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.
Best Time For Gorilla Trekking, Month by Month
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 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.
February (peak/dry season, best weather)
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, 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 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 (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 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.
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.
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 & 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 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.