Rwanda is one of the most exciting destinations to visit in Africa. This small, landlocked country bordering Uganda and Tanzania holds a lot of natural and cultural wonders waiting to be experienced by curious travelers. Touchdown in Kigali, the capital, where you’ll witness how the vibrant culture of today blossomed from its recent genocide history, get a rare opportunity to encounter gorillas in the wild or traverse the diverse landscape to see why it’s nicknamed the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills.’
This comprehensive travel and climate guide is a resource to learn about the best time to visit Rwanda and things for Marchay members to do during their visit.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Rwanda?
Rwanda is a popular travel destination for exploring the wildlife in the rainforests and savannahs, volcanic landscapes, and other outdoor adventures. The best time to visit Rwanda is during the dry season when visitors can enjoy all the popular things to do in Rwanda.
Situated near the equator, Rwanda has a subtropical climate that remains moderate in the 70s year-round. The biggest change in weather throughout the year is the amount of rainfall. Rwanda uniquely has two dry seasons and two rainy seasons. For planning trips to Rwanda during the dry season, two periods are recommended for travel.
The long dry season is the most popular time to visit Rwanda. Travel between June to August to experience the driest time of year in Rwanda. Many popular locations like Kigali and Akagera National Park don’t get much rain. It’s also the best time for gorilla tracking when the rainforests have better hiking conditions and a better chance of animal sightings.
Rwanda’s short dry season is the second-best time to visit. The months of December to February also have significantly less rainfall, although it mainly occurs only in the central and east.
When Is The Worst Time To Visit Rwanda?
Rwanda is a year-round destination with beautiful landscapes, exotic wildlife, and sites to explore the country’s culture and history. The moderate climate makes it comfortable for everyone; however, rain is something that most travelers like to avoid. Rwanda has two rainy seasons where the downpour in some areas is so substantial that areas of national parks can close.
The worst time to visit Rwanda is during the long rainy season months from March to May. Rainfall peaks in April, when long rains can last multiple days in some areas. The rain forest gets lots of rain all year long, but its averages peak during these months.
Another time to avoid traveling to Rwanda is during the short rainy season in October and November. After a few months of the dry climate, the rain and cooler temperatures return for a heavy downpour.
Some tourists may prefer visiting Rwanda during the rainy season because it’s the best time to see chimpanzees in the national parks and when the country’s landscape is most vibrant with harvest seasonal for flora blooming across the country.
Consider activities you plan to do during a trip to Rwanda to determine if the rainy months are better for you.
Visiting Rwanda In The Spring
Springtime occurs directly with Rwanda’s long rainy season. It’s the low travel season in Rwanda because of the significant amount of rainfall the country experiences over these months.
Rwanda’s long rainy season lasts from March to May, with the wettest month peaking in April. While the climate remains moderate in the low 70s, there is a high chance of heavy rainfall every day. More rain occurs on the western side of the country, which has higher elevations than the east. As a result, attractions like the Nyunge Forest National Park and Volcanoes National Park can rain for consecutive days.
Travelers visiting Rwanda during the spring should prepare for lots of rain. A rain jacket is always advised when touring the country. But for those who can bear the rainfall, there are a few things best experienced during the spring.
The heavy rainfall makes spring the perfect harvest season. Explore tours around tea farms nestled in the Rwandan hillsides to see a production of one of the country’s largest exports. Also, it’s the best time of year to see chimps inside Nyungwe National Park. The abundance of food flourishing in the forests gives plenty for the animals to eat and therefore be spotted more easily.
Visiting Rwanda In The Summer
The summer months of June to August coincide with the long dry season in Rwanda. Many people consider the summer the best time to visit Rwanda because of the weather. Travelers can enjoy more outdoor activities like visiting the national parks.
Rwanda stays true to the dry season with just a couple of days on average of rain each month. The dry season peaks in July. The subtropical temperatures are at their hottest during the summer, with an average between 70-80°F. However, these temperatures can get cooler in the country’s mountainous regions.
With perfect weather, summer is the most popular time for Rwanda travel. It’s the best time to find gorillas and golden monkeys hidden within the Virunga Mountains of Volcanoes National Park, or spend a day at Lake Kivu. Keep in mind that the rainforest regions in Rwanda always have higher than average rainfall, but the dry season means that it’s slightly less rain.
The downside to traveling to Rwanda during the summer is encountering larger tourist crowds. Attractions like Volcanoes National Park limit the number of daily gorilla permits to visitors to 96, so there’s significantly more competition for the park passes in peak season.
Visiting Rwanda In The Fall
Travelers visiting Rwanda in the fall may experience a range of different weather conditions depending on the month. This is because the fall months of September to November straddle two seasons in Rwanda.
Weather conditions from the drier months usually continue until mid-September, while the short rainy season lasts from October to November. Temperatures cool slightly to the low 70s, although they can be lower in the mountain parks. Different regions in Rwanda experience different amounts of rainfall. For example, the southern region, where you’ll find Nyungwe Forest National Park, has the wettest months during the fall but is a great time for chimpanzee trekking. Alternatively, the savannahs of Akagera National Park in the east are plenty dry for African safari excursions to see the big five. Birdwatching is common during the fall when the parks around Rwanda receive several species of migratory birds from around the world.
September is a special month to visit Rwanda to experience Kwita Izina, a naming ceremony for newborn gorillas.
