Democratic Republic of Congo

When to go to the Democratic Republic of Congo

The best time to go to the drc

The line of the equator runs straight through the Democratic Republic of Congo, meaning temperatures vary little throughout the year. The daily mean for the capital of Kinshasa in the east fluctuates less than 5°C annually, from a low of 22.5°C in July to 27°C in April. Goma, a city on the country’s eastern border, experiences less than 1°C of change, with its citizens enjoying a daily mean of around 20°C year-round. 

Thanks to the consistent temperatures, the DRC is a viable destination for travellers at any time of the year.

However, the DRC does experience regular dry and rainy seasons. Two dry seasons occur annually, the first between January and February and the second between June and September. The rainy seasons occur in the intervening months: March-May and October-December. The dry season corresponds to the "high season" in Virunga National Park, during which daily gorilla permits cost $400. The permits for the low season - AKA the wetter months - cost $200 per day.

Despite the predictability of the climate, embarking on a safari to Virunga is not a guarantee of shorts-and-sandals weather. Stretching across 3,000 square miles and reaching altitudes of 16,000 ft, this mountainous region often requires cold-weather preparation. The highest of the Rwenzori Mountains in the north are permanently snow-capped, while a hike up Mount Nyiragongo - an active volcano - will take you past 11,000 ft. Savannah sits alongside alpine forest in this wonderfully diverse jewel at the heart of Africa.

When to go

This is a guide for the country as a whole, indicating good times to plan a holiday, taking into account popular places to visit, wildlife encounters and overall weather. Please remember that where in the country will vary depending on month of travel.

when to go by season

January to February and June to September

Those looking to avoid the rains when travelling to Virunga must do so knowing that gorilla permits are pricier during these months, which make up the park’s high season. Also keep in mind that rain is still likely to fall occasionally; tropical rainforest is just one of the many landscapes and ecosystems present within Virunga’s borders. However, compared to trekking during the rainy season, you’ll be less at risk of intense and prolonged downpours. There is also a further trade-off when opting for a dry-season safari here: tracking down mountain gorillas, which for many is the indisputable highlight of a trip to the DRC, can potentially take longer than during the rainy season. The drier months – particularly July and August - drive the gorillas to higher altitudes, requiring longer climbs. But with firmer ground underfoot, you'll not have to contend with too much slipping and sliding.

March to May and October to December

Making the choice to endure regular rainfall will benefit your wallet and also your camera. Firstly, low-season gorilla permits cost half as much as they do in the high season. Virunga’s mountain gorillas also tend to forage at lower altitudes and range shorter distances for food during the rainy season, which could make your gorilla trek less physically demanding. Cold, overcast weather also encourages the groups to stay in their nests in the morning, reducing the amount of tracking needed to locate them. That said, wet weather can make for treacherous trekking as the ground becomes increasingly sodden with water. Another upside is the host of beautifully clear views that often present themselves after a rainstorm, which provide the perfect opportunity for crystal-clear photography. Just make sure to pack waterproofs, spare clothing and protective storage for any electronics or notebooks.

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