When is the best time to visit Gorillas?
when is the best time to visit gorillas? : Visiting gorillas is a life time experience however it is advisable to know the best time to trek these wonderful creatures as it is very essential. Mountain gorilla trekking is carried out in the rainforests of Bwindi Impenetrable national park and Mgahinga Gorilla national park, both these park are located in south western part of Uganda close to Rwanda border of Cyanika and Katuna. Gorillas can also be trekked in Rwanda – Volcanoes national park and the Democratic Republic of Congo – Virunga nationals park. These three countries are the only destinations in the world where travellers’ can see the mountain gorillas and the best time to see the mountain gorillas in the 3 countries is the same.
Mountain gorillas are trekked throughout the year however it is best you know the right time to visit the gorillas. Equatorial Uganda is blessed with warm and tropical climate with unpredictable weather variations making it a unique destination to visit throughout the year. Uganda has average temperatures of about 21 or 70 degrees Celsius and temperatures can drop to a minimum of about 12 degrees Celsius or 54 degrees Fahrenheit in the night. Given that the Equator crosses through Uganda, rainfall ranges between 1,000 to about 2,000 millimetres every year depending on the time of the year. There are dryer months and wetter months so visitors should plan to visit at the best period. Therefore we have two seasons of gorilla trekking, High season and low season.
High season; the high seasons are the periods several travelers flock the country thereby gorilla permits are on a high demand. This requires travellers to book gorilla permits months before the high season begins. These high seasons are called high because they are the dry seasons of the year. Dry seasons are the best and perfect periods to visit the mountain gorillas. Uganda is blessed with good weather conditions and the gorillas live in montane rainforests where the climate is cool throughout the year. During the high season, accommodation facilities increase the price due to competitiveness of gorilla permits and due to this demand and higher costs of our neighboring gorilla trekking destination Rwanda where a gorilla permit is US$1,500 per person, Uganda Gorilla permits were increased to US$700 per person as of June 2020. This cost is for both high and low seasons.
- January; January lies in the short dry months making it the best time to visit gorillas and wildlife. The grounds are dry making the trekking easier even in the rain forests of Bwindi and Mgahinga given the altitude that provides cooler temperatures. There are small rains experienced during this month however they do not affect your gorilla trekking experience.
- February; February also falls under the dry seasons of the year, however during this time, the visitors numbers begin to drop and prices likely to change accordingly especially for accommodations. Apart from being the best month to visit gorillas, February is also good time for bird watching, and game viewing. February marks the end of the dry season and during this period vegetation start to become sparse, primates and wildlife become easier to see as they tend to gather around the remaining waterholes.
- June; June makes the beginning of the dry season again after February making it one of the best months to see gorillas. Accessibility of national parks is much easier as it is the peak season. Gorilla permits are very competitive and if permits are not booked 5 months before June, they will not be able to see gorillas.
- July; July is knows the best month to travel in the world because it lies in the dry season, having weather patterns, warm temperatures and less rain. This makes gorilla trekking activity accessible although it comes with higher prices.
- Augusts; August is as well a fantastic month to travel for gorilla trekking experience although it lies in the late period that marks the end of the dry season. August gives a true overwhelming experience because visitors are able to visit gorillas when the weather is at its peak. Other than gorillas, it is also much easier to see wildlife especially the big 5 game.
- September; The month of September is usually categories as a high season and it marks the beginning of the wet season however some rain drops are experienced as the month comes to an end. Gorilla trekking is recommended in this month and visitors can still plan to visit despite the rains.
- December; December is one of the most popular travel month in the world. During this time, the rains are very minimal which makes the accessibility of gorillas much easier, the grounds are dry which makes primates trekking activities very manageable. December is a busy month with a lot of holidays hence need for a vacation therefore need to book everything in advance to secure permits.
Low seasons; the low seasons are the periods when the demand of gorilla permits is quite low and very few people travel during the low seasons. The low seasons are called low simply because of the heavy rainfalls experienced during this time of the year. This is the best time for low budget visitors’ travel even though the gorilla permits cost the same as high seasons. However, the accommodation prices are reduced given the lower numbers of visitors during this season. Another advantage of the low season is that with less number of people trekking mountain gorillas, there is very close interaction with the gorillas without congestion. However despite the advantages of the low seasons, during the rain seasons, the roads and trails are very muddy and slippery giving difficulty in gorilla trekking and access of the trekking sectors. It’s also during this season that the gorillas tend to become scarce and difficult to find as most of them keep moving. Even though heavy rains are experienced during the low season, not all day is lost in rain, the sun shines for a short while giving chances for activities to continue their activities.
- March; March marks the beginning of a long rainy season however this does not mean that the rains are off limits. Even though the rainforest are too much during this season, it is possible to visit the gorillas and other wildlife because after the rains, the skies brighten up after downpour. There will be plenty of accommodation availability.
- April and May; Both April and May are continuing long months for rains. During these months, landscapes are usually lush and verdant making gorilla trekking difficult however, the vegetation creates stunning backdrops for great photography.
- October; October month marks the beginning of the shoulder season and during this month, the weather is unpredictable and the temperature are most likely to remain warm. Gorilla trekking is possible this time. Apart from gorillas, Birds are also best seen in this month
- November; November month marks the end of the wet season and during this month the vegetation still flourishes and still green providing enough food for the wildlife and primates. As a shoulder month, accessing park facilities is much easier.
Therefore in conclusion, Uganda and Rwanda, gorilla trekking is done on a daily basis whether in a high or low season, wet or dry seasons hence gorillas can be visited throughout the year and that is why the gorilla permits are on the same price where in high or low season.