Weather: Kenya, Uganda

Generalizing about Kenyan weather is a dangerous practice. Given the highlands of the west, the semi-arid lowlands, the moist coast and the volcanic peaks of Kirinyaga and – just across the border – Kilimanjaro, distinct climate zones abound. Even climatology is of limited use, since a hallmark of Kenyan rainfall is its year-to-year variability. Much of this equatorial nation gets two wet seasons associated with the northward (March–May) and southward (October–December) progression of the ITCZ. During an El Nino, the earlier rainy season may be paltry but the latter one enhanced; the opposite often applies during La Nina. Afternoons from June through August are extremely thundery on the slope from the Rift Valley down to Lake Victoria. The area around Kericho is one of the world's most hail-prone, with an annual average of more than 100 days with hailstorms; usually, though, the storms are scattered and the stones are quite small. The northwest slopes of Lake Victoria (in Uganda) are often slammed by early-morning storms in summer. Across much of the Kenyan highlands, including Nairobi, July and August are the core of the mid-year dry period, typified by lots of low overcast (often with the sun peeking through) but only spotty drizzle or light rain every third or fourth day. Temperatures are at their coolest then: highs in the Central Highlands average a comfortable 21–26°C/70–79°F, and lows can easily dip below 10°C/50°F above 1800m/5900ft. It's even chillier toward the top of volcanic Mount Kenya. The highlands, including many of the game parks, are a few degrees warmer during their showery wet seasons and warmer still in the main dry season of December to March (which isn't completely dry – a shower may occur every few days). Across the north of Kenya, including Lake Turkana, conditions are much more arid and hot, with highs averaging 30–35°C/86–95°F throughout the year, but April and May can see heavy rains that turn dirt roads to mud. Kenya's coast is wetter than the adjacent plains but sunnier than the highlands, with warm, humid conditions not unlike Miami in September, minus the hurricanes. Coastal rainfall peaks sharply from April to early June, when it's more likely to be wet than dry on any given day.