Kilimanjaro summit day snow clouds climber George K

When is there snow on the summit of Kilimanjaro?

May 13, 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes

Your best chance of experiencing a snowy summit is to climb Kilimanjaro between December and April. February probably offers you the greatest guarantee of a white peak. Here are some important further details to know ...

A magically white Uhuru Peak

There's no denying that the summit of Kilimanjaro softened under a blanket of white snow is a breathtaking sight. At other times of the year the ground you stomp up to Uhuru Peak is mostly barren brown dirt.

Two trekkers smiling by Uhuru Peak on a very snow-covered Kilimanjaro summit

 

If you do decide to book a snowy Kilimanjaro climb, please be sure to read our comprehensive Kilimanjaro packing list, or download the free packing list below, to ensure you come prepared with the proper trekking boots and other kit necessary to stay warm and dry.

 

 

The best months for a snowy summit

The first snowfall of the season usually arrives at the end of November or beginning of December. The snow tends to thicken between February and April, and then starts to recede.

Infographic showing the best time to climb Kilimanjaro

 

As you can see in the graphic above, November and then April and May are rainy seasons on Kilimanjaro. This means a good time for a snowy Kilimanjaro climb is between December and March. We don't recommend climbing in a rainy season as your time spent lower down on the mountain could then be unpleasantly wet and even treacherously slippery.

Snowy Kilimanjaro peak or summit seen from airplane

 

Three types of snowy summit climbs

We have three suggestions for those wanting a snowy Kilimanjaro climb:

  1. Plan your trip in February or March for the best guarantee of snow while also enjoying good trekking conditions lower down on the mountain.
  2. Plan to do a New Year's Eve Kilimanjaro climb so that you find yourself standing on top of the world (and most likely in some snow) on the first day of the new year!
  3. Plan a full moon Kilimanjaro climb during the snowy season so that you're seeing the moonlight reflect off the snow on your hike to the summit!
Summit Mt Kilimanjaro National Park

We hope it goes without saying that finding snow on the summit of Kilimanjaro is never a guarantee โ€“ mountain weather is mountain weather, after all, meaning it does what it wants.

Warning: snow can mean no view

While a snowy summit is, for sure, a magical sight, please be aware that you might be one of the climbers who experience this privilege at the cost of a view. The snowy season tends to have more overcast days near the summit than the long dry season (June to October).

summit kilimanjaro clothes

 

It's always best with a big adventure like Kilimanjaro to try to have very few expectations. Try not to bank on snow, nor bank on an expansive view over the African plains from the summit. That way, whatever you end up experiencing is a treat, not a disappointment.

Also, remember that every summit experience offers something unique. A misty Uhuru Peak, for instance, creates a different sort of memory โ€“ one of a small private world of shared victory between you and your fellow trekkers and crew.

The glaciers are always there (for now)

Glacier at top of Mt Kilimanjaro

The glaciers atop Kilimanjaro offer many different moods depending on the light

The glaciers atop Kilimanjaro are there for all to see the whole year round. So even if you're trekking in the dry (versus in the snow), you'll still see the gorgeous white of the nearby glacier. And if the day dawns clear, then the sun's slanted rays could well illuminate the pure aquamarine streaks within the glacier wall.

That said, Kilimanjaro's glaciers are sadly shrinking. So those of you keen to see these beautiful walls of ice on the roof of Africa should start planning your climb sooner rather than later.

Furtwangler Glacier and snow

Furtwangler Glacier atop Kilimanjaro

Finally, note that you don't get close to the glaciers on a regular Kilimanjaro climb. Rather, you see and appreciate the beauty of Furtwangler, the closest glacier to Uhuru Peak, from a distance.

If you're keen to eyeball Furtwangler from close up, as well as spend time exploring the crater atop Kilimanjaro, then you should consider overnighting at Crater Camp. This is a tough but rewarding alternative to doing one of Kilimanjaro's regular seven routes.