Best Time To Go To Rwanda


About Rwanda

Best Time To Go To Rwanda

The African continent is renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after (or as frequently featured on traveler bucket lists) as Uganda and Rwanda where avid wildlife enthusiasts from across the world have the incredible opportunity of witnessing Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat. In fact, Rwanda is deemed the best place in Africa to engage in what is arguably the world’s single most powerful wildlife experience, sought-after safari adventure, and thrilling wildlife encounter – tracking mountain gorillas through the steep bamboo and forest-swathed slopes of the Virunga Mountains.

Tucked in between the renowned safari destinations of Kenya and Tanzania, Rwanda offers guests some of the best primate tracking on the planet – set against the backdrop of its endless green hills and soaring mountainsides.

While tracking mountain gorillas and coming face to face with these gentle giants of the African bushveld is without a doubt one of Rwanda’s top attractions, there is far more to this central African country than meets the eye. Especially when it comes to outdoor exploring and adventuring.

Boasting a remarkable array of national parks, sanctuaries, and reserves, Rwanda is notorious for its vast, varied, and profound wildlife species. Rwanda is also a strong contender as one of the world’s best bird watching destinations. Undoubtedly making Rwanda one of Africa’s top safari and travel destinations amongst avid wildlife and birdlife enthusiasts, ardent adventurers, globe trotters, and eager travelers.

What Travelers Enjoy Most About Rwanda

Beautiful & Unspoiled Scenery
Wildlife & Safari Experiences

Rwanda Overview

Best time to go

June – September (Except for chimp trekking in Nyungwe Forest)

High Season

June – September (Lodges might be full and gorilla permits must be booked long in advance as they are scarce)

Low Season

March, April, October, November (Some lodges and camps in high-rainfall areas close; roads and forest trails can be in poor condition)

Best Weather

June – August | The least amount of rainfall is experienced during this period

Worst Weather

March & April (Peak of Wet season | Highest rainfall levels | Forest trails are slippery)

Famous for

Gorilla Trekking


26,338km² / 10,169mi²


Central Africa

Dry Season

June – September | December – February

Wet Season

October – May

When To Go To Rwanda

Rwanda has two distinct seasons:

  • Dry Season: June – September | December – February

  • Wet Season: October – May

While Rwanda is a great year-round safari destination, with each season offering visitors a unique and thrilling experience, the best time to go to Rwanda is during the country’s dry seasons: June to September & December – February. Not only is game viewing in Rwanda at its peak, but the dry season is the best time for gorilla trekking in Rwanda.

Regarded as one of the best bird watching destinations in the world, bird watching in Rwanda is fantastic all year round, but is at its peak between October and May when migrant species are present.

Dry Season in Rwanda

Reasons To Visit Rwanda During The Dry Season

Prime time for wildlife sightings as game viewing is at its peak
Wildlife are easier to spot (particularly in Akagera National Park) as wildlife gather around water sources, waterholes, and rivers
Best time / season for Gorilla trekking | Easier trekking conditions
Optimal visibility for wildlife sightings as the surrounding vegetation thins out
Clear skies & sunny days with minimal rain
Bird watching is at its best as migratory birds are present between October & May
Even during Rwanda’s high season (June – September) the parks are rarely crowded
Best Time To Go To Rwanda
Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Wet Season in Rwanda

Reasons To Visit Rwanda During The Wet Season

Lush greenery & beautiful surrounding scenery (especially in Rwanda’s Savannah Reserves)
Rwanda & all of its surrounding parks & reserves (specifically Akagera National Prak) are filled with new-born wildlife
Bird watching is at its best as migratory birds are present between October & May
Prime time for predator activity & sightings due to the abundance of new-born wildlife
Best time for Chimpanzee trekking | Easier trekking conditions
Despite wildlife being better & easier to spot in the dry season, Rwanda’s wet season boasts equally remarkable wildlife sightings
Rwanda’s wet season coincides with its low season, this means rate drops / lower rates all around | Less crowded parks for optimal crowd-free wildlife and birdlife sightings
Incredible photography opportunities due to the beautiful, lush surrounding scenery and landscapes
Best Time To Go To Rwanda
Best Time To Go To Rwanda
Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Weather & Climate

Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Dry Season: June – September & December – February

June – August

  • Afternoon temperatures average around +/- 27°C/81°F in the east of Rwanda
  • Nyungwe has daytime temperatures of around 21°C/70°F
  • Volcanoes National Park experiences colder temperatures of +/- 16°C/61°F
  • Rwanda’s mountain parks are also known for their cooler temperatures – Especially in comparison to east Rwanda
  • Rwanda experiences minimal rainfall in most of the country during its dry season
  • It can however rain at any time in the rainforest region of Rwanda


  • While early September is still dry, the wet season rains may begin during this time
  • Temperatures generally remain the same
  • Rwanda’s mountain parks typically receive quite a bit of rain in September

Wet Season: October – May

Rwanda’s wet season is characterized by two periods of rain – the short rains & the long rains, interrupted by a drier spell.

