We have put together a month by month guide, to the best time to visit Uganda for your gorilla safari. Whether you want to save money by travelling in the 'wet season', or ensure dry feet while gorilla trekking in the 'dry season'; with our expert guide to the weather in Uganda, we make sure you are well informed; so you can make the right decision.
After the ‘mini’ rain season of October and November, your will find Uganda looking at its best. The rains will have settled that dust which kicks up from the unsealed roads and blocks out the views of mountain ranges; such as the Rwenzori mountains and Virunga mountains. Although heavy rain showers can still occur in this period; they normally arrive in the evening, after the heat of the day and rarely affect activities; such as savannah game drives, chimp trekking in Kibale or gorilla trekking in Bwindi impenetrable forest. This is a good time for gorilla trekking in Bwindi and Nkuringo and wildlife safaris in Murchison national park, Queen Elizabeth national park and Lake Mburo national park.
The heaviest rainfall of the whole year will tend to fall in April and May and it is not uncommon for the Uganda Wildlife Services to offer discounted gorilla trekking permits in at least one of these months. Generally, this will be a reduction of around $150 US dollars per permit; but do check on their website for the latest information. You will probably not be affected that much travelling in March, but it is possible towards the end of this month that the heavier rains may start.
Is it possible to go gorilla trekking in the rain? Of course it is - and that can actually happen at any time of the year. One of the physical difficulties of gorilla trekking in Uganda, is the vegetated slopes you have to walk up; which even if the weather is dry, will often be wet due to the high humidity of the rainforest. However, the heavy rain of the wet season can have a bigger impact on your whole gorilla safari due to the possible damage to the unsealed road network. This can make travel between national parks and remote wildlife lodges in Uganda much harder and slower. So overall, I would say for the adventurous minded who like a bargain and not too many tourists, you can travel in the ‘wetter’ months, but expect some delays! For those, who have limited time, or prefer a more reliable road trip through this beautiful country, I would advise you to stick to the ‘drier’ months – see next paragraph!
We could label this period as both the ‘high season’ and ‘dry season’ and with the doubling of the cost of gorilla permits in Rwanda, Uganda has been the country of choice for the vasy majority of travellers and that means early booking of gorilla permits in Uganda to avoid disappointment. I first travelled to Uganda in July 2006 and I still remember it as one of my most memorable and wonderful wildlife safari experiences. There was rain, although nearly always in the evenings; with the odd spectacular thunderstorm lightings up the forests opposite our Uganda wildlife lodge accommodation. However, for our chimp trekking in Kibale and Chambura Gorge and our gorilla trekking in Bwindi and in the Parc de Volcans in Rwanda; it was dry. I do remember a significant haze and it was not a great time to see the mountains near Fort Portal and Kibale national park. Our game drives were pretty productive in Murchison national park and Queen Elizabeth national park, for predators, like lions and leopards and we were lucky enough to see the tree-climbing lions at Ishasha.
My return to Uganda was in the month of October and since I was mainly ‘wild camping’ this time, I certainly would have remembered if the weather was bad! However, again the heavy rain showers and storms – one particularly memorable one at a camp site right above Murchison Falls – happened at night and we were able to take shelter in nearby Banda’s where we were preparing our meals for the night. By definition with more rains the local road conditions on those vivid red unsealed roads can become more challenging and of course you need to slow down and allow more time for road journeys.