Kilimanjaro isn’t just one of the fabulous and challenging Seven Summits. It has a unique beauty and character that you won’t find on the peaks of Everest or Denali. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers people a journey through five diverse ecosystems and unsurpassed mountain views. That, plus the accessibility of the mountain, makes it one of the most appealing destinations in Africa. Thousands of climbers travel to Tanzania to summit this impressive mountain each year. So, when is the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro?
As the tallest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 5895 meters (19,341 feet) high. This peak can be seen from miles away, looming over the rolling hills and scattered farmland of Tanzania. Mount Kilimanjaro National Park preserves the beauty of the diverse ecosystems calling the mountain home.
Lower elevations shift from cultivated subsistence farms to dense Montane forests. That melts away to moors of heather and other hardy plants. The top supports an alpine desert of multicolored lichen that can take years to grow by a few milometers. Finally, climbers can reach the shining white peak itself and experience an arctic landscape hidden in the heart of Africa.
This mountain is a semi-extinct volcano. What does that mean? It has three cones, two extinct and one of which is merely dormant. In fact, the Kibo cone still emits gas at its crater. The Kibo summit also features a 1.76 square kilometer glacier.
The national park is 1668 square kilometers (641 square miles) and is crisscrossed with hundreds of kilometers of trails. You may see a wide variety of birds, bushbacks, cape buffaloes, and monkeys. On rare occasions, elephants have been spotted near the lower elevations. Check out our safari extension upgrade to see more wildlife and experience the Ngorongoro Crater from a different view.
Mount Kilimanjaro is not as technically challenging as many other peaks of similar height. However, altitude sickness is a risk as well as falls and rock slides. There is also a dramatic temperature difference during the climb. The base of the mountain averages at 21 to 27 °C (70 to 80 °F). The summit, Uhuru Point, can be -7 to -29 °C (20 to -20 °F). Preparation is vital for climbers who are going to the top.
If you’re considering an expedition to Kilimanjaro, when should you go? Don’t think about seasons of the year, think about rainy season versus dry season. On the mountain, that’s the more important distinction.
So what does ‘rainy season’ mean? In some areas of the world, that could be a stretch of near-constant drizzle for weeks or months at a time. In those places, the soggy weather might be broken up by showers so heavy you’d swear someone was spraying you with a hose.
However, the Kilimanjaro rainy season isn’t like that. Although you have a greater chance of showers than at other times of the year, it rarely rains all day, every day. This is especially true during the short rainy season (see below).
Let’s take a look at Kilimanjaro’s climate:
Mid March to early June: Longer and wetter rainy season.
Mid June to October: Dry season.
November to early December: Shorter, drier rainy season.
Late December to early March: Another dry season.
Traditionally, the best times to climb Kilimanjaro are December through February and late June through September. However, transition months between wet and dry seasons (like early December) are a good middle ground that offers clearer weather and fewer people.
The Dry Season
The dry seasons are sunny and breezy, making them the best time to clim Kilimanjaro. There are occasional showers, but the rain doesn’t tend to linger. To maximize your dry days in the visit, aim for the June to October season. Here are a few reasons why you might want to climb Kilimanjaro during this time of the year:
- Lower risk of getting wet during the hike.
- The trails will be dry and in better condition.
- Bright, cheerful sunlight creates well lit photo opportunities.
- You’ll meet interesting people from around the world, all coming to enjoy the mountain during the season.
- More local attractions will be open, as it is the tourism high season.
- Fewer overcast days means more opportunities to enjoy stunning sunsets and beautiful sunrises
So When is the Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro?
For many, the dry seasons are the best time to visit. Climbing during the dry season allows for better weather, trail conditions, and overall a better hiking experience. Climbers looking for decent weather and fewer crowds may opt for transition months. Want to learn more about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Check out the Alpine Ascents Kilimanjaro itinerary or feel free to contact us with any other questions!
AAI Guide Stephen Williams just returned from the epic 13-day mountaineering course. The team covered a lot of ground over the past two weeks – glacier mountaineering on Baker, rock climbing in Leavenworth, alpine climbing in Washington Pass, and stupendous alpine climbing in Boston Basin. Here are just a few snapshots from their week.
After a jam-packed 6-days on Mount Baker learning the ropes (pun intended) of glacier travel, the 9-Day course is currently headed up mighty Mount Rainier. Currently they are on route to Camp Muir. Below are some photos from earlier in the trip.
The 8-day Intermediate Course had a banner time climbing in Washington Pass / Boston Basin last week. Check out some of the course highlights in photo form.
AAI Guide Lakpa Rita checked in from Ingraham Flats after a successful summit climb! The team reported excellent climbing conditions. They are headed down the mountain to take advantage of a much needed celebratory meal.
AAI Guide Victor McNeil just checked in from the base of Sharkfin Tower in beautiful Boston Basin. The team climbed the Southeast Ridge (5.0) as a warm-up for the ultra-classic West Ridge of Forbidden tomorrow.
AAI Director of Field Operations, Jonathon Spitzer, took a “break” from office life to work on the DC route today. Looking good!
AAI Guide Jangbu Sherpa checked in from the 8-Day Emmons course. The team is doing well and will be moving up to Camp Schurman (9,440′) later on today. They will be making their summit attempt from here very early tomorrow morning. Good luck!
AAI Guide David Gottlieb checked in from the 7/20 10-Day course. The team successfully summitted Glacier Peak (10,541′), made it back to high camp safely, and will be coming out of the field later on today. Congrats team!
AAI Guide Lakpa Rita Sherpa just checked in from high camp at Ingraham Flats (11,100′) after a successful summit climb. 7 climbers and 3 guides reached the top of Washington early this AM. Yahoo! They are packing up their gear and will start heading down the mountain shortly.