Rwanda Weather and Climate
General & Geography
Rwanda (also Rwanda) is a landlocked country in East Africa. Its neighboring countries are Tanzania, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.
The country is over 26,000 square kilometers and has around 12 million inhabitants. Most of Rwanda is highlands, the central high plateau is an average of 1,500 meters above sea level. This is where Rwanda’s nickname as “the land of a thousand hills” comes from. In the north, on the border with Uganda and the Congo, there are even volcanic mountains up to 4,500 meters high.
The east of Rwanda is flatter, partly swampy and rich in water. There are many smaller and larger lakes, as well as two major rivers, the Nyabarongo and the Akanyaro. They are headwaters of the Nile. Nevertheless, the eastern stretch of land is not very suitable for agriculture due to the porous soils and the hot climate.
The Congo-Nile watershed in western Rwanda is characterized by huge gorges and steep mountain peaks. This is where the extensive mountain rainforests used to be. Today only a few of these forests are left, in which there is a very interesting flora and fauna and where most of the remaining mountain gorillas live.
The capital and largest city of the country is Kigali in the center, very close to the equator line. Over a million people live in the city, and around four million in the Kigali region. This is also where Rwanda’s only international airport is located. The other cities in the country are rather small and predominantly agricultural.
Internationally known are Butare, the capital and cultural center of the Belgian colonial era, as well as Gisenyi, a very pretty small town on Lake Kivu, which is known for its numerous colonial buildings.
While Rwanda looks back on an eventful past, the country is currently shining in a new bloom. It is considered one of the most exciting travel destinations on earth and the government is primarily focusing on the development of very sustainable luxury ecotourism. On the one hand, the permit prices for gorilla trekking were raised significantly, and on the other hand, project developments for extraordinary luxury lodges were initiated.
In addition to wilderness safaris with the Magashi Camp (Akagera National Park) and the impressive Bisate Lodge (Volcanoes National Park), the luxury pioneers Singita (Kwitonda Lodge) and One & Only (Nyungwe and Gorilla’s Nest) are also settling in the country with absolute high-end Accommodation.
Climate in Rwanda
Although Rwanda is close to the equator, due to the altitude in large parts of the country, the climate is not particularly hot, but rather mild and humid. There are no clearly distinguishable seasons, temperature differences only result from the different altitudes. In the high mountains of the Virunga massif it is quite cool with 8 to 17 ° C, in the eastern and south-eastern depressions it is significantly warmer. There can also be pronounced dry periods here.
There are basically two rainy seasons in Rwanda each year. The “big rainy season” runs from February to May and provides about half of the total annual rainfall. The smaller rainy season runs from October to the middle December and is less productive. It is usually very dry from mid-May to mid- September. The rainiest months are April and November.
When is the best time to visit Rwanda?
Basically, Rwanda is easy to travel to all year round, as the rainy season gives the country a very special atmosphere and the humidity in the rainforests is rather high anyway. In the recent past, the two rainy seasons in the country have also become increasingly vague and difficult to predict, as there were sometimes heavy showers in the dry season and also longer dry periods in the actual rainy season. Climate change does not stop at East Africa either.
Nevertheless, the classic dry season months from mid-May through June, July and August is described as the absolutely best travel time in Rwanda until September. It is also the high season in the country with the largest number of travelers. However, this also means that you should try to obtain a gorilla permit particularly early on. The dry season is also best suited for chimpanzee trekking and sporting adventures, as it has the fewest restrictions.
At the same time, we do not want to write off the rainy season in Rwanda completely, since almost all activities in the country take place all year round and the lush “Rainy Season” in Akagera National Park can even be viewed as particularly beautiful and eventful. In addition, the number of visitors is naturally significantly lower and thus better overnight prices can be achieved. However, we would like to mention the increased risk of malaria in the rainy season, so make sure you take appropriate prophylaxis.
Optimal travel time for the regions
In the following overview you can see the best travel time depending on the region (Rwanda).
|Place||Best travel time|
|Kigali||June, July and August|
|Volcanoes National Park||June, July, August and September|
Temperatures, precipitation, sunshine in Kigali (Rwanda)
|Daytime temperature||27 ° C||27 ° C||26 ° C||25 ° C||25 ° C||25 ° C||26 ° C||27 ° C||27 ° C||27 ° C||26 ° C||26 ° C|
|Night temperature||15 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C||14 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C||15 ° C|
|Precipitation in mm||69||100||106||183||92||20||9||34||86||102||127||100|
|Hours of sunshine||5||5||5||5||5||7||7||7||6||6||5||5|
The annual average temperature in Kigali is 20.3 ° C. For comparison: Munich reaches an average of 8.6 ° C, in Berlin it is 9.6 ° C. The warmest month is August (21.6 ° C), coldest month of November, with mean values of 19.4 ° C.
The annual precipitation is 1028 mm on 112 days with precipitation. For comparison: In Munich, 967 mm, in Berlin 570 mm, precipitation is measured annually. The April is considered the rainy season, since in this month are expected to more than 175 mm of rainfall. You cannot expect snow in any month in Kigali.
As our climate table shows, July is the sunniest month with an average of 7.2 hours of sunshine per day. On average over the year the sun shines for 5.8 hours per day. For comparison: In Munich and Berlin, the sun shines an average of 4.7 hours per day throughout the year.
The following larger towns are nearby and have a similar climate: Guitarama and Ruhengeri.
Sights & attractions
The main attraction of Rwanda is gorilla trekking in the remaining mountain rainforests in the border area between Rwanda and Uganda, where around 500 mountain gorillas still live in the wild today. To see these extraordinary and endangered animals in their natural environment is a unique experience. In the meantime, Akagera National Park is experiencing a real boom in terms of classic safari, with the reintroduction of lions and even rhinos, real Big Five sightings are now possible again. And all of this without the crowds of visitors that we now know from other parts of Africa.
In the Nyungwe Rainforest you can encounter the highest density of wild primates in Africa and, with a bit of luck, see chimpanzees in the wild. In addition to them, for example, colobus monkeys, mongoose and red-tailed monkeys as well as almost 300 bird species are native to Nyungwe. Round trips often continue from here to the picturesque Kivu Lake. The towns of Gisenyi and Gisenyi and Kibuye in particular have beautiful sandy beaches and offer all kinds of water sports.
The water temperature of the lake is a pleasant 24 ° C all year round. Those who like it even warmer can bathe in hot springs in Nyakabuye, which is not far away, or visit the caves of Kaboza and Nyenji. Vacationers who are particularly interested in the culture of their travel destination should definitely visit the National Museum in Butare. There are interesting insights into the history of the country and the life of its people. Tourism is still in its infancy, but it is gradually developing into an insider tip for Europeans enthusiastic about Africa.