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When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?

There are a number of factors you will need to think about in deciding when is the best time of year for you to climb Kilimanjaro and inevitably the weather will be the biggest factor you need to take into account. Being close to the equator, the temperature on Kilimanjaro varies little throughout the year even though it does vary hugely between day and night as you climb to higher altitudes.  As you approach the summit the difference between day and night temperatures can be as much as 35 degrees c - that is minus 20c to positive 15c so you really do need to be ready for big extremes in weather- check out our kit list for how to cope with this.

What does change during the year is expected rainfall. Kilimanjaro has a long rainy season in April and May when monsoon-like rainfall can be expected in short storms every day and a short rainy season in mid-November to December when it is generally less stormy. Outside of these periods you can expect most days on Kilimanjaro to be warm and dry.

You will find charts showing monthly variations in rainfall and temperatures both at the foot of the mountain and on the summit further below.

Of course most people want to climb when it is expected to be dry so choosing when to climb then becomes a trade off between when it is likely to be dry but busy or wetter but quiet. If you can cope with some rain you can have the mountain pretty much to yourself in April and May!

Besides the weather there are two other things you might want to think about in deciding when is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. First is flight prices: these vary a lot during the year and tend to peak during the European summer holiday periods. Prices vary as much as 50% so this has a big effect on the overall cost.  If you can avoid the European rush you might bag some real bargains

Second is the timing of the full moon. Some people love to climb Kilimanjaro under the full moon as it gives more light for the summit night climb. Some prefer to avoid this date as the stars are really spectacular when there is no moon. It's down to you but a table of the first moon dates is below. As we once had to explain to a teacher there is generally only one full moon per month!

Summary of weather conditions on Kilimanjaro

January to March
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The weather in the first few months after the short rainy season is generally warm and dry. Away from the high season so relatively quiet, this is one of our favourite times to climb Kilimanjaro. Dry and quiet
April and May
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The long rainy season in Tanzania normally occurs in April and May although it has become more unpredictable in recent years. If you don't mind the rain you can have the mountain pretty much to yourself. And bear in mind you can nearly always get a good discount in this period. Long rainy season
June to early November
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June to early November are the driest months for your Kilimanjaro climb but particularly during August to October this means the mountain is very busy. The shoulder months of June and July and early November are good compromises if a little rain doesn't deter you. Dry but busy
November to mid-December
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The short rainy season normally starts towards the back end of November and continues for 3-4 weeks. Generally rain is less persistent than in the main rains and so this is a good time to be on the mountain without the crowds Short rainy season

Kilimanjaro and full moon dates

You may have read that a good time to climb Kilimanjaro is when there is a full moon as it gives more light for the summit night climb. The truth is some people like this, some people don't. With a full moon you look up towards the crater rim and see where you are heading but be warned, for about 5-6 hours the crater rim never seems to get any closer. For those people who prefer to keep their head down and just plod the full moon really is of no benefit.  And a disadvantage of climbing Kilimanjaro under a full moon is that there are no stars. If you avoid full moon dates the stars are really spectacular and for anyone interested in astronomy you will probably experience the best night sky you have ever seen. So it's down to you, but a table of the first moon dates is below. As we once had to explain to a teacher there is generally only one full moon per month!

Kilimanjaro dates of full moons

Average rainfall and temperature at the foot of Kilimanjaro

The extent of the difference in seasonal rainfall is clearly demonstrated by the chart below and bear in mind that in the main rainy season all this rain tends to come down in heavy afternoon deluges so the effect of the rainy season is even more pronounced. By comparison, the temperature swings are very moderate ranging from daily averages at the foot of Kilimanjaro of  between 20 and 25 degrees C.

 

.Moshi RainfallKilimanjaro foot temperature

Average snowfall and temperature on the mountain

While the temperature at the foot of Kilimanjaro is always very pleasant as you approach the summit things change radically and on the summit average temperatures are never above zero. You can see on the chart below how quickly average temperatures decline as you ascend.  Also below is a chart of the snowfall on the summit of Kilimanjaro. Snow that has fallen and consolidated for the climb is great, climbing on fresh snow is much more tricky so again choose your dates carefully.

Kilimanjaro temperature SmallKilimanjaro snowfall

Weather forecast for Kilimanjaro

 

 

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