The best season to climb Kilimanjaro
You can trek Kilimanjaro at any time of the year, but during the rainy season (April, May & Nov) there’s a higher chance of walking in the rain (obviously!) and the summit is likely to be covered in cloud. But you’ll have the mountain to yourself.
Remember too that Kili is huge and as you ascend you pass through distinct climatic zones, and the weather varies on the same day between the zones. So forecasting the weather is tricky: hope for the best, prepare for the worst!
What is the best season to climb Kilimanjaro?
January to March
The differences between this season and June to Oct are small but significant. The January to March season tends to be slightly colder and there is a much greater chance of snow on the summit: it adds to the beauty, but walking is harder! The days, however, are often clearer, with only the occasional brief shower, particularly as you walk above the tree-line. It is a beautiful time to climb and is less busy than the peak season of June to October, which coincides with the main school holidays in Europe.
April & May
The SE Trade Winds blow in off the Indian Ocean, laden with moisture and the first obstacle they hit is Kilimanjaro which means this really isn’t a good time to climb Kili. If you are keen to come at this time of year, then head for the Rongai route. This is because the winds come from the southern quarter and drop most of their precipitation on the south face of Kili leaving the north face (where Rongai is) relatively dry.
June to October
Once above the tree line (day 2) the skies are blue and brilliant and the chance of precipitation minimal. These months tend to be busier but this isn’t really a disadvantage because if you are after solitude while trekking it can still be found during this season: the routes are all multi-day and there are several of them, so you can always find gaps between trekking groups, allowing you to walk in peace; Lemosho, for example, rarely has more than one or two trekking groups on it at any one time and is often completely deserted. Besides, Kilimanjaro is so huge that the presence of other trekkers often goes unnoticed.
November & December
The short rains come during November but this is not as dramatic as the April/May rains. Better to avoid November if you can, but it’s an ‘OK’ time to trek. December is usually drier, but cold, particularly on the summit. It’s always important to have the right clothing, worn in a layered system, but this becomes absolutely crucial in December.
A tip for trekkers
The final push to the summit is traditionally done at night and is best done under the light of a full moon. Check the dates of the full moon (not the New Moon!) and a day or two either side will give you a window of about a week to plan your trek.
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