Kenya Weather in January: Travel Tips for First-Timers

By Edward | Updated Jul. 13, 2023

Kenya in January ranges from warm to cool in the highlands, and hot and muggy in the coastal lowlands where the beaches are. Going to cool and even snowy mountain resorts is an option, and of course the sunny beaches and jungle and animal preserves make for a big contrast.

Read on for our travel advice and weather info, with average temperatures, rainfall, and humidity, and travel tips…

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Kenya Weather in January: Overview


  • Temperature range: 19–31°C (66–87°F)
  • Rainfall: 6 cm (2 inches)
  • Rainy days: 7
  • Sunshine hours/day: 9

In January, you could enjoy the sunny hot weather of the coastal areas with beaches and urban areas such as Malindi and Mombasa. Or you could go to highland tourist highlights such as Nairobi, Lake Victoria, and the big national parks and savanna grasslands such as Maasai Mara and Amboseli. Go up the mountains to enjoy the cool weather, sightseeing and hiking and even enjoy snow and winter sports!

Weather of Kenya's Major Cities in January

Kenya City Daily High Temp. Daily Low Temp.
Nairobi (Capital, largest city, travel hub) 26ºC (79ºF) 13ºC (55ºF)
Maasai Mara (Game reserve) 28ºC (82ºF) 12ºC (54ºF)
Mombasa (Beaches, second largest city) 33ºC (91ºF) 22ºC (71ºF)
Turkana (Beautiful desert lake, ethnic culture) 35ºC (95ºF) 26ºC (79ºF)
Kisumu (Lake Victoria, wildlife, 3rd largest city) 31ºC (88ºF) 24ºC (75ºF)
Amboseli (Nature Reserve, Kilimanjaro) 30ºC (86ºF) 15ºC (59ºF)
Kenya City Rain (cm) Rain (in)
Nairobi (Capital, largest city, travel hub) 6 2
Maasai Mara (Game reserve) 10 4
Mombasa (Beaches, second largest city) 3 1
Turkana (Beautiful desert lake, ethnic culture) 2 1
Kisumu (Lake Victoria, wildlife, 3rd largest city) 8 3
Amboseli (Nature Reserve, Kilimanjaro) 5 2

January is one of the warmest months in the highlands where Nairobi and Mount Kenya are. You could go to the mountains for hiking, sightseeing, and mountain resorts. On the plateau, the climate is generally mild or pleasantly warm.

The weather in coastal lowlands in January is hot during the day, and it can be hot at night too.

The Best Places to Visit in Kenya in January

Top things to do in January include: going to Kenya's natural parks and safari in the savanna wildlife refuges, seeing the glacier on Mount Kenya, doing winter sports in the mountains, and surfing and scuba diving.

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1. Nairobi — Vibrant Downtown, Natural Parks, and Airport Gateway

Nairobi is the capital city and also the biggest city with 7 million people including its suburbs. It is also the regional travel hub since Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the biggest airport in East Africa and the No. 1 travel gateway for the region.

To see wildlife, you could go to Nairobi National Park. You could also visit the zoos in the city. Landing at Nairobi puts you within a few hours of great places to safari: Lake Naivasha National Park (~2½ hours' drive), Lake Nakuru National Park (~3½ hours), Amboseli National Park (~4 hours), and the Maasai Mara (~4½ hours).

In January, the weather is quite comfortable for tourists in Nairobi and the surrounding highland plateau savanna countryside.

2. Maasai Mara — Stunning Wildlife and Natural Beauty in January

Maasai Mara is the most famous natural area in Kenya. Expect to see herds of elephants, zebras, and huge Mount Kilimanjaro rising in the distance. The Maasai Mara region adjoins the Serengeti National Reserve of Tanzania.

Maasai tribesmen graze their herds of cattle in the area, and you could visit the Maasai towns and villages. The number of big cats such as leopards, cheetahs, and lions is higher than in other parks in Africa.

The January weather is generally warm during the day, comfortably cool for sleeping at night, and sunny. There is moderate rainfall of about 10 cm or 4 inches.

3. Tsavo National Park — Stunning Wildlife and Natural Beauty in Biggest National Parkland

Another huge national park area is Tsavo National Park. It is the biggest national park and occupies 4% of the large country! Many visit it as they travel from Nairobi to Mombasa/Malindi.

