When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
So, the adventure of a lifetime is on the radar and the time to start preparing is here! But when IS the best time to climb Kilimanjaro? This is at the very top of our list of climbing Kilimanjaro FAQ questions and concerns that we receive from our family of travelers when they start their Kilimanjaro preparation – and rightly so! Choosing the right time to climb really makes or breaks the experience and it is very important to make an educated decision when deciding on when to embark on this spectacular mission.
- Monthly overview
- Kilimanjaro climate zones
- Packing for each climate zone
- Kilimanjaro wind patterns
- Best time for a unique Kilimanjaro summit
- Best time to travel to Tanzania
Choosing the best time to climb Kilimanjaro can really make or break your experience. Do your research!
January, February & March
These are great months to climb Kilimanjaro. Most of the Kilimanjaro Routes are similar at the start of the climb in that the weather is warm and the rain is present but not extreme. Lemosho Route through the rainforest is perfect this time of year. As you climb higher up the mountain, the weather is generally colder than the other months which means a higher probability of seeing snow on the summit. Snow on the mountain may not seem very exciting for a lot of people, which results in these months being quieter than the others. This is great if you are not too keen on crowds.
April, May & November
These months are considered to be among the least comfortable times to climb Kilimanjaro. The weather is very hot and the rainfall is extreme. It is also important to know that some of the Kilimanjaro Routes are not accessible during the wet season. The Lemosho Route, the Northern Circuit and the Shira Route are off limits during this time. However, the Rongai Route offers a way around this for hikers who can only climb between March and May.
January through to March and June through to October are considered the best times to climb Kilimanjaro
June, July, August, September, October
Little rainfall and lower temperatures make for great hiking weather during these months. The fact that there is less cloud coverage at this time, also means that the views you will experience on your climb will be undeniably beautiful! The only downfall,
This is also a good time to go, but this month holds the most snowfall, so keep this in mind if you are hoping to avoid the extreme cold and hoping for
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.
At the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, you will find the cultivation zone. The cultivation zone receives the water that travels down the mountain, making it perfect for the growing and cultivating of local food sources such as bananas, coffee and potatoes. Although there is little in the line of spotting any wildlife here, this zone parades some beautiful wild flora that thrive in these sorts of conditions. The cultivation zone spans from about 800m to 1800m. This part of the journey can be very hot during April, May and November and is far more pleasant between January and March.
With Tanzania located at the equator, the country’s climate can be described as a tropical wonderland. At the start of your journey, you will trek through the lush density of the rainforest.
January through to March and June through to October are expected to only receive light rain and cloud coverage while passing through this botanical paradise, while November has the highest level of rainfall. The rainforest will accompany you from about 1000m to about 2800m.
“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
Heath & moorland zone
As the climb ascends between 2800m – 4000m, you can expect the lush forest to
The moorland zone is really quite interesting and almost alien looking due to the fascinating plant life that can be found here. Giant groundsels, which are found only on Mount Kilimanjaro grow here, which makes it a very special part of the climb for plant enthusiasts from all over the world. In this zone, temperatures can be very hot during the day and dip below 0 once the sun sets. If you were to climb Kilimanjaro between January to March and June and October you would avoid serious heat in this zone.
“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
Alpine desert zone
The alpine desert zone spans from 4000m to 5000m as conditions are dry and windy and become slightly more challenging. Not only does the altitude increase, but so does the exposure to the sun. Say farewell to most of the shrubbery from the h
The extreme fluctuation between the heat of the day and the cold of the night has created conditions that are unpleasant to most wildlife and birds are not seen soaring ahead as frequently as they were in the zones before them. There are few plants that thrive here, but some mosses have adapted to the conditions and grow well here. This makes for perfect living conditions for small creatures such as spiders and insects. Temperatures here can peak during the day and plummet to below 0 during the night. Keep in mind that from this zone onwards, the weather can get colder during the months of January through to March. If you would particularly like to avoid the cold weather, consider climbing between June to October.
Between 5000m and 5895m, you will endure the last leg of your summit! The name “arctic” speaks for itself here. The conditions are cold and hold very little precipitation. Temperatures range from -7 to -25 degrees Celsius. The start of this zone can be quite tricky to climb as there is predominantly loose gravel along the pathway. This, combined with ice, can become quite slippery to climb and requires hikers to take it very slowly.
