Best Time to Visit Kenya for Travelers

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In this guide, you’ll discover the best time to visit Kenya and its wildlife safaris, historical sites, cities, beaches, festivals, mountains, and more.

This post contains some detailed information and my opinions on different travel seasons, weather conditions, and the best things to do in each month.

Kenya has three main travel seasons: peak, shoulder, and low. These seasons are based on weather conditions experienced in the country throughout the year (rainy periods or dry months).

The coastal region is usually hot and humid all year-round, but in Nairobi and the hinterland, daytime temperatures range between 17°C and 29°C.

Nairobi National Park

Kenya generally experiences long rains from March to May and short rains from late October to mid-December. January and February are usually warm, while the months from June to October are dry. Sometimes July is cold, but travels within the country are fine.

In my travels around Kenya, my home country, I’ve experienced all seasons in different regions. So, to help you plan your trip, here are my recommendations for the best time to visit Kenya.

Quick Look: Best Time to Go to Kenya For

Wildlife Safaris: January and February, June to October
Beach Vacation: Year-round
Fewer Crowds: March to May
The Best Weather: January and February, June to October

Overall Best Time To Visit Kenya

I was born and raised in Kenya’s central highlands and lived in Nairobi and Laikipia. As a traveler and local tour guide, I’ve also wandered to many corners of the country during different months.

For the most part, weather conditions are good, and deciding when to visit Kenya depends on your budget, available time, and things you want to see and do.

Animals in the wild in Samburu National Park.

For budget travelers and those who prefer fewer crowds, the shoulder season (November and December) and low season (March to May) are your best bet.

However, the overall best time to visit Kenya is during the dry season, from June to early October. This peak season also coincides with the annual “twin migration” – wildebeest and zebras in Masai Mara and the humpback whales in Watamu.

Peak Season in Kenya (Best Season to Visit Kenya)

June to October

Although wildlife viewing in Kenya is relatively good throughout the year, the peak season falls between June and October. This is the dry weather period, and most places are open to tourists.

You can visit for safari trips to Masai Mara, historical tours in Mombasa, humpback whale watching in Watamu, wildlife viewing at Nairobi National Park, and plenty more wonderful reasons.

a rhino looking at the camera in Nairobi National Park

During this high season, safari parks and game reserves (especially Masai Mara, Nairobi, Amboseli, and Tsavo) are crowded, and accommodation rates are high. The same goes for beach destinations and famous places like Hell’s Gate National Park and Mount Longonot.

January and February

The season from January to February is another great time to go to Kenya. Due to the dry weather during these months, wild animals visit waterholes in large numbers, offering travelers a perfect chance to see them up close.

It’s also an excellent season to explore beaches, go hiking, and attend festivals like the Safaricom International Jazz Festival and Nairobi Restaurant Week.

A shaded resting place with a thatched roof along Diani Beach.

In my opinion, this is the best time of year to visit Kenya. Most destinations are less crowded, and rates on safaris and accommodation are relatively low.

☞ SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best Beaches in Kenya

Shoulder Season in Kenya (Late October, November & December)

Although Kenya experiences heavy rains between October and December, tourism isn’t largely affected. During this period, peak season crowds are replaced by local travelers and holidaymakers.

Game parks and beach destinations like Mombasa are usually flocked to capacity, but rates are relatively better than during the peak season – owing to Christmas season discounts.

Besides safaris, hiking, and wildlife viewing, this time of year is also great for festivals and holiday events. You can attend the Lamu Cultural Festival (November), Nairobi City Festival (December), and the amazing Rusinga Festival (also in December).

The highlights for Kenyans during this period are Mashujaa Day (Heroes) in October and Jamhuri Day (Republic) in December. Beneath The Baobabs is also the perfect event to attend to close the year and usher in a fresh one.

☞ SEE ALSO: 15 Best Places to Visit in Kenya

Off-Season in Kenya (March to May)

March to May is the period of long rains in Kenya. Wildlife retreat into the bush, and driving to most places becomes a challenge. However, places like Masai Mara and coastal destinations are still easily accessible.

Sometimes the long rains are late and travelers who dare to visit during this low season are highly rewarded. The country is amazingly green, there aren’t any crowds along beaches and hiking trails, and travel costs are significantly lower.

Two people were trekking under the heat of the sun.

For the last couple of years, weather patterns have changed. The long rains have been unpredictable, and it’s been common to see only a few days of downpours in April.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Kenya, don’t be discouraged by the low season. You might just enjoy all the benefits of peak season at highly discounted rates.

☞ SEE ALSO: 15 Best Trails For Hiking in Kenya

Best Time of Year for a Safari in Kenya

The peak season between June and October is the best time to visit Kenya for safari. The weather is dry, roads leading to national parks and game reserves are passable, and wildlife is abundant during this time.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is the most popular destination in the country for wildlife safaris. International and local tourists flock to the game reserve to experience the annual wildebeest migration, which peaks in August.

Other than the Masai Mara, Kenya is home to other places which are equally great for safaris. You can visit Amboseli for elephants, Tsavo East for lions, Lake Nakuru for rhinos, Arabuko Sokoke for birdwatching, and Watamu Marine Park for diving and snorkeling.

Zebra crossing a river in the Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.

If you’re into less traveled safari destinations, head to Meru National Park for the big five, Samburu National Reserve for the big cats, Lake Bogoria for flamingos, or Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park to swim and snorkel with dolphins.

If you’re planning a safari trip to Kenya, join this guided tour to discover the wonders of the Masai Mara National Reserve. It’s an epic 4-day safari that includes visiting Lake Nakuru National Park.

When to Visit Kenya for Beaches

The Kenyan coast has a tropical climate and can be explored year-round. However, the peak season is the best time to visit its magnificent beaches and islands. Visiting in peak season allows you to combine a beach vacation with safaris and outdoor activities in other parts of the country.

Apart from December, most beach locations are less crowded, allowing you to relax and rewind. You can also spice up your experience with watersport activities such as surfing, swimming, snorkeling, and dhow (a traditional sailing vessel) cruising.

The stunning and pristine Turtle beach in Watamu, Kenya.

Mombasa, Nyali, Diani, Galu Kinondo, Watamu, and Shela are some of the best beaches in Kenya. These beaches feature stretches of white sands, luxury resorts, and nice restaurants, ideal for all types of travelers – solo, couples, and families.

☞ SEE ALSO: Top 10 Best Beaches in Mombasa

When to Visit Kenya For Festivals

Festivals in Kenya take place throughout the year. They include events and activities relating to local culture, arts, music, sports, literature, and film.

Based on my experiences in the country, February, June, August, November, and December are the best months to visit Kenya for festivals.

To help you decide when to visit, below, is a list of some of Kenya’s best festivals and events – and when they take place:

  • Nairobi Restaurant Week (10 days in January or February)
  • StoryMoja Festival (5 days in February)
  • Safaricom International Jazz Festival (1 day in February)
  • Madaraka Day (1st June)
  • The Lewa Safari Marathon (June)
  • Rhino Charge (1 day in June)
  • Lake Turkana Festival (4 days in June)
  • Maralal International Camel Derby (3 days in August)
  • Lamu Yoga Festival (5 days in October)
  • Mashujaa Day (20th October)
  • Lamu Cultural Festival (usually 3 days in November)
  • Nairobi City Festival (December)
  • Jamhuri Day (12th December)
  • Rusinga Festival (last Thursday and Friday before Christmas)
  • Beneath The Baobabs – Kilifi New Year (3 days in December)

When to Visit Kenya For Cities

There are four cities in Kenya (Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, and Nakuru) and several major tourist towns like Nanyuki, Diani, Watamu, and Naivasha. These cities and towns have unique attractions and experiences for all kinds of travelers.

I’ve visited all Kenyan cities in all months of the year, and I recommend visiting them during the dry season. The rainy period (March to May) comes with floods, and most places are less accessible.

If you’re attracted to wildlife and city walking tours, visit Nairobi. For beautiful beaches and authentic Swahili food, go to Mombasa. Watamu and Diani are perfect for watersports, while Naivasha is an excellent town for adventure.

Make sure you visit Nakuru city for wildlife and archaeological sites, Nanyuki town for nightlife and conservation, and Kisumu city for hidden gems and historic sites – like Kit Mikayi and Thimlich Ohinga.

