null

Best time to climb Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro is open to trekkers all year round. But most folks opt to avoid the wettest and coldest months. We tell you the climbing conditions of each season and identify the most ideal climbing times.

We recommend climbing Kilimanjaro between mid December and March, or between mid June and October, to enjoy the best weather conditions.

An important part of anyone's Kilimanjaro preparation is choosing a time of year to climb the mountain. While you can climb Kilimanjaro any time of year, some months are just better than others.

We aim to help you choose the best time of year for you to climb the mountain by offering our cumulative expert advice, which is based on many years of trekking Kilimanjaro.

 

 

What is the weather on Kilimanjaro?

Tanzania, home to the magnificent Mt Kilimanjaro, is located near the Equator, and so it won't surprise you to learn that most of the country experiences some very hot months.

Yet Mt Kilimanjaro itself rises to 5,895 m above sea level, which gives its summit an arctic climate. This means Kilimanjaro trekkers can experience extremes of both heat and cold.

But when are you likely to avoid the worst of the heat as well as the worst of the cold? And furthermore, since some months experience more precipitation than others, when is the best time of year for climbing the mountain to avoid slopping around on a saturated path?

Our seasonal overview below can help you to choose the best time to climb Kilimanjaro from a weather perspective.

Infographic showing the best time to climb Kilimanjaro

Graph showing Kilimanjaro seasonal patterns

The short dry season: Mid December to March

Late December, January, February and March are great months for climbing Kilimanjaro. For starters, while there's some rain during this season, it's not extreme.

As you climb higher up the mountain, the weather is generally colder than it is during the other months, which means a higher probability of seeing snow on the summit. Snow on the summit is, of course, very beautiful. That said, trekking in snow doesn't appeal to everyone, and that combined with the lower temperatures, means these months tend to be quieter than the others. This is great if you're not too keen on crowds!

If you want a quieter trek but to still enjoy decent weather conditions, consider climbing Kilimanjaro sometime between mid December and March.

Please note that December generally sees the most snowfall on the summit. While it can be incredibly beautiful to walk in fresh snow, it does mean you might not have a clear view from the summit over the surrounding landscape if there's snowfall.

If you decide to climb Kilimanjaro during the short dry season, and are hoping to miss the crowds, we suggest you steer away from the busier routes like the Machame.

Summit of Kilimanjaro covered in snow with clouds around

You're likely to have a snowy summit if you trek Kilimanjaro in late December

The long rainy season: April and May

April, May and November are generally speaking the least comfortable months to climb Kilimanjaro in terms of weather. The days can be very hot (as well as humid in the rainforest). Further, these are the wettest months, and you could end up trekking through downpours.

All that said, you can still climb Kilimanjaro at this time, and one perk is that the mountain is less crowded.

April and May are arguably the least optimal months to climb Kilimanjaro, as the heat in the lower climate zones can be intense, and there's lots of rainfall.

summit Kilimanjaro

The top of Kilimanjaro is super cold no matter what time of year you climb – some months are just colder than others

The long dry season: June to October

June to October are great hiking months as there's little rainfall and it's not so hot during the day. There's also less cloud coverage at this time, which means you'll be treated to sprawling views over the African plains!

The only downside, however, to climbing during these months is the crowds. One reason for this is that these months coincide with the summer holidays in Europe and North America. Perhaps consider January to March if you'd like a less crowded climb.

It's the rainforest zone where (surprise, surprise!) most of the mountain's rainfall occurs

The short rainy season: November to mid December

The short rainy season sees some intense downpours in the rainforest zone of Kilimanjaro. It can also be pretty hot and steamy. For these reasons we don't consider November and the first half of December to be ideal Kilimanjaro climbing weather.

That said, the mountain can still be climbed at this time if you wish. You might like to read Arwa Mrad's Kilimanjaro journal to see how she and her partner found hiking the Lemosho route during the short rainy season.

