Straddling the equator is Uganda, a landlocked country with climate that is fluctuating all year round and no real winter or summer. The hottest months are January and February when the average daytime range is 24-33°C (52-91°F) with peaks of up to 40°C/104°F in the far north. The south has two Wet seasons: from mid- September to November and March to May. The Dry season from December to February means only that it rains less and the gorilla parks remain fairly wet during these months. The second Dry season – from June and July – is considerably drier. Still, with 1000 to 2000mm (39.4-78.7in) of rain every year, it can rain at almost any time. The north, including Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley, has one continuous Wet season from March to November and a more obvious Dry season from December to February.
Dry season – June to August and December to February
June, July & August – June and July are the driest months in most of the south, but it can still rain. Average temperatures hover around 27°C/81°F in the afternoon and 16°C/61°F in the morning. It will be colder at altitudes above 1300m/4265ft, including the gorilla parks.
Unlike the south, these months are part of the Wet season in the north. The far north, including Kidepo Valley, is semi-arid and can experience droughts some years.
December, January & February – Most of the south has less rainfall, but still more when compared to June and July. It is slightly warmer with daytime temperatures of about 28°C/82°F and morning temperatures of 16°C/61°F. The north has a clear Dry season with little rain.
Wet season – March to May and September to November
March, April & May – There is more rainfall throughout the country during these months, with a clear peak in April in the south. Most days have some sunshine as well. The rain can make travelling more difficult since dirty roads and forest trails used for gorilla trekking can become challenging to navigate. Daytime temperatures average around 28°C/82°F and morning temperatures around 16°C/61°F. It will be colder in the gorilla parks at high altitudes and warmer in the north.
September, October & November – These months are comparable to March, April and May but, on average, there is a bit less rain. Daytime temperatures are around 28°C/82°F.
Kampala’s Climate Compared to Uganda’s national parks
In general, the south of Uganda shares the same tropical climate as Kampala. The city has a slightly milder climate due to its location near Lake Victoria. The parks in the south tend to be a bit warmer during the day and cooler at night. The areas at high altitude, including the gorilla parks, get considerably colder because temperatures drop by about 6°C for every 1000m you climb (or 3.5°F per 1000ft). Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley in the north are warmer with daytime temperatures averaging 32°C/90°F.
What to wear:
Lightweight clothes with a warm cover-up for the evenings are advised. Take a pair of good walking shoes or boots for forest trekking, and long-sleeved tops to protect against mosquitoes. If you’re planning to go to mountainous areas, be sure to take warm clothing, as temperatures drop substantially. White clothes won’t stay white for long with Uganda’s red dust roads, so go for darker colors. Travellers can also pick up bargains at second-hand clothes markets in Kampala, Jinja and Fort Portal, which sell trousers, boots and fleeces.
Uganda lies between the eastern and western sections of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The country shares borders with Sudan to the north, Kenya to the east, Lake Victoria to the southeast, Tanzania and Rwanda to the south and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the west. Whilst the landscape is generally quite flat, most of the country is over 1,000m (3,280ft) in altitude.
Mountainous regions include the Rwenzori Mountains that run along the border with the DRC, the Virunga Mountains on the border with Rwanda and the DRC, and Kigezi in the southwest of the country. An extinct volcano, Mount Elgon, straddles the border with Kenya.
The capital city, Kampala, lies on the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa and second-largest freshwater inland body of water in the world. Jinja, located on the lake, is considered to be the start point of the River Nile, which traverses much of the country.
The varied scenery includes tropical forest, a semi-desert area in the northeast, the arid plains of the Karamoja, the lush, heavily populated Buganda, the rolling savannah of Acholi, Bunyoro, Tororo and Ankole, tea plantations and the fertile cotton area of Teso.
Best time to visit Uganda
Uganda has a tropical climate, with temperatures ranging from 21-25°C (70- 77°F), apart from in the mountainous areas, which are much cooler; the top of Mount Elgon is often covered with snow. The hottest months are December to February. Evenings can feel chilly after the heat of the day with temperatures around 12- 16ºC (54-61°F).
Most regions of Uganda, apart from the dry area in the north, have an annual rainfall of between 1,000mm and 2,000mm. There is heavy rain between March and May and between October and November, when road travel can become difficult in parts of the country. The best time for trekking is during the dry seasons, between January and February and June to September. Wildlife viewing is best at the end of the dry seasons, when game is more concentrated around water sources.