sky where the river crossings are. You’ve got the huge Nile crocodiles there which only actually eat twice a year – during the river crossings. They have one of the lowest metabolism rates of any animal. They’ll bury the wildebeest or zebra in log jams in the river so they nicely soften up, then just tear the meat off. You can actually smell it from quite a long way off – all the carcasses on the river.”

What to expect from a holiday in Kenya and Tanzania

Brad John-Davis, from our supplier Intrepid Travel:
“If delivered correctly, a great holiday to Kenya and Tanzania should be about city, countryside, wildlife, people, history, tribal life, landscapes and the beach – as long as you include a trip that features Zanzibar.”

Things to do…

Game drives. Whether you’re watching millions of wildebeest leaping across the Mara River or spotting black rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater, game drives are essential on a trip to Kenya and Tanzania. In both countries, game parks are characterised by unpaved roads, some of which are extremely rough – being bounced around is part of the adventure! Small group tours use purpose-built overland vehicles with open sides, while a tailor made trip will be just you with your own driver guide. Most holidays include several full- or half-day drives, but try to squeeze in a walking safari with local Maasai people or a nighttime game drive in a conservancy, too. Cycle. The animal-filled wildernesses of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya may not be an obvious choice for a bike ride, but cycling holidays here are a brilliant way to see the area’s famous wildlife and meet local tribespeople. Cycling covers more ground than walking safaris and makes a welcome break from a juddery jeep, bringing you thrillingly close to the landscape. Cycling trips are ideal for families with teens, too. Instead of passively sitting in a vehicle, they will be pedaling through national parks and fishing villages. These trips are fully guided and supported, with game drives included for when a tourist on two wheels would be too tempting to resident predators!

Things not to do…

In your eagerness to spot wildlife, don’t ignore the people and culture of this region. The Maasai live in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania and have a long relationship with tourism. Maasai-owned conservancies, camps and lodges offer walking safaris and craft, dance and warrior demonstrations. For most visitors, this can be a highlight of a trip to Kenya and Tanzania, while for the Maasai it provides vital income. Just be sure to travel with an ethical operator. Rule out a family holiday. Travelling in Kenya and Tanzania with kids is perfectly doable. Kenya is on a par with South Africa for ease of travel and its established tourism industry has produced an excellent network of accommodation, from comfy campsites to luxe lodges with swimming pools. The Masai Mara is compact, reducing driving times, and the Great Migration’s peak happily plays out during school holidays. Tanzania’s northern circuit is a one-stop-shop for safari experiences, with lots of places to stop and ogle wildlife. Choose a small group family adventure or tailor-made trip, both of which will include guides skilled at engaging youngsters. Consider adding on a few days to relax on the coast or on Zanzibar, too. View it all through a lens. When on a game drive or bushwalk, remember to put your camera down and soak up the experience!
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Kenya and Tanzania or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Tips from our travellers

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travellers are often... other travellers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do – and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Kenya and Tanzania travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your holiday – and the space inside your suitcase.
Travel light, take a good camera. Be prepared for some long bumpy journeys, basic camping and facilities!
– Eileen Emery
"Research, research, research and find the right safari for you. Get exact information/itineraries. Check all prices and facts. Safaris are expensive holidays and with so many variations to choose from, it is worth talking personally to operators, rather than relying on looking online.” – Sally Moir

“Read the itinerary carefully and be prepared for long, dusty truck journeys, fondly referred to as having an ‘African massage’, as roads are very bumpy and have more craters than hard sections. Perhaps choose a holiday which centres at one place for 2-3 days and journey out from that centre.” – Lesley Halliday

“Don’t forget your bug spray and put it on! Space in the truck is fairly limited but you don’t need too many clothes, you’ll have opportunities to wash clothes most days, one of the campsites even has dry cleaning. Remember to bring some warm clothes and a waterproof top.” – Nick Walker
Bring something thoughtful to share with the school in Tanzania. It is such a special experience.
– Dan Cobley, on a family cycling holiday
“The safari camps are quite basic, so although camping means you get very much closer to nature –we had jackals and zebra actually come through our camps at night – and although the support team did a great job making us as comfortable as possible, some experience of camping is probably an advantage.” – Marie Lenstrup

“Be in good condition, have a bit of biking practice beforehand and go for some uphills. Otherwise you will struggle a bit... Bring a camera with a decent zoom. If you want luxury this is not for you!” – Roman Holderbach on a biking holiday

“The environment is very fragile and visited by many tourists. Make sure to travel with agencies which you can be sure comply with the highest possible standards in terms of responsibility towards nature and the local community. Double check if possible any reference.” – Tomas Gregersen
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Michiel Van Balen] [Intro: Make it Kenya] [Things to do in Kenya & Tanzania: Make it Kenya] [When to go to East Africa: Make it Kenya] [Viewing the Great Migration: Make it Kenya] [Eileen Emery quote: Make it Kenya] [Dan Cobley quote: Henrik Sommerfeld]