Mountain gorillas in Uganda & Rwanda live in tropical rainforests at high altitudes where weather highly determines tourism activities. The best time for gorilla trekking is during the dry seasons, when less rain is likely to disrupt your charming moment with the forest giants.
You’re generally looking at planning your gorilla trekking adventure trip for between June to August and December to February. There are minimal chances of a downpour during this time, although you can’t completely rule out rain because you’ll be trekking in a rainforest. Fortunately, it never lasts long before the blue skies open up to a bright sunny day, even if it rains.
Accessing gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga, and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Parks is entirely on food in steep, uneven, and unmarked trails under thick and misty vegetation. The Dry Season means the tracks are dryer and much easier to navigate than during the rains.
Gorillas spend much of their time under the forest canopy, where they find most food. The rainforest is a misty, thick jungle during the rainy season, making hiking a challenge for photography when you want to capture those unforgettable moments. That’s why for photographers, the best time for gorilla trekking is the dry months when the weather is favourable for the best image captures.
Gorilla trekking excursions occur very early, at 08:00 am. Trekkers assemble at the park entrance hall by 7:30 am to receive trekking instructions from the park warden. Morning hours can get freezing and dump, especially during the wet seasons. If your body can’t handle cold mornings, you should avoid the gorilla trekking adventure during the coldest months.
However, some people can withstand the occasional downpour during their adventure and head into the jungle no matter the weather. Besides, gorilla trekking excursions occur every day, irrespective of the weather. And, travellers during the wet seasons can take advantage of the low season discounts offered by most gorilla lodges in Uganda and Rwanda.
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 travellers 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 Uganda or Rwanda.
Although February is part of the dry season, we begin to see a drop in the number of travellers during the month. As with January, February is the best time for gorilla trekking, bird watching, 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 for gorilla trekking and game viewing safari in Uganda, Masai Mara, Serengeti and Ngorongoro. Also, it is calving time in the southern Serengeti and an ideal time to see predators in action.
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 travellers find this time still favourable 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 skies brighten up for cool, relaxing weather during your adventure. Travelling with waterproofing can save you from drenching, and you will still have plenty of time to relax at your safari lodge.
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.
A combination of Serengeti, Mara 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 is the start of the peak safari season in Uganda and Rwanda that extends into September, but June & July have the best weather for gorilla trekking in both countries. There will be little to no rainfall during that time, making the trek to find gorillas manageable for most travellers. As it’s peak season, gorilla trekking costs will be higher, and you’ll need to book permits well in advance.
However, unlike other African destinations, a safari holiday in Uganda or Rwanda in the peak season rarely feels busy or overcrowded, allowing you intimate, wild encounters and extraordinary experiences. Gorilla trekking excursions are highly controlled to not more than eight people per gorilla group, allowing personal connection during your precious one hour with the gorillas. Some boutique safari lodges may fill up fast during this time, so book months earlier 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.
Suppose you have more time on your safari holiday. In that case, the dry season of July to October is the best time for combining a gorilla trekking adventure with big-game viewing or wildebeest migration in Masai Mara and Serengeti.
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 favourable 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 is usually the end of the dry season; however, depending on when the short rains arrive, it may be that there are 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.
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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 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 for gorilla trekking and birdwatching adventures in the region, so ask your tailor-made safari expert to point out some unique species you may encounter during this time.
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 travellers. 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 summary, the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda is during the dry seasons of June to August and December to February, when hiking the steep slopes is manageable. You shouldn’t expect rain to interrupt your enchanting time with the mountain gorillas. However, it is peak season during this time, attracting a high number of travellers; lodging and permit availability is scarce, meaning that you have to book with your tour operator months in advance to secure your place.
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 is pretty challenging during the rainy seasons. Although gorilla trekking excursions occur every day irrespective of the weather, a downpour could make your hike and quiet experience with the gorillas less desirable.
However, some people consider more than the weather to plan their gorilla safari. The best time to take advantage of price discounts is during the shoulder or low seasons. During this time, almost all gorilla lodges offer discounts to cash in on the low number of tourists in the country. Also, the wet season (November-April) is the best time to combine exceptional birdwatching in the region with the gorilla trekking adventure.
Because we’ve been operating all-inclusive tailor-made gorilla trekking safaris in Uganda and Rwanda for more than a decade, we have more than 40 local experts willing to help you plan and manage your bucket list adventure on the dot. We own and operate two multi-award-winning properties to host you during your holiday, so your whole trip from the airport and back will be managed by reviewed local experts.
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