Wondering when’s the best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Here’s everything you need to know about routes, weather, and the best time of year to tackle the peak.
It’s no secret that climbing Kilimanjaro is far from a walk in the park. But there are many ways to make the trek a little bit easier. And many of them can be solved by embarking on the climb at the right time of year.
From choosing the right route and opting to visit when the weather is at its optimum to making sure you understand how Tanzania’s climate changes throughout the year, we’ve got the lowdown on everything you need to know about the best time to climb Kilimanjaro.
Oh, and if you haven’t checked out our experience of climbing Kilimanjaro, what are you waiting for?
When’s the Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro? Things to Consider
When it comes to conquering the mighty Kilimanjaro, timing is everything. While the weather on this mountain can be unpredictable, there are certain periods that offer a higher chance of clear skies, good visibility, and overall more favourable conditions.
Want to increase your odds of a successful and enjoyable climb? It’s hard to beat the dry season on Kilimanjaro. From December to mid-March, and again from mid-June to mid-October, the mountain experiences relatively dry conditions and more stable weather.
On the other hand, April and November are the wettest months on Kilimanjaro. And so they are best avoided if possible. If you do have to climb during the wet season, we recommend opting for the Rongai route as it is on drier side of mountain.
Rainfall is more frequent during these periods, which can make the trails slippery, the paths muddy, and the overall climb more challenging.
For a safer and more enjoyable adventure, we strongly recommend that you plan your Kilimanjaro climb during the dry season. This is when you have higher chances of clear skies, better visibility, and a memorable experience as you conquer Africa’s highest peak. You can check out the Mount Kilimanjaro weather forecast in advance here.
The climate is another thing to consider when deciding the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. As the mountain is near the equator, it experiences a unique climate that remains fairly consistent throughout the year. While the temperatures don’t fluctuate drastically, the diversity of ecosystems on the mountain means you’ll be hiking in lush jungle one minute and crunchy ice the next.
Kilimanjaro primarily experiences two seasons: the dry season and the wet season. The dry season spans from December to mid-March and mid-June to mid-October. While the wet season is during the months of April, May and November.
Snowfall on the summit of Kilimanjaro is more common throughout December to May. If you choose to climb during this period, be prepared for the possibility of encountering snow, especially as you approach the summit.
We were there at the beginning of June and there was still plenty of snow that was frozen. In fact, we had to use crampons to reach the summit.
It might not seem like it but, when it comes to crowds on Kilimanjaro, the timing of your climb can greatly impact the number of fellow adventurers you’ll encounter along the way. To put this into perspective: Kilimanjaro tends to experience its highest number of climbers during the dry seasons.
For a compromise between avoiding crowds and avoiding the wettest conditions, consider planning your climb during the shoulder-seasons. These are the transitional periods on the edges of the rainy season when the weather can be more temperate, and the crowds tend to be thinner. Some ideal shoulder-seasons to consider are early December, mid-March, early June (this is when we climbed) and mid-October.
Trust us when we say that choosing the right route is a crucial decision when planning your Kilimanjaro climb. After all, each route offers its own unique characteristics (and challenges). When selecting a route, you need to consider things like the weather, scenery, difficulty level, and your personal preferences.
We headed out on the Rongai route back in 2018. It was the perfect route for us as we climbed in June and it allowed us to spend more time acclimatising. This route is known for generally drier conditions compared to others, making it better when it’s rainy. We only experienced light rain once during our climb in early June.
That said, the Machame route is the most popular, attracting a hefty number of climbers throughout the year. However, it’s important to note that the peak crowds on the Machame route are typically encountered during the dry season, when the weather is more stable.
If you prefer to avoid the crowds and seek a quieter experience, choose an alternative route, such as Umbwe or Lemosho, during the dry season.
Full Moon vs New Moon Climbs
Another thing to consider is whether you want to hike in a Full or New Moon. You might not think it’s a big deal and to some it’s not a concern, but there’s plenty of differences between the two.
Summiting Kilimanjaro during a Full Moon offers you the opportunity to climb in moonlight. This provides more visibility during summit night, however, it is typically busier. Whereas, hiking during a New Moon results in less moonlight BUT better stargazing conditions. Which one you would rather pick totally depends on personal preference.
Best Time When Pairing with a Safari or Zanzibar
When climbing Kilimanjaro, we think it would be criminal not to venture out into Tanzania for a safari. Or to Zanzibar for a laidback beach vacay. Luckily, plenty of tour companies offer a safari and/or Zanzibar package with a Kilimanjaro climb, so you don’t need to figure out the logistics.
For safaris, the best time to go is June to September. December to March is the best time for birdwatching, while June and July are best to see the iconic wildebeest migration.
It just so happens that the best time to visit Zanzibar coincides with Kilimanjaro’s dry seasons. So plan your trip between either January and February or June to September. We would opt for the former. January and February are a little bit less busy than June to September so rates are likely to be lower.
When’s The Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro: Final Thoughts
Ultimately, the choice of when to climb Kilimanjaro depends on your personal preferences and priorities. If you don’t mind sharing the trail with fellow adventurers and want to enjoy more stable weather, you should opt for the dry seasons.
However, if you prefer a quieter experience and are willing to navigate potentially trickier conditions, the shoulder-seasons and edges of the rainy season might be more appealing.