October – December – ‘Short rains’

  • Expect high levels of rainfall during Rwanda’s wet season
  • Nyungwe & Volcanoes National Park tend to be very wet throughout the rainy season
  • Daytime temperatures in Nyungwe are +/- 20°C/68°F
  • Daytime temperatures in Volcanoes National Park drops to +/- 16°C/61°F during Rwanda’s wet season
  • The great news is that despite the higher levels of rainfall during this period, it is not likely to interfere with your safari in Akagera National Park

January & February

  • There tends to be a drier spell between the short and long rains during this period | However, the exact timing is rather unpredictable
  • Nyungwe & Volcanoes National Park is very wet between January & February & it can rain at any time

March – May – ‘Long rains’

  • March to May are the wettest months of Rwanda’s wet season
  • It tends to rain most days, although seldom for the whole day in the drier east part of Rwanda
  • In Nyungwe & Volcanoes National Park it can rain for days on end

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

Best Time To Go To Rwanda
Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda

The African continent is renowned for its once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings and encounters. However, few are as highly sought-after (or as frequently featured on traveler bucket lists) as coming face-to-face with Mountain Gorillas in their natural habitat.

Listed as one of Africa’s critically endangered species, there are approximately 1000 mountain gorillas left in the wild. These mountain gorillas can be found in the area known as the Virunga Mountains, and live in:

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda.
  • Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda.
  • Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

What is Gorilla Trekking

Imagine this: You follow a narrow hiking trail through the lushness of a tropical rainforest, wiping sweat from your eyes and feeling grateful for your hiking gaiters. Suddenly, a tracker returns from scouting ahead and excitedly halts your group – it’s time to move forward, slowly, with nothing but your camera and the thrill of anticipation. Grinning, your guide turns and whispers the words you’ve been longing to hear: ‘There they are’.

Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Gorilla Trekking is an extraordinary bucket-list worthy adventure where you hike, bushwhack, and trek deep into Africa’s Virunga conservation region and Bwindi impenetrable forest in search of rare mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.

Trekking into their native forests is the only way to see these critically endangered gorillas, as they cannot survive in captivity. Trekking for gorillas in Africa’s emerald rainforests and observing the everyday interactions of these vulnerable primates is arguably one of life’s greatest privileges and most powerful wildlife experiences.

Follow gorilla families as they go about their daily lives. Observe how a mother tenderly feeds her young while being cognisant of the cautious stare from a 200kg (440lbs) silverback as he keeps a protective eye over his troop. Locking eyes with a distant relative is a profound experience that makes spending time with gorillas in Africa an unsurpassable wildlife encounter.

Gorilla trekking is best early in the morning. Typically trackers who know the gorillas well will head off into the jungle at first light to look for their gorilla family. Once they find them, they will radio through to the rangers, who will be waiting for you at the start point – This is when the gorilla trekking adventure begins!

There are a number of different gorilla families you can visit, living in various areas around the Virunga Mountains. In Uganda there are 19 habituated (meaning they are used to humans) gorilla families in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga. In Rwanda there are approximately 10 habituated gorilla families.

**Important Note: In order for you to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda and / or Uganda you need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit. These permits can be rather costly. The cost of a gorilla trekking permit varies from one country to the next.


  • Best time: Rwanda’s Dry Months | June – September | December – February

Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Gorilla trekking in Rwanda is deemed one of the top year-round wildlife experiences in Africa. Despite it being an incredible experience year-round, Rwanda’s dry seasons are without a doubt the best time to go gorilla trekking.

Rwanda’s long rainy season lasts from about March to May. The long dry season then kicks off in June and lasts until about mid-September – this is generally the preferred time to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda. October to November sees a shorter rainy season, which is followed by a brief dry season from December to February. This is also a good time to see gorillas in Rwanda.

Rwanda’s dry seasons also offer travelers much easier hiking conditions as well as the lowest risk of malaria.


As Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is substantially smaller than Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, the mountain gorilla trekking experience in Rwanda is generally shorter and less difficult; however, Volcanoes National Park is at a higher elevation.

