Other Things to Consider for Your Kilimanjaro Trek
Of course, time of year and weather conditions aren’t the only factor to consider as you start to plan your ascent of Africa’s highest peak. Here are a few more variables you may want to learn more about before you decide the best time to climb Kilimanjaro:
Choosing the Best Kilimanjaro Route
The three most popular Kilimanjaro routes are the Machame Route, the Lemosho Route and the Rongai Route. Each have their advantages and disadvantages:
The Machame Route
The popular Machame Route offers a shorter, but more challenging, trekking duration, as well as stunning scenery on the ascent to Uhuru Peak. Read our full Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Trek itinerary to find out more.
The Lemosho Route
The Lemosho Route is longer, more gradual and also less popular, but certainly not less beautiful, which is why we highly recommend this route for those taking on the Kilimanjaro challenge, especially if you have limited trekking experience. Read our full Mount Kilimanjaro Lemosho Trek itinerary for details.
The Rongai Route
The remote Rongai Route approaches the summit from the north, on Kenya’s side of Kilimanjaro. Less popular, with options of faster or gradual ascents, you may also be treated to sightings of big game, such as antelope, elephant and buffalo. Contact us directly to enquire about this route.
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Preparing for your Kilimanjaro Hike
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro may be a feature on many traveller’s bucket list (over 30,000 people climb to the summit every year), but it’s no easy feat and it’s essential that you are prepared.
Here are a few tips to get you started, but for more information on how to get ready for your mountain adventure, we recommend that you read our beginner’s guide to Kilimanjaro trekking.
Train your strength and stamina as far in advance as you can, with focus on conditioning your legs, preparing your cardiovascular system, muscles and joints.
The most common factor that stops many climbers from reaching the summit is not the fitness required for the hike, but altitude sickness (the inability to acclimatise to the high altitude). This can be brought on by ascending too fast, which is why we recommend the Lemosho route’s more gradual ascent.
Also, keep in mind that the risk of altitude sickness increases if you’re already suffering a cold or the flu, so wait to climb Kilimanjaro once you are fully recovered.
Camping equipment and food is provided and carried by the porters, but it is wise to invest in and bring quality hiking gear (clothing, footwear etc.) in order to have the best chance of reaching the top and enjoying the hike – there’s nothing worse than blisters.
Kilimanjaro Trekking & Responsible Travel
When it comes to Kilimanjaro and responsible travel, the biggest issue to consider is porters’ rights. Local porters are essential guides for the Kilimanjaro trek and their expertise and support (especially in carrying bags and camping equipment) makes a huge difference between reaching the summit or not.
Read more Mt. Kilimanjaro Weather - When is the Best Time to Climb?
We’re proud to support KPAP (Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project), an organisation dedicated to porter welfare and fair salaries, which are far and away over the industry average. Read our Responsible Travel Guide to Tanzania for more.
If you’d like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, call our Luxury Travel Specialists for a chat about your dream trip or fill out our no-obligation enquiry form.
— Update: 15-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Mt. Kilimanjaro Weather – When is the Best Time to Climb? from the website www.mountkilimanjaroguide.com for the keyword when to hike kilimanjaro.
The Mount Kilimanjaro weather affects your climb and your success chances. When to climb Kilimanjaro is an important decision.
Bad weather on Kilimanjaro not only makes for a miserable trek and ruins your photos, most importantly it simply makes the climb twice as hard!
You are a LOT more likely to reach the summit if the weather on Kilimanjaro is good.
Mount Kilimanjaro is near the equator. In the tropics there is no such thing as summer and winter. There are only dry and rainy periods. Or “dry seasons” and “wet seasons”.
Climbing Kilimanjaro during the wet season means you have to slog through very deep mud during the first days. At higher altitude you have fog and drizzle, and slowly but surely the moisture will creep into your clothes, your gear, your bones…
At the top you may have to fight your way through ice and snow. Having moisture in your clothes and everything is not going to help with the cold up there.
But there are other aspects to consider as well. The temperatures, the views, and of course the number of people on the mountain. As so often, there is no hard and fast answer and no single best time to climb Kilimanjaro.
So lets look at the Kilimanjaro weather details over the year.
The Weather on Kilimanjaro – When to Go?
April – June
The main rainy season lasts from the end of March through to mid June. As elsewhere in the world, when exactly it rains and when it stops is impossible to predict. It’s the warmest time of the year in Tanzania, but those months are so wet that many operators simply do not offer climbs in April/May at all.
June – August
The rain gradually decreases, and so do the temperatures on Kilimanjaro. The weather on Kilimanjaro is fairly dry and clear but the nights will be bitter cold. June is quiet, but the number of climbers increases as the year progresses.
August – October
August and even more so September is the peak climbing season on Kilimanjaro. The weather is good with many clear days and warmer than in June/July. You may, however, get clouds blanketing the forest/moorland zone, and on the southern routes you may get rained on on the first days. But once you leave the rain forest behind all is good! The good conditions last into about mid Occtober when the build up for the short rains begins.
The weather on Kilimanjaro becomes more unstable and the number of climbers drops. As in all tropical regions of the world, the wetter time of the year announces itself with afternoon clouds and occasional thunderstorms. As long as you are equipped to withstand the occasional shower, this should not present any major problems.
November is the small rainy season, and the rain lasts into mid December. The temperatures have dropped and the rain brings with it all the hazards that I described at the top of the page. Not the best time to climb Kilimanjaro.
