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Many people planning on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro are not sure when to do it. We get several questions about this on our forums and via email. So, in this article, we are going to address this issue comprehensively.
Now, the first thing to keep in mind when deciding the best seasons to climb Kilimanjaro is that there is no short answer for this. Because it is close to the equator, Kilimanjaro weather does not vary greatly from summer to winter. So, it is actually possible to do Kilimanjaro all year round. However, certain routes especially shine in certain seasons.
To reach the Uhuru peak, one has to cross 5 different ecological zones. The temperature in these zones ranges from equator-level to Antarctic-level. What is more, you'll be going through these zones in a matter of days. The five different ecological zones on the mountain are: The Cultivated Areas (793m - 1,799m), Rainforest (1,829m - 2,744m), Heath and Moorlands (2,805m - 3,993m), Alpine Desert (3,993m - 4,999m) and Arctic (4,999m+).
When the altitude increases the temperature decreases. For example, at the base of the mountain the temperature is around 25 to 30° C, while at the summit of Uhuru peak, the temperature is around -10 to -20° C. The general rule for calculating the temperature is to subtract one degree for every 200 meters climbed. Although the temperature does not vary greatly throughout the year, some months are warmer or colder than others.
In general, January to early March are the warmest months with an average temperature of 25° C (at the foot of the mountain). June and July are the coolest with an average temperature of 21° C (at the foot of the mountain).
As for the rainfall, the annual amount is about 2,000 mm in the rainforest, while on the summit, it is 100 mm annually. In general, the rainfall increases as we gain altitude from 300 m to 2,000 m and then decreases again from 2000 m upwards. Therefore, the determining factor for the amount of rainfall is the altitude due to the type of ecological zone, and the time of year.
Mid-March to May are the wettest months, with the amount of rainfall ranging from 110 mm to 335 mm at Moshi (altitude: 879 m), with April getting the most rainfall.
August and September are the driest months, with the amount of rainfall consistently below 20 mm at Moshi.
October to late December is also considered a moderately wet time of the year, with the amount of rainfall ranging from 35 to 60 mm at Moshi.
On the other hand, the Marangu route and the Rongai route are great trails for the wet season as Marangu has sleeping huts, and eliminates camping altogether, while the Rongai route weaves through the northern side which does not receive as much rainfall as the western routes.
If you're not sure which route would be best for you, the following article will give you a snapshot overview of all the Kilimanjaro climbing routes.
Considering the weather, the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro would be in January, February and September. The main reason is that January and February are warm months that only get a moderate amount of rainfall, and September is a dry month that has a moderately warm temperature. Kilimanjaro is a difficult mountain to climb and the difficulty is only aggravated when the weather is less than desirable. So, it is best to climb Kilimanjaro when the temperature and rainfall are both at an optimum level for trekking.
Nevertheless, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is feasible all year round. If you do decide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, please choose equipment that can cope with the varying temperatures during the Kilimanjaro weather in which you're trekking.