Weather on Kilimanjaro

When is the Best Time to Climb 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 . 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.

Month
Temperature
Precipitation
Cloudiness
Crowds
January Warm Medium Low High
February Warm Medium Low High
March Moderate High Medium Low
April Moderate High High Low
May Moderate High High Low
June Cold Medium Medium Medium
July Cold Medium Low High
August Cold Low Low High
September Moderate Low Low High
October Moderate Low Medium Medium
November Moderate High Medium Low
December Moderate Medium Medium Medium

From January 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. 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. From mid June to the end of October, the mountain is generally a bit colder, but also drier. 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.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). Our group climbs are scheduled to correspond with the dry season.

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.

What is the Weather on Kilimanjaro ?

The short answer is that the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro range from hot to bitter cold. The journey from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a matter of days. This is because the routes to the Uhuru peak cross different ecological zones. Mount Kilimanjaro has five major ecological zones, each approximately 3,280 feet (1,000 m) in altitude. Each zone is subject to a corresponding decrease in rainfall, temperature and life as the altitude increases.

Moshi, the gateway town from which our climbs are organized, is located just south of the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. At 2,667 feet (900 m) above sea level, the town is located in the lowest, warmest ecological zone. Average temperature, humidity and precipitation figures for Moshi are reflected in the following table.

 

 

Average
Temperature, Humidity and Precipitation in Moshi, Tanzania
Month
Low
(F)
Average
(F)
High
(F)
Humidity
(%)
Rainfall
(in)
January
64
78
92
58
1.4
February
64
78
92
57
2.0
March
66
78
90
63
4.7
April
67
76
85
73
13.8
May
65
72
79
77
9.3
June
62
70
78
72
1.5
July
60
69
78
69
1.0
August
60
70
80
66
0.7
September
60
71
83
61
0.6
October
62
75
88
57
1.0
November
64
76
89
57
2.5
December
64
77
90
60
2.1

 

As shown, January and February are the warmest months, April and May are the wettest months, June and July are the coolest months, and August and September are the driest months. These generalities about the weather in Moshi hold true for Mount Kilimanjaro as well.

Due to its proximity to the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro does not experience wide temperature changes from season to season. Instead, the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro are determined more so by the altitude and time of day. At the beginning of the climb, at the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius). From there, the temperatures will decrease as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro’s ecological zones.

At the summit, Uhuru Point, the night time temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates its own weather. It is extremely variable and impossible to predict. Therefore, regardless of when you climb, you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.

Below are the five zones from the lowest to the highest altitude along with the average annual precipitation and zone characteristics, of the current weather in each particular zone.

Bushland

  1. Altitude: 2,600 to 6,000 ft (800 to 1,800 m)
  2. Precipitation: 20 to 70 in (500 to 1,800 mm)
  3. Cultivated land, grasslands and populated human settlements characterize this zone.

Rain Forest

  1. Altitude: 6,000 to 9,200 ft (1,800 to 2,800 m)
  2. Precipitation: 79 to 40 in (2,000 to 1,000 mm)
  3. The forest receives 6 feet of rain annually, supporting a variety of plants and wildlife while clear nights can produce low temperatures.

Heath

  1. Altitude: 9,200 to 13,200 ft (2,800 to 4,000 m)
  2. Precipitation: 51 to 21 in (1,300 to 530 mm)
  3. This semi-alpine zone is characterized by heath-like vegetation and abundant wild flowers. The unique Senecio trees are abundant here.

Alpine Desert

  1. Altitude: 13,200 to 16,500 ft (4,000 to 5,000 m)
  2. Precipitation: 10 in (250 mm)
  3. The alpine desert receives little water and correspondingly light vegetation exists here. The temperature can vary from over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to below freezing at night.

Arctic

  1. Altitude: 16,500+ ft (5,000+ m)
  2. Precipitation: <4 in (100 mm)
  3. Characterized by ice and rock, there is virtually no plant or animal life at this altitude. Nights are extremely cold and the day’s unbuffered sun is powerful. The oxygen level is half that of sea level.
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