Traveling during the short rainy season is preferred over the long rainy season. Both seasons have the wettest months in Rwanda throughout the year, but the short season gets slightly less. Wildlife tours and other excursions have fewer people during either of these seasons, so fall can provide a more relaxing getaway from the tourist crowds.
Visiting Rwanda In The Winter
For travelers looking for an alternative time to visit Rwanda outside of the long dry season, the short dry season is just a few months away to enjoy many of the same climate perks that the season brings. Winter is the short dry season in Rwanda from December to February.
Winter is one of the unique Rwanda seasons. Most of the effects of the short dry season are in the central and eastern regions of the country. Destinations like Kigali and the Akagera National Park have a brief break from the rain, while the higher elevation western regions maintain a wet climate.
The dry, moderate climate during the winter makes Rwanda an excellent destination for winter holiday travel. Temperatures remain in the 70s, although a jacket is recommended during the night when it’s slightly cooler than the summer. Keep an eye out for the weather because there are occasional short-day showers.
Winter is one of the best times to visit Kigali. The weather is always lovely for visiting attractions around town, such as the Kigali Genocide Memorial or shopping in the Kimironko Market. Plan a trek in December, right after the rain, when you can easily spot primates before they relocate for the dry season.
Attractions & Things To Do In Rwanda
Wildlife encounters with playful gorillas, Rwanda safari excursions through landscapes that inspired the Lion King, and a moving history revealing the continued progress towards prosperity are just a few of what tourists can experience when visiting Rwanda. Whether visiting the landmarks around Kigali or venturing into the wilderness, Marchay members have access to some of the best things to do in Rwanda to fill up their travel itineraries.
— Gorilla Trekking At Volcanoes National Park
Join a travel guide on a trek through the muddy trails winding through Volcanoes National Park to find multiple families of large mountain gorillas. These friendly beasts are accustomed to human interaction and will gladly pose for photos.
— Track Chimpanzees At Nyungwe Forest National Park
Spy on chimpanzees feasting in Nyungwe Forest National Park during the rainy season as you trek beneath the canopy of this dense jungle. Expert guides take you right to the chimps to see them undisturbed in their natural habitat.
— Kick Up Your Feet At Lake Kivu
Journey west to Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes. This vast lake sits in the Albertine Rift on the border of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During the dry season, it’s a popular place for kayaking, fishing, and swimming—and you won’t have to worry about hippos or crocodiles!
— Visit The King’s Palace Museum
Get a glimpse into the former traditional lifestyle of the Rwandan monarchy at the King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza City. This large complex includes structures dating back to the Belgian colonial era and spotlight life in a royal residence. Peek inside the buildings and take pictures with the Inyambo or Royal Cows.
— Embrace Rwandan Culture At Gorilla Guardians Village
Rhythmic drums beat throughout Gorilla Guardians Village as tourists get an immersive experience in the Rwandan culture with music, dancing, and more. Watch as performers showcase traditional dances in cultural costumes, practice your aim with archery, and hear stories about the ex-poachers who founded the village.
The Bottom Line
All year round, Rwanda offers many attractions and activities for visitors to experience during their visit. Start planning a trip to Rwanda to spend time in Kigali, where the modern lifestyle continues to rise above its dark past, or take a guided expedition through the rainforests to see gorillas and other wildlife.
Travel experiences in Rwanda for Marchay members vary based on the season they visit. The dry season is the best and most popular time to visit Rwanda because of the ideal weather for an outdoor adventure. Even though the wet season is the low season in Rwanda, it’s one of the best times to see chimpanzees and other wildlife.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the rainy season in Rwanda?
Rwanda is located near the equator, so its seasons are best characterized by rainy and dry. It has unique weather patterns allowing it to experience four seasons: the long rainy season, long dry season, short rainy season, and short dry season.
Rwanda has two rainy seasons occurring at two times during the year. The long rainy season in Rwanda is from March to May. April is the wettest month in Rwanda. The short rainy season is in October and November.
The rainy season in Rwanda ranges from heavy rainfall to short rains happening sporadically during the day. It’s the least popular season to travel to Rwanda because of potential closings in national parks and other issues caused by the wet conditions.
Travelers can enjoy the rainy season in Rwanda by visiting the rainforests, where you’ll see wildlife. The rainforests are rainy all year round, although the rainy season can mean several days of consistent rain.
How long is the rainy season in Rwanda?
The rainy season is the low travel season in Rwanda. Its rainy season means lots of rainfall that can interrupt your travel plans. Alternatively, it can be the most beautiful time to visit Rwanda when the rainforests and verdant valleys show off their vibrant hues of green.
The rainy season in Rwanda lasts for five to six months, but it is split into two seasons. The long rainy season in Rwanda is from March to May. The short rainy season in Rwanda happens during October and November.
Every day feels like the wet season in the rain forests, which get lots of rain all year long. The rainy season makes this slightly higher than average.
What months should you avoid visiting Rwanda?
Rwanda is an excellent travel destination at any time of the year. However, most people prefer traveling during the dry season and avoid the rainy season months in the country. Travelers have two different periods to avoid traveling when possible, but it can also vary depending on the kind of activities they plan to do in Rwanda.
Travelers should avoid visiting Rwanda during the months of March, April, and May if they want to skip the rainy season. These months are the wettest and the least popular time to visit Rwanda. However, these months can be best for wildlife sightseeing like birds and chimpanzees.
To skip the crowds, avoid visiting Rwanda during the months of June, July, and August. These months are the peak travel time in Rwanda, and many activities and accommodations get booked quickly due to the demand.