See more articles about Kenyan cities and towns:

When to Visit Kenya For Historical Sites

Most tourists visit Kenya for wildlife safaris, beaches, hiking trails, cities, and cultural centers. They often overlook museums, rich historical sites, and ruins distributed across the country.

In my opinion, the best time to visit historical sites in Kenya is during the dry season because you can also do other activities like safaris during your stay. The dry season is during the months of January and February and the high season is between June and October.

If you’re curious about Kenyan history, heritage, and culture, some of the best places to visit are listed below. They include museums, historical centers, ruins, and national monuments.

  • Lamu Old Town, Lamu Archipelago
  • Mombasa Old Town, Mombasa Island
  • National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi
  • Kenya Railway Museum, Nairobi
  • Kit Mikayi, Kisumu
  • Thimlich Ohinga, Migori
  • Kimathi Monument, Nyeri
  • Italian War Memorial Church, Nyeri
  • Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest, Galu
  • Kobi Fora Museum, Turkana
  • The Crying Stone, Kakamega
  • Ruins of Gedi, Watamu
  • Jumba La Mtwana, Mtwapa
  • Kongo Mosque, Diani
  • Mnarani ruins, Kilifi

When to Visit Kenya For Whale Watching

Kenya is synonymous with the great wildebeest migration in the Mara. However, an even more spectacular migration occurs along its coast – the humpback whales migration.

Thousands of giant humpback whales travel from the Antarctic to Kenya between July and September to breed and nurse their calves.

Due to its safe and warm tropical waters, Watamu is one of the best places to watch these marine creatures on their journey. Visitors flock to the coastal town and wait expectantly for the breathtaking spectacle of watching the whales jump and dance beautifully in the waters.

whale breaking the surface

Dolphin watching is also popular in Kenya between November and March. These beautiful marine mammals fill the waters around Wasini Island and can be easily spotted from dhows.

If you’d like to swim and snorkel with dolphins, join this trip to Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park and Wasini Island.

Hemingways Watamu is one of the best places to stay while in the area. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel offering great accommodation and dining services. The hotel also organizes humpback whale-watching trips in Watamu.

When to Visit Kenya For Hiking

My favorite outdoor activity in Kenya is hiking, and I am ever grateful that trails are accessible throughout the year. However, the rainy season from March to May is not the best time to trek more challenging trails like Mount Kenya.

The peak season between June and October attracts many hikers since the trails are dry. The same goes for January and February when many people hit the outdoors as a new year resolution.

There are short rains in the shoulder season between October and December, but this doesn’t stop hikers from venturing outdoors. You’ll see groups heading for day trips to hills, and others going for multi-day climbing trips to Mount Kenya.

Mt Kenya Jagged Peak at Sunrise

There are many hiking trails in Kenya. These include big climbs like Mount Kenya and Elgon, challenging treks like Rurimeria and Elephant Hill, and scenic hikes like Mount Satima and Mount Longonot.

When to Visit Kenya For Cheap Prices

The wet season from March to May is the best time of the year to visit Kenya for low prices. Most hotels, lodges, safari parks, and other attraction centers are deserted during this time. Prices are pocket friendly, and it’s easy to stay at a luxury lodge for up to 80% less than the regular rates.

Another ideal time to go to Kenya for affordable prices is on weekdays. Over weekends, local tourists and expatriates usually visit entertainment joints, restaurants, and attraction sites. The chances of good bargains on accommodation and tours are also unlikely during weekends.

The Best Time to Visit Kenya By Month

If you’re wondering when the best time, month, or season to visit Kenya is, check out the following guide. It’s a month-by-month breakdown of the weather and the best things to do while you’re there.

For starters, some of the best annual events in Kenya include the wildebeest migration (June-October), the Maralal Camel Derby (August), Lamu Cultural Festival (November), and whale watching in Watamu (July-September).

the great migration at the masai mara

Kenya in January

January in Kenya marks the beginning of a new year and the end of short rains. During this month, most travelers (local and international) return home from holidays.

Weather in Kenya in January

This is one of the warmest months in Kenya, with temperatures reaching up to 30°C in cities and the countryside. The coastal region is hot and humid in January – ideal conditions for watersports and beach activities.

