When's the Best Time of Year to Visit Uganda?

Baby gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Baby gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest | © William Kane
Any time is the best time to visit Uganda. The weather varies from region to region, with the north hotter and drier than the south. There are just two seasons, wet and dry; it could rain five times in one day, but the sun will still shine, erasing any trace of a downpour, and constantly reminding you that the sun after the rain is more beautiful than the sun before the rain.

January

January is typically a dry month, so dry that the locals often jokingly refer to it as Januworry, as it tends to be dry in their pockets, too, after they spent a bit too much over the Christmas holidays. It’s the warmest month by far, although it can rain at any time. Little to no rain means that travel might be seamless, and the skies are bluer, promising beautiful photographs and passable roads. It’s a good time for a game drive, or to take a boat safari and marvel at the wildlife as it’s lured to the waterholes.

26 January is Liberation Day, Uganda’s first holiday on the calendar, commemorating the day the reigning government took power in 1986.

Rainfall:: Nine days (central), four days (north), 12 days (south)

Temperature: 27°C/80.6°F (central), 32.5°C/90.5°F (north), 22°C/71.6°F (south)

Boat safari in Lake Mburo National Park Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip

February

February is a good time to go birdwatching, the weather is still perfect for a game drive and if you’re in Kampala, you can attend the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo organised by the Uganda Tourism Board. It’s a three-day exhibition bringing together the crème de la crème of Uganda’s tourism sector to showcase Ugandan travel resources such as the diverse birdlife, the Big 7, adventure tourism, culture tourism and so much more. Enjoy the different tastes of cuisines from all corners of Uganda, a children’s play area, a mini zoo and an adventure corner with quad bikes, horse rides, traditional board games and more fun stuff.

16 February is Archbishop Janani Luwum Day, when Ugandans remember the life of the second Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda.

Rainfall: Nine days (central), seven days (north), 13 days (south)

Temperature: 27°C/80.6°F (central), 31°C/87.8°F (north), 22°C/71.6°F (south)

One of the Big 7 featuring birdlife Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip

March

March is the beginning of the first wet season. Have an umbrella with you at all times; sandals or flip flops aren’t great footwear choices, because of the poor drainage in the city and the mud out of the city. It’s the start of the low season, so prices are going to go low; take advantage of this and book into that hotel or resort that caught your eye but seemed expensive, for example Mihingo Lodge.

8 March is International Women’s Day.

Rainfall: 15 days (central), 10 days (north), 16 days (south)

Temperature: 25.9°C/78.6°F (central), 28°C/82.4°F (north), 22°C/71.6°F (south)

Mihingo Lodge Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip

April

The roads are nearly impassable in April because of the rain. Around this time, the Uganda Wildlife Authority discounts gorilla tracking permits by up to 25%. If you’re on a budget, this is a great chance for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The downside is that you can’t change your gorilla tracking permit if it pours on your tracking day, and departures go as scheduled. The trail is soggy and slippery, and therefore quite challenging. The good news is, it’s believed that gorillas tend to move to the warmer parts by the slopes during the wet months, so your hike could be short. Waterproofs are definitely essential.

Rainfall: 23 days (central), 17 days (north), 20 days (south)

Temperature: 25.9°C/78.6°F (central), 26°C/78.8°F (north), 22.5°C/72.5°F (south)

Big discounts on big primates permits © Timothy Latim

May

The rains are still in full swing, and it’s a good idea to get muddy. Go quad biking in the east along the banks of the mighty River Nile, through the villages, dodging potholes and sliding into mud puddles; as they say, ‘The wetter, the better!’ Or better yet, go west and get sporty by taking part in the annual Kyaninga triathlon, duathlon or the most beautiful five kilometres (three miles) you will ever run, along the glistening crater lake in the foothills of the scenic Rwenzori mountains; the adventure consists of six nights of rural African bliss at the luxurious Kyaninga Lodge, including a game drive, a boat safari and a chimpanzee trek.

1 May is Labor Day.

Rainfall: 17 days (central), 17 days (north), 15 days (south)

Temperature: 26°C/78.8°F (central), 28°C/88.4°F (north), 22.5°C/72.5°F

The ladies getting ready for the swim at the Kyaninga Triathlon in Fort Portal Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip

June

June is one of the best months to come to Uganda. It’s peak season, which means the skies are clear, but rates are high and gorilla permits need to be bought well in advance as it’s also the best time to track these primates. Animals roam freely out in the reserves, making spotting easier, and thrilling.

Make Uganda your wedding destination and attend the biggest Bride & Groom Expo. This three-day exhibition is a one-stop shop for everything you need for a wedding, from gowns and cakes to honeymoon lingerie and everything in between. You’ll be wowed by how far Ugandans will go to pull off a show-stopping wedding!

