What is the best time to trek gorillas?

What is the best time to trek gorillas?

Gorilla trekking is an all year-round primate adventure. Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo – the three (3) premier gorilla trekking destinations are located astride the Equator. Their strategic location to the Equator makes them enjoy favorable weather and climatic conditions throughout.

best time to trek gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo

However, the extended dry season is often considered to be the best time to trek gorillas in Uganda, Rwanda and Congo. Every year, Uganda and Rwanda experience 2 (two) drier seasons- the long/extended dry spell that runs from June, July, August to September. The short dry season runs for about 3 months that is from December, January to February.

The extended and short dry seasons experience favorable conditions for mountain gorilla trekking. Visiting Uganda or Rwanda during any of these seasons lets you enjoy a trek to see mountain gorillas with no worries of muddy ground/slippery steep slopes.

The dry season also happens to be the peak/high season across the gorilla safari destinations in Uganda and Rwanda. Being the peak season, the demand for gorilla permit increases and we always advise our visitors on Uganda gorilla safari or with plans to visit Rwanda to trek gorillas to secure their gorilla permits in advance.

Low/wet season

The low/wet season is another important season of the year that tourists should put into consideration when planning for their gorilla safari holidays in Uganda, Rwanda or D.R. Congo. The low/off/wet season is often avoided by some travelers for some reasons including unfavorable weather conditions such as heavy rains resulting into muddy grounds, slippery steep slopes. Such conditions make it a little challenging navigating through the dense vegetation and steep slopes to search for gorilla families.

The off or low season is experienced twice a year just like the dry season. The extended rainy/wetter/off/low season runs from March to May and the short rains are experienced from October to November of every year.

Like the dry season, the wet/rainy/low season also has its positive side. The advantage of trekking gorillas during the wet or rainy season is that there is plenty of forage for mountain gorillas to feed on. The abundant forage means their movement to long distances is reduced in order to search for what to feed on unlike during the dry season which comes with scarcity.

While the wet season at times guarantees tourists short gorilla treks, on the other hand, a search for mountain gorillas in their habitat involves navigating through the dense vegetation. Heavy rains favor vegetation growth unlike the dry season with low or no rains and the vegetation can be clear.

What to pack for gorilla trekking?

Knowing the best time to trek mountain gorillas is essential in that it guides you when planning for a successful gorilla safari in Uganda or Rwanda. Now that you have understood the best time to trek gorillas, the next step should be choosing what items to pack for your gorilla trekking safari.

Not every items deserves to be packed but for a memorable gorilla trekking experience, what shouldn’t miss out of your packing list include waterproof hiking boots, trousers, long sleeved shirts or t-shirts, sweater, daypack;

Flash-free camera with extra batteries and memory cards, gardening gloves, pair of cotton socks, safari hat, first aid kit, rain gear/jacket or poncho, high energy giving snacks, insect repellents, sunscreen, bottled water, toiletries and more.

Where to go to trek gorillas

The 3 outstanding gorilla trekking destinations in Africa include Uganda, Rwanda and D.R. Congo. These protect a total of 1063 mountain gorillas that are currently left on the planet earth with half of them all residing in Uganda alone.

There are 2 ideal gorilla trekking locations in Uganda that is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. The two Uganda gorilla location are all straddling right in the extreme South-western part of the country.

In Uganda, tourists have 21 habituated gorilla families to visit/trek, each takes maximum of 8 tourists per day. To visit any of Uganda’s habituated gorilla families, a valid gorilla permit must be obtained and as of 2022/2023, gorilla permits for Bwindi and Mgahinga remain at USD700 per person (for foreign non-residents). East African citizens obtain gorilla permits in Uganda at UGX 250,000 and foreign residents at USD600 per person.

In Rwanda, all gorilla treks are done in only Parc Nationale Des Volcans/Volcanoes National Park located in Ruhengeri, North-west of the country. This park extends up to only 160sq.kms of land area and has about 12 habituated gorilla families.

Kinigi is the right place to start gorilla trek in Volcanoes National Park which is 2-3 hours’ drive from Kigali city. Tourists can enjoy gorilla treks in Rwanda provided they have valid gorilla permits each costing USD1500 per person and visitors with plans to track the entire gorilla family with special park guide service, you pay US15000.

Congo has 2 gorilla trekking locations; the Virunga National Park for tourists interested in mountain gorilla trekking and Kahuzi-Biega National Park for eastern lowland gorilla tracking. Regardless of the destination, a valid gorilla permit is a key requirement and each is available for booking at USD450.