Why Travel Here
Rwanda definitely punches above its weight when it comes to its appeal as a safari destination. One of Africa’s smallest and most densely populated countries, it still offers incredible wildlife experiences in pristine habitats, thanks to a far-sighted approach to conservation.
The big drawcard has long been the presence of a protected and cherished population of IUCN red-listed critically endangered mountain gorilla, and trekking up a misty volcano to encounter one of our closest animal relatives is an experience that is both humbling and uplifting all at once.
Rwanda’s renaissance is a remarkable African success story, and has put this country – which punches well above its weight in terms of the experiences it offers – very firmly on the safari map. The country’s growing confidence has been reflected in a resurgence of interest and pride in the country’s traditional culture, with performances by white-maned dancers creating an unforgettable spectacle.
While the gorilla are not to be missed, the chimpanzee of Nyungwe Forest and the wildlife of Akagera National Park (including recently reintroduced black rhino, and incredibly diverse birdlife) can wonderfully round out Rwanda safari itineraries.
On the map
Through The Year
Rwanda should by rights have an equatorial climate, but due to the high elevation of much of the country, it’s more temperate. Rwanda receives an average annual rainfall of some 800mm, but this is concentrated more in the mountainous north and west. There are four distinct seasons in Rwanda, and being aware of the specifics of each can help when planning Rwanda safaris – although this small nation can be seen as a year-round destination.
This is the long, wet season, when there’s a very good chance of daily rainfall, although this tends to be in short-but-sharp downpours interspersed with periods of bright sunshine. All of Rwanda’s national parks and reserves remain accessible, but gorilla trekking may be more difficult due to the generally wetter and more slippery conditions underfoot.
The long wet season is followed – like clockwork – by a dry season of similar length. Temperatures remain relatively constant year-round, but rainfall is radically less, although – again, especially in the Virunga mountains – precipitation is always a possibility. Gorilla trekking is the easiest now, due to dry paths and trails, making this the most popular time to visit Rwanda. More forward planning in terms of gorilla permits is required.
Rwanda’s short wet season sees similar conditions to its longer counterpart, with a very good chance of daily rain (especially in the mountains). As between March and May, daily average temperatures range from 15°C to 27°C, although humidity can be high. The rainy seasons does offer the best chimpanzee viewing in Nyungwe Forest, as with food more readily available, these primates don’t need to disperse in search of it.
Another particularly popular time for Rwanda safaris, the short dry season also makes for excellent mountain-gorilla trekking in the Virungas. The trackers and game rangers know how the movements of the gorilla change with the seasons, and this knowledge, plus drier trails, makes for easier hiking. As with the longer dry season, this tends to be an optimum time to view game in Akagera National Park.