What Is The Best Month To Climb Kilimanjaro? (And What I Did)

Tristan Balme when is the best time of year to climb kilimanjaro

When I first decided to climb Kilimanjaro, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was going to be a a a challenge, but I had no idea just how much planning would be involved to ensure a successful climb.

One factor I probably overlooked was the time of year to climb.

But I got lucky!

Generally speaking, the best month to climb Kilimanjaro is during the dry seasons of June through till October and December through till march. However, if you want to avoid the crowds and save a bit of money, climbing during the off-season is also possible.

Your summit experience will also look different. In summer, there will be very little snow and you’ll be able to walk on gravel right to the top. Outside of this, you’ll hit snow and ice when you leave high camp and may need trekking poles or crampons.

In this post, I’ll be sharing everything I learned about when to climb Kilimanjaro, including important considerations, wet and dry seasons, climbing during the full moon, and more.

Tristan Balme Admiring The View From On Top Of Mount Kilimanjaro

Important Seasonal Considerations

Before we dive into the best time to climb Kilimanjaro, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer. You can climb kili all year round and operators run even in rainy season with reduced frequency.

These thoughts below include some considerations around making your climb the best possible, with less chance of rain, warmer temperatures, and better visibility.

BUT. Don’t let the deter you either. I’d 100% recommend just doing it, even if the timing isn’t optimal, because climbing kili is an absolute bucket list activity and you don’ want to put it off!

Temperatures are reasonably consistent.

Kilimanjaro is located near the equator, which means that temperatures remain relatively consistent throughout the year. However, the temperature can vary depending on the altitude. Generally, temperatures range from 70-80°F (21-27°C) during the day and 20-30°F (-7 to -1°C) at night.

Try to avoid rainy the seasons

The rainy season in Tanzania is from March to May and November to December. During these times, the mountain is wet and muddy, which can make trekking difficult. Additionally, there’s an increased chance of landslides and flash floods.

This table shows the average monthly rainfall on Kili based on data from the Tanzanian meteorological authority

MonthRainfall (mm)
January44mm
February71mm
March137mm
April246mm (Worst)
May201mm
June28mm
July10mm (Best)
August16mm
September28mm
October69mm
November137mm
December135mm

While climbing Kilimanjaro during the wet season is possible, it’s not recommended

There are two dry seasons

Again, there are two dry seasons on Kilimanjaro. These run from June to October, and December till early March.

These are historically the best times to climb the mountain, though you’ll likely be climbing with a lot more people in these times.

Poor visibility (clouds, mist, and fog) can ruin your views.

Tristan Balme doing the tongariro circuit inbad weather

Visibility can be a problem on Kilimanjaro, especially during the rainy season. If you want to enjoy clear views of the mountain and surrounds, it’s best to climb during the dry season.

I climbed in dry season and was lucky enough to get clear skies every day!

Do you want to avoid the crowds?

Tristan Balme 12 lessons i wish i knew before climbing kilimanjaro

The number of climbers on Kilimanjaro varies depending on the time of year. During peak season (June to October), the mountain can be crowded, which can result in longer wait times at campsites and on the trails.

Choosing the Best Kilimanjaro Route

There are several routes to choose from when climbing Kilimanjaro, and each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to research each route thoroughly to determine which one is best for you.

Read More: In this guide, I share my thoughts on the best route to take for climbing Kilimanjaro.

Snow and Ice at the Summit.

Snow at the summit of kilimanjaro

Generally, the temperature at the summit is below freezing year-round, which means that snow and ice can be present at any time. However, there are certain times of year when the likelihood of snow and ice is higher. These are during or just after rainy season or shouldering November and March.

These photos are from when i climbed in July, and obviously there’s a lot of snow and ice..

I think this made the experience even more stunning, but does mean you’ll want either crampons or trekking poles to help you navigate the ice.

So When Is the Best Month to Climb Kilimanjaro?

When is the best month to climb Kilimanjaro? The answer depends on your priorities but generally around July is the best month.

MonthRankingRainfall (mm)SnowCrowds
JanuaryBest44LowHigh
FebruaryBest71LowHigh
MarchGood137ModerateHigh
AprilPoor246HighModerate
MayPoor201HighModerate
JuneBest28LowModerate
JulyBest10LowLow
AugustBest16LowLow
SeptemberGood28LowModerate
OctoberBest69LowHigh
NovemberGood137ModerateHigh
DecemberPoor135HighModerate

What Did I Do?

Tristan Balme Sitting on a rock half way up kilimanjaro

I climbed Kili in mid-July.

I hit perfect weather, with no rain and most days had full visibility with little cloud cover. On the night of the summit attempt it was perfect and I was treated to one of the best sunrises of my life!

There was a reasonable amount of snow and ice at the summit. In fact, the last half to one-third of the summit trek was in snow. I packed a pair of lightweight crampons which helped navigate this.

