Best Time For A Safari in Uganda

Planning for a Uganda safari trip will require you to know the best time to take safari trip due to the unpredictable weather patterns that blanket the equatorial region. It is known to rain any time of the year in Uganda and if rain is not a hindrance to your holiday vacation, then we can comfortably say that a trip to Uganda can happen any time of the year.

Timing Your Adventure: When to Go on a Safari in Uganda

If you’re planning a wildlife adventure in Uganda, it’s important to know the best time for a safari due to unpredictable weather. Uganda’s diverse landscapes, rich wildlife, and vibrant cultures attract travelers worldwide. From trekking with mountain gorillas to spotting the big five on a game drive, Uganda offers an unforgettable safari experience. However, planning the perfect safari trip requires considering the weather, seasons, and personal preferences. In this article, we’ll explore the different factors to help you choose the best time for an unforgettable safari in Uganda.

Factors to consider

Uganda is close to the equator, so the country experiences a relatively stable climate throughout the year. However, the country is also characterized by two main weather seasons: the dry and rainy seasons. The dry season, the best time to go on a safari in Uganda, is marked by low rainfall and high temperatures, making it an ideal time for wildlife viewing. On the other hand, the rainy season is characterized by wet and muddy conditions that can make travel challenging, and wildlife sightings may be fewer.

Apart from the weather, another crucial factor to consider when planning a safari in Uganda is the peak and low seasons. The peak season, which falls between June and September and December and February, is the busiest and most expensive time to visit the country. During this time, gorilla permits and accommodation can be hard to come by, and the parks are crowded with visitors. The low season, which falls between March and May and October to November, is less crowded, with lower prices. However, the rainy conditions can make travel challenging, and wildlife sightings may be fewer.

Personal preferences also play a role in determining the best time to go on a safari in Uganda. Some travelers may prefer the dry season when the weather is warm and sunny, while others may prefer the green and lush landscape of the rainy season. It’s essential to consider your interests and travel schedule when planning your safari trip to Uganda.

Best Weather For a Uganda Safari

Uganda’s warm and tropical climate makes it an ideal destination for an African safari, as the country can be visited year-round. The average annual temperature in Uganda is 29°C (84°F), with an average low temperature of 17.1°C (62.8°F), although temperatures can be colder at higher altitudes, such as in the mountain gorilla parks. The country is generally sunny most of the year, with temperatures rarely exceeding 29°C (84°F).

The weather patterns in Uganda are primarily influenced by several factors, including the country’s location along the Equator, the Eastern, and Western Rift Valleys that border the country, and the diverse landscapes, such as the montane forests, mountains in the west, swamps, rivers, waterfalls, and the vast Lake Victoria, which covers 68,800 square kilometers. These varying weather patterns result in two primary seasons in Uganda: the dry season and the rainy season.

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Short Rains in Queen Elizabeth NP
Short Rains in Queen Elizabeth NP. Photo © Adalberto Mangini

Rainy Season (March, April & May and September, October & November)

Uganda has two rainy seasons, with the long rains occurring from March to May and the short rains from September to November. Heavy downpours are expected during the long rains, but the short rains are characterized by short showers that showcase the impressive wildlife on the emerald plains.

Although the rain may last an average of 3 hours, it does not rain throughout the day. During the short rains, you may experience a few minutes of sunshine that changes the mood of every living thing. The downpour can also stick to a regular pattern once the season starts, with rain occurring late at night or during particular hours of the day.

The Misty Dump Bwindi Forest. Best time for a trip to Uganda
The Misty Dump Bwindi Forest © Łukasz Kałuża

Visiting Uganda during the heavy rains is not recommended for a safari trip, as some sites may be inaccessible due to washed-away roads and trails. Gorilla trekking is also challenging during this time due to the impassable dump forest floors and drenching misty rain that hinders visibility. However, during the short rains from October to November, you can enjoy lower rates with almost all lodges and safari camps.

The plants have sprouted, the leaves are green, and the tree fruits are ripe, providing plenty of food for the wildlife. Migratory birds are also easy to spot during this period, and gorilla trekking is excellent because the mountain giants stay in lower altitudes. The short rainy season of October to November is also the best time for Uganda safaris, as the grass is green, short, and nutritious, and the animals are easily spotted on the plains.

A Ugandan child endures the heat. Photo © Enric Santiañez Tió

The Dry Season (June, July & August and December, January & February)

The best time for observing wildlife on safari in Uganda is during the drier months, from June to August and December to February when there is plenty of sunshine. There is little or no rainfall during this period, especially in the northern region of Kidepo Valley and Murchison Falls National Parks.

