The best time to plan for your Uganda safari trip with accurate travel advice.

For many, a trip to Uganda is the best vacation they’ll ever take in their lifetime and knowing the best time to plan for your safari trip is rewarding justice for a great Africa vacation. This part of the world possesses treasures no other place on earth can duplicate—an extraordinary legacy of the still primitive, still wild, still free, and all this on a wide scale.

That legacy includes not only the mountain gorillas, big game, small game, bird life, and other fascinating life forms but also the opportunity of seeing and meeting the descent, unpretentious, friendly local people themselves.

But basically it is the tremendous assemblage of wildlife, the spectacle, that is the chief drawing card for Uganda safari trips and all happen on open plains, mountains, forests and for one to be concerned about the best time to enjoy this extraordinary legacy, it’s quite understandable.

Uganda is part of the economically integrated East African Community (EAC), which includes pioneer safari destinations like Kenya, Tanzania and the fast growing Rwanda.

All these destinations share almost the same weather patterns but as you move west into the higher altitudes, the weather gets cooler and wet in the mountains. Carefully taking into consideration the weather and what activities to do when, will reveal the best time for a trip to Uganda.

Let’s take a look month-by-month by weather and climate details.

Best Time For A Uganda Trip

By Weather and Climate

Uganda, like Kenya, Dr Congo and 10 other countries, straddle the equator, which means there is little annual fluctuation in temperatures. The hottest average temperature rarely exceeds 29° Celcius (84° Fahrenheit) in the capital Kampala and environs

But as you head towards the northern regions of the country, the hottest day time temperatures average between 24-33° Celsius (52-91° Fahrenheit) with peaks up to 40° Celcius (104° Fahrenheit) in the extreme north towards Kidepo National Park. And this usually during the months of January and February.

The Dry season in the north ranges from December through February and Wet season from March through to November. This encompases Murchison Falls NP, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, Kidepo NP and Pian Upe Game Reserve.

Sandwiched between the Rwenzori mountains, Virunga Massif and the massive Lake Victoria, the south western region—where almost all major parks are found—has two Wet seasons: the first running from mid-September through to November and the other running from March to May. But what you should note as you visit this region is that it can really rain at any time of the day. 

The Dry Season

June to August and December to February

Average temperatures during the Dry season get as low as 16° Celcius (61° Fahrenheit) in the morning and as high as 27° Celcius (81° Fahrenheit) in the afternoon. In higher altitudes, like where the gorillas are found, at 1,300 m (4,265 ft) it gets chilly. 

June, July & August

June and July are the driest months in the southwestern region, but expect to see some rains because this is a rainforest region. Unlike the southwest, these months form part of the Wet season in the north regions. But if you’re heading to the far north, to Pian Upe or Kidepo Valley, the region is semi-arid and can experience droughts during this period.

December, January & February

Compared to June and July, most of the south-west region gets a little more rainfall. But the north is clearly dry with little or no rain. 

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Travel Advice

In general, the Dry season is the best time for gorilla trekking trips because the forest floors are less damp, trails are passable and you’re sure you and your photography equipment will not get drenched in the torrential downpours. However, you shouldn’t rule out rain because you’re hiking in a rainforest.

During this same time in the wildlife savannah reserves, the skies are clear, less rain, more sunshine and vegetation is less. The water holes are practically at this time and the animals gather around main water sources, making wildlife easier to spot. This is the best time to take that boat launch safari on Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth NP and on Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls NP.

The high travel season in Uganda is usually during this time (June through to September). Unlike Kenya and Tanzania, the savannah parks in Uganda during this time don’t feel crowded and you can almost privately enjoy vast savannah plains to yourself.

Because most travellers will prefer to visit Uganda during the Dry season, Gorilla Permits become scarce during this time. You’re advised to book your way in advance, at least 4-12 months earlier to avoid disappointments.  A gorilla permit in Uganda costs US$700 pp from Uganda Wildlife Authority.

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Wet season

March to May and September to November

Average temperatures during the Dry season get as low as 16° Celcius (61° Fahrenheit) in the morning and as high as 28° Celcius (82° Fahrenheit) in the afternoon. In the gorilla mountains at higher altitudes, it gets chilly and warmer in the north.

March, April & May 

During these months of the Wet season, there’s more downpour throughout the country and peaking in April in the southern region. This is not the best time for a trip to Uganda because most days rain can make navigating some trails difficult for you. But it does not rain throughout the time, some days have warm sunshine as well.

September, October & November

These months are commonly referred to as the months of short rains and are comparable to March, April and May but, on average, there is a bit less rain.

Travel Advice

It’s Low season in Uganda during Wet season, hotels, camps and lodges are charging lower rates because there’s less travel traffic. If you don’t mind a downpour once a day and are looking to travel on a budget, this is the best time for a Uganda trip.

This is the period when the country is at its most beautiful, the savannah plains and the whole country is covered in green and photography is at its best especially when the sun shines over the afternoons.

Although wildlife in the savannah reserves is harder to spot in the Wet season due to high vegetation and animals spread all over the plain, you’ll still see plenty of newborn and witness concomitant gut-wrenching thrills when hungry predators battle with vigilant mothers or snatch the helpless young.

Some of the roads get very bad, bridgets are washed away by heavy rains and cars often get stuck especially in the gorilla mountains where roads are not yet paved with tarmac. The rainforest trails can become damp, slippery and challenging.

Some savvy travellers choose November to go for a gorilla trip in Uganda because this is when the gorillas don’t forage too far from the trailheads. The gorillas can find food easily and prefer to stay in lower altitudes to avoid the freezing temperatures up. In other words, gorilla trekking is easier in the month of November ignoring that it could be raining.

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It’s important to note that you won’t be able to change your expensive gorilla permit if it pours with rain and you chose not to trek, the UWA officials stick to departure times and go as scheduled. 

Onward

No matter what your preferences may be, it is soon apparent that Uganda’s wilderness is extremely variable making it difficult to choose the best time to plan your trip to Uganda. Destination Uganda will connect you directly to a local operator with ground knowledge on everything you need for your Uganda safari trip combining the elements you prefer in one trip. They will offer outstanding assistance and convenience by their expert knowledge of the region and network of reliable accommodation suppliers, logistical team partners, guides, and ranger informants who make it possible to offer unrivaled service in crafting the best possible solution to your preferred style of travel.  travel@destinationuganda.com