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When is the best time to visit gorillas in Rwanda? In the heart of East Africa, lies Rwanda- the Land of a Thousand Hills and a home to hundreds of the 1063 endangered mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and several other wildlife species of visitor interest on African safaris. When you think of Rwanda safaris, gorilla trekking is what majority of tourists come to enjoy.

But, what leaves many travelers uncertain is when is the best time to visit gorillas in Rwanda? Gorillas in Rwanda can be visited at any time of the year, but the dry season is the best time for tourists to see these unique apes in the wild. The dry season is also referred to as the high/peak season and each year, Volcanoes National Park where mountain gorillas in Rwanda live experiences 2 phases: the long and short season.

Quick Information

Dry seasons Rains ease during the long dry (mid-May to September) and short dry (mid-December to mid-March).

Jun–Jul Baby gorillas are named during the Kwita Izina ceremony.

The long rains Although often wet from mid-March to mid-May, travel is still possible.

Weather & other considerations

Rwanda is one of the countries covered by the East Africa Tourist Visa and for those also visiting Kenya and Uganda on the same trip it is a cheaper alternative. The visa costs US$100, is valid for 90 days and is multiple entry – it is available upon arrival or from embassies abroad. If acquiring the visa before travel, your first port-of-call must be the country through which you applied for the visa.

What is the Best Season to Travel

Long Peak/High season

June, July, August, September are the longest dry months of the year and also peak months for gorilla safaris in Rwanda Volcanoes National Park. These are the best months of the year when gorilla trekking is enjoyable because the park records low or no rains and the floor, steep slopes remain relatively drier while vegetation isn’t dense. The temperatures rise up to 30 degrees Celsius during day, but considering the nature of gorilla habitats, rains can still be experienced even during these peak months of the year.

Short Peak/High season/months

December, January, February are short dry/peak months of the year in Volcanoes National Park. Like June to September, December, January, & February also make it easier to access the park for gorilla trekking. The favorable weather conditions during these two seasons make it easier to locate mountain gorilla families though sometimes, these great apes are forced to move long distances to find for what to feed on.

Low season

There are 2 phases of low/off season/months of the year. They are also open for tourists on Rwanda safaris to see mountain gorillas, but the challenge is that the park records its high rainfall amount during this period. Because of heavy rains, the ground and steep slopes can be slippery, the vegetation becomes dense.

Long and short wet/rainy/low/off season

March, April, May- these are the longest wetter months of the year in Volcanoes National Park. Gorilla trekking is possible during this period, but rains often interrupt it. The short wetter months of the year in Rwanda Volcanoes National Park run from October to November. These are best for tourists interested in birding safaris in Rwanda.

Traveling to Rwanda from October to December

The short rainy season runs from October to early December, and it is when there is heavy rain. The park records heavy rainfall and ground can be muddy with steep slopes often turned slippery. The rainy months are usually considered as low or off period, the months when there are few visitors traveling for gorilla tracking in Volcanoes National Park Rwanda.

The rainy/low season is a perfect season for budget travelers on Rwanda safaris while the dry season/peak season attracts several travelers who come to see mountain gorillas. Trekking with gorillas takes from 2 to 3 hours of navigating through the lush vegetation and high elevation. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda altitude ranges from 2500 to 4507m and on the day of trekking, you may need a porter to assist in carrying heavy luggage.

When is the Best Time to Go Gorilla trekking?

Gorilla trekking is the top reasons why Rwanda is most visited by nature lovers worldwide. Rwanda is home to over 30% mountain gorillas out of 1063 individuals left on the planet earth. There are 12 habituated gorilla families that are surviving in the bamboo and rainforest of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. Volcanoes N/Park is situated in the Virunga Massifs, and has gorilla groups including Kwitonda gorilla group, Hirwa, Susa A, Agashya, Sabyinyo group, Umubano, Amahoro group, Ugenda, Hirwa, Titus, Pablo, Karisimbi group and more.

The best time to travel to Volcanoes NP Rwanda for gorilla trekking is from June, July, August and September. During the dry months, there is light cloud cover and the ground remains relatively drier. Gorilla trekking is a long trek involving walking through the forest and the dry months are favorable months as they come with favorable weather conditions. The vegetation cover is less dense and ground drier thus making it easier walking while searching for a family of gorillas.

Gorilla trekking permits in Rwanda

Obtaining gorilla permits in Rwanda during peak or low season is possible. However, tourists intending to see mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park are advised to book for their gorilla permits in advance especially during the peak or high season/months of the year. High number of trekkers visit Rwanda during the peak season for mountain gorillas trekking unlike during the low or off-season.

Each of Rwanda gorilla permit is issued to tourists at US Dollars 1500 per person. Gorilla permits are available all year-round but, you must have your permit reserved at least 2-6 months pre-visiting Volcanoes National Park for actual gorilla trekking.

When is the Best Time to Go Hiking in Rwanda

The ideal time to enjoy excellent hiking adventures in Rwanda is from mid-December, January to February or travel from June, July, August till September. These long dry months of the year when hikers can smoothly enjoy hiking volcanoes such as Karisimbi volcano (4507m), Bisoke volcano (3711m), a volcano set at the Rwanda border with the D.R. Congo. Other Virunga Massifs in Rwanda include Sabyinyo, Muhabura and Gahinga –these are also shared by Volcanoes NP and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park of Uganda.

How About to Go on Wild Game Safaris

Game safaris in Rwanda like most tours can be done at any time of the year. But the dry season allows you to enjoy excellent views of wildlife and this is from June to September/December to February. Game safaris in Rwanda are perfectly done only in Akagera National Park where you can find diversity of wildlife.

The Akagera National Park (ANP) faunal species include hippos, rhinos, elephants, Maasai giraffes, crocodiles, buffaloes, lions, leopards, roan antelopes, zebras, hyenas and others. Over 500 species of birds are also inhabited in the distinct habitats in Akagera and include Denham’s bustards, brown chested lapwings, blue shouldered robin, booted eagle, Amur falcon, double toothed barbet, cardinal quelea, cabanis’s bunting, Caspian plovers, lesser jacanas, marsh owl, dimorphic egret, crested barbet, martial eagle, Northern brown throated weavers, papyrus gonoleks, shoebill storks, carruther’s cisticolas, ruaha chat, striped pipit, western reef herons, white winged swamp warblers, Souza’s shrikes, and rufous bellied heron, etc.