ClimbingHow is the Weather and Climate on Kilimanjaro?

July 1, 2024by awesafari

The weather and climate on Kilimanjaro can range from very hot to extremely cold within the same day. Despite its equatorial location, the temperatures on Kilimanjaro are more influenced by altitude and time of day than by seasonal changes.

Weather and Climate on Kilimanjaro

Base to Summit Temperature Ranges

  • At the base: The average temperature is around 21 to 27°C (70 to 80°F).
  • At the summit (Uhuru Peak): Nighttime temperatures can range from 20 to -20°F (-7 to -29°C).

Kilimanjaro creates its own weather, which can be extremely variable and difficult to predict. Hikers must be prepared for a range of conditions, including warm, sunny weather, rain, wind, cold, and even snow.

Seasonal Weather Patterns

Although the best times to climb Kilimanjaro are during the “dry” seasons, rain and snow are possible year-round. As you ascend, the temperature can vary dramatically, with shifts from intense sunshine to bitter winds.

  • Long Rainy Season (March to May): Southeastern trade winds bring moisture, resulting in rain on the lower slopes and snow on the summit.
  • Short Rainy Season (November): Northeastern winds bring less intense, shorter rains primarily affecting the northern slopes.

Kilimanjaro Climate Zones

As you climb, you will experience different climate zones, each with unique weather patterns:

Cultivation Zone:

Altitude: 2,600 to 6,000 ft (800 to 1,800 m)

Precipitation: 20 to 70 in (500 to 1,800 mm)

Description: Fertile farmland with temperate conditions.

Forest Zone:

Altitude: 6,000 to 9,200 ft (1,800 to 2,800 m)

Precipitation: 79 to 40 in (2,000 to 1,000 mm)

Description: Tropical rainforest with warm, humid conditions and frequent mist.

Heath/Moorland Zone:

Altitude: 9,200 to 13,200 ft (2,800 to 4,000 m)

Precipitation: 51 to 21 in (1,300 to 530 mm)

Description: Tall grasses, giant heathers, more exposure to wind and rain, with significant temperature drops at night.

Alpine/High Desert Zone:

Altitude: 13,200 to 16,500 ft (4,000 to 5,000 m)

Precipitation: 10 in (250 mm)

Description: Arid, with hardy plants, warm daytime temperatures, cold nights, and thin air.

Arctic Zone:

Altitude: 16,500+ ft (5,000+ m)

Precipitation: 4 in (100 mm)

Description: Barren desert with rocky outcrops, volcanic scree, glaciers, extreme altitude, and very cold temperatures.

Weather Variations Throughout the Year

The weather on Kilimanjaro changes with the time of year:

  • April to May: Rainier season.
  • June to October: Dryer season.
  • January to March: Colder temperatures.

Understanding these weather patterns and climate zones is crucial for preparing adequately for a Kilimanjaro climb. Bringing the right gear and being prepared for sudden weather changes will enhance your trekking experience.

Kilimanjaro Weather Month by Month
The Long Dry Season: June to September

The long dry season is an ideal time to climb Kilimanjaro. Although temperatures are slightly colder than during the short dry season (January and February), overall conditions are excellent with very little chance of precipitation.

The Short Wet Season: October to December

The short rains occur between October and December. This season’s timing is less predictable than the long rains. We don’t recommend climbing once the rains have set in. The average temperature is around 76°F (24.4°C), with rain gradually increasing in frequency and partly cloudy skies.

The Short Dry Season: January to February

This is a popular time to trek Kilimanjaro. Especially during late January and into February, temperatures are generally warmer than between June and October, though this can vary from year to year.

The Long Wet Season: March to May

Towards the end of March, when the trade winds blowing across the Indian Ocean come in contact with the mountain, the long rains begin. We don’t offer climbs during this season as the rain can be heavy, making the trails wet and dangerous.

 

Kilimanjaro Weather on the Summit

Most trekkers start their Kilimanjaro climb to the summit around midnight. It’s bitterly cold, often with snow or ice on the trail. We aim to reach Uhuru Peak at sunrise, as the skies typically clear, offering vast panoramic views of Mawenzi and the African plains. At the summit, Uhuru Point, nighttime temperatures can range between 20 and -20°F (-7 to -29°C). Due to Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates its own weather.

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Inside knowledge pays off when you travel this far We did the 5-day camping tour including Tarangire, Serengeti and Ngorongoro. It took us ages to find the operator we wanted to go with. Firstly, because this kind of activity is expensive in Tanzania (the National Parks take a huge chunk of money), secondly because there are so many fake and frankly strange reviews that give little info and, thirdly because the Covid pandemic meant a wildly reduced offering. It is very difficult to imagine what you will really experience on a safari when you have never done one before and all the offers look similar. A lot of operators don’t have proper websites, which is a worry when you try to book. Here is what we luckily found out: Unless you have very specific needs regarding accommodation, tent and foods, the experience of the guide makes the difference between amazing experience, value for money and “ok”. With Ray we had a once-in-lifetime!!! And I will come back to Tansania to have a safari with him again, and I will continue to recommend him to friends and colleagues. The trick on a safari is to know where to go and when to have the best chance of seeing an animal before all the other guides find it. Inevitably, most of the cars in each park will converge on a spot. But if you have a guide like Ray you will have five or ten minutes to yourself before that happens. And this is what sets apart an experienced guide from a novice. The novice (or perhaps the lazy guides) can follow the other cars and their clients will end up seeing the same animals. But no money in the world can weigh up observing a heard of elephants or a mother lioness with her cubs in total calm with nobody else around. No chatter, no screaming children, no posing for pictures just watching. I must stress that this is also dependent on luck. And you will need a lot of it. You never know what you see on any given day. We saw absolutely everything Serengeti had to give. It was just nice. To close my review I will say that a good guide is kind to his clients, kind to all the other workers and kind to the animals. Ray is all of this. So big thumbs up. And hope to be back in Tansania soon!!!
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