When Is The Best Time Of Year To Hike Mount Kilimanjaro?
Kilimanjaro’s location on the equator means that it is technically possible to plan your hike any time of the year. However, there are certain months that are characterized by colder weather, more rain, or significant snowpack at the summit. Experienced climbers will say that the best time of year to hike Mount Kilimanjaro is during the warmest and driest months, from December to mid-March and from mid-June to the end of October. Be forewarned, however, that although these are the best times to climb the mountain in terms of weather, they are also peak tourist season and the busiest months for climbers.
A quick breakdown of climbing conditions for Kili by month is listed below:
- January and February are the warmest months and the best time to trek Kilimanjaro. You can expect clear, sunny skies in the morning and evenings; however, clouds may appear in the afternoons and you may experience a quick rain shower or two during your climb! This is one of the best times to go if you are interested in capturing your experience by photographing the journey.
- The long rainy season starts at the end of March and continues through early June. Therefore, we do not recommend climbing Kilimanjaro during the months of March, April, or May. The trails can be very wet, muddy, and snowy during this time and it is not very enjoyable to climb in the rain. The cloud cover also means that you will miss out on the spectacular views and photo opportunities. On the other hand, if you do organize your trek during the rainy season, you will be able to avoid the crowds that often clog the trail!
- June marks the transition from the rainy season to the dry season. However, hikers should still be prepared for cold temperatures and cloudy skies. July brings warmer daytime temperatures but marked cold spells at night.
- August and September are the two peak months for climbing on Kili. Although the trails will be crowded with other climbers, it is the migratory season for wildlife and a good time to add a safari to your trip.
- October is considered the off-season, but the weather is still very good for hikers. Plus, most of the tourists have left, so you will have many of the trails to yourself. An October trek means you will also beat out the rainy season in November and December.
What Is The Best Way To Climb Kilimanjaro?
There are seven routes that lead up Mount Kilimanjaro to the summit. Each route presents its own challenges and difficulties for climbers, and some are more beginner-friendly than others. The newest route, the Lemosho Route, offers the rare opportunity for hikers to become acclimatized to altitude before starting their climb. This route starts on the western slope of the mountain and then traverses around to the eastern side of the mountain for the summit attempt. This meandering route allows you to see more of the landscape and experience more climate zones before heading up. The route naturally gives you the best acclimatization experience of any route on the mountain by taking longer to get to the top. This route has a very high success rate with beginner hikers as well as more seasoned professionals!
A Guided Trek Up The Mountain
Almost 30 years ago, the government of Tanzania made it a law that anyone climbing Kilimanjaro would need to be accompanied by a registered and licensed guide. Trekkers need to register with the Parks Authority before setting out and sign in at each camp to minimize wild camping or using caves for shelter. You also need to have a permit to climb Kili, and securing one is only possible through a certified tour company. The permit will cover the park entrance fees, which also must be paid in order for you to enter the park.
Ironically, having a guide is one of the best ways to climb Kilimanjaro. Although it is required by law, a professional and experienced guide is often the secret to a successful summit attempt. Guides are trained to recognize altitude sickness and help a hiker deal with it appropriately. They are also trained to recognize more serious medical emergencies and keep hikers safe. Guides are also very knowledgeable about the mental stamina needed to make such a rigorous climb and can keep a group’s spirits high when physical stamina runs low. Not to mention the simple fact that a guide’s crew is necessary to carry all the food, water, and equipment you will need for camping during your adventure.
No matter what time of year you pick to climb Kilimanjaro, you are sure to have an unforgettable adventure. From stunning vistas to snow-capped peaks, the lure of this magical mountain is strong. Start planning your trip now for a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Tanzania!