As a result of its size, Tsavo is a wildlife haven. It is home to waterfalls, rivers, savannas, volcanic hills and a vast lava plateau. Eastern Tsavo is particularly popular for its herd of elephants that roam the dusty plains and bathe in the red dust.

The weather is generally pleasant in January with highs of about 31°C (88°F) in the warmest, lowest area of the park around the town of Voi, and it is cooler in higher elevations.

4. Malindi — Beaches, Water Sports, Nature, and Possibly Surfing

Kenya is renowned for having about the most pristine shoreline along the Indian Ocean with many beaches and surfing areas. For beach, fun, and sun, Malindi is one of the places most tourists go.

The beaches are great, generally clean, and usually uncrowded. If the conditions are right, you could even surf at Malindi Bay. There may be both small swells for beginners and bodyboarders and larger swells for more advanced surfers. The water is warm: about 28°C (82°F) in January.

Malindi is known as Little Italy. It has an Italian expat community that began when the Italian government opened a space center in the 1960s for rocket launches, now known as the Broglio Space Center. Italians built hotels, restaurants and businesses. So, it is a place to go for both Italian and Kenyan cuisine.

Malindi and Mombasa are only about 120 kilometers (70 miles) apart, drivable in about an hour and a half. The weather is about the same in both.

5. Mombasa — Large City with Beaches and Access to Nature

Mombasa is a city with international influences ranging from British, to Arab, to Indian, to Chinese. There is a big mix of restaurants to choose from, museums to visit, and natural parks to visit.

You can also surf and snorkel. The area if famous for the coral reefs, so only experienced surfers should venture surfing there. Mombasa Marine National Park and Wasini Island is for scuba divers. Fort Jesus and Old Town are historical areas.

In January, there is little rain. Only about 10 centimeters of rain falls. The temperatures are good for the beach and swimming since it hovers around 33° C (91° F) in the afternoons.

6. Mount Kenya — Snow Scenery, Cool Resorts, Occasional Skiing

Mount Kenya (Kirinyaga) is the second highest mountain in Africa. Like Mount Kilimanjaro, it is an extinct volcano. The volcanic soil and higher rainfall make it very productive agriculturally. It is renowned as a place to hike through a variety of habitats ranging from jungle up to glaciers.

It is easy to go to from Nairobi since it is only about 120 km (70 miles) away. There are two rocky snow-capped peaks: Batian and Nelion at around 5,200 meters (17,000 feet). The mountain is heavily forested, and its ecological diversity is one of its primary attractions.

January is a great time for hiking in the mountains of the plateau, as it is one of the two dry seasons.

High Tourist Season in Kenya: Crowds and Costs in January

The Christmas and New Year season and January is a heavy tourist season. So, expect relatively higher prices than at other times of the year for flights and hotels. The dry season is better for sightseeing and travel. For those on a budget, the Maasai Mara is in a low tourist season with lower costs since tourists flock in from July and August to watch the migrating herds. The hotels in the area are less expensive than in July and August.

January 1st is a public holiday in Kenya. Travel and restaurant/hotel bookings reach very high levels around the New Year.

What to Wear in January in Kenya

Plateau region: In general, dress in layers with spring/autumn clothes. Bring a sun hat, and to avoid sunburn, wear light cotton long-sleeved shirts and long pants or dresses. For visiting parks and reserves, wear neutral-colored clothes so as to avoid alarming the animals. In the higher mountains, bring winter clothing and rain gear or an umbrella.

Coastal areas: Bring comfortable clothing for warm and hot weather. To avoid sunburn, bring a hat and long-sleeved shirts. Wear light pants or dresses.

Monthly Weather in Kenya

Visit Kenya with Global Highlights

In Kenya in January, having things professionally arranged for you by local experts would definitely be of benefit. Having the services of a private driver and a local guide makes getting around the relatively large country and surrounding region easier.

At Global Highlights, we recognize that you may want some private time with your traveling companion(s), maybe to safari together or hike in a national park, so we are flexible to do as much itinerary tailoring and expert arranging as you want to make the best trip for you. Contact us to begin a tour inquiry.

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