Most of the travelers in Democratic Republic of Congo invade the country with the main aim of mountain gorilla trekking safaris in Virunga National Park and hiking Nyiragongo volcano, as well as trekking eastern lowland gorillas in Kahuzi Biega National Park.
Democratic Republic of Congo experiences one of the highest frequencies of thunderstorms in the world, and quite a spectacular amount of rain but this should not limit you from visiting the remarkable country. The following are some of the helpful hints and tips for the best time to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo:
First of all, DR Congo straddles the equator, with one-third of the country to the north, and two-thirds to the south. Alongside that, it is around the size of the whole of Western Europe put together, and the weather patterns differ vastly throughout. Since most of the country’s travelers’ main focus is trekking the mountain gorillas in Virunga national park (found in north-eastern parts) and hiking Nyiragongo, the best time to visit Democratic Republic of Congo should therefore be based on Virunga.
Despite a little bit of rain here and there, Virunga is still a year-round destination. June, July, August, September and October are by far the driest months of the year, and, as with most Sub-Saharan countries, it is probably the most popular time to travel.
In fact, if you are looking to tie in a gorilla trek in Virunga with a safari in Kenya or Tanzania, you have picked the best time of year! It is possible that the gorilla families will move to a higher-altitude from July to September resulting in slightly longer trekking times, so do be prepared to get sweaty. And just like the UK, the rain is an unpredictable beast and you may still experience short, sharp thunderstorms, but this should definitely not put you off.
November is by far the country’s wettest month of the year, though other wet months include; March, April and May. During the wet/rain season, gorilla trekking, of course, becomes somehow challenging though this should not deter you to travel during those rainy months because after it has rained, the sunshine will immediately rise and then the activities in the Park go normal.
On addition to that, during the wet season, Congo travelers will get a lot of discounts right from the Park accommodations which tend to reduce their rates to the gorilla permit. On normal days, a Congo gorilla permit costs US$ 400 but travelers who will move in the wet seasons will get a 50% discount thus paying US$ 200 for the permit. However if you are to travel in the wet season, just make sure you are prepared with all-weather gears such as; rain coats, jackets, sweaters, long sleeved clothes, light hiking boots and socks, among others.
In terms of temperature, Democratic Republic of Congo’s equatorial position and the thick tangled forests mean the weather is almost always warm and humid. The drier months of June to September are the coolest with daytime temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius.
As the rains come, temperatures steadily increase and can reach the mid-30s, with a good dose of frizzy-hair inducing humidity. At the top of Nyiragongo, temperatures often drop below freezing throughout the year and this is unavoidable.
Proper hiking gear is a must! You can hire the extras (sleeping bags and mats and the like) when you arrive, but warm layers, gloves, good socks and boots are absolutely essential. If climbing Nyiragongo is top of your list, the best time to visit DRC would probably be from June to September to take advantage of the slightly cooler temperatures as you climb the lower sections.
Virunga in particular, the finest months to visit DR Congo are December, January and February, and July to September as many gorilla trekkers are seen invading DR Congo during those months to enjoy the lifetime experience of gorilla trekking and Nyiragongo Hike.