What time of the year is best to trek mountain gorillas is one of the frequently asked questions by most travelers planning gorilla safaris. The right answer would be anytime of the year but several travelers who have trekked mountain gorillas give comparisons of which time is best to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. Extensive understanding of each season and their differences is very essential before confirming a gorilla tour. There are two different seasons in a year but the trekking experience is surely memorable despite the season. The seasons are similar in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the only gorilla destinations in the whole world. The best time to trek mountain gorillas depend on a traveler’s choice.
To many travelers, a dry season between the months of June, July, August, September, October, December and February is a best time to meet these gentle giants. Dry season is also known as peak season, which is associated with sunshine and little or no rainfall at all. During this time, hiking in the dense forests is quite easier since grounds are less slippery and muddy. Interestingly, photographing is very hence an opportunity for travelers to take good and clear photographs for remembrance. More still, transportation to gorilla national parks in remote areas is easier in dry season. Roads to and in gorilla national parks are not tarmacked which make transportation difficult in rainy season when roads are covered with mud that can sometimes lead to engine failure or sliding. For a combined gorilla and wildlife safari, dry season is best for game viewing in the open savannahs where all animals gather at different water spots in search for drinking water. However despite its goodness, peak season is surely expensive especially for budget travelers. Gorilla permits are sold at a very high cost of 1500usd in Rwanda, 600usd in Uganda and 450 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Similarly, the high occupancy in hotels or lodges within and near gorilla national parks is high in the high season, which attracts high charges for the room services, meals and the related services hence high charges for accommodations.
Wet season/low season
This season is known for heavy rains, which can shower several times a day and it takes place between the months of March, April and November. Wet season is usually associated with fewer visits and low occupancy in hotels, which give travelers a chance to meet these gentle giants out of the crowd. Gorilla tracking in low season is quite strenuous where grounds become muddy and slippery making it hard to hike through. Photography is very difficult since you have to guard you cameras from the rain. Interesting, a memorable gorilla trekking experience comes at a relatively low rate for the for gorilla permit. For those trekking in Uganda, the Uganda wildlife authority offers discounted gorilla permits at a cost of 450usd till the end of November 2017. The discount is an added advantage for budget travelers helping them to save more money to cater for other experiences like game viewing, chimpanzee trekking, bird watching and mountain climbing among others. Similarly, low occupancy of rooms in wet seasons call for a discounted hotel room rates and other room services hence an added advantage for travelers. Interestingly in rainy season, mountain gorillas descend to areas of low elevation to enjoy the plenty food which make it easier to meet these gentle giants after a short trek.
However despite the season, gorilla trekking can be done all year round and travelers are assured of memorable experiences. Its interesting that even after a heavy down pour, the sun sets in and travelers proceed with their trekking without any challenges. This makes it more interesting to see these gorillas at any time of the year. Forest weather is difficult to predict especially in Bwindi impenetrable forest national park where there is a possibility of rain showers everyday regardless of which season. The unpredictable weather make it hard to know which season is best to meet these gentle giants in the wild.
What to carry
Ensure advance planning and carry essential things if your gorilla safari is to be successful. These key things include hiking boots to ease movements via muddy and slippery grounds, rain jeers for the un predictable weather conditions, long pants, long sleeved shirts and gardening gloves to protect from stinging nettles. Porters are very helpful in carrying your baggage while walking sticks provide you with support in the hiking process.
Conclusively therefore, gorilla trekking is a lifetime experience. Do your gorilla safari in Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo at any time of the year rewarding you with a memorable experience.