Kigali Weather Guide

Weather in Rwanda

Learning about the weather in Kigali is essential when planning your trip here.

If you don’t know the weather patterns, you might time your short vacation during the rainiest season. And end up stuck in your hotel for most of the trip. Or pack for the wrong weather and find it hard to go around.

In the last three years of living in Kigali, I have managed to pick up a few pointers to share with you.

Keep reading to find out the best times for you to travel, what to pack, and what to expect when you arrive.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

We’ll start with some quick facts about the weather in Kigali.

Quick Facts About Weather in Kigali

  • There are two main seasons: the Dry and Wet seasons
  • Wet seasons: March to May, September to November
  • Dry seasons: June to August, December to February
  • Lower temperatures than neighboring countries because of Rwanda’s higher altitude
  • Temperature ranges between 12°C and 27°C throughout the year without much variation. (Even in the cold, rainy wet season)
  • Days are warm and nights cooler
  • It rains throughout the year, only more in some months than others

Rwanda’s Seasons and Location

If you were to look at a world map real quick, Rwanda is located just south of the equator. Like all the countries in or around the equator, Rwanda’s climate doesn’t have very high variations.

It has two major seasons: Wet and Dry.

Kigali Weather

Wet Seasons

The wet season is usually between March and May and later in the year from September to November.

During these months, the sky is hardly ever clear. Instead, it’s covered by dark gray clouds, especially in the mornings. It also rains much more often, with March and April having the most downpour.

You will have some days when it’s sunny, but only for a little while. For instance, it might rain all morning, and the sun may come out in the afternoons, peeking behind the clouds. It’s always a tremendous relief, especially after some heavy downpour.

The wet season is an excellent time to stay indoors, in a warm blanket with a mug of hot cocoa.

Towards the end of May, the first dry season kicks in.

Dry Seasons

June to August are the driest months in Rwanda.

It’s also the most popular time for tourists out on vacation. Unfortunately, this also means that the touristy areas get full around this time. You may want to book your trips in advance to save your spot for activities like Gorilla trekking.

While you will get the occasional rainy day here and there, the dry season is sunny. It’s perfect for outdoor activities, like hiking, gorilla trekking, and picnics.

And there are almost always a few clouds in the sky. They make the heat from the sun more bearable.

December to February are also part of the dry season. You won’t get a lot of rain in these months either. But one lesson I have learned is to always carry a sweater as a backup when leaving the house. Especially around December to February.

You may leave while the sun is out, shining, only for the weather to change later.

Yes, I have ended up shivering in the cold with a sleeveless top once or twice. So plan for this in advance and carry a hoodie along with you.

Weather in Kigali

Weather & Climate in Kigali

I have found that it rains quite a lot more than back home in Nairobi, Kenya.

But I’ve come to like the rains. Especially because the day brightens up right after the rain on most days.

t’s also never too hot or too cold here. If you come from much colder areas like France or Russia, you will enjoy the warm temperatures.

Kigali’s temperature remains around 26°C during the day, dropping to 15°C at night. And even on the coldest days, you can get away with a warm jacket. (Yay for light packing, right?)

But a fair warning to anyone coming from the much hotter countries like Tanzania or Nigeria. Kigali will probably feel quite cold to you. A few people I have met here have complained of how cold it gets, especially at night.

So brace yourself. It will take some getting used to. But don’t worry, you will be quite comfortable with a nice, warm sweater.

The lower temperatures are expected, though. Rwanda is on much higher ground than its neighbors.

You can see its hills and mountains while you’re in the air before you land in Kigali. And the cooler temperature they create makes it much more bearable for those who don’t like the extra heat.

Weather & Climate Outside Kigali

As you move away from the city and closer to the mountains, it gets cooler.

Areas like the Volcanoes National Park and Nyungwe Forest have lower temperatures of about 16°C to 21°C.

It also rains much more often there.

