Rwanda has fast become one of the best safari destinations in east africa; famous for offeringthe most luxurious gorilla trekking safaris. And for the different Rwanda safaris and more, people oftern ask “ When is the best time to visit Rwanda?”. We look at the different reasons you are visiting Rwanda – why and where you want to travel to. The most consistent factor is the weather at the time of your travel. Rwanda lies south of the Equator and features a mountainous landscape hence a tropical highland climate. Temperatures vary throughout the year depending on the area you are visiting. Kigali is normally the hosted in the country reaching about 29°C.
The main reason many travelers visit Rwanda is to see the endangered mountain gorillas in the country’s only gorilla park – Volcanoes National Park. And while these great apes can be visited at any time of the year, the best time to visit is during the drier months from December to February and June to September. These drier months of the year offer easy gorilla treks, as the forest terrain is less muddy and slippery.
You can still do gorilla trekking in Rwanda during the wetter months of the year, though. Just make sure to pack heavy clothing and good-quality hiking boots. Moreover, the wet months from October through November and March through May give you fantastic excursions in Rwanda’s magnificent mountains, forests, and wetlands. After all, the wet season also comes with discounted rates at some selected safari lodges, etc. Let us look at the best time to visit Rwanda, month by month.
Visiting Rwanda between December and February
The period of December to February is the short season in Rwanda, characterized by hot days and cool evenings; which present one of the best times to visit Rwanda. During this time, the forest terrain of the Volcanoes National Park is dry and less slippery, allowing easy and memorable gorilla treks.
Furthermore, the warm climate makes the perfect time to visit Rwanda’s other high-altitude regions such as the home of chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park, Lake Kivu, and Kigali, to mention but a few. Moreover, the dry season in most of Africa’s safari destinations, including Rwanda is the best time for wildlife viewing. Rwanda’s only savannah park – Akagera National Park offers spectacular game viewing. As for the avid birdwatchers, this is the best time to catch migratory bird species from Europe and Northern Africa. However, if you are planning to visit Rwanda during this time, you need proper planning; bearing in mind that rates are generally high at this time.
Visiting Rwanda between March and May
The period of March to May is the long rainy season in not only Rwanda but, across East Africa; characterized by heavy downpours, especially in the highlands. It can be challenging when gorilla trekking in the volcanoes national park, given the rough, muddy, and slippery terrain in the forests. On the other hand, during the wet season, mountain gorillas come to the lower slopes. This is because the lower slopes are warmer and food is in plenty: this is advantageous to the tourists as well since the mountain gorillas are more accessible – thus shorter treks. Good quality rain gear including waterproof hiking boots and heavy warm clothing will be needed to navigate the misty jungle.
Moreover, this period is one of the best times for chimpanzee trekking in Nyungwe Forest National Park. And for birding fanatics, May is the breeding season for birds, and great Rwanda birding safaris. At this time; the skies are soaring with a plethora of beautiful birds. After all, traveling to Rwanda during this time of the year means discounted rates on selected accommodations which brings down the general rates for the Rwanda safari tours.
Visiting Rwanda between June and September
The long dry season in Rwanda falls between June and September and is known as the best time to visit Rwanda. Conditions during the time are hot and cool, presenting the best weather for gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking in the Volcanoes National Park. Moreover, this is also the best time to visit wildlife in Akagera National Park and chimpanzees in Nyungwe Forest National Park.
Furthermore, the annual Kwita Izina Ceremony in Rwanda takes place in Kinigi. This is the ceremony where all the infant gorillas born over the year are named: this is one of the highlights of this period. Because the period of June to September presents such good conditions for visiting Rwanda; it is regarded as a high peak travel season; meaning that if you are planning to travel, you will need your gorilla permit and accommodation, among other tours in advance, given the high demand.
Visiting Rwanda between October and November
October and November present the short rainy season in Rwanda, with shorter and calm rains, with lush and beautiful vegetation. However, the rains are not as heavy as those from March to April. Game viewing in Akagera National Park is good at this time, as well as gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park; though the trekking conditions are still a little rough. Moreover, birding in Rwanda at this time is rewarding with plenty of migratory birds in November. You can also take advantage of the lower rates on some of the Rwanda accommodation.
The Dry Season vs the Rainy Season
- It is the best time for gorilla trekking and golden monkey trekking, as forest trails are less slippery.
- It is the best time for chimpanzee trekking and Colobus monkey trekking in Nyungwe national park
- Also the best time for wildlife viewing in Akagera National Park – animals gather around waterholes, thus easy to find.
- The skies are clear, and though hot, conditions are often cool
- There is less risk of malaria
- Landscapes are green and beautiful
- Discounted rates on some accommodations, and other Rwanda safari tours.
- Best time to catch wild animals in Akagera giving birth
- Small crowds in Rwanda national parks.
- Best time for bird watching with the presence of migratory species.
- Rates on gorilla permits and accommodation are high and need to be booked in advance.
- Large crowds
- Trekking trails are muddy and slippery, affecting gorilla trekking
- High risk of malaria
- Muddy and slippery roads