Lovers of adventure and challenge will no doubt feel enticed by Africa’s tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. The volcano lies dormant in Tanzania and is renowned for its rapid ascent.
To learn more about Tanzania, the home of Mount Kilimanjaro, check out the Lonely Planet Tanzania guide.
If you’re planning a trip to climb Kilimanjaro, this article will help you decide the best time to do so.
The weather on Kilimanjaro
In mid-March to well into May, the south-east winds from the Indian Ocean arrive. These winds carry lots of moisture that hits the mountain and eventually creates cloud. In the clouds, though, are snow and rain.
The conditions during this time are definitely not ideal when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. This is especially true if you are climbing on the southern side of the mountain where the rain and snow hits. As a result, if you’re climbing on the northern side, there will be a substantially lower volume of rain.
Winds from the north-east hit the mountain in late May to early November and do not carry their moisture to the mountain. The dry season gets under way in June through to October and cloud cover with some rain is common but vanishes past the 3,000 metre mark on the southern slope.
There are two dry seasons in Tanzania and the peak season occurs during the June to October one. This is because it coincides with the European and North American summer holiday period, not just because of the weather.
During the peak season, being faced with snow or rain is unlikely and you can be pretty confident in the fact that the weather will not ruin your trip.
With June to October being the busiest time on Mount Kilimanjaro, there are companies who organise group trips at this point in the year that will work out cheaper than going during another time. It is also generally easier this way and means you can focus on climbing the mountain.
An alternative time to climb
For those who prefer to be relatively alone on treks and travels in general – worry not!
A second main climbing season occurs in January through to March and it allows for a more personal and intimate time with Kilimanjaro. It is perfect for the seasoned climber and one who likes avoiding massive crowds.
During this time of the year, there is likely to be snow on the upper reaches of the mountain. It is also colder than the main peak season and cloud usually hangs over the lower slopes. Despite this, once you pass the 3,000 metre mark, skies are usually clear and the chance of rain significantly decreases.
January to March is certainly something to consider if June to October does not sound appealing.
LTC and Kilimanjaro
Here at Ladies Trekking Club, we offer our own guided climb of Mount Kilimanjaro including qualified mountain guides, authority fees and meals on the mountain. They occur during both of the dry seasons on Kilimanjaro so you have the freedom to choose which.
We aim to provide a group of twelve women an amazing climb of the mountain and one that takes into account all of your needs and safety for your seven-day trek.
The route we take, the Machame Route, is the most popular but also the one with a summit success rate of a whopping 90%! This makes you even more likely to get the included successful summit ascent certificate from us.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a memory you will hold dear for your whole life. A bucket list activity for many, Africa’s tallest mountain will not disappoint at any time of year.
We do recommend, though, that you climb Kilimanjaro during one of the two dry seasons for your safety and enjoyment. So, we would say that climbing the mountain in April, May and November is not the best idea as they are the wettest months of the year.
If you are not a particularly experienced climber, you would benefit more from climbing Kilimanjaro in June to October due to the more predictable weather conditions. For those wanting a challenge and wish to climb at a relatively quiet time, we suggest January to March for you.
Enjoy your climb!