The air is very thin here, and hikers will be happy to make their way back down the mountain. It is cold, but so very beautiful and makes for an incredible end goal for such a diverse climb. The summit can be exceptionally cold around November and December, which is why January to March and June to October are the best time to climb Kilimanjaro.
So how do I pack correctly for each zone?
It is said that climbing Kilimanjaro is like hiking from the equator to the North Pole in a matter of days! That’s why it is so important that you keep these 5 climate zones in mind when packing for your climb. We have put together a Kilimanjaro packing list which you can also watch below. Keep this packing guide close by when you are in your Kilimanjaro preparation phase.
Kilimanjaro wind patterns
Kilimanjaro is located on the equator and to really understand the weather patterns that determine the perfect time to go, it is helpful to understand the trade and anti trade wind cycles that occur in this part of the world. South-East Trade winds are consistent surface winds that blow from the east in the Southern Hemisphere and North-East anti trade surface winds blow from the east in the northern hemisphere. While these winds blow towards the equator, they carry moisture which, when colliding with mountains will turn to clouds; resulting in either rain or snow.
How do trade & anti trade winds affect the weather on Kilimanjaro?
Well, trade winds travelling from the north-east travel far and wide over the Indian Ocean and will arrive at the equator around mid March. This means that the wind is loaded with
If by chance you only have time between March and May to climb, you will be happy to hear that there is a route you can take to avoid the extreme rainfall and still experience the beauty of Kilimanjaro. The Rongai route is suggested for trekkers who only have a window of opportunity to climb between March and May. This is because the route resides from the North and due to the mass of rain falling mainly on the Southern side of the peak, the Northern slopes experience less rain.
It is helpful to understand the trade and anti trade wind cycles that occur in this part of the world
On the other
In addition to these two predominant wind patterns, one also has to consider that November brings North-Eastern monsoon winds. This means ALOT of rain and incredible
Best time for a unique Kilimanjaro summit
Climbing Kilimanjaro is an incredible experience. You will also probably only climb Kilimanjaro once in your life, which makes it very unique. We like to take it the next level and up the experience. Add these unique climbs to the best time to climb Kilimanjaro list.
Full Moon Kilimanjaro climb
Picture yourself on the last leg of your summit. The sky is lit up by the bright full moon. The m
2019 Full Moon schedule
- 21st January
- 19th February
- 21st March
- 19th April
- 19th May
- 17th June
- 17th July
- 15th August
- 14th September
- 14th October
- 12th November
- 12th December
NYE Kilimanjaro climb
Yep – we said it! Can you imagine a better way to bring in the new year than from the highest peak in Africa? Consider this a best time to climb Kilimanjaro. We’re inviting you to join us on our New Year’s Eve idea, a unique once in a life time adventure. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro this New Years Eve and Follow Alice into 2020 with your friends above the clouds. Leave us your email and/or phone number below and we will be in contact shortly to discuss the trip with you.
“Simply GREAT ! Great adventure, great group of people, great organisation, great memories. I would definitely recommend it” Enrico Leonelli
Best time to travel to Tanzania
If you are thinking of spending some time in Tanzania either before or after your Kilimanjaro climb, you may also want to consider the best time to be in Tanzania in general. Other than the majestic mountain, a Tanzania safari boasts some of the most beautiful safaris that Africa has to offer. This should be right at the top of your bucket list, just under climbing Kilimanjaro. Keeping this is mind, you will want to make sure that whatever time you choose to visit, the weather is suitable for a climb and a safari.
Also make sure you read our Climb Kilimanjaro cost post.
When in the best time so go on a Tanzania safari?
The best time for wildlife viewing in Tanzania is during the months of June to October which are considered the ‘dry’ months. If you are particularly keen on seeing the great Serengeti migration, you’ll want to plan your trip for June-July and January-February. There is however no way of knowing exactly which date to expect the Migration. June to October are also great for safaris. This is because there are less mosquitoes in the dry season and we are all for avoiding those pesky buggers!
November to May is considered the ‘wet’ season. Although it makes for pretty miserable safari weather, there are a few perks. Firstly, late January to February is calving season. This means that you will see more baby animals and in turn, more predator action. Another plus is that the bird migration is thriving during this time, which may be very appealing if you are an avid birder. The downside, of course, is rain rain rain. Not many sunny days can be expected, especially during March to May.
Ultimately the best time to go on a safari is up to you and what you are hoping to see, but keep the above in mind when planning around your Kili climb.
“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