Map from Google - Rwanda
In Rwanda, the "land of a thousand hills", just south of the Equator, the climate is pleasantly warm
all year round, with cool nights, due to the altitude. The majority of the country is located on a plateau, at around 5,000 feet above sea level. The altitude decreases below 3,300 feet only in the western part, along the Rusizi River, which marks the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and is therefore the only area where it can get very hot, with peaks of 95 °F.
fluctuates depending on the area, from 40 to 55 inches per year, with a dry season from June to August
(and July as the driest month), and a rainy season from September to May. On closer view, there would be two rainy seasons, related to the passages of the sun at its zenith, from March to May and September to November; however, from December to February the decrease in rainfall is small, and it's just more pronounced in the north, where it drops below 4 inches per month, so we cannot speak properly of dry season. Between the two rainy seasons, the more intense is the former, and the rainiest months are usually April and May, when precipitation reaches 6 inches per month, or even more.
The rains usually occur in the form of downpour or thunderstorm, but the amount of sunshine
is never good, because the sky is often cloudy, although in the driest months, especially in June and July, the sun comes out more often.
The capital Kigali
is located at the center of the country, at 5,000 feet above sea level, and receives 37.5 in of rain per year, with a maximum in April, and a minimum from June to August, when it almost never rains. From December to February, the rains are still quite frequent. Here is the average precipitation.
Average precipitation - Kigali
The daytime temperatures hover around 79/83 °F, while at night they are about 59/61 °F, all year round. Here are the average temperatures.
Average temperatures - Kigali
In the east, the Akagera National Park is located at around 4,300/4,600 feet above sea level. To the west, Lake Kivu is at 4,600 feet.
In the south, the decrease in rainfall from December to February is felt even less, so that in fact there is only one rainy season from September to April, as you can see from the precipitation of Cyangugu, on the southern shores of Lake Kivu.
Average precipitation - Cyangugu
In Rwanda there are also mountainous areas
, in particular in the north where we find the Virunga Mountains
, a volcanic chain whose highest peak is Mount Karisimbi, located in the Volcanoes National Park
, 14,787 feet high. Along the mountain slopes, the sky is often covered by clouds; at medium-low altitude the cloud forest grows, while above 10,000 feet the climate is colder, the vegetation becomes sparser and the forest is replaced by shrubs, and at night the temperature can drop below freezing; finally at high altitude we find a cold desert.
South of the Virungas, the whole western area of the country is mountainous: in the west, in the Murambi province, the highest peaks reach 9,000 feet, while in the south-west, in the Nyungwe Forest National Park, they reach 8,200 feet. Above 6,500 feet at night it can get cold throughout the year.
In mountainous areas, rainfall is more abundant, and showers may occur all over the year.
When to go
The best time to visit Rwanda runs from June to August
, being the driest. June and July are the best months, while usually from the second half of August the rains start to get a bit more frequent.
What to pack
In winter (June to August): spring/autumn clothes for the day, sweater and jacket for the evening, sun hat, hiking shoes. For the Virunga Mountains, warm clothes, down jacket, hat, gloves.
In the rest of the year: spring/autumn clothes for the day, sweatshirt, raincoat, hiking shoes. For the Virunga Mountains, warm clothes, down jacket, hat, gloves.