Best Time To Go To Rwanda

**Extra Tip: Rwanda is a little more open and therefore it is easier to get a good view.


While extremely exhilarating, gorilla trekking in both Rwanda and Uganda can be pretty tough. The trekking journey can become incredibly challenging, especially if the gorillas are constantly on the move.

Mountain gorillas are remarkably fast and move through the jungle with great ease and speed. This makes it rather challenging to keep up with them and as a result requires substantial effort and fortitude. For this reason, a moderate to high level of fitness is typically required to take on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

When embarking on your Rwanda Gorilla Trekking journey it is important to keep in mind that you are literally trekking ‘through’ the jungle. In addition to Rangers navigating you through the jungle, they are also responsible for cutting through dense sections to create a path.

The terrain can become pretty steep and slippery – Especially in the rainy season. Good hiking shoes / boots are therefore VITAL!


Both Rwanda and Uganda are renowned for their bucket-list worthy gorilla trekking experiences, offering visitors spectacular sightings of these remarkable and critically endangered mountain gorillas in the wild.

However, in the great Uganda vs. Rwanda Mountain Gorilla battle, Rwanda claims the title of being Africa’s most accessible gorilla trekking destination.

Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Not only is Rwanda smaller than Uganda (which means there is less square footage for the mountain gorillas to roam), the mountain gorillas in Rwanda are deemed easier to trek, spot, and get to than the Ugandan mountain gorillas.

Rwanda also has more than twice the number of habituated mountain gorilla groups than Uganda and so permits are generally more easily available.

**Important Note: In order for you to go gorilla trekking in Rwanda and / or Uganda you need to apply for a gorilla trekking permit. These permits can be rather costly. The cost of a gorilla trekking permit varies from one country to the next.


In order to apply for and book your gorilla trekking permits independently, you can do so through the following channels:

  • You can arrange, purchase, and secure your Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Permit independently via the IREMBO website.
  • Alternatively, you can email the Rwandan Development Board on [email protected].
  • If you are booking your Mountain Gorilla Trekking Permit through / via a company or tour, your chosen tour operator will navigate the entire process for you.


Here is a guide outlining where the best places in Africa are to see gorillas in the wild:



Gorilla Species Mountain gorillas Mountain gorillas
Best gorilla trekking destination Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park Volcanoes National Park
Best time to go All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February All year round, but driest from June to September and December to February
Trekking time Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families Up to 5 hours, depending on weather, fitness levels of guests, and proximity of gorilla families
Trekking terrain Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes Hiking at altitude through thick forested slopes
Time allowed with gorillas (excluding trekking time) 1 Hour 1 Hour

Wildlife & Birdlife in Rwanda

Birdlife in Rwanda

Best Time To Go To Rwanda

Shoebill Stork

Along with Uganda, Rwanda is a strong contender as one of the best bird watching destinations in the world. Home to nearly 700 recorded species, all found within an area smaller than Belgium, its no surprise Rwanda has established itself as a highly sought-after birding destination for avid bird enthusiasts from across the world.

Despite the fact that Rwanda does not have any endemic bird species, an abundance of near-endemic bird species can be found in Rwanda and its neighboring countries. Of specific interest are the 27 Albertine Rift endemics which can be found in the high-altitude rainforest area in and around Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest National Park.

Another birding highlight is seeing the crowning glory of the shoebill, a highly sought-after sight for the true birder.

Best Time for Bird Watching in Rwanda

Rwanda is a great year-round bird watching destination. This is primarily due to its abundance of resident birds that can be spotted right throughout the year.

Most of Rwanda’s ‘special’ birds can be found in Nyungwe Forest National Park. The birding is best here from January to June as most birds are vocal at that time.

Overall the best time for bird watching in Rwanda is during its dry season months from June to September. As forest trails are drier during this time and hiking is less difficult it makes it far easier for avid birders to enjoy sensational sightings. In addition, migrant birds are present from November to April.

Best Parks for Birding in Rwanda

  • Nyungwe Forest National Park
  • Akagera National Park.

Most of Rwanda’s birds can be found in Nyungwe Forest National Park and Akagera National Park.

Nyungwe Forest National Park is home to countless Albertine Rift endemics as well as forest ‘specials’, making it a prime birding hotspot. Akagera National Park’s sizeable lakes are the go-to for general savannah birds, including raptors and water-associated birds.

Notable birds in Rwanda:

  • African fish eagle (Common)
  • African harrier hawk (Common)
  • African Jacana (Common)
  • Red-throated alethe (Rare)
  • Shoebill (Rare & localized)

Endemic & Near-Endemic birds in Rwanda:

**(E) endemic = only lives in Rwanda
**(NE) near-endemic = also lives in neighboring countries

*There are no endemic bird species in Rwanda.

