What is the best time to visit Rwanda?

Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills is a bucket list destination mostly for the famous gorilla trek, which can be supplemented with other exciting experiences and adventures such as chimpanzee trekking, volcano hiking, big five safaris in Akagera National Park, and art and culture tours among others.

After deciding to visit Rwanda the next question on the minds of travelers is what could be the best time to make the trip to Rwanda?

Well, first of all and very important to know, Rwanda is one of the easiest, if not thee easiest country to visit in Africa because no matter where you are from you do not need to apply for a visa in advance. No! You simply fly to Rwanda and have your visa given to you on arrival with no hustle. This is an “open door policy” Rwanda operates.

You can visit Rwanda at any time of the year, it is beautiful and safe all the time. However some factors may influence on the best time for you to decide to visit which I discuss below:

Best Weather season (dry season vs wet season)

There are two weather seasons in Rwanda (dry season and wet season) and the best time to visit Rwanda is during the warm/dry season which is from June to mid-September and from December to February. The dry or warm season receives little to no rains which makes travel and outdoor activities much more convenient. Thankfully the long dry season from June to September coincides with the summer time when a lot of people take vacations.

However, it is not entirely bad visiting Rwanda during the wet/rainy season from March to April and October to part of December when there are more frequent rains, because the scenery is at its best and there are no crowds so you will have near exclusivity at a lot of activities. However you have to be ready for any interruptions by rains (be ready with rain gears). Also be ready for harder trekking because of the slippery and muddy trails, but gorillas, chimps and other wildlife in the mountains is ever more beautiful.

Best time for some tours/activities

Best time for trekking and safari

Trekking in the mountains to see the gorillas and golden monkeys in Volcanoes National Park and chimpanzees in Nyungwe forest is best done during the dry season (June to Sept, Dec to Feb) because the trails will be dry and therefore hiking is easier. However the animals are seen throughout the year.

The big game safari in Akagera National Park is also better done in the dry season as you can explore all trails easily with no worry of getting stuck in the mud. Wildlife may also be easier to see because of the shorter dried grass. The grass and bushes are thicker during the wet season which can hinder animal sightings. However the wet season brings the best scenery in Akagera with lush greenery landscapes.

Best time for birding

To get the best from your birding tour to Rwanda the best time to visit Rwanda is during the bird migration season. The Palearctic birds escaping winter start arriving in October and leave by May, so if you want to record the biggest checklist of birds in Rwanda the Palearctic migration season is the best time to visit, more so from the time after December when they start putting on the colorful plumage.

However, if your interest is only the resident species, more so the Albertine rift endemics then any time of the year is fine, more so after the migrants have left so that your identification is easier.

Kwita Izina baby gorilla naming ceremony

Kwita Izina gorilla naming day in Rwanda is one of the most beautiful ceremonies to attend in Rwanda. The Kwita Izina ceremony is about naming baby gorillas that were born in the last year and it is a colorful and eventful ceremony where Rwandan cultures and traditions are at display through dances and songs. The ceremony is carried out at the foot of the Virunga mountains in the north of Rwanda. It is attended by international celebrities and important persons that are invited to give the gorillas names.

You can plan your gorilla trekking trip for during the Kwita Izina ceremony which is often planned for the first week of September

Is there a bad time to visit Rwanda?

It is safe to visit Rwanda all throughout the year, but these times may feel uneasy for you while in Rwanda so may be you can avoid visiting, or may also be a good time to visit for these particular experiences

Kwibuka (Genocide remembrance)

Every month of April on 7th Rwandan remembers the Genocide against the Tutsi, a dark time in the history of Rwanda which casts such a blanket of misery all across Rwanda. The ignites the horrors of the genocide for those that were alive or lost their loved ones during the genocide in April 1994.

The mood on this day and next subsequent is so sad that as a visitor you may feel such uneasiness and a feeling of emptiness may grip. This is possibly the worst time to visit Rwanda.

Umuganda day – cleaning day (last Saturday of the month)

Not necessarily a bad time to visit Rwanda, actually it may be a good time to visit and witness how Rwanda has managed to be one of the cleanest and tidiest countries in Africa through Umuganda day. Umuganda day is the last Saturday of every month when all citizens get out with shovels, brooms, rakes and other tools to clean their communities. No one is exempt except those involved in emergency services such as health and security.

The downside to this day is that for the first half of the day the country is literally under quarantine from 8am to 11am so no movement is allowed. If you need to get somewhere you may be highly inconvenienced by this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *