Kilimanjaro Weather - Climb Kilimanjaro Guide
kilimanjaro-weather

Kilimanjaro Weather

Shares

Because Mount Kilimanjaro is such a large geographic structure it essentially creates its own weather.

In this article we have provided an overview on the types of weather you can expect on Kilimanjaro, as well outlined historical weather patters for each of Kilimanjaro’s climatic zones.

Please use the quicklinks below to navigate through this article.

Quicklinks:

Kilimanjaro Weather

Trade and Anti-Trade Winds

Kilimanjaro’s weather can best be understood by studying the the dominant trade and anti-trade winds that pass through the region.

Why?

Because winds carry moisture from the ocean. When they hit large objects, like mountains, they rise, cool and condense, forming clouds and precipitation (i.e. rain and snow).

There are two main winds that drive weather patterns on Mount Kilimanjaro – the South-east trade winds and North-east anti-trade winds. We explain the influence of each wind below.

kilimanjaro-weather-clouds

World map showing SE and NE Trade Winds

South-east trade winds

The South-East trade winds from the Indian Ocean arrive around mid March and last well into May (before being interrupted by the North-East Anti trade winds). These winds carry loads of moisture from the Indian ocean so when they eventually hit the massive structure of Mount Kilimanjaro and are forced upwards, they form large rain clouds and the ‘heavens open’.

Mid-March through to the end of May is therefore the wet season on Mount Kilimanjaro and not a great time for trekking.

That being said, as these winds blow from the South most of the rain falls on the southern side of Kilimanjaro. The Northern slopes tend to be buffeted from the winds and therefore receive considerably less rain during this time of the year.

If one wants to trek in March-May it is best to consider the Rongai Route which follows a trail from the North.

North-East anti-trade winds

Anti-trade winds from the North-East arrive between late May and last through to early November and don’t carry rain as they lose their moisture well before hitting Kilimanjaro. They generally blow quite strongly forcing their way through the Saddle (the valley between Kilimanjaro’s two peaks – Kibo and Mawenzi).

North-East Monsoon

Cross-section showing Kilimanjaro’s saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi Peak

As the strong anti-trade winds pass through the saddle they force the South-East winds down below them. Hence during the dry season (June through to October) cloud cover and some rain is common up to the 3,000 meter mark on the southern slopes but quickly disappears above this altitude.

kilimanjaro-weather-clouds

Common cloud cover below 3,000m with crystal blue skies above

The dynamic between the strong and dry North-east trade-winds and the less powerful South-east winds, means that late May through to the end of October is a great time to trek as rain is rare and usually confined to the lower southern slopes.

May through to October also coincides with the summer holiday periods of the Northern Hemisphere so the slopes of Kilimanjaro can be busy at this time of the year.

North-East Monsoon
The North-East Monsoon arrives around mid November and lasts through to February. These winds have travelled a long way over the continent and don’t have a high moisture content which means that the season is generally quite light on rain.

Most of this rain falls on the lower northern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, but is a lot lighter than the main wet season brought by the South-east winds in March-May.

The interaction of these winds with Mount Kilimanjaro mean that there are two main trekking seasons – January-March and June-October.

Best Trekking Seasons

January-March

January through to March is the first dry season on Kilimanjaro, making it a great time to trek. This time of the year tends to be colder than the June-October trekking season and you have a much higher chance of encountering snow on the upper reaches.

The lower slopes are usually covered in cloud during this time of the year, and if you encounter rain it will likely only be on the lower slopes.

Above 3,000m the skies are usually crystal clear and rain is rare.

June-October

June through to October is the busiest trekking season as it coincides with the European and N.American summer holiday period. Encountering rain or snow is rare.

As the slopes are busier at this time of the year it is quite easy to find tour companies that offer open groups that you can join to help save on costs.

April, May and November
April, May and November are usually the wettest months and not ideal for trekking.

December can also be quite wet and is usually very cold on the summit, but it is fast becoming a popular trekking month due to its coincidence with holidays in the West.

If you plan to trek during these months it is very important that you have good rain gear, and the correct layered clothing for the summit.

snow-kilimanjaro

Average snowfall in cm on the summit of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro Weather and Climatic Zones

Kilimanjaro weather is also heavily influenced by changes in altitude. So much so that there are in fact distinct climatic zones on the mountain, each with its own distinct fauna and flora.

