Climbing Kilimanjaro is ideal during the warm and dry months. Because the mountain is located near the equator, it does not experience the extremes of winter and summer. The most important consideration for every climber should be safety, as the risks associated with climbing grow significantly when the weather is foul. The effects of snow, rain, mud and cold can be very taxing to the body. And for the climbers, chances of reaching the top grow significantly in good weather.
The mountain is virtually on the equator, and this makes the lower slopes hot and dry reaching 30 degrees Celsius during the day. This quickly dips with every zone, alpine desert, open heathlands and at the top arctic. At Uhuru Point, temperatures can reach -7 to -30 degrees Celsius.
The dry season is from December through to March and from June to October. If you’re planning to climb, then prepare for these months as this is the period you’re likely to meet other climbers. You can experience warm months with clear skies in the morning and evenings from January to March. As the day progresses, you can experience cloudy showers. The rain season starts in late March through to June. Unless you’re an experienced climber, it’s not recommended climbing when it is raining. The combination of wetness and reduced visibility can be risky.
From June to October, it can get very chilly but also drier. The short rain season starts in November and ends in late December. Afternoon rains are common, but the sky clears quickly in the morning and evenings. Sometimes the storms are unpredictable and can come early or extend beyond usual time frames. Once in a while climbers will experience dry weather conditions when it’s raining just as the dry weather will also get interrupted by heavy rains.
Climbing during a full moon
Some climbers plan their hikes to coincide with the full moon. This is the time the snow on the peaks is lit by moonlight at night, and the views are stunning. A bonus is that a full moon improves your visibility if you choose to climb at night. If you plan to climb during a full moon, then expect to start before the full moon date. Many operators schedule several group climbs that involve total moon summits every month. It is advisable to book in advance.
If you favour a less crowded climb, then it’s a good idea to avoid the full moon dates, as they attract many climbers.
You can climb any time
You can plan your climb as soon as possible as climatologists warn that the glaciers are evaporating very fast and may not be there in 2050. These glaciers have existed for 10,000 years, and at one time they extended over 6,000 feet from the mountaintop. But due to climate change and global warming, they’re evaporating very fast.
As we approach mid September the weather reports paint a picture of sunny mornings and afternoons and pocketfuls of climbers have started to gather at the base for their latest hike as 2018 draws to an end.