January is one of the hottest months of the year in Uganda, with high temperatures ranging from 90ºF (32ºC) in Gulu to 75ºF (24ºC) in Kabale, while mornings and evenings across the country are cool. January also lands between two wet seasons. The north gets very little rain, while Entebbe, on the shores of Lake Victoria, sees an average of 3.7 inches (93 mm) of precipitation throughout the month. Pack rain gear and plenty of sunscreen.
Crowds & Costs
Although January falls outside the primary tourist season of June through September, it's still one of the busiest off-season months. Due to January's less rainy weather compared to the months before and after, it's become a popular time to visit Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Safari prices will be near their peak; however, you'll find accommodation options more plentiful and flights less expensive. On the other hand, Kidepo Valley National Park will be quieter and less crowded and is a good option for budget travelers who don't mind the heat.
Where to Go
Considering January is one of the hottest months of the year in Uganda, you'll want to stick to higher altitudes which have cooler temperatures perfect for wildlife viewing and trekking. If you have eight days up your sleeve, opt for an Uganda National Parks trip, where you'll tick off the highlights of Kibale, Queen Elizabeth, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks. You'll likely arrive at Entebbe International Airport, and while this small city on the shores of Lake Victoria will see more rain than other regions of Uganda in January, it's still well worth taking a day to roam its beautiful Botanical Gardens.
From Entebbe, transfer west to Kibale Forest National Park, home to over 13 species of primates. Track chimpanzees and watch them play among the trees, then stop by the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary to wander through wetlands filled with extravagant butterflies. Continuing south, you'll soon reach Queen Elizabeth National Park—home to hippos, elephants, and buffaloes. Embark on a game drive along the Kasenyi Sector, or let the mix of water and wind cool you off with a water safari on the Kazinga Channel.
When you've had enough of the heat, head farther southwest to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. With altitudes reaching 8,553 feet (2,607 m), the cool, dry mornings will be a welcome change. Head to the Western Rift Valley to see wild mountain gorillas, or test your fitness with a trek in Bwindi searching for gorillas. You can also continue farther south, stopping at Mgahinga National Park for a chance to spot golden monkeys and leopards in the wild.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Thanks to its higher altitude, January is one of the best times to hike in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Considered one of the richest biological regions in the world, it's no wonder wild mountain gorillas have chosen the park as their home. With an expert ranger, you can embark on a six-hour hike through thick bush to get an up-close view of these amazing animals playing in the trees.
For those looking to get to know the region's unique culture, opt for a Batwa Pygmy Cultural Experience to learn about the history and traditions of the Batwa people, including a lesson on the forest's medicinal plants. On a similar but unique note, a Kasoga Community Experience offers visitors a glimpse of life on the waters of Lake George, where you can try your hand at milking cows, making ghee, and escorting cattle.
It's also well worth spending time in Uganda's capital city, Kampala, and the nearby Entebbe. In Kampala, head out on a scenic drive to Kabak's Palace, the historic seat of the kings of Buganda, then attend a show at the Ndere Cultural Center to learn more about Uganda's history through dance and music. Next, in Entebbe, get your souvenir shopping done at the Buganda Craft Market and learn more about Uganda's unique wildlife at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre.
Events in January
Nyege Nyege Festival, Jinja. Over three days, Jinja comes to life with impressive music acts and visual art installations. Festival goers are encouraged to wear bright clothing and join in on the rafting, bungee jumping, and other activities available.
NRM Liberation Day, nationwide. Each year, on January 26, businesses close to honor the overthrow of the previous government in 1986 after a five-year guerrilla war.
Traveling to Uganda in January? Check out these great itineraries
Uganda Mountain Gorilla Adventure: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park - 4 Days. Embark on an epic trek through Uganda's most biologically diverse rainforest, searching for wild mountain gorillas on this quick but actioned-packed itinerary.
Uganda National Parks: Kibale, Queen Elizabeth & Bwindi - 8 days. Visit Uganda's famous national parks to track chimpanzees, search for elephants on a water safari, and see wild mountain gorillas up close.