High season for travel in Kenya runs from July to late October. This marks the cool, dry season making several bush and beach options ideal to visit (depending on what you like). Bird lovers for instance may prefer to visit during the rainy or ‘green seasons’ along with travellers looking for a quieter holiday. In this list, we get right into peak season and explore some of the best August destinations in the country plus highlights of what to expect!
1. Maasai Mara
Starting off our list is the Maasai Mara. August is one of the best seasons to venture out into the Mara plains because the Great Migration is at its peak. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest make the perilous journey from Kenya to Tanzania in search of greener pastures in a dramatic annual feat.
To add to the migrating herds are unmatched wildlife viewing opportunities that make the Mara a photographer’s paradise this time of year, Thinning grass and a scarcity of water drives animals to gather at watering holes where the stage is set for the perfect shot.
It should be noted that many camps and lodges in the Mara are often at full capacity this time of year and we’d recommend making bookings months in advance to secure your spot and save on some of the high season price spikes.
Loosely translating to ‘Sweet People’ in Swahili, Watamu is known for its welcoming locals, rich culture, delicious food and fascinating marine-life. The month of August in Watamu is made up of sunny, breezy days and coincides with the humpback whale migration. Here, thousands of whales travel from the Antarctic to Kenya’s tropical waters to breed and have their calves. This grants guests the spectacular opportunity to see different family groups and even mothers with their newborn calves.
Watching whales in their natural environment is an amazing and unforgettable sight. Humpback whales are among the most acrobatic of whales and spend time leaping or ‘breaching’ to communicate, play, or remove unwanted skin parasites. If you’re lucky, you may even see them launching out of the water in pairs or in larger groups.
For a long time, the idea of whale-watching in Kenya was actually unheard of but as knowledge about them and interest piqued, several hotels and organisations began to organise regulated whale tours. One of the best places to go whale-watching is the Malindi-Watamu Marine National Reserve, where Watamu Marine Association (WMA) has studied dolphins and whales since 2011. WMA works with the Kenya Wildlife Service to help protect marine mammals, recycle plastic and marine litter, and to engage the local community, including fishermen in eco-tourism activities.
You can also add on watersports, cultural tours and a variety of things available on our guide to Watamu during your stay for the ultimate Coastal trip!
3. Mt. Kenya
Moving from the Coast to the cool highlands we have Mount Kenya, Kenya’s highest mountain and Africa’s second highest after Kilimanjaro. Whether you’d simply like to visit the region for a mountain retreat or actually give scaling the mountain a shot, August offers some of the best conditions. Visits during the wet season are possible but often not recommended due to routes becoming impassable and poor visibility (it’s also not much fun having to stay in your cabin the whole time either).
The trek up Mount Kenya is a beautiful expedition adorned with views of numerous tarns (small lakes) and exotic vegetation such as lobelias and groundsels. You will also see the breathtaking Lake Michaelson and Lake Ellis and unique animals such as the mountain hyrax. The mountain has three main peaks; Batian (5,199m), Nelion (5,188m) and Point Lenana (4,985m). Most climbing safaris end at Point Lenana leaving the other two for climbers with more technical climbing experience.
For beginners, other lesser known peaks include Point Piggot (4957m), Point Dutton (4885m), and Point John (4885m). Regardless of skill level however, it is always recommended that guests looking to go up the mountain prepare adequately, both physically and mentally. Research is also important to ensure you have lots of information before you visit.
The three main climbing routes are Chogoria, Naromoru, and Sirimon. Other routes used less often include Burget, Timau, and Kamweti. You can choose to embark on your mountain safari with a tour company or have arrangements made for a personal guide. We’d recommend the latter for a more personalised experience as a small group or solo trek allows you to have a say in the route choice, the number of days taken, and other factors.
If on the other hand, you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, the Mount Kenya National Park offers plenty in August. Sunny, cool weather makes the area perfect for forest walks or camping expeditions by the area’s beautiful glades. The Ragati Conservancy is also close by offering fantastic opportunities to catch what are known as ‘Ragati Reds’ amongst fishing enthusiasts. These are a species of rainbow trout initially introduced introduced to the Ragati river in the early 1920s and 30s which have since evolved to develop the unique red colouring they are known for.
Heli-fishing day trips are also available for the more adventurous. Guests are picked up and flown right to the top of Mount Kenya to prime fishing spots like Lake Ellis, Lake Michaelson, Lake Alice and Lake Hoehnel. All boasting breathtaking views.
The dry month of August makes an ideal time to visit Amboseli. Much like the Mara, locating wildlife is easier during the dry season due to sparse vegetation and waterhole gatherings. Clear skies are also a highlight, setting the scene for the most gorgeous sunrises and sunsets sometimes featuring Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance.
Amboseli also hosts some of the largest elephant populations in the country so this is definitely a destination for the ellie lovers! As with any peak season however, you should prepare for a little more tourist traffic with many gusts flying in for the Great Migration adding in Amboseli as a complementary trip. Regardless, the experience is a beautiful one.
Last but not least is what is fondly known as Kenya’s ‘Little Italy’. The sunny (but not overbearingly hot) month of August makes this charming town a top spot to visit. Teeming with activity, great food and a vibrant social scene, it makes for a spectacular holiday destination. Check out our Nomad approved guide to Malindi for a checklist of things to do when you visit and all our favourite places to eat!