When to climb – Kilimanjaro Seasons

From minus 20 to plus 40 degrees celsius – a brief overview of Kilimanjaro’s climate

Equatorial to Arctic conditions are present on Kilimanjaro. In the lowlands and even relatively high sheltered valleys you can experience temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius, while night-time temperatures generally fall below zero and can drop as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Kilimanjaro’s rainy seasons occur at the same as in the rest of northern Tanzania. Rainfall is heaviest March to May, with occasional short rains during the period late October to late November.

The best months for climbing are January and February, with September, October and December also good. July and August offer generally clear (albeit cold) weather conditions, but the trails are most crowded during the holidays. If climbing out of peak season, note that the north face of Kilimanjaro is marginally drier, so routes that approach from the north, such as Rongai (and to a lesser extent Northern Circuit), are best.

It must be noted that Kilimanjaro has a typical montane climate – unpredictable even in the “driest” seasons. A bright clear morning on Shira Plateau can turn to rain and sleet in the afternoon as the hot air rises from the lowland valleys. Then, as evening falls the sky clears revealing a beautiful starlit canopy overhead. These dramatic daily shifts in climate are the norm on Kilimanjaro, and part of the thrill of the climb!

The weather does, of course, bring risks. The most important risks that climbers should be aware of are high altitude sun that can burn the skin severely; and cold nights that demand four season sleeping bags and good thermal clothing. Waterproofs are essential, even outside of the rainy season. To venture into this climatic zone without the right equipment is foolhardy and dangerous (see our Kilimanjaro kit guide).

SEASONOUTLINECROWDSRAINFALL
January to FebruaryThis is our preferred time to climb Kilimanjaro. Expect relatively warm temperatures and clear skies, with only occasional rain on the lower slopes. The trails can be crowded during January, though less so than in July and August.Crowded icon-white-smallRain-light-thin-small
March to MayKilimanjaro’s long rainy season is the worst time to climb (unless you're absolutely determined to avoid the crowds!) Expect overcast skies, and wet and muddy trails.loneiconwhite-smallRain-thin-small
JuneThe start of the climbing season. June doesn’t normally see heavy rain, but conditions can be cloudy and temperatures cool.two person icon-whitesmallRain-light-thin-small
July to early SeptemberThe busiest time on the mountain. The popular trails (Marangu, Machame) can become very busy during these months, with a rush of groups. The weather is generally good with clear skies (more so than in Jan and Feb) and good visibility. Expect cold temperatures.Crowded icon-white-smallThin cloud
Late September to OctoberComparable to January. Late September and early October are good times to climb, with temperatures slightly warmer than in July and August and the trails for the most part quieter. Late October can see the beginning of the short rainy season, which continues throughout November.two person icon-whitesmallThin cloud
NovemberThe short rains make early November especially a less than ideal time to climb (unless you are really keen to avoid the crowds!) However, conditions are generally better than in March-May.loneiconwhite-smallRain-thin-small
DecemberThe end of year holidays see an increase in the number of climbers. Jan and Feb generally offer more favourable weather conditions, however, as the short rains will sometimes run into December.two person icon-whitesmallRain-light-thin-small