Things To Do in Kenya in January

January is perfect for wildlife, bird watching, city sightseeing, and beach relaxation. Accommodation facilities are still filled up, but it’s possible to get some good deals with a little searching.

Some of the best activities during the month include game drives in Amboseli and Tsavo, and hiking in the Aberdares. You can also go surfing in Mombasa, diving in Diani, or visit historical sites and museums countrywide.

Kenya in February

February is considered a high season in Kenya. Many travelers visit the country to take advantage of the dry weather just before the rainy season.

Weather in Kenya in February

Just like January, February is usually a hot and dry month across the country. In some places like central highlands, nights are chilly and require some warm clothing. The coastal region is warm during this time of the year.

Things To Do in Kenya in February

Besides wildlife safaris, hiking adventures, and beach holidays, February is one of the best months in Kenya for festivals. You can attend the famous Safaricom International Jazz Festival, Nairobi Restaurant Week, and StoryMoja Festival.

Masai Mara, Samburu, and Lake Nakuru are great places for safari lovers in February. I like going to Naivasha to hike Mount Longonot or Mount Eburru, cycle at Hell’s Gate, or explore Lake Naivasha.

If you’re planning on traveling around Kenya, make sure to have a look at our guide on the best game reserves and safari parks.

Kenya in March

There are better times to visit Kenya than March, but choosing to travel at this time comes with the benefit of slashed prices on tours and accommodation for those who dare.

Weather in Kenya in March

Marking the start of the low travel season, March sees the warmer days off and ushers in the long rains. Sometimes heavy downpours are experienced in almost all parts of the country.

When it’s not raining, the sky is often cloudy, reducing the chance of sunshine. Roads to many places, including national parks and reserves, are impassable. Wild animals also retreat into the bush from March.

Things To Do in Kenya in March

Although weather conditions in March aren’t friendly, there’s still hope for adventure. Some parks like Masai Mara are still accessible, as are hiking trails, beaches, museums, and historical sites.

In the last couple of years, the long rains have been late. Wild animals stick around close to waterholes presenting travelers with a remarkable opportunity for game viewing.

A lion on an open field in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya.

Due to reduced tourist traffic, you’re also likely to find great discounts on hotels, lodges, camps, and safari tours at this time.

Kenya in April

April is no different from March. Heavy rains continue, meaning you’ll find few visitors in parks, lodges, and tourist sites. Accommodation and tour prices are at their lowest during this period.

Weather in Kenya in April

The long rains continue to hit almost the entire nation in April. Visibility in parks is minimal, Nairobi is cold, and the coast region is humid with occasional showers. Although wildlife viewing is challenging, vegetation is blooming, and the country is superbly green.

Things To Do in Kenya in April

If you love nature and indoor activities, April could be your best time to visit Kenya. Flora in the country is exceptionally lush, and birds are everywhere. Museums, cultural centers, and indoor sports centers are open during this time, offering an alternative to national parks and other sites.

Some of the best places to visit in April are Bomas of Kenya and the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi, Mount Kenya Climbing Gym in Nanyuki, and Fort Jesus Museum in Mombasa.

Are you traveling to Kenya in April? Check out this walking experience in Mombasa city.

Kenya in May

Kenya in May starts to look brighter. The country is green, grass in parks is taller, but wildlife viewing is still tricky.

Weather in Kenya in May

The long rains usually continue well into late May. Temperatures in Nairobi and upcountry range between 17°C and 26°C. The coastal region, however, is hot and wet, with temperatures increasing to 35°C.

Things To Do in Kenya in May

In May, crowds are still small, and prices for accommodation and tours are excellent. It’s the perfect time to visit Nairobi National Park, Mount Kenya National Park, or Samburu National Reserve in the north. May also presents a great environment for nature photography.

Cycle Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya

I wouldn’t recommend exploring the gorges at Hell’s Gate National Park in May because of flush floods. Poor visibility can also affect snorkeling, diving, and swimming in the Indian Ocean.

Kenya in June

June in Kenya marks the end of the rainy season and the start of the peak travel season.

Weather in Kenya in June

Warm and sunny days return slowly throughout the country, and national parks start opening up. Unpredictable rains can remain in the central highlands and western region, but travel is not affected.