Below we briefly discuss each.

kilimanjaro-temperatures

Average Kilimanjaro temperatures (Celsius) as measured at certain altitudes within the 4 climatic zones

Rain forest zone (~800 meters – 3,000 meters): From the earliest part of your trek you are going to be confronted with tropical rain forest. Humidity is high and light mist or sometimes drizzle is common. Various flora such as orchids, ferns, fig and olive trees cover this area of Kilimanjaro. You will likely see Blue and Colobus monkeys, and if you are trekking from the North-East Rongai route or Western Lemosho, Shira or Northern Circuit you may even see elephant, buffalo and large antelope.

Low alpine zone (~3,000 meters – 4,200 meters): At approximately.3,000 metres the rainforest rapidly gives way to semi-arid grasslands and moorlands, this area is known as the low alpine zone. Heather and small shrubs cover the landscape, the weather is significantly less humid and temperatures can get to sub-zero in the evening. The most prominent flora features in this zone are the Senecios and Giant Lobelias, which look like deformed palm trees. Fauna is sparse; however you will likely see crows overhead foraging for food.

High alpine zone (~4,200 meters – 5,000 meters): This zone is characterised by an arid desert environment that is rather inhospitable. During the day temperatures are hot and solar radiation is high (make sure to apply lots of sun-cream). At night temperatures plummet to below freezing. From this zone the slopes of Kibo and Kilimanjaro’s summit come into perfect view.

Glacial zone (~5,000 meters to 5,895 meters): The final zone houses the upper reaches of Kibo and Mawenzi and consists of high altitude artic conditions. Life is very scarce in this zone as oxygen levels are near half what they were on the lower reaches of the mountain. Fine glacial silt covers the slopes that reach up to Kilimanjaro’s summit and large glaciers are visible from Kilimanjaro’s crater rim. Due to the high solar radiation during the day, freezing temperatures at night, gale force winds and low oxygen levels, this zone is not one where you want to stay too long!

9-Day Weather Forecast

Below is an example 9-day Kilimanjaro weather forecast that you can get access to on www.mountain-forecast.com.

You can also get forecasts from www.snow-forecast.com and the University of Massachusetts have been tracking climate change on Kilimanjaro since 2000. Have a look at their research and weather data here.

kilimanjaro-weather-forecast

FAQ

Still have questions about Kilimanjaro weather? Please leave a comment below and we will respond within 24hours.

Leave a Comment:

48 comments
Seema says August 9, 2016

Hi , We are Planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjero during the first week of November, 1st to 7th.
What is the weather going to be like ??
Thanks.
Seema.

Reply
    Mark Whitman says August 9, 2016

    Hi Seema, forecasting weather on Kilimanjaro is tough due to the altitude variation from the foothills to the summit. Generally November is a wettish month but you could get a great week of weather.

    Reply
Pragnesh udeshi says August 23, 2016

Hi. We plan to climb Kilimanjaro via machame route from 9th Oct to 15th Oct 2016. What kind of weather we can expect?

Reply
Vinod says August 26, 2016

Hi. I have plan to climb Kilimanjaro from 9th sept to 15th 2016. What kind of weather i can expect? Which is the best route? Am alone so can I join with group?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says August 26, 2016

    Hi Vinod, The weather is September is generally very good, with low probably of rain and snow. I recommend the 7 day Machame or 8 day Lemosho as the best routes to climb Kilimanjaro. To join a group visit our recommendation service here: https://www.climbkilimanjaroguide.com/go/

    Reply
Matthew Duckett says August 29, 2016

Hi, I am looking to climb Kilimanjaro with a friend November 29th – December 8th. What will the weather be like around this time and which routes would you suggest?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says August 29, 2016

    Hi Matthew, this is at the end of the short rainy season so you might experience some rain on the lower reaches of the mountain. December through February is also the coldest time of the year near the summit so it is not uncommon to experience snowfall at the summit and perhaps a heavy layer of snow there too. I would suggest the Rongai route for this time of year as the Northern side of Kilimanjaro is drier than the southern routes. Hope this helps!

