When to climb – Kilimanjaro Seasons

From minus 20 to plus 30 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 35 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 time as the rest of northern Tanzania. Rainfall is heaviest March to May, with a shorter wet season during the period late October to late November.

The best months for climbing are January and February, with September, October and (late) December also good. July and August offer generally clear 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 at this time of year.

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).

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