Things To Do in Kenya in June

The annual spectacle of the migrating wildebeests and zebras begins in the Masai Mara. June also sees the return of events like Rhino Charge, Lake Turkana Festival (Tobong’u Lore), and Lewa Safari Marathon. Kenyans also celebrate Madaraka Day on the first of June.

Cities and safari parks are some of the best places to visit in June. You can visit Nairobi for wildlife and museums, Mombasa for beaches and history, Nanyuki for nightlife, and Naivasha for adventure.

My favorite destination in Kenya in June is the Aberdare National Park. It’s a beautiful place to see waterfalls like the Karuru Falls or to hike along trails such as Elephant Hill and Dragon’s Teeth (Mount Satima).

Kenya in July

Kenya in July is a near-perfect time to visit, but it comes at a price. Rates are significantly higher than in previous months, and there are bigger crowds compared to June.

Weather in Kenya in July

Dry weather continues in July, and pleasant temperatures are experienced in most parts of the country. The coastal region is warmer and perfect for beach walks, watersports, and sunbathing.

Sometimes Nairobi, the central highlands, western parts, and rift valley regions are cold, but there’s hardly any rainfall.

Things To Do in Kenya in July

If you’re wondering when to visit Kenya, July is one of the best times. You can go on wildlife safaris, hike mountains and hills, enjoy beaches, experience nightlife, and stroll along city streets.

Some of the best things to do in Kenya in July include game drives in Masai Mara, seeing elephants in Amboseli, exploring Nairobi on foot, climbing Mount Kenya, visiting Lamu Archipelago, or hiking Mount Longonot.

hiking to the top of Mount Longonot

My favorite place to spend time in July is Watamu. The small coastal town is a gateway to unique attractions, such as the Ruins of Gedi, Mida Creek, Watamu Marine Park, and Arabuko Sokoke Forest.

Kenya in August

August is the best month to visit Kenya for game viewing, hiking, beach activities, and cultural experiences.

Weather in Kenya in August

The weather in August is dry and warm. It’s usually sunny during the day, the magical African sunset paints the sky orange in the evening, and the sky is starlit at night – the perfect setting for safaris.

Things To Do in Kenya in August

August is my favorite month to travel around Kenya. Although prices are high and places are often crowded, the experiences during this month are magical. The wildebeest migration is usually at its best; beaches are clean and the sea sparkles, adventure spots are open, and landscapes are beautiful.

Besides game viewing, there are plenty of things to do in Kenya in August. These include climbing Mount Kenya, diving in Diani, hiking in the Aberdares, sunbathing in Watamu, or exploring cities and towns like Lamu, Nanyuki, Mombasa, and Nairobi.

Every year in August, northern Kenya hosts the famous Maralal Camel Derby. This international festival draws visitors from around the world to experience the rich heritage of the Samburu people. Besides camel racing, the event is a colorful display of music, culture, costumes, and local cuisine.

Kenya in September

September is one of the best months to visit Kenya for cities, beaches, hiking, safaris, and historical attractions. It’s still peak season, and prices for tours and accommodation remain high.

Weather in Kenya in September

Kenya is still warm and sunny in September, with slightly fewer crowds. You can still catch the spectacular migration at Masai Mara, and the short rains are yet to arrive.

Daytime temperatures in Nairobi are pretty high (up to 29°C), but it’s still cool enough to travel around. Nights are chilly (falling to around 17°C), but you can still go out for dinner and drinks. Check out the best restaurants in Nairobi.

Although the coastal region is hot in September, you can still wander in towns and have a wonderful beach experience.

Things To Do in Kenya in September

There are plenty of things to see and do in Kenya in September. You can visit national parks like Tsavo for wildlife, hike Mount Longonot, explore places like Ngare Ndare Forest in Laikipia, head over to the Chalbi Desert, or relax on one of Diani’s beaches.

The Nairobi International Trade Fair also takes place this month, and it’s one of the best events to attend in Kenya. September also sees the last humpback whales leave Kenya and return to the Antarctic.

Kenya in October

Kenya in October is a period of transition. Wildebeest and zebras are usually still around until mid-month as the shoulder season approaches.

Weather in Kenya in October

As soon as the peak season ends (mid-October), short rains begin and continue all the way through to mid-December. These rains last a short time during the day and don’t tend to disrupt safaris. Crowds are smaller, and prices go down.

