The weather in October is a mixed bag in Kenya. It's still considered high season but after the first two weeks or so the weather begins to shift. It starts out with moderate temperatures and remains dry throughout most of the heavily touristed parts of the country. By the end of the month, however, the rains begin and it gets tougher to see wildlife due to a thicker vegetation and changes in behavioral patterns.
Temperatures in Nairobi range from 68 to 80°F with nighttime drops down to about 58°F. In addition to sunscreen and bug spray, you'll want to bring a waterproof rain jacket with you and long pants to stay warm in the evenings. You may also want a hat and sweatshirt. At the beaches, it's notably warmer with average daytime highs of 80 to 88°F and evenings of about 74°F.
Crowds and Costs
Even with the arrival of the rain, October remains a busy month that's considered high season by most people. The weather is ideal for a good portion of the month and since many kids are back in school, adult and solo travelers view it as an opportune vacation time.
Crowd sizes are definitely smaller than they are in July and August; however, you'll still find the museums, safaris, and other tourist attractions full of people. Similarly, the beach resorts tend to be crowded with tourists mingling at the pool bars and sunbathing by the ocean.
Cost-wise, it's the same. Although hotels and airlines begin dropping their prices toward the end of the month, the majority of October is expensive and in line with the rest of the high season.
Where to Go
The fist half of the month, Kenya is spectacular just about everywhere. This is a great time to check out the bustling capital where you'll find colorful markets and glittering museums throughout Nairobi. It's a wonderful season for strolling through the city or visiting the wildlife sanctuaries just outside of town.
Another option is to head to the coast where you'll discover idyllic temperatures for sunbathing and water-based activities. The beaches are sparkling and sunny during the first half of the month and the ocean is the perfect temperature for swimming. You may get the occasional rain shower but overall it will be dry. Just keep in mind that toward the middle and end of the month this starts changing dramatically as the coast begins getting hit with storms.
Most of the national parks are still great to visit in October, too. In fact, Massai Mara is at its best this time of year when the Great Wildebeest Migration is occurring. This takes place from June to October; however, the last two months of the season are the best.
Lake Nakuru should also be on your October to-see list. The vegetation hasn't yet become thick so it's easier to see the pink flamingos that the park is known for. Not only that, the mosquitos are still manageable this time of year.
The mountains, by contrast, have more consistent rain throughout October; however, it's scattered and the showers usually don't last all day. Places like Hell's Gate National Park and Mount Kenya National Park make good destinations—just be sure to pack a high-quality rain jacket and proper waterproof attire. Also, make sure to book your tours with reputable guides—October is a time when flash flooding can occur.
What to Do
Walk around Maasai Market in Nairobi, or check out history and culture at the Nairobi National Museum. The Banana Hill Art Gallery and the Matbronze Art Gallery and Foundry have beautiful artwork and if you're interested in a more modern shopping experience, the Village Market offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and boutiques.
For beach-going activities, head to the towns of Mombasa or Malindi for snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, or simply lying around and sunbathing. Malindi boasts the spectacular Watamu Beach, as well as the Falconry of Kenya bird center. In Mombasa, book a dolphin-watching tour or visit the scenic Mombasa Marine National Park.
Don't miss the Great Wildebeest Migration in Masaai Mara. October is one of the best months of the year to see the awe-inspiring event where you can watch hundreds of wildebeests cross the Mara River. It's estimated that roughly 1.5 million creatures pass through the Serengeti National Park during this time, along with hosts of elephants, zebras, elands, giraffes, gazelles, and other African animals.
Go to Lake Nakuru to witness the elegant pink flamingos that gather on the water, or head to Amboseli National Park for views of Mount Kilimanjaro. In Hell's Gate National Park, mountain bike through the picturesque canyon where you'll pass ancient lava flows and stunning geothermal geysers. Or, soak up the views of Mount Kenya and others snow-capped peaks at Mount Kenya National Park. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even book a tour to climb the mountain in three days.
Events in October
Tusker Safari Sevens: This annual rugby event draws masses of competitors and spectators alike to watch some of the world's best athletes compete for the prestigious trophy. In addition to the games itself, local restaurants and bars often hold special events and watch parties in honor of the televised games.
Moi Day (Huduma Day): This public holiday, which occurs every year on Oct. 10, honors Daniel Arap Moi, a former president of Kenya. It's meant as a day of service and volunteering during which Kenyans have the day off of work and often take part in community services.
Traveling to Kenya in October? Check out this great itinerary
Kenya Wildlife Safari - 10 Days: This 10-day itinerary takes you to all of the most scenic parts of the country where you'll see all manner of wildlife including giraffes, zebras, lions, cheetahs, elephants, and others. It begins in Amboseli National Park (with Mt. Kilimanjaro in the background) and continues on to Hell's Gate National Park, Mount Longonot, Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, and Maasai Mara.