One of the most important aspects of planning a gorilla safari is first analyzing and understanding the best time to trek Gorillas, so as to have the best of your experience as well as get value for money. This however doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy your gorilla safari during certain seasons and you will be surprised that each season offers merits and demerits. It is also worth noting that the best time to trek the gorillas most times depend on tourist’s personal preferences because as others are choosing the dry season for this adventure for the less muddy/slippery trails, others don’t mind the slippery hiking trails while choosing the wet season because it is when fruiting and flowering are at the peak thus more opportunities of spotting numerous bird species in addition to gorilla treks being considerably shorter.
Therefore, the best time to trek gorillas (Uganda, Rwanda or the DR Congo) is between June and September as well as December to February. The mentioned months are traditional dry months that make gorilla treks a lot more easy and parks more accessible due to little or no rainfalls. Nonetheless, downpours should always be expected even during traditional dry months because these rain forests sheltering mountain gorillas experience Equatorial Climate. For instance, temperatures generally don’t vary throughout the year, hence temperatures range between 24 to 30˚C but rainfall levels usually vary with traditional rainfall season being in March to May as well as September to November.
The Dry/drier season
The dry season is also the peak season, between June and September as well as December to February when trekking conditions are possibly going to be dry. These mentioned months are usually clearer and sunny thus making gorilla trekking adventures more exciting and memorable. Because the rains are low, vegetation also tends to dry, thus contributing to less challenging hikes through the mountainous slopes that will at this time of the year be less muddy and slippery.
When it comes to gorilla trekking permits for the dry months, they are on higher demand and obviously normally sell-out faster compared to the wet months. For this, tourists planning to undertake gorilla treks during the peak season have to book at least 6 months to one year in advance. Not only that, places of lodging within the Park become scarce because of the high demand of gorilla safaris and even the low-capacity places of lodging also become full earlier than you can ever think of.
Everyone will tell you that these are dry months but did you know that even as such, rainfalls are experienced all year round, owing to the country’s Tropical climate. Therefore when it comes to packing, make sure to always carry items that offer protection against the expected rains. Therefore, long sleeved shirts and long safari pants are essential to protect arms and legs against long unpleasant vegetation, strong hiking boots to comfortably maneuver through muddy and slippery trails, lightweight and comfortable rain jacket, waterproof backpack for carrying the things you will be needed during the gorilla treks, to mention but a few.
Additionally, did you know that the dry season also has a number of challenges? It is worth mentioning that vegetation becomes drier and thus food for the mountain gorillas also become scarcer, requiring them to move deeper into the forest to search for food. Therefore, travellers booking for gorilla treks during the dry season should expect to walk longer hours to find these Giant Apes but don’t lose hope because you will eventually find them in the long run.
The rainy/wet season
The wet season is what is literally referred as the low season and extends from March to May as well as October to November. Conditions during these months are said to be unfavorable for gorilla trekking because the wetness make walking more difficult and literally unbearable making most visitors to avoid them. However, it is slowly becoming hard to accurately predict climate patterns because just when you think it is a rainy or dry season, you get surprised when the opposite happens thus it is just considered luck sometimes.
All in all, Rainfall levels are usually considered heavier at some periods and not throughout the day, hence it is still possible to experience hot sunshine after it has rained and the sky cleared. Most travellers consider these months uncomfortable for gorilla trekking and therefore try as much as possible to avoid them and because of this, places of lodging tend to lower their rates during this time and gorilla trekking permits become more abundant as well as less stressful to obtain but have to still be booked some months in advance. If you consider enjoying some discounts on accommodation, then this is the best time to travel and undertake your gorilla safari.
However, it is not all that bad with the rainy season because gorilla treks have never been cancelled because of downpours and most times they go on after it has rained and sky cleared. Have you ever imagined that this season offers the best photography? After the rains, the sky is cleared of any dust thus more beautiful and also the heavy rains bring about luxuriant/greener vegetation that create perfect backdrop for photography. When it comes to gorilla treks, they tend to be shorter during the wet/rainy season. Rains obviously come along with growth of vegetation and increased fruiting thus the mountain gorillas have abundant food and this won’t require moving deeper into the rainforest to look for food, thus tourists will also go through shorter treks to find them. There are more mosquitoes during the rainy season but regardless of when you choose to trek the mountain gorillas, insect repellant is definitely a must-have because mosquitoes are not the only insects to expect in the jungles.
For mountain gorilla trekking tours, it is worth mentioning that they are only undertaken in three countries-Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo and not any other place in the World. The gorilla habitats have dense rain forests, on high mountains ranging from 2500 to 4000 meters above sea level.