Unlike many mountains that have a short-climbing season, Kilimanjaro’s routes are open all year. Whilst you can climb it in any month, you’ll read below there are good and bad months due to several factors. In this article, we provide an in-depth guide to deciding when is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro.
Factors to Consider
Below are the major variables you’ll need to consider when choosing the best time to climb Kilimanjaro.
Generally speaking, the coldest months are July thru September, whilst the warmest months are December thru February. However, there are two points to note on this.
The first is that Kilimanjaro sits on the equator, so it doesn’t have large swings in temperature, as other mountains further North and South do.
The second point is that as you climb above 5,000m and into the arctic zone, the temperature will drop below freezing at all times of the year.
Based on this, the temperature shouldn’t be a big factor in deciding when is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro. With the guidance of a high-quality operator, you should be well-prepared for even the coldest temperatures on Kilimanjaro.
Possibly the most important factor for many people is how much rainfall they will likely get on the mountain.
Tanzania has two distinct rainy seasons. The long rainy season runs from mid-March to mid-May. The shorter rainy season is focused around November. We don’t recommend climbing in these months.
The driest months are traditionally July, August and September, although in our experience rain showers can happen at any time of year.
Kilimanjaro is best experienced with clear, sunny skies. Luckily, the months with the most clouds, mist and fog and also the months with the highest rainfall. If you avoid the rains then you’ll likely avoid the clouds, and you’ll get the most beautiful photos on the mountain.
Unsurprisingly, the highest crowds on Kilimanjaro are during the months with the lowest rainfall and best visibility.
July, August and September are the busiest months as they also coincide with the summer holidays in the US and Europe. January and February are the second busiest times on the mountain.
We should put this into context. Kilimanjaro is a huge mountain with multiple routes, at least two hundred miles of trails and over a dozen camps. Whilst some of the camps can feel busy at certain times of the year, especially on the Marangu route, it’s never a factor that will ruin your adventure.
If the crowds are a big factor then you can choose a quieter route such as Lemosho or the Northern Circuit. These are the two routes Summit Expeditions exclusively run and from experience, once you are out of the camps then you rarely cross another team on the trail.
Also, Summit Expeditions provides private toilet tents that are exclusive to our team. This helps our trekkers avoid the communal toilet block at the camps, which can not only be busy at peak times but also an unpleasant experience.
When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?
Here is our handy guide showing the best time to climb Kilimanjaro:
Best Months to Climb Kilimanjaro
January and February
January and February are great months for climbing Kilimanjaro. You can expect generally sunny skies, minimal rain and clear visibility.
These months are also quieter than the busy summer months, as they don’t crossover with any major holiday periods.
January and February are ideal for trekkers wanting great mountain conditions but with slightly fewer people than during the summer.
June, July, August & September
The summer months form the main trekking season on Kilimanjaro. These are the most popular months due to dry, clear days and the crossover with the US & European summer holidays.
Any of these months will offer ideal trekking conditions. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, then June and September will be slightly quieter.
Remember that most of the crowds will be focused on the Marangu route during the summer months. So choosing the Lemosho, Machame or Northern Circuit will offer a quieter experience, even in July and August.
October & December
With the rainy month of November sandwiched in between, late October and early December can sometimes experience some of the same conditions. However, in general, the earlier you go in October and the later you leave in December, the nicer the conditions will be.
Early October can be a great time to trek Kilimanjaro as the crowds are lower than in the summer months but the conditions can be similar.
From mid-December, the mountain is in great condition, although it can be a bit busier as people trek over the Christmas break and celebrate the new year on the mountain.
Months Not Recommended to Climb Kilimanjaro
March, April, and May
The beginning of March can offer excellent conditions, however as the month continues and crosses into April the rainy season is in full force.
Whilst the mountain is still open, the long rains cause muddy trails, bog-like camps and a more uncomfortable experience overall. The rain also brings in clouds, reducing visibility so trekkers lose the incredible views of the mountain.
Despite these conditions, people continue to trek Kilimanjaro throughout these months. The main benefit is to avoid the crowds, however, we’d only recommend these months for experienced trekkers who are familiar with these conditions.
The shorter rainy season covers the majority, if not all of November. Heavy downpours in the afternoon are more common that prolonged daily rains, as seen in April.
We’d suggest all but skilled trekkers avoid the mountain during November. If you do decide to trek in November, then choose the Rongai route as the Northern side of Kilimanjaro is protected from the worst of the rains.
When are Summit Expeditions’ Treks?
Summit Expeditions run the majority of our treks in January and February, and then again from June thru September. However, we have experience running private treks in all months of the year.
When deciding on the best month to climb Kilimanjaro, the rains, clouds, temperature and crowds are all factors you should consider.
As a general guide, January and February, plus the summer months from June to September provide the best conditions on the mountain. You will have the least rainfall and the clearest skies, however, this comes with slightly busier trails.