When choosing to go gorilla trekking, your options lie between Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, and Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. But for those hoping to trek mountain gorillas, deciding what time of year to visit these majestic creatures can have a big impact on both your experience and your wallet.
Located along the equator and home to the beautiful Lake Victoria, Uganda is fast becoming one of the most unique and sought after travel destinations in all of Africa. The country has two rainy seasons: the short season lasts from October to November and the long rainy season lasts from mid-March to the end of May. The rest of the year is considered Uganda’s ‘dry season’. This said, climate change in recent years has brought about changes in weather patterns, making it harder than ever to predict the seasons.
When is the best time to take a gorilla safari in Rwanda and Uganda?
In Uganda and Rwanda, temperatures average around 22C° and can drop at night to around 12C°. The level of rainfall in Uganda is between 1,000-2,000mm per annum. However, the region generally offers clear skies throughout the year, making gorilla trekking available year-round.
Many visitors choose to travel to Uganda and Rwanda between June and September and between December and February as there is generally less rain and more sun during these months.
December is one of the busiest months of the year, so it’s advisable to book your accommodation early to avoid disappointment.
If you are looking for the best conditions for gorilla trekking and aren’t worried about pricing, the dry seasons are ideal. The countries also have a raised topography which means that the climate is fairly cool all year round so despite some serious leg-work you aren’t likely to ever overheat.
Often travellers prefer going on a gorilla safari in low season as the prices for gorilla trekking permits are lowered in Uganda from $600 to $450 for non-residents.
Visiting in this season also means that you can enjoy the jungle with relatively few people. It’s also said that February and September are good months for a holiday in Uganda as there are less tourists visiting so the lodges are not as full as they are in high season. It also means you can also often get discounted lodge and hotel prices.
While the rainy season can have an effect on travels in Rwanda and Uganda, a day is almost never lost to the rain. Most days will have both rain and sunshine, meaning that despite some wetness, it is usually not long before you can continue with your activities as planned. Whether it rains or not, gorilla tracking is conducted every day and is almost never canceled because of bad weather.
All in all, gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda in the low seasons are more pocket-friendly. One thing to note though, while you might find some great specials on accommodation, in Rwanda gorilla permits are never discounted, even in the low season, with the current price of a gorilla permit in Rwanda at US$750 per person.
No matter what time of year you decide to go gorilla trekking in the region, a visit with the gorillas will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable experiences of any tourist’s travels.
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