Rwanda is a fantastic destination that has much to offer visitors. Whether looking for stunning mountain views or unique cultural experiences, the country has everything. However, you wouldn’t want to get to your trip’s destination and find unpleasant weather.
Doing your research before visiting Rwanda is essential if you want a memorable trip to Africa. It can help you save money by finding the best deals and planning your trip during a season that complements your traveling goals.
We’ll look at the best time to visit Rwanda, the worst time to visit, and tips on how to make the most out of your time there. Read on to learn all you need to know!
Why You Should Visit Rwanda
The country is home to some of the most remarkable primates on the planet. Here, you can witness mountain gorillas up close in their natural habitat, an experience that will stay with you forever.
You can also explore Akagera National Park for a glimpse of elephants, lions, and rhinos. The country is also known for its beautiful landscapes. It’s home to eight volcanoes, which offer stunning views.
The northernmost of these is Mount Karisimbi, the highest peak in Rwanda. Furthermore, you can take in the incredible sights of Lake Kivu. Rwanda’s cities are also worth exploring. Kigali has stunning architecture and a bustling nightlife scene.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, you can enjoy plentiful shopping. You’ll find vendors all around the country selling handmade baskets and superb coffee beans.
If you want to learn about Rwandan culture, you can visit traditional villages and enjoy storytelling, drumming, and dancing. You can also visit the local markets and try some Rwandan cuisine.
Overall Best Time to Visit Rwanda
The best time to visit Rwanda is between June and September. Because there’s less precipitation during these drier months, the conditions are ideal for viewing mountain gorillas.
The risk of contracting malaria is at its lowest during these months, rendering gorilla trekking even more popular. While going gorilla trekking outside these months is still possible, it may be more challenging because of rain and slippery trekking pathways.
Since you’ll be going through the thick, tropical jungles of Rwanda to see the mountain gorillas, you should be in a reasonably decent physical condition before setting out on your journey.
Volcanoes National Park’s landscape is most forgiving during these months, allowing you to enjoy the park’s top attractions, such as buffalos, golden monkeys, mountain gorillas, and forest elephants.
It’s also the best time to watch wildlife in Akagera National Park as they congregate around water sources. You should make your lodging and park reservations in advance.
Gorilla permits are in high demand, and you’re likely to encounter huge crowds. The Kwita Izina Ceremony takes place in June and is a significant event in Rwanda.
Newborn gorillas from the past year get their names announced at this time. Furthermore, the Rwanda Film Festival, held each September, showcases Rwandese filmmakers’ work and a collection of popular international films.
Cheapest Time to Visit Rwanda
The cheapest time to visit Rwanda is late October to November. That’s when the country welcomes the short rainy season.
During this time, the capital city of Kigali receives an average of 17 rainy days per month, but the surrounding rainforests of Volcanoes National Park receive substantially more. It’s not fun to hike in the rain since the trails get slick with all the mud.
Still, the rain isn’t as constant as it’s during the long rainy season, so you might as well take advantage of the cheaper tour and hotel rates and wider availability of permits.
Due to the low turn-up rates, lodgings, parks, and transport services are always looking for new customers. With migrating species arriving at the country’s largest national parks, including Akagera and Nyungwe, it’s also a great time to go bird watching.
Most local species are usually in their breeding plumage, rendering it the perfect time to photograph them. The months are also ideal for visiting Nyungwe to observe the habituated chimpanzee troops that live there.
When it’s raining, the chimpanzees tend to be more sedentary, making them easier to locate. To get cheap flights, consider booking your flight one week in advance.
Least Busy Time to Visit Rwanda
The least busy time to visit Rwanda is December to February. While precipitation drops significantly during this time, it isn’t as dry as the long dry season of June through October.
It’s not uncommon to experience brief periods of precipitation. It’s a perfect time for those who can’t make it to Rwanda during the long dry season or don’t want to encounter huge crowds.
The weather is pleasant for hiking, with plenty of sunshine between rainstorms and milder temperatures. Malaria prevalence is lower when temperatures are mild, but you should use anti-malaria medication.
It might be easier to obtain a gorilla trekking permit during these months than during the high season. However, be mindful that December is a festive month, and some hotels price the lodging, particularly in Kigali and the national parks, at a premium.
You can expect to meet both domestic and international visitors during this time. Set your traveling on working days because the flights are cheaper at this time.
Worst Time to Visit Rwanda
The worst time to visit Rwanda is between March and May. During these months, lengthy rains begin to fall, with the mountain regions receiving the heaviest amounts of precipitation.
