Kenya Weather in December: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By Edward | Updated Aug. 8, 2023

The first half of December in Kenya is rainy and mild in the highlands and rainy and hot in the southeast lowlands. The latter half is generally warm or hot with low or moderate rainfall. We recommend the beaches and developed areas and seeing the wildlife without tourist crowds.

Read on for our travel advice and weather information including average temperatures, rainfall, and humidity, and travel tips…

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Kenya Weather in December: Overview

Averages:

  • Temperature range: 19–30°C (66–85°F)
  • Rainfall: 9 cm (4 inches)
  • Rainy days: 12
  • Sunshine hours/day: 8

First half of the December: On average, it's moderately rainy and warm at the highland tourist attractions and moderately rainy and hot with warm seas on the coast.

Second half of December: Touring conditions all over the country improve after the short rainy season. There is warm weather and low rainfall in the highlands and it's hot with low rainfall on the coast.

Weather of Kenya's Major Cities in December

Kenya City Temperature Rainfall
Nairobi (Capital, largest city, travel hub) Warm Moderate
Maasai Mara (Game reserve) Warm Moderate
Mombasa (Beaches, second largest city) Very Hot Low
Turkana (Beautiful desert lake, ethnic culture) Very Hot Low
Kisumu (Lake Victoria, wildlife, 3rd largest city) Hot Moderate
Amboseli (Nature Reserve, Kilimanjaro) Hot Low
Kenya City Daily High Temp. Daily Low Temp.
Nairobi (Capital, largest city, travel hub) 25ºC (77ºF) 12ºC (54ºF)
Maasai Mara (Game reserve) 27ºC (81ºF) 12ºC (54ºF)
Mombasa (Beaches, second largest city) 33ºC (91ºF) 22ºC (72ºF)
Turkana (Beautiful desert lake, ethnic culture) 34ºC (93ºF) 26ºC (79ºF)
Kisumu (Lake Victoria, wildlife, 3rd largest city) 30ºC (86ºF) 24ºC (75ºF)
Amboseli (Nature Reserve, Kilimanjaro) 28ºC (82ºF) 16ºC (61ºF)
Kenya City Rain (cm) Rain (in)
Nairobi (Capital, largest city, travel hub) 11 4
Maasai Mara (Game reserve) 12 5
Mombasa (Beaches, second largest city) 8 3
Turkana (Beautiful desert lake, ethnic culture) 4 2
Kisumu (Lake Victoria, wildlife, 3rd largest city) 10 4
Amboseli (Nature Reserve, Kilimanjaro) 9 4

In December, the places with better infrastructure around Nairobi and the southeastern coast are easier to tour, but the highland savannas and high mountains are good too.

Highland plateau: The various big attractions such as Nairobi and the large savanna wildlife preserves such as Maasai Mara have moderate rainfall and warm temperatures. Mount Kenya and other high mountain areas have good weather at the end of the month.

Southeast coastal lowlands: Around Mombasa and Malindi, it is hot, and the beaches are usually sunny and sparkling with 10 hours of sunshine a day. The sea temperature is good for swimming.

The Best Places to Visit in Kenya in December

Top things to do in December include enjoying savanna areas, visiting city highlights in Mombasa, Nairobi and Malindi, and going to the beaches, water sports, and diving.

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1. Nairobi — Appreciate the Vibrant Downtown and Natural Parks

Nairobi is the big capital. Most tourists arrive through its airport. It is sunny. There is moderate to heavy rain in the first half of the month and mild temperatures, and mild or warm temperatures with low rainfall in the rest of the month.

Places to go in the city: Giraffe Centre and the Oloolua Nature Trail next to it and the Elephant Sanctuary. The Nairobi National Museum explains Kenyan history, Kenyan animals, and related topics.

Natural highlights in the Nairobi area: Nairobi National Park is adjacent to the city. Further afield, there are Lake Naivasha (2½ hours' drive), Lake Nakuru (3½ hours), Mount Kenya (3½ hours), Amboseli (4 hours), and the Maasai Mara (4½ hours).

2. Maasai Mara — Spot the Wildlife

Of the various savanna wildlife preserves in the highlands, Maasai Mara is the best place to go weatherwise for safari in December. Although there is moderate rainfall, the road conditions are better there, and its large expanses of grassland lets you see the animals from the tourist cars.

Samburu and Amboseli both have hampered views from the roads due to more irregular terrain or tree cover, and the travel and sightseeing conditions are worse. It rains almost every day in Amboseli.