  • Congo bay owl (NE)
  • Albertine owlet (NE)
  • Schouteden’s swift (NE)
  • Red-collared babbler (NE)
  • Rockefeller’s sunbird (NE)

Other birding specials & real treats for avid birders visiting Rwanda:

  • Archer’s robin-chat
  • Beaudouin’s snake eagle
  • Blue-headed sunbird
  • Blue-shouldered robin-chat
  • Brown-chested lapwing
  • Buff-throated apalis
  • Cabanis’s bunting
  • Carruthers’s cisticola
  • Dusky crimsonwing
  • Dwarf honeyguide
  • Eleonora’s falcon
  • Grasshopper buzzard
  • Grauer’s swamp warbler
  • Handsome francolin
  • Kivu ground thrush
  • Mountain masked apalis
  • Dimorphic egret
  • Neumann’s warbler
  • Northern brown-throated weaver
  • Papyrus canary
  • Papyrus gonolek
  • Papyrus yellow warbler
  • Purple-breasted sunbird
  • Red-collared babbler
  • Red-faced barbet
  • Red-faced woodland warbler
  • Red-throated alethe
  • Red-winged francolin
  • Regal sunbird
  • Ring-necked francolin
  • Ruwenzori apalis
  • Ruwenzori batis
  • Ruwenzori nightjar
  • Ruwenzori turaco
  • Shelley’s crimsonwing
  • Shelley’s francolin
  • Shoebill
  • Short-tailed pipit
  • Slate-coloured boubou
  • Souza’s shrike
  • Strange weaver
  • Stripe-breasted tit
  • Striped pipit
  • Tabora cisticola
  • White-collared oliveback
  • White-headed black chat
  • White-winged swamp warbler
  • Yellow-bellied eremomela
  • Yellow-eyed black flycatcher

Things To Do In Rwanda

  • Mountain Gorilla Trekking

**Best place in Rwanda for gorilla trekking: Volcanoes National Park

**Best time for gorilla tracking in Rwanda: June -March (excluding November)

  • Chimpanzee Trekking

**Best place in Rwanda for chimpanzee tracking: Nyungwe Forest

**Best time for chimpanzee tracking in Rwanda: June to March (exc. November)

  • Climbing the Virunga Volcanoes
  • Embark on a Gorilla Safari adventure
  • Go on a hiking trip in Volcanoes National Park
  • Visit Rwanda’s vast and diverse National Parks and Reserves
  • Explore the largest tropical rainforest in East Africa, protected by Nyungwe National Park, where you can take on one of Africa’s highest canopy walks.
  • Hike the 7km Bigugu Mountain Trail up to the highest peak in Nyungwe National Park at 2,950m – This should undoubtedly be on every keen Trekker’s bucket-list.
  • Experience, explore, and learn about Rwanda’s rich history. Take time during your stay to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on the outskirts of Kigali, as well as the Nyamata Genocide Memorial and Ntarama Genocide Memorial.
  • Visit one of the memorial church sites further afield.
  • Visit The Gorilla Doctors – If you’re looking for a bit more ‘behind the scenes’ action than just gorilla trekking, you should definitely organize a visit with the Gorilla Doctors to gain a greater understanding and insight into the daily lives of mountain gorillas.
  • Go on exciting morning & afternoon game drives / safaris
  • Experience a thrilling night safari / game drive
  • Enjoy a Nature Walk / Guided Walking Safari
  • Go on the ultimate camping adventure in one of Rwanda’s National Parks
  • Fully immerse yourself in the unique and authentic Rwanda culture
  • Go on a night time fishing trip on Lake Kivu
  • Enjoy a fun and thrilling day out on Lake Kivu and meet some of the Kivu fishing communities. All while soaking up the stunning views of the Virunga Mountains around you.
  • Visit Rwanda’s incredible Twin Lakes of Burera and Ruhondo situated on the outskirts of Volcanoes National Park. Birdlife is spectacular here.

Best Places In Rwanda To See…

  • Mountain Gorillas – Volcanoes National Park
  • Chimpanzees – Nyungwe National Park
  • Golden Monkeys – Volcanoes National Park
  • Black and White Colobus Monkeys – Nyungwe National Park
  • African Game – Akagera National Park

National Parks & Attractions In Rwanda

Rwanda’s National Parks

  • Volcanoes National Park
  • Akagera National Park
  • Nyungwe Forest National Park
  • Gishwati-Mukura National Park

Other Places To Visit In Rwanda

  • Kigali
  • Lake Kivu
  • Gishwati and Mukura Forests
  • Huye