The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during the dry months of December to mid-March and mid-June to the end of October.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak, offers an unparalleled trekking experience. But the success of your trip is significantly influenced by when you choose to go.
The mountain's weather is as unpredictable as it is harsh, and the last thing you'd want is to find yourself caught in a torrential downpour or an unexpected snowstorm at high altitudes.
So, timing is key. Read on as we cover the best months to summit Kilimanjaro - plus other factors that can make your trek safer and successful!
Best Time of Year to Climb Kilimanjaro
You might be wondering whether you can do your trek at any time of the year. Well, technically, you can. Kilimanjaro is open for trekking year-round. However, certain months offer more favourable conditions than others.
Here's your month-by-month breakdown:
January to Early March
These months offer ideal trekking conditions with mostly dry, clear days and good visibility. You might even encounter some snow over 14,000ft, providing epic photo opportunities. The routes are also quieter compared to the main climbing season of June to September.
Best for: Climbers who prefer fewer crowds and dry conditions. Snow on the summit is a bonus.
March, April, and May
Early March can be lovely, but as the month progresses, the rains can start to set in. Trails become muddy, and visibility drops. April to early May are the long rains and are only suitable for climbing if you are an experienced trekker with the most reliable gear and hike teams.
Best for: Experienced trekkers who are okay with unpredictable weather and want to avoid crowds.
June, July, August, and September
These are the busiest months due to the best weather conditions, and they coincide with summer vacations in the US and Europe. July and August are the most popular, so opt for June or September if you wish to avoid crowds.
Best for: Climbers who want the best weather and don't mind the crowds. The Marangu and Machame routes are the busiest during this period.
October and November
These months experience short rains, usually lasting for three to four weeks. The mountain is quieter during this time.
Best for: Experienced trekkers who aren't put off by wet weather. We recommend the Rongai route as this side of the mountain doesn't experience rainfall at this time.
Factors to Consider When Planning the Best Month to Climb Kilimanjaro
Imagine standing on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, with the continent stretched out beneath you like an endless quilt of landscapes. The sun rises, painting the sky in hues of orange and pink, and for a moment, you feel like you're on top of the world - literally.
But getting to this awe-inspiring moment isn't just about lacing up your boots and setting off; it's about choosing the best time to hike Kilimanjaro.
So, how do you pick the best months to climb Kilimanjaro? Here are some factors to consider:
1. Kilimanjaro Weather
While the mountain's towering heights are a constant, the weather in Kilimanjaro is anything but. Rainfall is a significant concern, especially during the wet season from March to May.
During these months:
Trails become muddy and treacherous, increasing the risk of slips and falls.
The wet conditions also elevate the danger of hypothermia, as temperatures can drop suddenly at higher altitudes.
Poor visibility due to rain clouds can further complicate navigation.
Therefore, unless you're an experienced trekker equipped for these challenges, it's advisable to avoid climbing Kilimanjaro during the wet season.
2. Kilimanjaro Temperature
The temperature on Kilimanjaro varies dramatically with altitude. While you may start your trek in a tropical climate at the base, you'll encounter sub-zero temperatures as you approach the summit.
It's not uncommon for temperatures to plummet to -10°C to -20°C at the peak, even during the dry season.
These extreme cold conditions can lead to frostbite or hypothermia if you're not adequately prepared. Proper layering, thermal clothing, and high-quality, insulated boots are essential to combat the cold and ensure your safety.
Imagine reaching the summit only to find yourself enveloped in a thick fog, obscuring the panoramic views you've worked so hard to see. Safe to say you only want the best view from the top of Kilimanjaro!
Poor visibility can also affect your photography, turning what could be stunning shots into murky disappointments.
The dry months, particularly June to October and December to March, offer the best visibility, with clear skies and minimal cloud cover. These conditions not only make for safer trekking but also ensure that you'll capture those unforgettable views and photographs.
The popularity of Kilimanjaro means that you're unlikely to have the mountain all to yourself, especially during peak seasons. June to September are the busiest months to climb Kilimanjaro, and they attract climbers from around the world.
While there's a sense of camaraderie in sharing this adventure with others, the crowds can also mean less solitude and a more congested trek.
If you're looking for a quieter experience, consider climbing during the shoulder seasons in late March and late May. These months offer a balance of fewer climbers and decent weather conditions so you can experience Kilimanjaro in a more intimate setting.
5. Kilimanjaro Summit on a Full Moon
You are looking for the best time to climb Mt Kilimanjaro to have an amazing experience and create wonderful memories. So, why not plan your Kilimanjaro climb time when there's a full moon?
The moon might seem like an unusual factor to consider, but trekking during a full moon offers a unique experience.
The moonlight illuminates the trail, reducing the need for headlamps and providing a different kind of visual spectacle. You can ascend Kilimanjaro under a moon so bright that the landscape glows, adding a magical touch to your adventure.
However, understand that full moon dates are popular and can attract more climbers, making the trails busier than usual.
6. Routes for Your Kilimanjaro Hiking Season
When planning when to climb Kilimanjaro, your choice of route can be just as crucial as the season. Different routes offer varying experiences, and some are better suited for certain times of the year than others.
Skyhook trips cover four routes, each with its own set of considerations when it comes to timing your climb. Here's how to align your route selection with the best months for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro:
Machame route: Best during the dry seasons, this route offers diverse landscapes but can be crowded.
Lemosho route: Ideal for better acclimatisation, it's best tackled during the dry months.
Marangu route: The Coca-Cola route is the only one with huts for sleeping and is most suitable during dry seasons.
Rongai route: This route offers a more remote experience and is the best choice for trekking during the rainy season, particularly from March to May.
Your ascent to the Roof of Africa starts with proper timing - and weather, temperatures, and crowds are imperative parts of the planning.
From selecting the perfect month to choosing the right gear and ensuring you're physically and mentally prepared, each decision you make shapes your Kilimanjaro adventure.
Here's to your successful climb and the adventure of a lifetime!