The sheer numbers of wildlife at Maasai Mara makes a better safari experience. The first half of December is low tourism season in Maasai Mara and a better time for solitude and lower costs. The weather is much better during the Christmas season, but the tourism is heavier.

3. Diani Beach — Relax and Do Water Sports

Diani Beach is a generally considered the best stretch of beach in East Africa for the clean sands, great diving, water sports, excellent food and accommodations, and nearby forests, caves, and nature to explore. December is one of the best diving months.

In December, it rains about 8 days a month. It is warm or hot during the day, and the Diani water temperature ranges from 29°C (85°F) to 27°C (81°F). December is one of the best months for diving, and Diani is one of the best places to dive in East Africa.

Diani is 30 km (19 miles) south of Mombasa, and driving takes about 30 minutes. It is 17 km (11 miles) long.

4. Mombasa — Dining, Beaches, Hiking, and Holiday Celebrations

Mombasa is a city of a million people on the southeast coast. There are a variety of things to do suited for December. When it rains, you can shop and dine. It only rains about 8 days of the month, and the weather is sunny and hot most of the time.

Things to do in the city include going to Fort Jesus museum and the historic Old Town area. You could go to Haller Park and walk the Bamburi Natural Trail in it or scuba dive at Mombasa Marine National Park and Wasini Island. It is a good place for water sports.

Christmas is a huge holiday event. You could have Christmas dinners, take in the sights and sounds of Christmas markets, watch traditional dances, or join the locals for Christmas day celebrations. Christmas in Kenya is really worth the trip! December is by far the month with heaviest tourism.

5. Malindi — Surfing, Dining, and Holiday Celebrations

Malindi has white sand beaches, and December is one of the best months for going to the beach since there is only about 5 days of rain and hot weather. It is the best location for surfing in Kenya. The sea at Malindi and nearby Watamu is quite warm and great for swimming: 30°C (85°F) to 27°C (80°F).

There are many things to do such as dining in Italian restaurants, visiting the ruins of the town of Gede, and going to Watamu Marine Park or Watamu Beach.

Christmas is a big holiday. There are an annual Christmas Craft Fair and Market, decorations and displays, and Christmas services. There are traditional Kenyan dishes and Italian Christmas dinners. December is by far the month with heaviest tourism, and prices peak. The beaches are more crowded than at Diani.

6. Mount Kenya — See Some Snow for Christmas

Mount Kenya (Kirinyaga) is the second highest mountain in Africa. It is an extinct volcano and is renowned as a place to hike through a variety of habitats ranging from jungle up to snow and glaciers.

The rainy season makes the vegetation green and lush in December, and animals come to the park since water and food is available. So, December is a good month for seeing wildlife, and at the end of December, there is drier weather for hikes.

Most of the park is over 3,000 meters (9,800 feet). You could stay at inns with amazingly beautiful views at lower prices in December. It is 200 km (125 miles) from Nairobi and about 3½ hours driving time.

High Tourist Season: Touring Advice for December

The beginning of December is generally low tourist season with moderate rainfall. The Christmas and New Year's season has great touring weather, warm sunny skies, and high tourism.

December has low tourism in the savannas except during the Christmas and New Year's holidays. However, it is the heaviest month for tourism in Mombasa and Malindi. So overall it is a moderate tourism month in Kenya. If you want solitude while seeing wildlife, the first half of December is good.

Public holidays in December:

  • December 12 every year is Jamhuri Day that commemorates the independence of the republic.
  • December 25, Christmas Day celebrates the birth of Jesus.
  • December 26, Boxing Day is the traditional day for giving gifts.

What to Wear in December

December is rainy, and mosquitoes could be a big nuisance. Wear a hat, long-sleeved shirt or high-factor sun screen, and light trousers or long dresses to avoid mosquito bites and sunburn. Carry mosquito repellent. A mosquito net may be handy.

You will need a jacket for the highlands. Bring winter clothes for the higher mountains. Bring rain gear or umbrellas. To avoid alarming the animals, wear neutral-colored clothes.

Monthly Weather in Kenya

Recommended Tours for Kenya in December

A private tour is recommended for Kenya. Our travel experts who know the local conditions would provide you with greater comfort, enjoyment, safety, and speed of travel. A private driver and a local guide would help you get more from your tour.

At Global Highlights, we recognize that you may want some private time with your traveling companion(s) such as hiking in a wilderness preserve or go on safari. So, we are flexible to do as much itinerary tailoring and expert arranging as you would wish to make the best trip for you. See our best itineraries for Kenya with special experiences 

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