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Kilimanjaro Weather Guide – Preparing for Your Climb

Tanzania is located at 40.35 degrees longitude east, between 1 to 11.45 degrees latitude south of the equator; therefore, the region doesn’t experience extreme winter and summer weather but rather wet and dry seasons annually.

Mount Kilimanjaro Weather

Mount Kilimanjaro weather is determined by altitude and time of the day. Sometimes the weather can change from extremely hot to very cold in the same day, and rain and snow are possible at any time of the year. Trekkers must always come prepared for any kind of weather during the climb, even in the dry or wet season.

Mount Kilimanjaro has created its own weather system with five distinctive ecological climate zones on the mountain, namely:

  1. Cultivation Zone: The base of Mount Kilimanjaro is mainly comprised of fertile volcanic soils that support cultivation. The slopes from 800 to 1800 meters are mainly cultivated farmland and bush lands. This zone receives about 500 to 1800 mm of rainfall annually.
  2. Forest Zone: The forest zone of Mount Kilimanjaro starts from an altitude of 1800 to 2800 meters and is made up of montane rainforests harboring several species of wildlife, especially primates and birds. The forest zone is muddy and slippery, with streams, waterfalls, and springs intercepted within the forest canopy. This zone receives rainfall between 1000 to 2000 mm annually.
  3. Heath/Moorland Zone: The heath and moorland zone is primarily covered by giant heathers and tall grass. Temperatures here might be warm, and the sun can be extremely hot during the day but significantly drops at night. You will be more exposed to sunshine and rain in the heath zone, so it’s important to have equipment on hand like sunglasses, sunscreen, rain jackets, and umbrellas just in case.
  4. Alpine Desert Zone: The alpine desert zone is very dry with little or no rainfall, and there are also few plants adapting to the alpine desert.
  5. Arctic Zone: The arctic or summit zone is at 5000 meters and above, characterized by huge rocky outcrops, glaciers, and volcanic scree. Temperatures dramatically drop, and the oxygen gets thinner in this zone.

Temperatures can vary with altitude. From the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, average temperatures range from 21 to 27 degrees Celsius and decrease as you climb higher on the mountain. Nighttime temperatures at the summit range from -7 to -29 degrees.

The best time to visit Mount Kilimanjaro coincides with the dry season in Tanzania and summertime in Europe.

Mount Kilimanjaro is located only about 330 kilometers from the equator, and its massive height sometimes blocks the monsoon winds, causing the winds to move up the summit and cool, resulting in rain and snow. The trade moist winds from the Indian Ocean from the southeast result in a long rainy season from March to May every year. During the rainy seasons, the southern side of Mount Kilimanjaro receives the most rainfall. The short rainy season from November to October is due to the northeast drier wind, and most of the rain received during this time occurs on the northern slopes of the mountain. The mountain doesn’t experience wide temperature changes over time because of its proximity to the equator.

Mount Kilimanjaro can be visited all year round, but the best time is from June to September and December to February when the weather conditions are favorable for hiking. During the dry season, the hiking trails are not muddy, dangerous, or slippery, and you get superb views during this time of the year, unlike during the wet months when the mountain is covered with fog. It’s advisable to pack all necessary requirements for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, as even during the dry season, the weather can get unpredictable, and trekkers are advised to pack enough warm clothing to avoid hypothermia.


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