    Reply
Gita says September 7, 2016

Hi We are climbing Kili from 12th Sept what is the weather forecast??/

Reply
Saleh says September 15, 2016

Hi,
I am looking to climb Kilimanjaro with friends November 10th – 20th. What will the weather be like around this time and which routes would you suggest?
Thanks

Reply
    Mark Whitman says September 16, 2016

    Hi Saleh, November is the short rainy season on Kilimanjaro. You can expect some rain on the lower reaches of the mountain and potentially snow on the summit. The Rongai route is generally good for the rainy seasons but in November the northern side of Kili is also prone to getting rain. I would suggest either the Rongai or the Machame.

    Reply
Ursula says September 25, 2016

Hi, I am starting to plan my trip to Kili. Being a teacher, I need to go in June or July. What is your recommendation on dates and routes for this time frame?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says September 26, 2016

    Hi Ursula, June / July are good months to trek Kilimanjaro. I would recommend the 8-day Lemosho or the 7-day Machame. All the best!

    Reply
sneki says October 22, 2016

Hi, we will be at Machare Estate – coffee farm from the 30/10 – 06/11/2016,
can you please let us know what temperature will be (more less).
Thanking you in advance.

Reply
Carla says November 8, 2016

Hello. We are planning to climb kili from Machame route between nov 26 and dec 3rd. What will the weather be like and what type of additional equipment we should consider

Reply
    Mark Whitman says November 10, 2016

    Hi Carla, It is very difficult to predict the weather on Kilimanjaro, but in general late November can be characterised by light rains on the lower reaches and colder conditions near the summit. Therefore I would definitely take good wet weather gear as a precaution and make sure you have lots of warm layers for summit night. Check out http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mount-Kilimanjaro/forecasts/2000 for a more accurate snapshot of the weather just before you leave. Cheers!

    Reply
Andrea says November 11, 2016

Hello

We are climbing Kili by Machame route during the last week of December. What kind of temperatures can we expect? Thanks

Reply
Sunil says November 14, 2016

Hi

We are climbing kilimanjaro from dec 10 to dec 18. Expecting to summit on dec 17. What should we expect the weather to be like and given that this is likely to be the coldest month, should we expect snow on the summit and thus bring our crampons along?

Reply
HK says November 16, 2016

Hi I would like to know daily day temperatures and night temperatures expected in Jan 2017 for the Lemosho route. Also, should we expect rain ? if yes how much ?

Reply
Sarah Schell says November 20, 2016

Hi, I’m planning on climbing Kilimanjaro from December 5th-12th. what should I expect in terms of the cold and rain?

How do you suggest that I ensure I stay dry and warm? I have a cover for my day pack. Should I get one for my North Face Duffel that the porters will carry?

Do you recommend getting mid-weight tee shirts and mid-weight long sleeve shirts instead of the usual lightweight?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says November 20, 2016

    Hi Sarah, Check out http://www.mountain-forecast.com/peaks/Mount-Kilimanjaro/forecasts/2000 to get historical forecast of Kilimanjaro Weather by altitude. Yes, a rain cover for your daypack is a good idea. In terms of your duffle the porters usually have waterproof carry sacks so you should be good here. I would keep your gear separated in transparent plastic bags just in case, and it’s a great way to separate dirty / wet clothes. I prefer light-weight shirts and mid-weight fleeces. Cheers!

    Reply
Yuli says November 23, 2016

What would be the best time and best route to climb in February or March 2017?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says November 24, 2016

    I recommend the 7-day Machame or 8-day Lemosho. All the best!

    Reply
PK says January 26, 2017

Hi, we are hiking in Lemosho route from in Feb 2nd week. I see on Mountain Forecast lot of snow fall in the next week. Where exactly will that snow fall be? I see many inches (some times up to a foot of snow predicted). Will it be possible/safe to hike?

Thanks in advance.

Reply
    Mark Whitman says January 27, 2017

    Most snow falls at the summit or near the top of the mountain. Generally it is safe to ascend Kilimanjaro when it is snowing.

    Reply
Travis says February 17, 2017

Thoughts on climbing the last week of May possibly? Thoughts on weather?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says February 26, 2017

    Hi Travis, last week of May can be touch and go, but in general you should be fine. Just be prepared to experience some rain on the lower reaches! Cheers!

