WHAT ARE THE BEST MONTHS FOR CLIMBING KILIMANJARO?
Kilimanjaro has a typical annual weather pattern alternating between rainy and dry seasons. As Kilimanjaro is situated at the equator so temperatures actually don’t change much throughout the year. In fact, temperatures at the summit remain relatively stable while lower elevations tend to be 5 or 6 degrees Celsius (10 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler in June/July and August. For optimal trekking conditions we recommend attempting to summit during a dry season. The dry seasons run from January to mid-March and then again from June to October. The optimal months being February and August, followed closely by January and September, then June, July and October. The primary rainy season or “long wet” is from Mid-March to Mid-May and the secondary rainy season or “short wet” is from November to December. Climbing is still possible in November and December (the “short wet”) as rains tend to be limited in duration. It is also possible to climb during the “long wet” but we generally don’t recommend it as the trails are muddy and rains can last several days. As each month varies in cloud coverage, sun exposure, and low temperatures at altitude, we’ve created this month by month guide. Trekkers should have a clear idea of the weather conditions of the months they’re trekking to the Roof of Africa.
What are the best months for climbing Kilimanjaro?
The climbing in January begins as the weather turns warm and dry. It is one of our favorite months to climb as there are fewer crowds on the mountain and less rain means more clear skies towards the summit. Although bad weather can occasionally roll in from the Indian Ocean, we highly recommend climbing during this month. You are also more likely to encounter snow atop Kilimanjaro than during the other dry season of June-October.
As previously mentioned, this is one of the best months to climb Kilimanjaro as it is warmer and has overall better weather than most months. However, it does come with caveats – for one, be prepared for the dust. These dry gusts can cover the entire camp, your clothes, and if you’re not careful your lungs too. Make sure to bring a buff or a bandana to keep your air passageways dust free during the day. The first half of the month offers especially great conditions with the second half bringing the possibility of monsoon rains and wet weather. Lastly, Kilimanjaro in February does tend to be slightly more crowded than January. If you are put off by crowds then plan accordingly.
Monsoon rains generally start around March 20th so the early part of the month can be good climbing weather. However, once the winds from the Indian Ocean come, the excessive moisture they bring turns any summit attempts into a difficult struggle against rain, ice, snow, mud and the cold. This is the”Long Wet” season that runs from the end of March through April and into early May. With slippery rocks, wet clothes, and generally miserable conditions every day, safety becomes a major issue. In addition to bringing heavy precipitation, the thick clouds eliminate the possibility of viewing Kilimanjaro from the valley. If you have experienced similar trekking conditions and are undeterred in undertaking a March trek, be prepared to hike through snow anywhere past Barafu High Camp (4,650m/15,255ft). We don’t normally schedule climbs after mid-March but it is possible if it’s the only time you can schedule.
April is the wettest month on the mountain, and you should be cautioned to plan around it. In addition to rain, extreme weather towards the summit might include thunder, lightning and freezing temperatures. An April trip could easily be described as soggy, uncomfortable with poor views and visibility. Consider planning a climb during a month not in the middle of the rainy season (March-May). We don't normally schedule climbs in April, but it is possible, and we can arrange it if it’s the only time of year you can go.
Typically, a wet month, May has become increasingly drier in the last few years. Depending on the year, the ground may still be waterlogged and the conditions unfavorable. However, if you are in luck and don’t mind a few rain showers you’ll enjoy having the mountain all to yourself. Also consider taking via the Rongai Route to climb the drier northern side of Kilimanjaro. We normally suggest planning in the second half of the month to avoid rainy conditions.
Usually June brings the drier conditions back however it is not quite as warm as the first climbing season of January-March. It is especially colder at altitudes higher than 5,000m/16,400 feet, meaning after your second night onwards (depending on your route) it will be below freezing. Though June does offer great views of the mountain throughout the climb in addition to stunning sunrises and sunsets from Shira Camp 2, Barranco Camp and Karanga Camp. People are starting to come back to the mountain but the crowds haven’t yet aggregated to the sizes they are during February, August and September.
Largely due to the overlap of the climbing season with summer vacation months in Europe and North America, July is typically when the slopes start to get busier. This is also because it is an excellent month to summit Kilimanjaro. Like June, July has great mountain views and climbing conditions. There will likely be less rain in the rain forest although the temperatures are still cool.
August brings the warmest and driest conditions ideal for trekking Kilimanjaro. It is only second to September as far as popularity and is a lovely month to enjoy the Roof of Africa. The weather is great and the views of the mountain are plentiful. Like February, it can get dusty on the dry trails. Since it’s a busy time of year consider opting for a less popular route to avoid crowds.
This is generally the busiest month on the mountain but this is due to ideal climbing conditions. It can be a good month to trek the Shira, Rongai or Mweka routes to avoid heavy traffic. This will make it easier to enjoy the pleasant weather, dry conditions, and majestic mountain to the fullest.
Less busy than August or September, October starts to cool off Kilimanjaro’s slopes but is still a good month to climb. It has relatively warm and dry weather until the clouds roll in towards the end of the month. The clouds bring short rain showers and offer coverage from the sun but also impede views of the mountain. Due to the limited visibility it’s better to go during the earlier part of the month when the weather is stable and conditions are good.
Similar to the rainy season earlier in the year, November on Kilimanjaro is colder, rainier and windier than usual. It is a shorter rainy season but still includes freezing temperatures at night, especially over 5,000 feet. Rain is possible but showers are usually of shorter duration and the mountain conditions are generally decent. It’s not the best month for a climb weatherwise but it is less crowded and we normally run a number of climbs in November.
December offers slightly better climbing conditions than November however it is still generally wet and cold. The Christmas and New Year holidays bring a wave of climbers to the mountain, however weather conditions can still include howling winds or slippery trails. Conditions are often less favorable than in January or February.
We hope you found this month by month guide of Kilimanjaro helpful in scheduling your trek! The adventure consultants here at kilimanjaroJourneys always look forward to helping guests plan their trips. Don’t hesitate to reach out by clicking on the chat box in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Please like, comment, and subscribe to our mailing list to let us know how we’re doing.
Best Route for Rainy Months: Rongai Route
Best Route for Busy Months: Rongai Route or Lemosho Route