The mountain is pretty quiet during the short rainy season, which some find a plus. You might like to consider trekking the Rongai route at this time as that route receives less rainfall on average than the other Kilimanjaro routes.

The rains only really affect the lower portion of the hike as you walk through the mountain's rainforest belt

Kilimanjaro's five climate zones

When trying to figure out the best time to be climbing Kilimanjaro, it is helpful to know that on your journey, you will experience 5 distinct climate zones which are affected differently by the 2 different wind patterns that occur in Tanzania. Don't worry though - you don't have to be a climatologist to make sure you climb at the right time. Let’s make a start by having a look at each climate zone and what to expect.

Cultivation zone (800 m to 1,800 m)

The foothills of Kilimanjaro exist in the cultivation zone. They benefit from the water that travels down the mountain, and as such are perfect for growing bananas, coffee and potatoes. This area can be very hot during April, May and November, and is far more pleasant between January and March. But you don't hike this section of the mountain – you drive through it to reach the next zone (the rainforest zone), and start your trek from there. The drive is a pretty one, and you should see many lovely flowers en route.

The cultivation zone of Kilimanjaro is well-known for its coffee farms

Rainforest zone (1,000 m to 2,800 m)

Your Kilimanjaro trek starts in the mountain's rainforest zone. This is one of the most pleasant portions of the climb, as you're walking along picturesque forest paths, passing moss-covered trees, gnarled trunks, vines, fern fronds and plenty more pretty sights. You should be able to spot blue monkeys and black-and-white colobuses, and hear birdsong and many busy insects.

The forest itself isn't all of a kind, however. The lower half, whilst pretty, is less diverse than the upper half. The upper half, which starts at around the 2,000 m mark, is dense, old-growth cloud forest and contains over 1,800 species of flowering plants!

I'm a real nature lover, so the rainforest was probably one of my favourite climate zones to trek through on Kilimanjaro. It was truly beautiful!

– Frankie Strong

From January to March and June to October the rainforest usually receives only light rain and cloud coverage. November has the highest level of rainfall, so only come at this time of year if rain, mud and slippery paths don't faze you.

forest hiking Mount Kilimanjaro

The path through the forest is an especially pretty one

Afro-alpine moorland zone (2,800 m to 4,000 m)

The Afro-alpine moorland zone (also known as the heath or upland grassland zone) is a fascinating section of the mountain! Here, the forest dissipates and in its place is spotted vegetation, notably consisting of three giants: giant lobelia, giant groundsel, and giant heather. These unusual trees usually take centre stage in everyone's photographs, as they're just so striking and surprising. Giant groundsels are also very slow growers, and some are around 200 years old. They are found on Kilimanjaro and nowhere else!

This zone also sees large fields of wildflowers and tufts of tall grasses among the rocks. As to wildlife, keep your eyes open for hyraxes, duikers and even occasionally elands.

In the moorland zone, temperatures can be very hot during the day but then dip below zero once the sun sets. If you want to avoid the worst of the heat, you should climb Kilimanjaro between January to March or June and October.

When Chris realised I’d forgotten rain gear, he went out and rented some for me before we embarked the next day. This was super helpful as it rained often on our hike.

– Alexandre Polise

giant Groundsels Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbers hike between iconic giant groundsels, which only grow on Kilimanjaro

Alpine desert zone (4,000 m to 5,000 m)

The alpine desert zone is a dry, cold and windy region. The terrain is rocky, harsh and dramatic. If you don't like extreme cold, then you should consider climbing Kilimanjaro between June and October (summer).

The extreme fluctuation between the heat of the day and the cold of the night in the alpine zone means means there's little in the way of vegetation and wildlife. Some mosses have adapted to the conditions and grow well, and you can find creatures like spiders and insects.

Trekkers can struggle in the alpine zone as the higher altitude makes breathing that bit harder, and your exposure to the sun is also heightened. Symptoms of altitude sickness regularly start to show up among climbers in this zone.