The trail was reasonably busy, although I don’t have much reference for what ‘quiet; would look like. As I was doing the trip solo, I didn’t mind this and used it as an opportunity to make friends along the way!

Summing Up: The Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro

In conclusion, the best time to climb Kilimanjaro depends on your priorities.

If you want to avoid crowds, climb during the off-season. If you want the best weather, climb during the dry season. And if you want to save money, climb during the off-season.

Whatever time of year you choose to climb, be sure to do your research and plan ahead and book with a good reputable tour company well in advance to make sure your climb is a success

Kilimanjaro Travel Planning Cheatsheet

 

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Tanzania?

100% YES! — Tanzania has now introduceed “free” healthcare but it’s only for citizens! Tourists need travel insurance in case anything happens on your visit. Also be aware many policies won't cover high altitude hiking as it's a high risk activity!

(that's right, check the t&c's on your complimentary credit card insurance

I highly recommend World Nomads as you can get specific add-ons for high altitude hiking UP TO 6000m (Which most travel insurance companies don't offer!)

🎫 Do I need a visa for Tanzania?

Probably not — Tanzania now provide a visa on arrival (VoA) for most western countires which allows you stay for up to 90 days. However, some other countries do need a pre-approved eVisa (check here!). VoAs cost $50 USD for a single entry - Note, US Citizens are required to get a Multi-Entry visa which costs $100 USD. (View visa prices here)

If transiting through Kenya (a lot of people fly via Nairobi), you'll need a Kenyan visa too. Visa's cost $20 for a 3 day transit visa and $50 for a toursit visa

(By the way, on both my interactions with the imigration officers in kenya they tried to scam me, so know what your obliged to pay and BRING THE EXACT CASH for the visa!)

💉Do I need any vaccinations for Tanzania?

YES! Make sure you are up-to-date with all your vaccines. Common travel vaccines include Hep A/B + Typhoid, and Diphtheria + Tetanus.

A yellow fever vaccination isn't a requirment to visit Kilimanjaro but is for neighbouring areas in East Africa. In reality, you will might not be allowed back into your home country on your return (I was asked for proof of vaccination upon returning to Australia) so getting this jab prior made for good peace of mind. 

Rabies is an issue in Tanzania but the vaccine is expensive and ineffective as a preventative measure (it only lasts a few years and you'll need to get them again if you require treatment). If bitten by a stray dog seek immediate medical attention!

As always, talk to your GP or specialised travel doctor a few weeks BEFORE you leave.

🏩 What’s the best Kilimanjaro Tour operators?

Your only realy two options here are Kumano Travel and Booking.com. Its a complicated process so I wrote this guide here on the best kumano kodo accomodation options

If you don't want to figure it all out (it's meant to be a holiday after all) you can book a package tour. Here are my recommendations for both guided and self-guided.

💸How do you pay for things in Tanzania?

Cash is king in Tanzania, so you'll want to get some folding tender out from an ATM when you land. Larger businesses and hotels will take Debit / Credit Card but most resturants, and street vendors want cash. I even had to pay for my Kili trip in cash!

I personally use a Wise debit card for all my international money needs as they only convert the funds when you make payment, plus they offer a much better spread (margin on the true exhange rate) than the banks do. They work in all the Tanzanian ATMs I tried. 

🚌 What's the public transport like in Tanzania?

There is a good basic network of local and inter-city busses in Tanzania and travel this way is very cheap. Domestic flight are also very affordable and a far more comfortable option. Checkout Busbora for booking bus tickets online.

📲 How do I get internet/data/wifi in Tanzania and on the mountain?

This one needs a whole nother article, but the short version is prepaid SIM cards are cheap and availible to tourists and locals alike (You don't need a pricey tourst SIM!)

Your cheapest option is buying a physical sim card on the street corner once landed and getting the shop assistant to help you set it up. I went with Vodacom and had generally good coverage, even up on Kili!

Another option if you're visiting other African countries is the Airalo eSIM. This is a little more expensive but gives you connectivity across 14 neighbouring African Countries and connectivity the moment you step off the plane!

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Tanzania?

For finding cheap flights, I recommend Skyscanner. Once you find the flight you're looking for, I'd then suggest booking directly with the carrier (even if it costs a few $$ more than with one of the agreggators/agencies).

💧Can you drink the water in Tanzania?

Safest not to — tap water in Tanzania may be OK (the locals drink it) but is generally untreated and not reccommended for tourists. Purchase bottled water for drinking and teeth brushing.

🏔️💧Can you drink the water on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Yes — Your tour company with ensure the water provided to you is safe to drink by either carrying in bottled water, or by treating stream water with purification tablets or by boiling it. If you want to drink water from the rivers and streams you generally can but should do so at your own risk. ALWAYS follow best practice and drink from fast flowing water as far up stream as possible. I'd also recommend a Brita Water Bottle for rehydrating on the trail safely. 

 

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