Tanzania has a pleasant, tropical climate with regional variations and wet and dry seasons. Kilimanjaro has its own microclimate due to its vast size and free-standing nature. Some say that climbing Kilimanjaro is like travelling from the equator to the North Pole, because the mountain has five distinct climate zones and you’ll pass through each of them on your way to the summit! You should therefore come ready to deal with varying conditions regardless of what time of year you decide to climb. Our comprehensive equipment list and guidance will help you prepare.
During the climbing season you can expect fairly consistent weather on Kilimanjaro. Plan around the following conditions:
As you make your decision about when to climb, you may want to keep in mind any plans to travel further afield, on safari or to the coast:
Calving Season - December to March - Eastern & Southern Serengeti
Mating Season - April to June - Central & Western Serengeti, heading north
River Crossings - July to November - Northern Serengeti & Maasai Mara
Zone 1 – Cultivated
Elevation: 800 - 1,800m / 2,600 - 5,900ft
Description: The villages, farms, banana and coffee plantations that you will pass through on your drive to the National Park gates and where many of your mountain crew were born and live. Warm and humid with heavy rainfall during the wet season.
Daytime Temperature: Up to 35°C / 95°FZone
Zone 2 – Rainforest
Elevation: 1,800 - 3,000m / 5,900 – 9,800ft
Description: This lush, often misty and humid forest is where you are most likely to see wildlife, including Colobus and Blue Monkeys, birds and butterflies living amongst the moss-covered tress and a wide variety of brightly coloured flowers and ferns. Warm and humid year-round with frequent rainfall.
Daytime Temperature: 20 - 30°C / 70 – 90°F
Zone 3 – Heath & Moorland
Elevation: 3,000 – 4,000m / 9,800 – 13,100ft
Description: Drier than the forest, this zone begins with heather and ends with moorland. Heather, bearded lichen and small shrubs cover the landscape, the weather is significantly less humid and temperatures can get to sub-zero at night. The moorland is home to vegetation unique to the mountain, such as alien-like giant groundsels and Protea Kilimanjaro.
Daytime Temperature: 10 - 20°C / 50 – 70°F
Zone 4 – Alpine Desert
Elevation: 4,000 – 5,000m / 13,100 – 16,400ft
Description: Cold and usually dry, the alpine desert’s windswept, barren and rocky landscapes feel lunar, formed from lava flows and volcanic ash. Very few species can survive the extreme conditions at this altitude, although you will likely see sneaky white-necked ravens and four-striped mice scavenging at the camps!
Daytime Temperature: 0 - 10°C / 30 – 50°F
Zone 5 – Arctic Zone
Elevation: Above 5,000m / 16,400ft
Description: Near the summit Kilimanjaro transforms into a magical world of glaciers, ice and snow. The trail is largely made up of switchbacks, as steep scree can be challenging underfoot, sliding as you climb. Most summit attempts therefore start in the dark when the surface is frozen. As the sun rises, you’ll be rewarded with stunning view of this glittering arctic landscape.
Daytime Temperature: -15 - 0°C / 5 – 30°F