Whereas you can opt to go gorilla trekking during this time of year, you should avoid it altogether. The heavy rainfall can make trails impassable and photographing challenging. Although the rainy season is considered the worst time to visit Rwanda, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
There are benefits to visiting Volcanoes National Park, including more permit options, less expensive lodging, fewer tourists, and frequently shorter hiking distances because the gorillas tend to keep to the lower slopes at this time of year.
You can enjoy chimpanzee tracking in Nyungwe, and it’s also a great time to go birding throughout Rwanda. Furthermore, the rains in Akagera National Park bring a lush greenness absent during other seasons to the park’s vistas.
Things to Consider
Consider the tips below before planning a trip to Rwanda:
- Accommodation. Accommodation options range from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts. Ensure to book your accommodation in advance to get the best prices.
- Safety. Rwanda is a safe country. The streets are well-lit, but it’s essential to exercise caution while traveling and be aware of your surroundings.
- Language. The official language of Rwanda is Kinyarwanda, but some people speak Swahili, English, and French in major cities. If you’re traversing rural areas, you’ll likely encounter communication barriers.
- Plastic bags are illegal. Rwanda outlaws the use of plastic bags. After landing at the airport, the authorities will screen your luggage, and you could be fined $150 for having one.
- Transportation. While car rentals are the most common mode of transportation for tourists on safari in Rwanda, you can take advantage of public transport if you’re on a tighter budget.
- The word Muzungu is everywhere. The locals use the term “Muzungu” to describe white people. So, don’t get nervous when you hear children calling out such names on the streets.
- Socialize. Like all Africans, Rwandese are welcoming and friendly people. If you need to ask for directions, you’ll have no trouble finding locals to assist you.
- Visa requirements. Depending on your country of origin, you may need to obtain a visa before entering Rwanda. It’s always best to check your country’s visa requirements before heading out. Ask your Rwanda Embassy if you have specific questions.
- Travel insurance. Get the right travel insurance before a trip. That should include coverage for medical emergencies, lost luggage, and cancellation.
- Currency. It’s easy to access banks and foreign exchange bureaus in urban areas. Most lodgings and motels in Rwanda’s big cities accept Visa and MasterCard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are common questions people ask before planning a trip to Rwanda:
What is the best time to visit Rwanda?
The best time to visit Rwanda is during the dry season, which runs from June to September. During this time, the skies are clear for wildlife spotting. It’s also the best time for trekking in the national parks.
How many days do I need in Rwanda?
If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday, three or four days would be enough to taste the country and its culture. But if you want an in-depth experience, you’ll need ten days to complete the Rwanda itinerary.
What to wear in Rwanda?
Men usually wear trousers, but shorts are acceptable too. However, going shirtless is considered inappropriate. Women should wear something that’s long enough to cover their knees.
You should bring light clothing and consider sun protection measures like a hat and sunglasses because daytime temperatures are typically warm.
Is Rwanda safe for tourists?
Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa. The crime rate is minimal, and the residents are warm and pleasant. Places like busy markets are prime harvesting grounds for pickpockets.
Thieves may break into your rental car, so ensure to lock the doors and keep the windows up. However, tourists are rarely the target of violent crimes in Rwanda.
Are there places I should avoid when in Rwanda?
You should consult your tour guide because they’re aware of any possibly dangerous spots. Be sure to stay away from deserted places, especially at night.
When out, it’s best to dress casually and avoid flashy necklaces or bracelets. Photographing military bases, banks, ports, airports, or post offices is strictly forbidden.
Do I need yellow fever for Rwanda?
Yes, the government requires all visitors arriving from endemic or nations with ongoing transmission to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate.
Is Kigali safe at night?
As long as you avoid lonely places, Kigali is safe, even at night. Stay away from dark unlit areas, and don’t flaunt your expensive belongings.
Don’t make it easy for potential thieves by leaving money, laptops, and other electronics lying openly in your hotel room. In addition, remember to have extra copies of your crucial documents in your hotel safe.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Rwanda?
Visiting Rwanda is a fantastic experience and one that is sure to leave you with lasting memories. With its lush landscapes, vibrant culture, safari destinations, rare mountain gorillas, incredible wildlife, and superb accommodations, the country can impress even the pickiest travelers.
The best time to visit Rwanda depends on your traveling goals. Visiting during the dry season is ideal if you want to experience the best of the wildlife.
June through September will be your best bet for an adventure of activities and sightseeing. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Rwanda today!