Despite it’s tropical climate, Uganda has always been an all year round destination with two rainy seasons in a year. The first season, which is the one with the heaviest rainfall begins in early march and stretches up to June where as the second with less rainfall begins from around October to November. In the Uganda tourism industry, low seasons are made of the months with heavy rainfall where as high seasons (peak seasons) are made up of the most shiny months. These are basically the low and high seasons you always hear about regarding safaris to Uganda. There’s so much attached to it and i lay it all down in this article. I will definitely inform you about a lot and also let you know the best season of the two seasons that can make the best safari for you.
What’s Uganda’s climate like?
Uganda lies right at the heart of the great lakes region and is bordered by three of these great water bodies (Lake Albert, Lake Edward and Lake Victoria). The climate of south Uganda is pretty much the same as the one in the central region because of their closeness to Lake Victoria unlike several national parks that appear to be a bit warm during day (even in some rainy seasons) then colder at night. Of all the national parks, Kidepo Valley National Park and Murchison Falls are definitely the warmest and best places for wildlife viewing if we are to base on weather. Falling right on the equator, there is no real summer or winter in Uganda only that the rainfall is a bit unpredictable and can fall anytime.
The Low Season
Like said earlier on, the low season in the Uganda tourism industry falls in the months with the most rainfall. During this time, very few travelers travel to Uganda because of an unfriendly weather condition that usually affects a lot of activities and wildlife. I will expand on this later on.
The first low season of the year begins in March and ends in May with the second beginning in late September and ending in late November. The first season usually has the most rainfall compared to the second. During these months, there is a lot of price drop across the tourism industry right from accommodation facilities to car hire fees to gorilla permits, chimpanzee permits and so on. Most of the services come for far less during the low season which is ideal for typical budget travelers.
A gorilla permit in the low season costs a standard fee of $450 or even less in cases of discounts compared to the fixed and competitive $600 fee of the peak season. Getting these permits is also way easy in the low season to an extent that you can even purchase them on your arrival without being worried of any shortages.
What i don’t like about the Low Season
Travelling in the low season could limit your adventure because just like humans, wildlife and primates tend to take shelter from the rain leaving very slim chances of being spotted. It’s very inconsiderate to travel all the way to Uganda and you spot less numbers of wildlife.
Another big challenge is the stress of getting through muddy roads in the respective national parks. Cars often get stuck for days in these muddy roads especially non-4 wheel drive vehicles which could definitely limit your activities. You can still lower the risk by booking 4×4 safari vehicles for your safari.
The only good thing about travelling in the low season is your safari will definitely cost less and you are likely to enjoy classy services for discounted rates. Besides the price factor, i don’t see any good about travelling in the low season.
The High Season
The high season, also referred to as the peak season is usually the time when Uganda tour operators make a lot of money because trips are in plenty. The first high season is usually the busiest! It begins in June and ends in September with the second (The hottest) beginning in December and stretching up to February.
The high season is usually characterized by a lot of price hike and high competition. In fact, permits for high season should be booked several months in advance because it’s almost impossible to secure good permits on your arrival or days to your arrival. Several accommodation facilities and car hire companies also maximize on this period to make money because of the high competition and besides, just like permits; if you don’t reserve your accommodation in advance you might end up missing out on the select accommodation facilities presented to you in your confirmed itinerary.
What’s good about the high season?
The high season is usually the best when it comes to wildlife viewing or gorilla trekking. Wildlife and Mountain Gorillas are usually in plenty and roam freely around their respective shelters without any worry of rainfall implicating the sights are quite rewarding and comes with plenty. The roads are also dry and clear and besides, it’s very unusual to receive any rain fall during such months and even if you did, they wouldn’t be that heavy or recurring for days.
During the high season, a 4×4 land cruiser can go for as much as $200 per day with 4×4 safari vans going for at least $100 per day which may be exclusive of fuel and guide fees.
Effects to the Tourism Industry
The biggest effect of the two seasons to the Uganda Tourism Industry is usually in terms of prices. Like said previously, almost all services that rely on tourism to make money slash their prices during the low season and increase them during the high season. This is brought about by competition because service providers are sure that if their rates are not taken at a proposed hiked fee, it wouldn’t be long before another offers claims it without less or not bargain.
I always say this and i will keep saying this. Each season has something different to offer hence, i recommend you don’t be extra selective when planning for your safari. Viewing wildlife in numbers on a shiny day is quite awesome but searching for them in an unpredictable weather condition without any assurance of seeing them in numbers is another adventure of it’s own. I always assume something that is too obvious isn’t fun at all because i am a big fan of unpredictable adventures. I wouldn’t mind making my journey, getting stuck on muddy roads and getting delayed for an hour or two for an unpredictable gorilla trekking activity for as long as i can return to the comfort of my bed, sip on some evening coffee and wake up to a lazy morning. That’s my own side of the story and i don’t emphasize on you following the same. Visiting during the dry season is goldmine but if you previously experienced a wildlife viewing / gorilla trekking activity in the dry season then i recommend you try out something alternate for your second visit in Uganda. Challenge yourself by opting for something unpredictable and that’s the only way you will create memories of a safari in Uganda. I previously wrote an article about the best time to visit Uganda for a safari or holiday, you might want to check it out.