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When to visit Rwanda

The best time to visit Rwanda is during the dry seasons from June to September and December to February. These drier periods see ideal trekking conditions for tracking mountain gorillas and chimpanzees with little to no mud especially on steep paths. Although Rwanda features several seasons which should be considered when planning a safari here, the weather is fairly temperate and favours travel all year round due to its compact size, proximity to the equator and high altitude.

However, many safari-goers will head to Rwanda during these months, so often the best time to go can be based on permit-availability. This being said, don't be put off by the rainy season in Rwanda either. The shorter period of rain in November and longer rains from March to May will provide lush, verdant forests and full lakes all to yourself. Gorilla permits are occasionally cheaper during these rainy seasons and photographers may prefer the atmosphere more where less light contrasts against the forest, allowing more focused shots.

St Rwanda Akagera Zebra Shutterstock Tetyana Dotsenko
RWA Cl Rwanda July Mountain Gorilla Credit Richard Denyer

Talk to a Rwanda Destination Specialist

The Best Time to Visit Rwanda

  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC

January is part of the first dry period running from mid-December and continuing throughout the whole of January, and into February, and a great time for gorilla trekking. The climate in Rwanda is very similar all year round however it may differ depending upon which area you are staying in. During the two dry seasons there is often light clouds across the country which offers refreshingly, light rainfall as well as being able to moderate the temperature. You can expect fairly dry terrain, but being in the Virunga’s, weather can be a little unpredictable, and rain can come at any time.

March – May

This is Rwanda’s long rain season, and it can be unrelenting, which is particularly marked in the mountainous regions. Gorilla tracking is less suited to this period, although if you are looking to track the chimpanzees in the Nyungwe area this can be an optimum time, as the figs and fruits within the forest ripen and they tend to be seen lower down in the trees eating, are more stationary and also seen in larger groups.

June –September

This is the long dry season with ideal conditions for gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park and for visiting the Rwanda wildlife overall, so if you have complete flexibility with your dates we would recommend travelling during this time. Animal sightings are more common at this time, with golden monkeys and mountain gorillas as well as habitat tolerant species such as buffalo and elephant all more visible in the dry season. As gorillas reside in the rainforest, we still recommend taking waterproof clothing even during these drier months. This is also peak season in Rwanda, so prices can be higher.

October – December

A short rainy period, these months can also be great for birding, as trees and plants are flowering and visible birdlife is prolific, and it is even possible to enjoy specialist birding trips (specifically late November/early December or late May). Green seasons also make for excellent photography conditions, with rains tending to be quick and heavy before clearing to blue skies – ideal for capturing scenery.

Things to do in Rwanda

If you want to go gorilla trekking

Whilst gorillas can be seen year-round in Rwanda, the best time to go gorilla trekking is anytime December to February and the dry season of June to September. These months offer the best hiking conditions and lower risks of malaria. Gorillas can be seen throughout the year in Rwanda but bear in mind that weather conditions including rainfall may make steep paths muddy and slippery to hike.

If you want to see chimpanzees

The best time to see chimpanzees in Rwanda is also during the long dry season of June to September through December to February. During this time the forests are not too thick and hiking trails will not be muddy and slippery making it much easier to see chimpanzees.

Golden Monkey Trekking

Volcanoes National Park is also home to critically endangered golden monkeys in addition to gorillas. Another amazing wildlife experience is trekking to view them.

Nyungwe Forest National Park

Discover the historic Nyungwe Forest, a sanctuary for primates and wildlife. Go on chimpanzee trekking, canopy walks, and guided hikes.

Akagera National Park

Visit Akagera National Park to go on a safari and see the Big Five (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) and other animals.