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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 mentioning 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 other Kilimanjaro 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).
More Preparation Information:-