The southern region, where gorilla trekking occurs, is also dry and less slippery. So the most preferable time for a gorilla trekking or chimpanzee tracking experience is the dry season months. Wildlife is easily spotted in these months as animals gather around water points, and there is little undergrowth to conceal them.

Nap time. Gorilla trips to Uganda ideal during dry season. Best time for a trip to Uganda
Nap time. Gorilla trips to Uganda are ideal during the dry season. Photo © SG Wildlife Photography

Birdwatching is also possible during this dry season. However, some argue that the ideal time for birdwatching in Uganda is between late May and September when there is less rain and abundant animal food in the parks. Birders can easily spot migratory birds in the parks from November to April. Early mornings are also great for birding, with many bird species visible during this time. The dry season from January to March is an excellent time to see the magnificent Shoebill.

During the peak season of June to September, the prices and cost of a Uganda safari tend to be higher, and the parks are often crowded. December is also a busy month due to the holiday season. Booking in advance is recommended to avoid disappointments. Despite the crowds, trekking gorillas during this time is advantageous since they are easily found on the lower slopes, and gorilla treks take a shorter time due to the abundance of food.

Trip to Uganda

What to wear for a safari in Uganda

When packing for a safari in Uganda, it’s essential to consider the country’s climate and the activities you’ll be doing. Uganda’s weather is generally warm and tropical, with temperatures ranging from 17°C to 29°C (62°F to 84°F) throughout the year. However, it can get colder at higher altitudes, such as in mountain gorilla parks. Here are some suggestions on what to wear for a safari in Uganda:

Lightweight, breathable clothing: Choose lightweight, breathable clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton or linen, to keep you cool and comfortable. Long-sleeved shirts and pants can also protect you from the sun, wind, and insect bites.

Neutral-colored clothing: Neutral-colored clothing, such as khaki, beige, or olive green, can help you blend in with the surroundings and avoid attracting insects.

Comfortable shoes: Wear comfortable closed-toe shoes or hiking boots that offer good foot support and protection. Avoid sandals or open-toe shoes, as they can expose your feet to the sun, dust, and insects.

Hat and sunglasses: Bring a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from the sun.

Rain gear: Pack a lightweight rain jacket or poncho in case of unexpected rain. Bringing a waterproof bag to protect your camera and other electronics is also a good idea.

Warm layers: If you’re planning to visit higher-altitude areas, such as the mountain gorilla parks, bring warm layers, such as a fleece jacket or sweater, as it can get chilly in the early morning and evening.

Swimwear: If you plan to visit lakes or rivers, bring swimwear for swimming or relaxing by the water.

Overall, wearing comfortable, practical clothing is vital to enjoying a safari in Uganda. Remember that many lodges and camps offer laundry services, so you can pack light and wash your clothes as needed.

Conclusion

In summary, the pros and cons analysis for each travel month in most Uganda National Parks can be highlighted below:

SEASONMONTHPROS OR CONS
Dry seasonJanuaryBest Time, Trails dry, the best wildlife viewing, and migratory birds
Dry seasonFebruaryBest Time, Trails dry, the best wildlife viewing, and migratory birds
Wet seasonMarchLow season, not crowded, migratory birds
Wet seasonAprilLow season, not crowded, migratory birds
Wet seasonMayLow season
Dry seasonJuneHigh Season, Best Time
Dry seasonJulyHigh Season, Best Time
Dry seasonAugustHigh Season, Best Time
Dry/ Wet seasonSeptemberHigh Season, lesser rainfall
Wet seasonOctoberLow season, lesser rainfall
Wet seasonNovemberLow season, lesser rainfall not crowded, migratory birds
Dry seasonDecemberLow season, lesser rainfall, not crowded, migratory birds

However, at the north in Kidepo Valley National Park, which is at an altitude: 999—2,349 meters. The area is semi-arid. Temperatures can reach as high as 40°C/104°F but average around 29°C/84°F in the afternoon and 17°C/63°F at night. There is one wet season, April to August, which differs from most countries that experience two.

Onward

Our Uganda safari consultants have this information at their fingertips and would love to guide you through planning your safari trip to Uganda. Talk to one of the experts to help you consider the best time for a trip to Uganda and give you essential information about where to stay and how to get to your Uganda destination. Our listed tours to Uganda on this website are great examples that can be tailored to your exact style to give you maximum experience.

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Best Time For A Safari in Uganda
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