best time to climb Kilimanjaro
best time to climb Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro’s trekking seasons
The main trekking seasons on Kilimanjaro correspond with the mountain’s two dry seasons (an imprecise term, the weather being occasionally inclement during these periods too) namely January to mid-March and June to October. You can read more about the rainy seasons by visiting our Kilimanjaro weather page. Of course you can trek up Kilimanjaro in the rainy season but not only is there a much higher chance of trekking in the rain, the summits of Kibo and Mawenzi are likely to be wreathed in thick cloud too. Indeed, several agencies even suspend their operations in November and December, deciding that any trek up Kilimanjaro is foolhardy at this time and the rewards for the trekkers considerably less. It’s true that visibility is less at this time though we take issue with those companies that say that your chances of reaching the summit are significantly lower too; that simply isn’t the case and as long as you are dressed for the conditions and the top is not impossible to reach because of snow then, in our experience, you’ve got just as good a chance of getting to the summit. Curiously, however, Christmas and New Year, when the weather is far from perfect, are actually the most popular times for climbing Kilimanjaro.
Which is the best season on Kilimanjaro?
The January-to-March trekking season on Kilimanjaro
As to the relative merits of the two trekking seasons, the differences are small though significant. The January to March season tends to be (slightly) colder and there is a much greater chance of snow on the path at this time. The days, however, are often clearer, with only the occasional brief shower. It is usually an exceptionally beautiful time to climb and is often a little quieter than the other peak season of June to October, which coincides with the main academic holidays in Europe and the West. In this latter season the clouds tend to hang around the tree-line following the heavy rains of March to May. Once above this altitude, however, the skies are blue and brilliant and the chance of precipitation minimal (though still present).
The June-to-October trekking season on Kilimanjaro
Although the June to October season tends to be busier, this is not necessarily a disadvantage. For example, if you are travelling independently to Tanzania but wish, for the sake of companionship or simply to cut down on costs, to join up with other travellers for your Kilimanjaro trek, then the high visitor numbers in the June-October peak season will give you the best chance of doing this.
While if you do crave solitude when you walk, it can still be found on the mountain during this peak season. The trails are long, so you can always find vast gaps between trekkers to allow you to walk in peace; some of the routes – Rongai, for example, or the two trails across the Shira Plateau – almost never have more than one or two trekking groups on them at any one time, and are often completely deserted.
And besides, Kilimanjaro is just so huge that its presence will dwarf your fellow trekkers to the point where they become, if you wish them to be, quite unnoticeable.
Full Moon treks
A few years ago we started offering Full Moon treks – which many companies have subsequently copied. We did it because we realised that the final push up the slopes of Kibo to the summit -a walk that is traditionally done at night – is best done under the light of a full moon. Visibility is that much greater, of course, due to the brightness of the light reflected by the full moon. They have proved very popular – to the point where our detractors/competitors are now saying that they are too popular and the mountain is too crowded at this time.
We disagree with this for two reasons: 1) It simply doesn’t seem any busier at this time; and 2) Even if it were busier, the fact we offer routes that few other companies use means we keep our clients away from the crowds anyway. However, if you want to enjoy the advantages provided by the full moon, but want to avoid the (imaginary) crowds, then you can always choose to climb a day or two later or earlier.