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Weather on Mt. Kilimanjaro


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What is the Weather on Mount Kilimanjaro?

The weather on Mount Kilimanjaro varies significantly depending on altitude and time of day rather than by season. At the base, temperatures average between 21 to 27 °C (70 to 80 °F). As you ascend, temperatures drop, and at the summit, Uhuru Peak, nighttime temperatures can range between -7 to -29 °C (20 to -20 °F).

Kilimanjaro’s weather is highly variable and challenging to predict due to the mountain creating its own weather systems. Hikers should be prepared for diverse conditions, including warm sunshine, rain, wind, cold, and snow.

The mountain experiences two main rainy seasons. The long rainy season, from March to May, brings heavy rain to the lower slopes and snow at higher elevations due to moisture-laden winds from the southeast. The short rainy season in November is milder, with most rain falling on the northern slopes.

Kilimanjaro does not experience significant temperature fluctuations from season to season because of its proximity to the equator. Instead, the temperature varies primarily by altitude. At higher elevations, temperatures can drop dramatically, requiring hikers to be well-prepared with appropriate gear.

Kilimanjaro Weather through the Climate Zones

Mount Kilimanjaro, with its towering height and equatorial location, features diverse climate zones, each with distinct weather patterns. Here’s an overview of the weather through Kilimanjaro’s climate zones:

1. Bushland Zone (800-1,800 meters / 2,600-5,900 feet)

  • Temperature: Averages between 21 to 27 °C (70 to 80 °F).
  • Weather: Warm and humid conditions prevail with occasional rainfall, especially during the rainy seasons (March to May and November).
  • Vegetation: This zone consists of cultivated land and forested areas with diverse flora and fauna.

2. Rainforest Zone (1,800-2,800 meters / 5,900-9,200 feet)

  • Temperature: Slightly cooler than the Bushland Zone.
  • Weather: Receives the highest rainfall on the mountain, often experiencing mist and high humidity. Daytime temperatures are warm, but nights can be cooler.
  • Vegetation: Dense rainforest with tall trees, thick undergrowth, and abundant wildlife.

3. Heath and Moorland Zone (2,800-4,000 meters / 9,200-13,100 feet)

  • Temperature: Daytime temperatures range from 5 to 15 °C (41 to 59 °F), but can drop below freezing at night.
  • Weather: Less rainfall than the Rainforest Zone, with a mix of sun, clouds, and occasional showers. The air becomes drier.
  • Vegetation: Shrubs, heathers, and grasses dominate, with fewer trees. Unique flora like giant groundsels and lobelias can be found here.

4. Alpine Desert Zone (4,000-5,000 meters / 13,100-16,400 feet)

  • Temperature: Daytime temperatures can vary greatly, from around 10 °C (50 °F) during the day to well below freezing at night.
  • Weather: Very dry with intense sunlight during the day and cold, windy conditions at night. Precipitation is rare, but occasional snowfall can occur.
  • Vegetation: Sparse, with hardy grasses and small plants adapted to the harsh conditions.

5. Arctic Zone (5,000-5,895 meters / 16,400-19,341 feet)

  • Temperature: Often below freezing, ranging from -7 to -29 °C (20 to -20 °F).
  • Weather: Extremely cold, with strong winds and very low humidity. Snow and ice are common, particularly at the summit.
  • Vegetation: Virtually nonexistent due to the harsh climate and altitude. The landscape is dominated by rocks, glaciers, and ice fields.

General Weather Patterns

  • Dry Seasons: Best time to climb, generally between January-March and June-October, with clearer skies and milder conditions.
  • Rainy Seasons: March to May (long rains) and November (short rains), with heavier precipitation and more challenging climbing conditions.

Climbers need to be well-prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions and should carry appropriate gear for both warm and extremely cold environments. The weather on Kilimanjaro can be unpredictable, making preparation crucial for a successful and safe ascent.

Kilimanjaro Weather Month by Month

The Long Dry Season: June to September

The long dry season is a great time of year to climb the mountain. Temperatures are a little colder than the short dry season (January and February) but overall conditions are excellent with very little chance of precipitation.

The Short Wet Season: October,November and December

The short rains come between October and December. The timing of this season is a bit less predictable than during the long rains. We don’t recommend climbing once the rains have set in. Average temperature of 76°F (24.4°C) with rain slowly increasing in frequency with partly cloudy skies.

The Short Dry   January to February

This is a popular time to trek Kilimanjaro. Especially during late January and into February, temperatures are generally a bit warmer than between June and October. Though this can vary from year to year.

The Long Wet Season: March to May

Towards the end of March, when the trade winds blowing across the Indian ocean come in contact with the mountain, the long rains begin. We don’t offer climbs during this season as the rain can be heavy, making the trails wet and dangerous.

Kilimanjaro Weather on the summit

Most trekkers start their climb to the summit at around midnight. It’s bitterly cold, often with snow or ice on the trail. We aim to get to Uhuru Peak at sunrise, as mostly the skies clear and you’ll be treated to vast panoramic views of Mawenzi and out over the African plains. At the summit, Uhuru Point, the night time temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro’s great height, the mountain creates it’s own weather.

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