As a tourist destination, Uganda is a very unique place and continues to be ranked among the best places to visit on the African continent.
From the snow-capped mountains, the source of the river Nile, abundant wildlife, gorillas and around 50% of all bird species in Africa, there is something for everyone. Much as Uganda's equatorial climate is warm and sunny all year round, there is a favourable time for the many possible activities that you can partake in during your Ugandan safari.
In this article, we'll take a look at the best times to visit Uganda for the various popular activities, such that you can plan your trip with enough information - and thus enjoy every moment of your safari.
Best Overall Time To Visit Uganda
Generally speaking, the best time to visit Uganda is during the dry season months between June and September, as well as between December and February. This time is ideal for most activities especially wildlife viewing and gorilla tracking.
The dry season makes it easy to find lots of animals in the savannah parks - near the water sources. Dry months also make gorilla and chimpanzee tracking slightly easier and free of slippery trails.
These months are the peak season of tourism and often have many travellers, thus you should book ahead of time since gorilla and chimpanzee permits often get sold out on most days.
Uganda has 2 major seasons - dry and wet. There are 2 wet seasons and 2 dry seasons in the year.
|1||Wet (Rainy) Season||March, April, May, October, and November|
|2||Dry Season||January, February, June, July, August, September, and December|
The month of April has the most amount of rain and is the least favourable for safari since disruptions due to the rain are most likely.
Since the general climate is equatorial, the temperatures are always warm and comfortable never going beyond 30o Celcius even on the hottest of days.
Uganda's climate is also affected by altitude and natural features such as lakes and mountains.
On top of Mountains like Rwenzori and Elgon, the temperatures can fall below zero while in Kampala and the neighbouring areas, Lake victoria influences rain and makes it quite unpredictable.
The Kigezi highlands where Bwindi is found are much cooler than the rest of Uganda and have chilly nights.
Best Time To Visit Uganda For Gorillas
The best time to visit Uganda for mountain gorilla tracking is between June and September as well as December to February. This is during the dry season when the possibility of rain is reduced and the forest hikes are slightly easier.
Since gorillas are found in high altitude areas (more than 2000 metres above sea level), the temperatures are cool and the nights are cold. The combination of high altitude and thick rainforest means that it could rain at any time, regardless of the season.
Therefore you still have to pack and plan with that in mind.
The dry season just means you won't experience very long rains in the middle of a dark forest. The dry season is peak tourism season for gorillas and gorilla permits should be bought months in advance since they are limited.
If you prefer little or no crowds, the wet season months might be ideal for your visit. Going at the tail end of the dry season (March & September) might be a clever way of avoiding torrential rain and crowds.
Related article: Common Questions About Gorilla Trekking
When To Visit Uganda For Chimps
Besides gorillas, Uganda is also visited by people who want to see chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The best time to see chimpanzees in Uganda is between the dry season months of June and August as well as from December to February.
The dry season makes it easier to move around the forest and the ripe fruits make it easy to observe chimps as they feed in a single place.
Like gorilla permits, chimpanzee tracking permits are also limited and getting one in this high season should be done ahead of time. Unlike gorillas, chimpanzees can be tracked twice a day and the permits don't run out quite as often as gorilla permits.
To avoid the crowds, the months of March and May can have less rain as well as fewer crowds.
Related article: 13 Captivating Facts About Chimpanzees
Best Time For Uganda Wildlife Safari
Wildlife in Uganda can best be viewed in the dry season months when animals congregate near the water sources. Except for Kidepo Valley National Park, this dry season happens between June and September as well as from December to March.
Kidepo is located in the north along the border with South Sudan and its rainy season happens when it is the dry season in the lower half of Uganda.
While the wet season might not provide many chances for seeing so many animals gathered closely, it is when most animals give birth to their newborns. The clear skies and lush vegetation are also great for photography.
When To Visit Uganda For Birding
Uganda has more than 1000 different bird species and is considered highly by enthusiastic birders. Birds are best observed in the wet season when most birding are breeding.
Birding in Uganda happens in all the national parks and around major water bodies. The best time to visit Uganda for birding is therefore during the wet season months, between March and May as well as September to November.
Popular birding destinations include Bwindi, Bunyonyi, Mabamba, Bigodi, Queen Elizabeth, Mabira, Kidepo, Rwenzori and Murchison Falls among others.
Related article: Top birding spots in Uganda
While there is a general time that suits each activity, we know that each person is different and has their own preference. As you plan your Uganda safari, you will have to consider other things such as your work schedule, your budget, the group you are travelling with and much more.
The ideal time for a birder is different from that of a photographer and equally different from that of someone who wants to see gorillas or climb some mountains.
We hope this article gives you an idea of what can best be done in Uganda in the various periods of the year.