Vacation on the Equator in July?

While Canadians sweat it out on the 45th parallel with July temperatures around 30 degrees Celcius, can you imagine what it is like on the Maasai Mara in Kenya, just below the equator?

Well, it is fantastic! Daytime temperatures in Kenya are around 24 degrees during the day in July and dip to a comfortable level in the teens at night. It is perfect weather and generally not rainy, either. My African friends complain that it is cool and call it their “winter”.

Giraffes on the Maasai MaraCombine that with the fact that it is summer vacation time here in North America and it makes the ideal time to travel to East Africa on a holiday.

The weather in East Africa has traditionally followed the pattern of having two rainy seasons, one in October to December and one in April and May. And when it rains in Africa, it rains.

During the dry season the ground gets packed down and hard and the first rains flow over the land in rivulets, causing great furrows in the roads and problems with erosion. So avoiding the rainy seasons are a good idea if you are planning a safari. Unfortunately, the weather conditions have become less reliable with climate change and rains tend to occur a bit more unpredictably.

But, in general, July and August and January and February remain pleasant and relatively dry.

Added to this weather appeal is the fact that the famous Wildebeest migration happens in July and August. Two million of these oddly constructed creatures migrate from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Maasai Mara in Kenya, bringing with them hordes of zebras and enticing carnivores like lions to activley gorge themselves with the plenty. Even the crocodiles in the Mara River wake up for this passage, feeding while they can and then lying dormant for months between feeds.

The Indian Ocean coast, by comparison, is hot all year through. If you like to swim in the ocean or scuba dive or snorkel, the clear reef waters are the perfect place for a beach vacation.

Another unusual thing is that, despite it seeming quite summery, the days remain on an almost 12 hour cycle throughtout the whole year. The sun comes up between 6:30 and 7 in the morning and sets between 6:30 and 7 all year round. Early to bed and early to rise is the habit.

The only down side of traveling in July and August is that it is a more expensive time to fly to Nairobi since all the flights from North America tend to bounce through Europe and connect from there south. Being the peak season for travel in the Northern Hemisphere adds to the cost.

Wanting a trip of a lifetime? Kenya in July might fit the bill.

I took my “once in a lifetime” visit to Kenya in July 2003. I have been back to East Africa ten times since that trip. Indeed, it was a safari that changed my life forever.

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