Weather in the Masai Mara follows the same patterns as the rest of Kenya’s central and southwestern regions. That said, the weather patterns in the semi-arid region of the Masai Mara are more pronounced as it receives less rainfall than other areas. The seasons are divided into two rainy seasons, the long rains (March to June) and the short rains (October to December), and two dry seasons in between. The monsoons of the Indian Ocean influence the rainy seasons. Therefore El Niño or La Niña years are incredibly disruptive to the ecosystems of Kenya and the Masai Mara.
El Niño results in heavy rainfall on the west coast of South America while there is drought in the countries influenced by the Indian Ocean. La Niña creates the opposite effect.
Global Warming and the Masai Mara
In 2020, a La Niña year, the local Maasai tribe in the Masai Mara noticed confused migration behaviours in the wildebeest herds. This is because the herds migrate according to rainfall. A cooler than normal Indian Ocean meant a shorter dry season with light rains, and the early arrival of the short rains, which did not stop properly in the dry season. This resulted in the migration starting a few weeks sooner than expected.
Effect of Weather on Game Viewing
Rains tend to have pronounced effects on semi-arid regions, and the Masai Mara is no exception. Prolonged unexpected rainfall can transform dry savannah into lush green fields in a matter of days. Too much rain, in turn, affects animal behaviour.
One of the reasons to visit the Masai Mara during the dry season is because animals congregate around waterholes. These gatherings provide a better game viewing experience. However, when water abounds, the animals disperse. Furthermore, predators are less likely to make a successful hunt when their prey is well fed.
The Masai Mara experiences slightly cooler weather during the middle of the year and somewhat warmer weather at the beginning and end of the year. Because the Masai Mara is located at an elevation of around 1550 meters to 1650 meters above sea level it stays cool throughout the year.
Because of this elevation, the Masai Mara stays cool and comfortable throughout the year. Average nightly temperatures are around ten degrees Celcius in the winter months and 15 degrees in the summer months. Daytime temperatures are around 25 degrees in the winter and up to 30 degrees in the summer.
As you can see, it can get chilly in the evenings and early mornings! Because of this chilly weather, the traditional Maasai shuka is heavy and dense, to protect its wearer against the cold of the night.
What to Wear in the Masai Mara
The Masai Mara is hot in the day and cool at night. Because it is semi-arid savannah land, the air is dry and does not retain heat well. The nights get cool fast. It’s best to pack a few thin layers like t-shirts and ultra-light long-sleeved shirts along with a warm cardigan. You can also purchase warm Maasai shukas from your lodge’s curio shop if you start to experience extra chilly mornings. There was one morning when I found myself using two shukas on top of my merino wool cardigan – those open-top 4x4s do get nippy when they are on the move! Pre-breakfast game drives are the coldest times, and the locals wear fleece coats in the early morning, along with the shukas. If you’re from northern Europe though, 12 degrees in an open-air vehicle might simply feel like summer so… to each their own.
FAQs for Masai Mara Weather
The weather in the Masai Mara during the “dry season”, which is from July to September, is cool in the evenings and hot during the day. Temperatures are around 10 to 13 degrees in the early morning before sunrise, and around 25 degrees in the late afternoon. It gets hot in a stationary safari vehicle however, up to 30 degrees at mid-day.
The period of the “short rains” goes from October to December. It is slightly warmer on the Masai Mara, with temperatures getting up to 30 degrees in the afternoon. Night time temperatures are still cool, ranging from 13 degrees to 15 degrees. The Masai Mara stays cool in the summer due to its high altitude of at least 1550 meters above sea level.