The weather on Mount Kilimanjaro can vary from very hot to extremely cold within the same day although it does not experience wide temperature changes from season to season. Instead, the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro are determined more by the altitude and time of day.
At the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 21 to 27 °C and at the summit, Uhuru Peak, the night time temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Like all great mountains, Kilimanjaro creates its own weather which can be extremely variable and difficult to predict. Hikers need to be prepared for warm, sunny conditions, and rain, wind, cold, and even snow.
Even though the best time to climb Kilimanjaro coincides with the “dry” seasons, rain, and snow are possible at any time of the year. As you get higher up, the temperatures can vary dramatically, one moment you can be trekking in baking sunshine, the next you’ll be layering up against a bitter wind.
Standing at 19,341 ft above sea level, Kilimanjaro is big enough to create it’s own weather systems. Being on the equator means the trade winds (sometimes called ‘monsoons’) that move across the ocean, drawing moisture upwards are interrupted by the mountain. This causes the wind to push up towards the summit, cooling as it goes, bringing rain and snow.
The long rainy season between March and May is a result of the trade winds from the south-east. These southerly winds from the Indian Ocean are laden with moisture, bringing rain to the lower slopes and snow on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro summit. During this season, the southern slopes get the most rainfall.
The ‘short rains’ in November are from a dryer wind coming from the northeast. As it hasn’t traveled across an ocean, the rains are shorter and less intense than during the long rains. Most of the rainfall during this season falls on the more northerly slopes.
Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t experience wide temperature changes from season to season due to it’s proximity to the equator, Instead, the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro are determined more so by the altitude and what time of day it is. At the base of Mount Kilimanjaro where the the climb starts, the average temperature is around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius). From the base when you ascent, the temperatures will decrease as you go through mountain’s 5 ecological zones.
At the Summit of Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, which lies in the arctic zone the night temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Therefore, we recommend that you should always be prepared for wet and cold nights so please bring the necessary gear at all times.
Kilimanjaro comprises five primary ecological climate zones — the Cultivation (Farmland) Zone, Rainforest Zone, Heather and Moorland Zone, Alpine Desert Zone, and the Arctic Zone
Zone 1 on Kilimanjaro is the Cultivation Zone. The altitude ranges from 792 m to 1,800 m. You can find plenty of human activities in this zone and see grazing livestock and small farm operations.
You can also find several rivers formed by the glacier run-off on the top of the mountain. Most of the porters and guides are from this part of Kilimanjaro.
The rainforest zone is the montane found encircling the whole mountain, also known as the rain forest. This forest is dense and wet and is home to many birds and other animal species.
Ever since the increase of human activity in the area, the big game has been rare, but plenty of monkeys and birds are around.
As you enter the Heather and Moorland zone, you’ll be greeted by the majestic views of giant heathers and tussock grasses, as well as the scrubby shrubs. When you ascend, the average temperatures drop.
You’ll also see giant lobelias and senecios, which have developed unique characteristics, allowing them to adapt to the drastic temperature changes of the place.
The Alpine Desert Zone is barren and bleak. Thus, only the toughest plants exist in this area. You’ll often see tussocky grass and small hardy plants with only little flowers in this landscape.
Furthermore, rugged rock formations and scenic views mainly dominate this area.
The Arctic zone is dry and freezing-cold during nighttime, opposed to the intense sunshine during the day. Due to the shortness of available oxygen at sea level, this part of Kilimanjaro is dominated by massive glaciers and towering boulders.
In this area of Mount Kilimanjaro, there are no animals or plants present except for lichens since the climate here is extremely cold. At nighttime, temperatures are typically below the freezing point.
During the day, as you set off to climb Kilimanjaro’s peak, there could be ice and snow underfoot. Also, expect the temperature to be bitterly cold even in the middle of the day.
Thus, it’s wise to bring sunscreen to protect your exposed body parts as the dry air can dehydrate you quickly. You’ll also need warm layers of clothing to keep your core temperature up.
A trek in this mountain is a life-time awe experience, a world class achievement that we are at Smile with Us will be happy to be part of while you take on. Focus is to get you to enjoy every moment of the trek as you find your way to the top. A team of well-motivated professional guides and porters will take on the lead as you take the challenge.