Maximize Your Gorilla Trekking Experience: Best Time to Go in Uganda and Rwanda
Uganda is home to one of the world’s most incredible wildlife experiences – gorilla trekking. As an endangered species, seeing these gentle giants in the wild is a unique and unforgettable experience that should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. However, the timing to go on this adventure and see gorillas can make or break your experience. The best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda is during the dry seasons, which run from December to February and June to September. During these months, the trails are dry for easy treks, and gorillas tend to stay in the lower altitudes, making them easier to track and find.
If you’re unable to visit during the dry season, don’t worry – gorilla treks are possible year-round, and each season offers its own unique advantages. In this article, we’ll explore the best time for gorilla trekking gorillas in Uganda and what you can expect during each season, from the lush greenery of the wet season to the clear views of the dry season. So, get ready for an adventure of a lifetime and discover the magic of Uganda’s gorilla population!
Why Timing Is Everything
Embarking on a gorilla trek in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Parks, as well as Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, requires traversing steep, uneven, and unmarked trails beneath thick, misty vegetation. The dry season, which runs from December to February and June to September, makes the tracks much easier to navigate than during the wet season.
Gorillas spend most of their time beneath the forest canopy, where they find food. However, the rainforest can be a misty, thick jungle during the rainy season, making photography challenging when capturing those unforgettable moments. For photographers, the best time to see gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda is during the dry months when the weather is favorable for excellent image captures.
Gorilla treks typically start early in the morning at 8:00 am, with trekkers gathering at the park entrance hall by 7:30 am to receive trekking instructions from the park warden. Mornings can be cold and damp, especially during the wet season. It’s advisable to avoid gorilla trekking during the coldest months if you’re sensitive to cold weather.
However, some people can withstand occasional downpours during the adventure and head into the jungle, regardless of the weather. Additionally, gorilla trekking excursions occur every day, regardless of the weather. During the wet season, travelers can take advantage of low-season discounts offered by most gorilla lodges in Uganda and Rwanda.
Factors to Consider When Deciding the Best Time for Gorilla Trekking
Planning the perfect time to see gorillas in Uganda requires careful consideration of several factors:
- It’s important to consider the peak and low seasons for gorilla trekking, which can impact the availability and cost of gorilla permits.
- It’s important to consider the weather patterns in Uganda and how they might affect your gorilla trekking experience.
- Your personal preferences and travel schedule should also be considered when planning your gorilla trekking safari.
Considering these factors, you can ensure an unforgettable and successful gorilla trekking experience in Uganda or Rwanda.
Insider Tips: Month-by-Month Analysis For When to Go Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda and Uganda,
January (peak/dry season, best weather)
January lies in the region’s short dry period, meaning it is an incredible time for gorilla trekking in both countries and game viewing in Uganda. The dry paths make driving the untarmacked roads to the gorillas and walking in the jungle effortless. Despite being one of the hottest months of the year, gorilla trekking in Volcanoes and Bwindi forests is pleasant because of the cooler temperatures that dump down the heat at high altitudes.
There may be some rainfall because of the tropical weather, but it’s unlikely to affect your gorilla adventure and safari game activities. Therefore, January is one of the best months for gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda; it falls within the peak season when most travelers flock to these safari holiday destinations. January is also the best time to combine the exceptional big five game drives in Serengeti and Masai Mara with gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda.
February (peak/dry season, best weather)
Although February is part of the dry season, we begin to see a drop in the number of travelers during the month. As with January, February is the best time for gorilla trekking, bird watching, and taking a game drive to view the savannah animals before the March rains disperse them.
As the month fades into the end of the dry season, Rwanda & Uganda’s vegetation will become light. Therefore, it will be less challenging to spot wildlife as they start to gather around the barely remaining waterholes. Therefore, February is the best time to see gorillas in Uganda and the big game on safari in Masai Mara, Serengeti, and Ngorongoro. Also, it is calving time in the southern Serengeti and an ideal time to see predators in action.
March (low/wet season, bad weather)
March marks the start of a three-month-long low travel season and the beginning of the wet season across the region. However, this does not mean that gorilla trekking is entirely off-limits.
Although safari adventure activities across East Africa are at their optimum during this time, some travelers find this time still favorable for gorilla trekkings because the month lies outside of the high season when travel prices are likely to be lower. There will be plenty of availability at a wide selection of lodges, and also, there’s plenty of availability for gorilla permits during this time.
Even though it’s during the wet season, It’s unlikely to rain for more than two hours a day before the skies brighten up for cool, relaxing weather during your gorilla trek. So March is the best time for seeing gorillas if you are traveling on a budget. Traveling with waterproofing can save you from drenching, and you will still have plenty of time to relax at your safari lodge.
April & May (low/wet season, worst weather)
The extended downpours of March and April continue into May, disrupting walking adventures. We consider April & May to be the worst time for gorilla trekking and game viewing.
However, if you’re not too anxious about walking under the rain in the thick gorilla jungles, it can be a delightful time to explore the region’s dazzling landscapes. During this time, the beautifully terraced rugged slopes will be lush and verdant after long rainy periods creating charming backdrops for photography. Besides, gorilla permits are widely available, and you’ll get the best offers on accommodation during this time.