Things To Do in Kenya in October

Kenya is still sunny and beautiful during the first half of October. It’s the perfect time to explore cities, go on safaris, head to beaches, and attend festivals.

My favorite activities this month include checking out local markets and exploring Nairobi on foot. I also enjoy taking a short beach holiday in Watamu or hiking in the Aberdares in October.

Beautiful views from Rurimeria Hill, Aberdare Ranges in Kenya.

Events and festivals include Mashujaa Day celebrations, Tusker Oktobafest, Safari Sevens, and the Lamu Yoga Festival.

If you’re into adventures join this tour to Lake Naivasha and Hell’s Gate National Park.

Kenya in November

November is the best month to visit Kenya if you love fun, beaches, and local culture.

Weather in Kenya in November

November is part of the shoulder season, meaning you’ll get both sunshine and rain. While the coastal region is usually dry and warm, Nairobi, central highlands, and western Kenya may experience short rains. However, these rains don’t last long, and you can still travel around.

Things To Do in Kenya in November

The main highlight for November is the Lamu Cultural Festival. This fantastic annual event celebrates the rich history, culture, and traditions of communities living along the Kenyan Swahili coast.

Other things to do in Kenya in November include exploring old towns (Mombasa and Lamu), visiting beaches in Diani, Watamu, or Malindi, and game viewing in Nairobi or Lake Nakuru national parks.

Kenya in December

December is an excellent time of the year to visit Kenya. Domestic and international travelers converge at different destinations in the country for holidays.

Weather in Kenya in December

Kenya becomes warm and sunny when short rains end in the second half of December; allowing tourists and travelers to celebrate Christmas and New Year in good weather conditions.

Things To Do in Kenya in December

December is a month of holidays and making merry. Kenyans migrate from the countryside to the coast and meet up with foreign tourists.

National parks and game reserves are usually crowded too. The same goes for museums such as Nairobi’s National Museum of Kenya and adventure centers like Wild Waters in Mombasa.

The defensive wall of Fort of Jesus is built in the centre of Mombasa city in Kenya.

If you’re attracted to events and festivals, you might decide to visit in December. Beneath the Baobabs, Rusinga Festival and Nairobi Festival occur this month. Kenyans also celebrate Jamhuri Day (Republic Day) on 12th December.

Are you traveling to Kenya in December? Check out this wildlife experience in Nairobi.

In Conclusion

With plenty of places to visit and things to do, Kenya is an amazing destination for all types of travelers.

It’s dotted with wildlife parks, museums, game reserves, sandy beaches, holiday resorts, and other places accessible at different times of the year.

As you can see, each month presents an opportunity to experience something unique. You can explore Masai Mara in August, Amboseli in February, or visit Watamu between July and September to watch humpback whales.

So, now that you know when to visit Kenya, start planning and preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

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Traveling to Kenya? Here’s our best time to visit Kenya for travelers, and use our travel guide to discover the parks, tour operators, safari tours, wildlife, best time to go, and tons of safari reviews! Take a look at these suggestions for the best time to visit Kenya, Africa! | #travel #kenya #vacation
Are you going to Kenya? Use our travel guide to learn about the parks, tour companies, safari tours, wildlife, the best time to go, and a ton of safari reviews as you decide whether to visit Kenya! Check out these ideas for the ideal time to visit Kenya, in Africa! | #safaris #visitkenya #traveltips
Are you visiting Kenya? The best time to visit Kenya for tourists is listed here! Use our travel guide to learn about the parks, tour companies, safari tours, wildlife, the best time to visit month by month, and a ton of safari reviews! Take a look at these travel tips for choosing the best season to visit Kenya, Africa! | #wanderlust #nairobi #africa

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Leo Bio Pic

Written by

Leo Gichuki

Leo is a writer, traveller, and local tour guide in Kenya. He was born and raised in the Kenyan hinterland. After a short sprint working offshore as a seismic explorer, he returned to Nairobi and began his adventures around Kenya and Southern Africa. From these wanderings, the Kenyan Backpacker blog was born - to share his experiences and tales from the open road. Besides backpacking and travelling, he is passionate about hiking, history, and natural building.

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