January is definitely a hot, dry month; however, temperatures are bearable compared to later in the spring. The capital sees daytime highs of roughly 75°F to 80°F while nighttime lows drop to about 57°F to 62°F. The evenings can be chilly so pack a jacket to wear at night.
On the coast, temperatures are considerably warmer, averaging about 90°F to 93°F. The evenings don't cool off here as much so you won't need as many warm clothes. Even in the middle of the night, temperatures hover around 75°F to 78°F and there's almost no rain to speak of.
Note that the mountains can get extremely frigid so if you plan to hike or join a safari in places like Mount Kenya National Park or Hell's Gate National Park, pack appropriately. The savannah can also get cold so the same holds true of places like Maasai Mara.
Crowds and Costs
The weather is near perfect in Kenya in January but the tradeoff is that it brings significant crowds. If you book a shared safari, you'll likely have a number of other people along for the ride, possibly filling the vehicle to capacity. The city will also be crowded at the tourist sites (museums, markets, etc.) and the beaches will be full of swimmers and sunbathers vying for lounge chair space. That said, given that so many of the tourist activities in Kenya take place deep in the wilderness, it's actually a destination where crowd sizes don't matter quite as much as they do in other places.
Note that costs are higher this time of year too and most hotels charge high-season rates. Airfare mirrors these increased rates.
Where to Go
It's hard to go wrong in Kenya in January. It's one of the best months of the year to visit Mount Kenya National Park, especially if you plan to climb the 17,057-foot peak. The warmer January temperatures, combined with the fact that it's dry, make for perfect conditions. The rest of the park is also beautiful to explore, as are nearby attractions like Hell's Gate National Park.
The beaches are also stunning in January. With temperatures in the early 90s, it's hot enough to lie on the beach and get a tan or lounge by the pool sipping cocktails. When you're walking around town, the ocean breezes cut down on the heat and the water is the perfect temperature for things like snorkeling and scuba diving. If you visit Kenya in January, definitely put the beach towns of Mombasa and Malindi on your to-do list.
It's also a great month to explore the famous Maasai Mara. Although the wildebeest migration isn't as robust this time of year, the resident animals are still around and, since there are fewer visitors, they're often less shy. Various bird migrations take place in January so you'll catch glimpses of a variety of migratory birds and, best of all, you'll get low season rates (even though it's high season in other parts of the country).
In Amboseli National Park, you'll also find migratory birds. Not only that, it's one of the best times to see the larger mammals which visit the waterholes during this dry season. The only drawback is that the dusty air can sometimes make it harder to see Mt. Kilimanjaro. However, the silver lining is that if you're one of the adrenaline-seekers who wants to climb it, January is a great time to do it.
What to Do
In Mount Kenya National Park, hike any of the beautiful snow-capped peaks including Batian, Nelion, or Lenana or take a guided trek through the glacier-topped mountains. Nearby, check out attractions like the Karunguru Coffee Estate or
Head east to the scenic coastline where the towns of Mombasa and Malindi offer myriad beach-going activities and water sports. Go snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, or surfing in the crystal blue waters of the Indian Ocean. In Mombasa, take a dolphin-watching tour or check out places like Wasini Island or Mombasa Marine National Park. If you head north to Malindi, Watamu Beach offers ivory white sands with a spectacular coastline.
Take a day or two to explore the city, too. Nairobi offers excellent cultural experiences such as the Nairobi National Museum, along with fantastic food and nightlife in places like Waiyaki Way or around the Westlands area. If you head southwest from Nairobi, check out the Maasai Mara—one of Kenya's most famous parks. Wildebeest numbers aren't as strong this time of year but the ground is dry and you're likely to spot a host of other animals including elephants, giraffes, zebras, hippos, lions, cheetahs, and more.
Events in January
Nairobi Restaurant Week: Taking place for roughly 10 days in January or February, Nairobi Restaurant Week is one to keep an eye out for. During this foodie's paradise, restaurants and bistros offer special menus and samplings of wine and cocktails, often at no charge or for special prices. It's a fantastic opportunity to taste a wide variety of international dishes and local cuisine.
Traveling to Kenya in January? Check out this great itinerary.
Kenya Wildlife Safari - 10 Days: This sensational wildlife safari offers a taste of the most beautiful parts of the country, along with its most captivating wildlife. Beginning in Amboseli National Park, home to the breathtaking Mount Kilimanjaro, you'll make your way through a series of parks including Maasai Mara, Hell's Gate, Mount Longonot, Lake Nakuru, and Lake Bogoria.