    Reply
Stéphane says February 24, 2017

Hello,

Do you think the 19-26th of march is still great to climb Mount Kilimandjaro or is it too risky?

We have read several think, some people say it’s already the rain season, some other says it’s perfect because there are not much people and the weather is still very good,

Thank you for your support

Reply
    Mark Whitman says February 26, 2017

    Hi Stephane, I have climbed in late March and it was absolutely fine. We experienced some rain on the lower reaches but not too bad. In general you should be fine, but you might get a rainy day or two. All the best!

    Reply
WNA says March 20, 2017

Hi,
We are planning on honeymooning on Kilimanjaro. I know, she’s amazing, right? We are planning on going May 16-21, 2017 and I would prefer a route with less rain, like Rongai, but I hear Machame is very scenic. She wouldn’t hate me forever if there was a little rain but I would want to make sure our entire trip isn’t soaking wet.
Thanks!

Reply
    Mark Whitman says March 20, 2017

    Hi, nice honeymoon idea, I’m sure your wife will have a blast! I would suggest sticking to the Rongai route as mid may can be quite wet and unpleasant on the Southern Routes, like the Machame. Of course you could get a great week of weather but you have a higher probability of experiencing rainfall on the Machame in mid May than on the Rongai. Hope you guys have a great trip!

    Reply
Erin says April 3, 2017

Hello! We are planning on climbing the Machame route May 26 -June 2. Should I plan on a lot of rain? And how cold will it be? People keep talking about it being cold, but I live in Utah, in the US and to me “cold” is relative? I want to be prepared though! Please let me know! Thank you!

Reply
    Mark Whitman says April 4, 2017

    Hi Erin, the end of May can see some rain on the lower reaches of the mountain but you might get lucky. As a precaution make sure to bring good wet weather gear. In terms of temperature generally you can expect low negative single digits in the evenings and early morning. On summit night the temperatures can drop as low as -20 degrees Celcius if there is a lot of wind. The sustained exposure to the cold along with the high altitude means that cold weather is a factor and you should have the right gear to layer up or down as conditions change. See here: https://www.climbkilimanjaroguide.com/kilimanjaro-kit-list/kilimanjaro-clothing/

    Reply
      Erin says April 7, 2017

      Thank you SO much!!!

      Reply
Hamed says April 4, 2017

What about September weather, do you recommend hiking in this month?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says April 5, 2017

    Hi Hamed, yes, September is a great month to climb Kilimanjaro.

    Reply
Ray says May 1, 2017

Sadly I am not in a physical condition to climb Kilimanjaro but I would very much like to get a view of the mountain from Moshi. What is the best time of the year to get this opportunity? Also, is there a good time to get a view of the mountain from the north? Amboseli? or Loitokitok?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says May 5, 2017

    Hi Ray, its hard to guarantee good views of Kilimanjaro from Moshi but on average there is less cloud cover during the Summer months (June-October). Views from the North tend to be clearer and better!

    Reply
Marie says June 23, 2017

Hi there, just wondering what temperatures to expect thru day and night. We are booked in to do Lemosho 8 days starting July 15 th

Reply
Jens Winther says September 18, 2017

What is the nighttemperature at the camp in 4500 m and at 5900m at Kilimanjaro in february?
I’m gonna try to reach the top 13/2 2018.
Best regards Jens

Reply
    Mark Whitman says September 20, 2017

    Hi Jens, Temperature can fluctuate alot, but you can expect sub zero temperatures at night when you get over 4,500m. The summit to push is during the early hours of the morning so prepare for sub zero temperatures. Depending on the wind chill factor it can get as cold at -10 degrees Celcius. Make sure you layer up! https://www.climbkilimanjaroguide.com/kilimanjaro-kit-list/kilimanjaro-clothing/

    Reply
Saeed says November 26, 2017

We are thinking of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro the 2nd half of December’17 with a night stay at the Crater Camp. Any advice? What is the weather forecast at the Uhuru Peak for that period? Thanks in advance?

Reply
Add Your Reply

START PLANNING: Get a Kilimanjaro Quote Now!

angle-double-right
angle-double-left