On the other side, towards the Eastern parts of Rwanda, the weather is much closer to the city. So as you move towards Akagera National Park, you can expect temperatures like Kigali.

Let’s see what times would be best to travel to Rwanda.

When is the Best Time to Visit Rwanda?

As you plan your trip, consider planning it around June to August. This is the best time to experience lots of outdoor activities without much rain to stop you.

It’s also the tourist season, so there will be other tourists here to enjoy their vacation. Thus, the prices of tourist activities are generally higher at this time.

If you can’t make it in the dry season, don’t worry; Rwanda’s weather is pretty good all year round. So chances are, if you visit in the wet season, you will find a few dry, sunny days between.

The trails would be muddy, but people still find activities to do even in this season.

You would enjoy much friendlier prices and fewer tourists.

What To Carry

As you do your packing, you can skip those winter coats for some jackets and warm hoodies.

This comes in quite handy for those trying to pack light.

Some other essentials include:

  1. Light clothing for hot days
  2. Sunscreen to protect your body
  3. A raincoat for rainy days
  4. A sun hat for the outdoorsy days

Now let’s see the weather in Rwanda for each month. You can skip through to the month you are interested in to see what to expect when you come to Rwanda.

Weather in Rwanda By Month

January

Average temperature: 

High – 28°C

Low – 17°C

Chance of Rain: Low

February

Average temperature:

High – 27°C

Low – 17°C 

Chance of Rain: High

March

Average temperature:

High – 27°C

Low – 17°C 

Chance of Rain: Very High

Expect heavy rain and thunderstorms

April

Average temperature: 

High – 25°C

Low – 18°C

Chance of Rain: Very High (Thunderstorms also likely)

May

Average temperature: 

High – 26°C

Low – 18°C

Chance of Rain: High 

June

Average temperature: 

High – 26°C

Low – 17°C

Chance of Rain: Very Low

July

Average temperature: 

High – 27°C

Low – 16°C

Chance of Rain: Very Low

August

Average temperature: 

High – 28°C

Low – 17°C

Chance of Rain: Low

September

Average temperature: 

High – 27°C

Low – 17°C

Chance of Rain: High

October

Average temperature: 

High – 27°C

Low – 17°C

Chance of Rain: High

November

Average temperature: 

High – 26°C

Low – 17°C

Chance of Rain: Very High

December

Average temperature: 

High – 26°C

Low – 17°C

Chance of Rain: High

Expect short rains that clear out quickly

It would be good to note that the weather is becoming more unpredictable across the world. As the climate changes, so do the weather patterns. There may be some slight variances to the seasons, but they remain more or less around the same times. 

Sunset in Kigali

Final Thoughts

There is so much to experience in Rwanda all year round. And now that you know more about the weather in Kigali, you can plan accordingly.

Make your stay in Rwanda a pleasant one.

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4 thoughts on “Kigali Weather Guide”

  1. The rainy seasons have changed over the years. The months are more or less the same but quite often the rains last lonher thn they used to. ten years ago it would rain really hard for about 1 hour and then the sun would come out and dry the place up in about another hour. Nowadays it can rain all day sometimes. It is certainly advisanle to have some warm clothing if you are planning on going outside in the rainy season. When it ges down to 20 degrees it is cold! well, it is when you have been here a long time and of course if you are a local. Either way, i agree with Kirsty, the weather is certainly one reason to want to stay!

  2. When are you creating a gallery on which you will post pictures of Kigali city, downtown and suburbs, houses and buildings.

    That would be great !

    Pietro

    1. Kirsty Henderson

      A good idea! I’m working on an events calendar at the moment but maybe I’ll make a photo gallery my next addition to this site. Thanks for the idea!

  3. I do agree with Kirsty and nigel, the weather is nice in Kigali but seems Climate has been changing as the rainfall these days has become too much. some places in Rwanda have started developing small lakes. All in all, i like rainy seasons as they make me feel breathing nice air but again, as i haven’t yet bought my own car when it pours down i can’t manage going to work.

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