Gorilla Trekking: An Essential Guide

Best Time For Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda & Uganda

Best Time For Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda & Uganda
By Charlotte Beauvoisin

The climate, gorilla trekking conditions, and tourism seasons are more or less the same in both Rwanda and Uganda.

When to go gorilla trekking

Weather & trekking conditions

The first thing to remember is that you’re visiting a rainforest. It will, by definition, be wet all year round!

That said, there is still a marked difference between gorilla trekking in the dry and rainy seasons. The weather is generally drier and hotter between May and August, and again from December to February.

The advantages to trekking in the dry season are less muddy paths and easier hiking and clearer views. The disadvantage is that these months coincide with the peak gorilla trekking season and therefore permit availability is lower. You’ll need to book well in advance.

During April and May and again from September to November you can expect more frequent and heavier rain showers. Muddy roads and paths can become tricky to handle.

Aside from more choice in permit and accommodation availability, there are some other pros to trekking during the rainy season, one being that smaller group sizes allow a more intimate experience.

Temperatures in Uganda and Rwanda are fixed year-round between 21°C (70 F) and 30°C (86 F), dropping to 10°C (50 F) at higher altitudes. Although chilly at night, the exertion of hiking and climbing will keep you warm during the day.

Peak season & when to book a gorilla trek

Peak seasons are June to October and Christmas and the New Year. They coincide with holidays and the best weather.

If you plan to go gorilla trekking during peak season or if you are in a large group, you should book six months or more in advance. The earlier you book the more choice you have on where you trek gorillas and where you stay.

Last-minute bookings may be possible during low season or with smaller groups, but cannot be guaranteed.

Events and festivals

Rwanda’s annual Kwita Izina gorilla-naming ceremony takes place every September and offers a fascinating insight into Rwandan culture and the country’s efforts to promote gorilla conservation. The event is free to attend, but by invitation only. A good tour operator will be able to arrange access for you.

If you want to track the gorillas and attend the ceremony, do book in advance as it is popular.

A more solemn occasion is Kwibuka, which means remember in Kinyarwanda. This is a series of events held in April in commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in which nearly one million Tutsi—70% of the Tutsi population—were killed. Visitors are welcome at these events. April can be a sombre month in Rwanda.

Best Time For Gorilla Trekking In Rwanda & Uganda

Charlotte Beauvoisin

Charlotte is a travel blogger based on the edge of Kibale Forest, Uganda. She is a contributor to the Bradt Uganda Guidebook and has written for Lonely Planet, The Daily Telegraph and Fodor's. She first arrived in Uganda in 2009 as a Voluntary Service Overseas volunteer with the Uganda Conservation Foundation.

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