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The four to six weeks around Christmas and New Year are the second peak climbing season on Kilimanjaro. Traffic is extremely high despite there still being a good chance of rainfall and thick clouds in the lower regions. It’s not a time I would choose.
Mid January to mid March is also a good time to climb Kilimanjaro. The weather is reasonable, not too cold, not too wet, and there aren’t as many climbers. The days are mainly dry, beautifully clear with few clouds and occasional brief showers. In March the chances of rain gradually increase as you approach the long rainy season. See above.
There are a few more things worth mentiong about the weather on Kilimanjaro.
You may decide to climb at a less than perfect time, be it because you want to avoid the main rush or because that is the only opportunity you have to take the time off from work. If that’s the case, consider the Rongai Route. The northern side of the mountain is much drier than the otherKilimanjaro routes.
And if you want the best weather on Kilimanjaro but hate crowds, then the same applies. Choose your route wisely. There is less traffic on Rongai, Shira and Lemosho than on the overcrowded Machame and Marangu routes.
The other thing are the temperatures. Photos of people in short sleeves during the climb, or without hats and gloves on the summit, may leave a wrong impression.
The day and night temperatures can be vastly different. In that respect the alpine desert is no different to other deserts in the world. Above 4000 metres (13000 ft) a sunny day may be above 30°C (85F), the nights are still below zero.
One question that nearly everybody asks: just how cold is it on the summit? Or rather, during that night climb? The temperatures during summit night can drop to -20°C (-5F), but be aware that with the additional chill factor of wind the felt temperature may be as low as -40 (curiously, both in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit).
Prepare for the worst case scenario, and then enjoy that everything turns out much easier than expected!
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— Update: 17-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article When is the Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro? from the website www.ultimatekilimanjaro.com for the keyword when to hike kilimanjaro.
Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s proximity to the equator, this region does not experience the extremes of winter and summer weather, but rather dry and wet seasons. Therefore, the best time to climb Kilimanjaro tends to be the warmest and driest months (see Kilimanjaro weather).
The primary issue is safety, as the risks associated with climbing increase significantly when the weather is foul. The effects of rain, mud, snow, ice and cold can be very strenuous on the body. Correspondingly, your chances of a successful summit also increases significantly with nice weather. Of course, the mountain gets more foot traffic during these periods as well.
The table below lists the relative temperature, precipitation, cloudiness and crowds during the calendar months.
Wet and Dry Seasons on Kilimanjaro
It is possible to climb Kilimanjaro year round, however it is best to climb when there is a lower possibility of precipitation. The dry seasons are from the beginning of December through the beginning of March, and then from late June through the end of October. These are considered to be the best times to climb in terms of weather, and correspondingly are the busiest months (high season).
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Our group climbs are scheduled to correspond with the dry seasons.
- 🌤️Short Dry Season: from mid December through mid-March are the warmest months, with clear skies in the mornings and evenings. During the day, clouds may appear along with brief showers.
- 🌧️Long Rainy Season: the long rainy season spans from the end of March to early June. We do not recommend climbing during this time unless you are an experienced backpacker who has trekked in similar conditions. It can be very wet, and visibility may be low due to heavy clouds. The crowds are gone, however.
- 🌤️Long Dry Season: from mid June to the end of October, the mountain is generally a bit colder, but also drier.
- 🌧️Short Rainy Season: the short rainy season spans from the beginning of November to the beginning of December. Afternoon rains are common, but skies are clear in mornings and evenings.
Note that the rains are unpredictable and may come early or extend beyond their typical time frames. It is possible to experience mostly dry weather conditions during the rainy season, just as it is possible to have heavy rain during the dry season.
Summiting During a Full Moon
Some climbers prefer to summit during a full moon.
When the peak of Kilimanjaro and magnificent glaciers are lit up by the full moon, the view is absolutely stunning. For this reason alone, some climbers schedule their trek to coincide with this celestial event, occurring once a month. However, a practical reason for climbing at these times is that a bright moon along with a clear sky will improve your visibility throughout your climb, and most importantly, during the summit attempt. Below are full moon dates:
To summit during a full moon, a 7-day climb should start 5 days prior to the full moon date. It is not necessary to summit on the exact full moon date to take advantage of moonlight. A summit on the day before or day after is also beneficial.
We offer several group climbs with full moon summits every month during the dry season. These dates tend to be the first to book completely full well in advance.
For those who favor a less crowded climb, avoid the full moon completely.
Full moon dates attract many climbers. So if it is not important to you, we suggest climbing at a different time. Note that we have many clients who climb with or without the full moon, and clients are equally satisfied with either itinerary.
Another method of dodging crowds is to choose an “off” day of departure. Most climbers will begin their climbs on Saturday, Sunday or Monday, with routes lasting 6 to 7 days.
Kilimanjaro’s Glaciers Are Shrinking
You can go anytime, but do it sooner rather than later.
What makes Mount Kilimanjaro unique is that despite its close proximity to the equator, it is crowned with ice. The glaciers have existed here for more than 11,000 years. They used to be more than 300 feet (100 m) deep and extended 6,500 feet (2,000 m) from the mountain top. However, due global warming and long term climatic cycles, the ice has been vaporizing at an alarming rate.
Some scientists estimate that Mount Kilimanjaro’s ice cap will be completely gone by 2050. So if you are contemplating the climb, do yourself a favor and do it sooner rather than later. The glaciers are something you do not want to miss.