3 June is Uganda Martyrs Day, when millions of pilgrims from all over the world flock to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine to remember those who died for their beliefs. Pilgrims from within East African walk for weeks to make the pilgrimage. Even though a trip to Namugongo Martyrs Shrine is highly recommended while you’re in Kampala, you really shouldn’t go there on this day, as the crowds are very overwhelming and traffic is heavily restricted.

9 June is National Heroes Day, to honour those who played a major role in creating a better future for the people of Uganda.

Rainfall: 10 days (central), 14 days (north), four days (south)

Temperature: 25.1°C/70.7°F (central), 28°C/82.4°F (north), 22.5°C/72.5°F

Gowns at the Bride & Groom Expo © Bride & Groom

July

July is the coolest month pretty much everywhere in Uganda. Explore the rugged semi-arid valleys o Kidepo National Park and marvel at the unique flora and flora, or hike the sunny pretty Mount Elgon in the east or the magical snowcapped Rwenzori Mountains in the southwest for that off-the-beaten-track experience. Take a trip through Kampala, enjoy the beautiful chaos and experience the reason it’s known as East Africa’s nightlife capital.

Rainfall: 10 days (central), 16 days (north), three days (south)

Temperature: 21.5°C/70.7°F (central), 26°C/78.8°F (north), 22.5°C/72.5°F (south)

The beautiful chaos that is Kampala City Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip

August

Bayimba Festival of the Arts kicks off in August in Jinja, eastern Uganda. The country’s longstanding festival focusses on uplifting arts and culture in Uganda through cultural exchange and creativity, and it’s such an inclusive festival that it shouldn’t be missed. In the north, closing the month is the vibrant Karamoja Cultural Event; an unforgettable authentic African experience with the agro-pastoral nomadic Karamojong, it’s a four-day nomad bush camping adventure with game drives in Uganda’s remotest and best-kept secret, Kidepo Valley.

Rainfall: Nine days (central), 18 days (north), nine days (south)

Temperature: 25.2°C/77.4°F (central), 28°C/82.4°F (north), 22.5°C/72.5°F (south)

Vibrant colours at the Karamoja Cultural Event Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip

September

September is the month of Uganda’s biggest music festival, MTN Nyege Nyege in Jinja. It always rains during this festival, giving revellers every reason to dance and play in the rain. This four-day event attracts people from all over the world, showcasing underground musical acts from different parts of the continent, different tastes of African cuisines, fashion, art and so much more. Nyege Nyege is Uganda’s very own Coachella, with five stages and over 200 artists.

Rainfall: Nine days (central), 16 days (north), 13 days (south)

Temperature: 26°C/78.8°F (central), 29°C/84.2°F (north), 22.5°C/72.5°F (south)

Revellers at the MTN Nyege Nyege Festival © William Kane

October

The Kampala City Festival jumpstarts this low season with a three-day celebration of culture, innovation, unity and social life. Kampala Road, the city’s main road, is closed off to make way for stages showcasing various acts and performances, a street market, food stalls and a lot of merriment.

9 October is Independence Day.

Rainfall: 13 days (central), 16 days (north), 17 days (south)

Temperature: 25.9°/78.6° (central), 27°C/80.6°F (north), 22°C/71.6°F (south)

The Jubilee Insurance team on parade during Kampala City Festival © Jubilee Insurance / Flickr

November

Some lodges, hotels and camps in high rainfall areas tend to close because of the heavy rains. However, the Milege World Music Festival is on, another high-quality three-day event showcasing unique arts from around the world, a chance for a variety of sightseeing activities for both young and old and an opportunity to enjoy Entebbe Botanical Gardens.

November is also the season of nsenene, or grasshoppers, a delicacy in Central Uganda. Locals jokingly say that bad things are bound to happen to you if the season comes and goes without eating nsenene. Therefore, if you’re in Kampala around this time, make sure to try them out so bad fortune doesn’t befall you.

Rainfall: 14 days (central), 10 days (north), 18 days (south)

Temperature: 26°C/78.8°F (central), 30°C/86°F (north), 21°C/69.8°F

Impala passing by Zebra House Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip

December

Christmas songs blare from shops and joyous is the mood in many corners of the country in anticipation of the holiday season. There are plenty of seasonal discounts on hotels and lodges, so use this chance for you and your family to escape the dreary winter back home and experience the warmth of Uganda’s festive season!

Rainfall: 14 days (central), seven days (north), 16 days (south)

Temperature: 25.9°C/78.6°F (central), 30°C/86°F (north), 24°C/75°F (south)

A family enjoys a boat safari Olive Nakiyemba / © Culture Trip