This time is the best for combining gorilla trekking, and the Serengeti-Mara safari or Uganda’s savannah parks with gorilla trekking is reasonably good. Game viewing is relatively possible because the rains are usually light-short showers in the afternoon and beautiful green scenery.
June & July (peak/dry season, best weather)
June is the start of the peak safari season in Uganda and Rwanda that extends into September, but June & July have the best weather to go gorilla trekking in both countries. There will be little to no rainfall during that time, making the trek to find gorillas manageable for most travelers. As it’s peak season, gorilla trekking costs will be higher, and you’ll need to book permits well in advance.
During peak season, safaris in Uganda or Rwanda offer intimate and extraordinary experiences without feeling overcrowded. Gorilla treks are limited to a maximum of eight people per group, allowing for personal connections during the precious hour spent with the gorillas. It’s recommended to book boutique safari lodges early to secure your room.
Being the first month after the rainy season, June still enjoys leafy landscapes, so it can be a great time to travel if you want to combine the gorilla adventure with game viewing and scenery photography.
If you happen to have more time to spare during your safari holiday, the dry season from July to October is highly recommended for combining an exhilarating gorilla trekking adventure with the breathtaking sights of big-game viewing or witnessing the wildebeest migration in Masai Mara and Serengeti.
August (peak/dry season, good weather)
August can be a fantastic time for gorilla trekking in Uganda & Rwanda. Because it lies far late in the dry season, navigating the steep jungle slope is manageable. Adding a game drive to your all-inclusive safari holiday would be a great idea because animals are easier to spot in the game reserves.
All of the region’s parks are at their best at this time. You can spend three favorable days in Uganda’s gorilla mountains and spare another four relaxing days viewing elephants, hippos, buffalos, lions, and perhaps even elusive leopards in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The ability to do both activities when the weather is at its peak is a truly awe-inspiring experience.
It may still rain at some points in August, so it is best to pack for all weather conditions.
September (end of peak season, fairly good weather)
September is usually the end of the dry season; however, depending on when the short rains arrive, it may be that there will be some downpours during your gorilla trekking adventure. Gorilla trekking occurs every day throughout the year despite the weather conditions, so be prepared to walk in the rain during this time. You may be lucky and have a completely dry month, in which case, book your permit and accommodation months in advance because it will be still peak season when availability is meagre.
Unmissabel gorilla adventures
October & November (low/wet season, worst weather)
October is the start of the shoulder/low season; therefore, lodge prices will come down, and lodging availability will start to free up. That does, of course, mean the weather will be more unfriendly with torrential downpours. Despite the rain, temperatures are likely to remain warm during this time.
October & November is not the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda because very few can withstand a surprise downpour while they marvel at the silverback’s magnificence. In addition, some access roads and forest trails may become hard to navigate as the rains make the trails slippery.
Although it’s the best time to travel to northern Uganda to Murchison Falls to see the Nile and the impressive falls, it does not combine well with a gorilla adventure in the southwest.
Fortunately for birders, November sees the start of the best birdwatching season in the region (November-April) as migratory birds arrive. Uganda & Rwanda are known for their immense variety of bird species. October & November is the best time to see gorillas and go on birdwatching adventures in the region, so ask your tailor-made safari expert to point out some unique species you may encounter during this time.
December (peak/dry season, best weather)
By December, the short rains of November have stopped, making it an ideal time for gorilla trekking. The rugged and terraced landscapes around the gorilla parks are lush, photogenic, and very accessible. The rainforest floor will also start to dry out during this time, meaning jungle adventures for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking will be more manageable.
However, desirable holiday travel conditions mean more travelers. December is a particularly busy time for family safari holidays in Uganda & Rwanda, as are Western tourists looking to get away over the Christmas winter. Suppose you’re planning for gorilla trekking during this period. In that case, you must book your trip with us a couple of months in advance to secure gorilla permits and ensure the availability of your preferred vacation accommodation.
In conclusion, the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda is during the dry seasons of June to August and December to February. During this time, hiking the steep slopes is more manageable, and rain is less likely to interrupt your enchanting time with the mountain gorillas. It’s important to note that this peak season attracts many travelers, and lodging and permit availability can be scarce. Therefore, it’s advisable to book with your tour operator well in advance to secure your place.
Conversely, the worst weather for gorilla trekking is during the wet seasons of March to May and September to November. Navigating roads to gorilla parks and hiking through the rainforests can be challenging during the rainy season, and a downpour could make your hike and quiet experience with the gorillas less enjoyable.
However, other factors come into play when planning your gorilla safari. The shoulder or low seasons offer price discounts, which could be an advantage for budget travelers. Furthermore, the wet season (November to April) is the best time to combine exceptional birdwatching in the region with the gorilla trekking adventure.
At Nkuringo Safaris, we have over a decade of experience operating all-inclusive, tailor-made gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda. With over 40 local experts, we are well-equipped to help you plan and manage your bucket list adventure. We own and operate two multi-award-winning properties to host you during your holiday, ensuring that your entire trip from the airport and back is managed by reviewed local experts.
To learn more about our services and plan your gorilla safari, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, fill out a quote request form, or contact our travel agents in Europe and UK at the numbers in the footer. We look forward to being a part of your unforgettable adventure!