Looking into the eyes of a mountain gorilla is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But there is plenty more on offer in Rwanda. Volcanoes National Park is the place to be for gorilla trekking. Chimpanzees and 12 other primates can be found in Nyungwe National Park, and Akagera National Park is home to the Big Five. For some relaxation, why not stay a few days on the shore of scenic Lake Kivu.

Rwanda is one of only three countries that are home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Seeing these gentle giants in their natural environment, the bamboo zone of the dramatic Virunga Mountains, is an unforgettable experience. Similar to a gorilla trek, you can also track habituated chimpanzees and golden monkeys.


Almost everybody who visits Rwanda to see wildlife goes gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park. Other exciting subjects for trekking include the same park’s golden monkeys, and the chimps and Ruwenzori colobus of Nyungwe. More sedate safari activities such as game drives, night drives and boat trips are available in Akagera. All Rwanda’s parks offer superb bird watching, and spectacular day hikes can be undertaken in Volcanoes and Nyungwe National Parks.


Aside from 15 primates, Rwanda is home to another 136 mammal species. To see any of the usual safari animals, you need to go to Akagera National Park, a scenic savannah reserve in eastern Rwanda. Here you’ll see elephants, buffalo, zebras, giraffes and plenty of antelope species such as topi, impala and defassa waterbuck. Black and white rhinos, as well as lions, have recently been reintroduced.

Gorilla trekking is available throughout the year and sightings are pretty much guaranteed. However, the Dry season, from June to September, offers the best tracking conditions. This is also the best time for general wildlife viewing in Akagera. The wettest months, March and April, are best avoided.

Weather and Climate

Straddling the equator, Rwanda has little fluctuation in temperature throughout the year and no real winter or summer. There is a defined Dry season from June to September. January and February are drier months in the middle of the Wet season (which runs from October to May).

In general, the east of Rwanda, including Akagera National Park, shares the warm climate of Kigali. However, it never gets extremely hot due to the relatively high altitude. The parks in the western mountainous area, including Volcanoes, Nyungwe and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks, are a lot colder with daytime temperatures around 16°C to 21°C (61°F to 70°F), due to the even higher altitude. The temperature drops by about 6.5°C for every 1,000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 1,000ft). The latter three parks are also a lot wetter due to the mountain peaks and rainforest habitat.

Dry Season – June to September

There is little rainfall during these months in most of the country, but it can still rain at any time in the rainforests.
  • June, July & August – In the east of the country, afternoon temperatures are usually around 27°C/81°F. In the mountain parks it is a lot colder. Nyungwe has daytime temperatures of around 21°C/70°F, and Volcanoes NP is even colder with temperatures around 16°C/61°F.

  • September – Early September is still dry, but sometime this month the rains may begin. Temperatures remain the same. The mountain parks will receive quite a bit of rain in September.

Wet Season – October to May

The Wet season is characterized by two periods of rain, the short rains and the long rains, interrupted by a drier spell.
  • October, November & December – ‘Short rains’: Nyungwe and Volcanoes NP tend to be very wet throughout the rainy season. Daytime temperatures in Nyungwe are about 19°C/66°F and in Volcanoes NP it drops to 15°C/59°F. The rains probably won’t interfere with your safari in Akagera.

  • January & February – There tends to be a drier spell between the short and long rains. The exact timing is unpredictable. In Nyungwe and Volcanoes NP it will still be very wet and it can rain anytime.

  • March, April & May – ‘Long rains’: these are the wettest months. It tends to rain most days, although seldom for the whole day in the drier east part of the country. In Nyungwe and Volcanoes NP, it can rain for days.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit Rwanda is between June and September, which is during the Dry season when wildlife viewing is at its prime. Primate walks in the forest are a big part of any safari in Rwanda. The habitat of rainforests is, by default, very wet and one can’t avoid rain completely. Walking in the forest is easier in the Dry season and that is also the recommended time for most primate walks, including gorilla trekking.

Overall, all the parks are best visited in the Dry season, from June to September. In Akagera National Park, wildlife is easier to spot when the vegetation is thinner, and animals gather around the lakes. Nyungwe, Volcanoes and Gishwati-Mukura National Parks are also best visited in the Dry season when hiking trails are drier. Gorillas and chimps can be seen at any time, but the experience is generally more pleasant in dry conditions.

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