Hikers stand by sign at Karanga Camp on Kilimanjaro

Karanga Camp, in the harsh alpine desert zone

Arctic zone (5,000 m to 5,895 m)

The word arctic speaks for itself here! The conditions in the top portion of Kilimanjaro are icy cold. Temperatures range from -7 to -25° C. The start of this zone can be quite tricky to climb, as it consists primarily of loose gravel. And then, higher up, there's ice, which can make your path slippery. But not to worry – take things pole, pole (slowly, slowly), and you'll be just fine! Besides, with the air being so thin, you'll find that slowly is all your body allows.

While the wind and temperature are fierce at the summit, the view is so very beautiful, and makes for an incredible reward. Note that the summit is at its very coldest in November and December.

Ice glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro

The glacier at the top of Kilimanjaro, with a sheet of cloud below

Packing for each climate zone

It's said that climbing Kilimanjaro is like hiking from the Equator to the North Pole in a matter of just a few days! That's why it is so important to know what to pack so that you'll be comfortable and protected no matter what the climate and weather conditions.

We've put together a comprehensive Kilimanjaro packing list and suggest you reference this in your Kilimanjaro preparation.

 

 

Full moon summits

All Kilimanjaro trekkers start their summit attempt at midnight, but most do so by the light of their headlamps alone. The fortunate few, however, get to hike under the bright light of a full moon.

Kilimanjaro full moon climbs are a special and incredibly beautiful experience. Instead of trekking for hours in darkness, you see the dramatic, nighttime world of the mountain's summit, something few ever will!

Please chat to us if you'd like to arrange to climb Kilimanjaro during a full moon!

If climbing Kilimanjaro isn't already enough of an adventure in itself, picture yourself hiking to the summit under the light of the full moon!

2021 full moon dates

  • 28 January
  • 27 February
  • 28 March
  • 27 April
  • 26 May
  • 24 June
  • 24 July
  • 22 August
  • 21 September
  • 20 October
  • 19 November
  • 19 December

2022 full moon dates

  • 17 January
  • 16 February
  • 18 March
  • 16 April
  • 15 May
  • 14 June
  • 13 July
  • 11 August
  • 10 September
  • 9 October
  • 8 November
  • 7 December

2023 full moon dates

  • 5 January
  • 5 February
  • 7 March
  • 5 April
  • 5 May
  • 3 June
  • 3 July
  • 1/30 August
  • 29 September
  • 28 October
  • 27 November
  • 26 December
On the summit at the Best time to climb Kilimanjaro

Keen for your turn at the very top of Africa?!

New Year's Eve Kilimanjaro climbs

Can you imagine a better – or more novel! – way to bring in the new year than from the highest peak in Africa? A New Year's Eve climb takes place during the short dry season on Kilimanjaro, and so is one of the best times to climb Kilimanjaro.

The summit is worth every tough step it takes, and it's completely breath-taking to be the highest person on the African continent for a little while.

– Stephen Hemmings

 

 

Best time to travel to Tanzania

If you're thinking of spending some time in Tanzania either before or after your Kilimanjaro climb, you may also want to research The best time to travel in Tanzania.

Zanzibar

After climbing Kilimanjaro, it can be sheer bliss to hop to Zanzibar for a lazy beach holiday!

 

Contact

+44 20 3289 2088

info@followalice.com

Chat to us

 

Follow Alice Ltd.

207 Regent Street

London, W1B 3HH

United Kingdom

 

Follow Alice Tours (T) LTD

P.O Box 1923, Moshi

Tanzania, East Africa

 

Follow Alice Tours (T) LTD is registered in Tanzania and holds all the necessary licences to run Kilimanjaro climbs and safaris.

 

Our Credentials

Follow Alice is rated 5/5 stars across all major platforms

We are an approved partner company with the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project

 

 

International Mountain Explorers Connection – IMEC – Partner for Responsible Travel Program.

 

Copyright Follow Alice LTD. 2021, registration number 10374382 (England & Wales)