Kilimanjaro is open to trekkers all year round. But most folks opt to avoid the wettest and coldest months. We tell you the climbing conditions of each season and identify the most ideal climbing times.
We recommend climbing Kilimanjaro between mid December and March, or between mid June and October, to enjoy the best weather conditions.
An important part of anyone's Kilimanjaro preparation is choosing a time of year to climb the mountain. While you can climb Kilimanjaro any time of year, some months are just better than others.
We aim to help you choose the best time of year for you to climb the mountain by offering our cumulative expert advice, which is based on many years of trekking Kilimanjaro.
What is the weather on Kilimanjaro?
Tanzania, home to the magnificent Mt Kilimanjaro, is located near the Equator, and so it won't surprise you to learn that most of the country experiences some very hot months.
Yet Mt Kilimanjaro itself rises to 5,895 m above sea level, which gives its summit an arctic climate. This means Kilimanjaro trekkers can experience extremes of both heat and cold.
But when are you likely to avoid the worst of the heat as well as the worst of the cold? And furthermore, since some months experience more precipitation than others, when is the best time of year for climbing the mountain to avoid slopping around on a saturated path?
The short dry season: Mid December to March
Late December, January, February and March are great months for climbing Kilimanjaro. For starters, while there's some rain during this season, it's not extreme.
As you climb higher up the mountain, the weather is generally colder than it is during the other months, which means a higher probability of seeing snow on the summit. Snow on the summit is, of course, very beautiful. That said, trekking in snow doesn't appeal to everyone, and that combined with the lower temperatures, means these months tend to be quieter than the others. This is great if you're not too keen on crowds!
Please note that December generally sees the most snowfall on the summit. While it can be incredibly beautiful to walk in fresh snow, it does mean you might not have a clear view from the summit over the surrounding landscape if there's snowfall.
If you decide to climb Kilimanjaro during the short dry season, and are hoping to miss the crowds, we suggest you steer away from the busier routes like the Machame.
The long rainy season: April and May
April, May and November are generally speaking the least comfortable months to climb Kilimanjaro in terms of weather. The days can be very hot (as well as humid in the rainforest). Further, these are the wettest months, and you could end up trekking through downpours.
All that said, you can still climb Kilimanjaro at this time, and one perk is that the mountain is less crowded.
The long dry season: June to October
June to October are great hiking months as there's little rainfall and it's not so hot during the day. There's also less cloud coverage at this time, which means you'll be treated to sprawling views over the African plains!
The only downside, however, to climbing during these months is the crowds. One reason for this is that these months coincide with the summer holidays in Europe and North America. Perhaps consider January to March if you'd like a less crowded climb.
The short rainy season: November to mid December
The short rainy season sees some intense downpours in the rainforest zone of Kilimanjaro. It can also be pretty hot and steamy. For these reasons we don't consider November and the first half of December to be ideal Kilimanjaro climbing weather.
That said, the mountain can still be climbed at this time if you wish. You might like to read Arwa Mrad's Kilimanjaro journal to see how she and her partner found hiking the Lemosho route during the short rainy season.
The mountain is pretty quiet during the short rainy season, which some find a plus. You might like to consider trekking the Rongai route at this time as that route receives less rainfall on average than the other Kilimanjaro routes.