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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