Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro

It is possible to trek Kilimanjaro all-year-round. However, certain months are characterised by colder weather, more rain and potentially loads of snow on the summit.

In this article we provide a brief outline on the two trekking seasons that are the best time to climb Kilimanjaro.

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Winds and Kilimanjaro Weather

Kilimanjaro’s weather is heavily influenced by the interaction of trade winds with the structure of the mountain.

The South-east trade winds travelling over the Indian Ocean carry loads of moisture. When they hit Kilimanjaro, around March, then are forced upwards where they condense, form clouds and precipitation. This means March through to May is the wettest season on Kilimanjaro. The southern slopes are particular susceptible to rain during this time in the year.

If you are confined to a trekking date in April or May we suggest you consider the Rongai route, which departs from the Northern end of Kilimanjaro and is generally drier than the southern route options during these months.

Anti-trade winds from the North-east carry very little moisture but blow strongly. The strength of these winds which last from April through to October keep the South-east trade winds below them, hence these months are usually dry and cloud cover and precipitation is generally restricted to the lower slopes.

kilimanjaro-weather-clouds

The North-east monsoon arrives in November and brings some light rains to the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro.

Best Trekking Months

There are two distinct trekking seasons which constitute the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. They are January-March and June-October.

January-March is generally colder than June-October and there is a higher probability of encountering snow on the summit. For some this might be seen as a negative, but the benefits of a January-March trek is that the slopes are often quieter at this time of the year.

The June-October trekking season coincides with the summer holidays in Europe and N.America and hence certain routes are often quite busy.

March, April and November are the wettest months on Kilimanjaro, and not ideal of trekking.

Snow fall and cold temperatures are common during December-May.

The chart below shows average snowfall in cm on the summit of Kilimanjaro

snow-kilimanjaro

Altitude and Climate Zones

Another factor that is important to consider is the variation in weather conditions as you ascend Kilimanjaro.

There are four distinct climatic zones on Kilimanjaro – the rainforest zone (~800m-3,000m) is warm and humid. Rain is common in the zone, particularly during the wet season and temperatures average around 12-15 degrees Celsius at 2,870m. The second zone is often called the low alpine area (~3,000m-4,200m) and is a semi-arid zone where average temperatures range between 5-10 degrees Celsius at 3,630m. The high alpine zone (4,200m-5,000) is desert-like. Here temperatures average around the freezing point at 4,970m, and at the summit in the glacial zone (above 5,000m) temperatures average around -6 degrees Celsius.

Although the summit temperature doesn’t sound too cold, wind chill is a major factor. You are almost guaranteed relatively high winds. Moreover, the effects of cold temperatures at high altitude are more pronounced as your body expends more effort trying to get your skin and vital organs well-oxygenated in an oxygen depleted environment. This results in vasoconstriction near the extremities (like your hands, feet and nose) and means that you will feel the cold a lot more at high altitude. In other words -6 degrees Celsius can feel like -20!

The chart below shows average monthly temperatures at four points across the climate zones.

kilimanjaro-temperatures

See here for detailed information on Kilimanjaro weather.

FAQ

Still have questions on the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. Leave us a comment below and we will respond within 24hours.

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30 thoughts on “Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro

  1. Hi guys

    Im trying to decide weather to climb February or March, would you say Feb would be better as there may be less snow and rain?

    The route I was thinking was the Machame ?

    thanks so much

    • Hi Jayne, You are less likely to encounter rain on the lower slopes in February as opposed to March. However, there could be more snow on the summit in February. Good thing is the Machame route is quieter in these months, than during the peak season June-September.

  2. Hello,
    We are thinking about climbing the last week of May. We are concerned about the amount of rain/cold temperatures. Do many people choose to climb during this time or is the potential for rain a major drawback?

    • Hi Jay, most people elect to miss the April / May rainy season as it came be very hit and miss. I would say if you can push your dates a few weeks forward to June, that would give you a better chance of better weather. All the best!

  3. Hi,

    We are climbing kilimanjaro from dec 11 to dec 18, expecting to summit on dec 17. The weather forecasts seem to suggest that there will be lots of snow on the summit. In your experience is it advisable for us to bring our crampons or are they just going to be superfluous weight?

    Thank you.

  4. I’m climbing Kili in beginning in march 2017 via Marangu route. We are sliping in huts.What sleeping bag is recommended?

  5. Hi team,

    We are climbing Kilimanjaro from 14th January 2017. Planned summit day on 19th January 2017.

    What is weather conditions during these times? Please guide.

    Regards,

    Sudhir Khot

  6. Hi,
    After reading all posts, I am planning to climb Kili in June or July 2017. As per your previous answers it would be a busy season with the best weather. My questions to you are: What are other downfalls of busy season and which track would you recommend in the month of June/July ? For price wise is it climb in Sept-Oct much better than June-July (Since we will have a big group) ? I am in the beginning phase of planning so I can modify my plans.Thanks in advance.

    • The main downside of the peak season is that there are more people on the mountain. The busiest routes are the Marangu and the Machame. I would recommend looking at the Lemosho and the Rongai routes – the former joins the Machame on day 3/4 but have a relatively remote start. The cost of the climb should not vary from June / July to Sept / Oct.
      All the best!!

  7. Hi I recieved a trip to kilimanjaro for my bday (lucky guy) but it is the beginning of may is this peak time or bad weather ?

    • Hi Eddie, May is the rainy season. You might be okay but expect rain on the lower slopes and lots of cloud cover. Good news is that the mountain is a lot quieter.

  8. Hello,
    We are hoping to avoid the crowded months, so we are considering climbing in either early October or in early February. Which routes would you recommend for October, and which would you recommend for February?
    Thank you for the advice!

    • Hi Meg, The Southern routes via the Machame and Lemosho are great for both October and March. All the best!

  9. Hi my name Hamed Al Bar I live in Saudi Arabia , I would like to climb Kili mountain within this two months April , May , I need your help

  10. Hi,
    I am looking to complete the Lemosho Route but having a hard time deciding when to go.
    I would love to be able to experience snow on the summit.
    I can be pretty flexible when I go so I would love to experience this route at its best!

    • Hi Michelle, snow on the summit is no guarantee but the most likely period to have snow under foot is from December through to March. Lemosho route is great, hope you have a ball!

  11. We’re planning a year long trip through 3 continents (Africa, SE Asia, and South America), and Kilimanjaro is on our top bucket list.

    It looks like Sept/Oct seems to have the very best weather – would you agree with this? When you say its crowded – how crowded to you mean? Difficult to hike because there are so many people, or bearable? We can be very very flexible.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Maggie, Sep/Oct us a great time to climb Kilimanjaro. Crowded is probably the wrong word, it is just busier at this time of year, particularly August and September, than other parts of the year. All the best for your trip – sounds awesome!

  12. I am At the beginning stages of planning my climb. What month out of the whole year do you recommend I make my climb?

    • August through to October is generally a great time to climb Kilimanjaro. All the best!

    • Do it! You don’t need to be an experienced hiker to climb Kilimanjaro. You do need to be fit and determined though. Best months are June-October and January-March. All the best!

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