Most people avoid climbing during Mount Kilimanjaro’s two rainy seasons. The long rainy season begins in mid-March and lasts through early June. The short rainy season is from November to early December. Bad weather makes climbing more difficult and less enjoyable in several ways. Most obviously, rain makes you wet, which robs the body of warmth and heightens the risk of hypothermia. Water causes changes to the terrain, making the ground muddy, soft and slippery. Visibility is reduced by clouds, fog, wind and water. So given this, why would anyone climb during the rainy season?
First, sometimes personal schedules do not allow someone to climb during the dry season. And since the mountain is accessible year-round, they proceed with their trek. Secondly, Kilimanjaro is a very popular (i.e., crowded) mountain during the dry season. Those wanting to avoid the crowds choose the rainy season to have the park to themselves. Lastly, although the chances of encountering precipitation during these time periods are significantly greater than Kilimanjaro’s dry season, it is not guaranteed that this is the case. A large mountain like Kilimanjaro causes its own weather, which is notoriously unpredictable. Therefore, the opportunity for great weather or foul weather exists no matter when a climb is attempted.
If one does plan on climbing during the rainy season, consider the following:
- The northern part of the mountain recevies less rain than the southern parts. Therefore, Rongai is the preferred route when climbing during the rainy season. Marangu is also good route because of the hut accommodations.
- Quality rain gear is essential. Climbers should make sure that they have waterproof, breathable jacket, pants and boots. The day pack and duffel should be protected from rain with backpack covers or plastic bags. Everything inside the pack and duffel should be stored in ziplock bags as well.
- The difficulty of a route increases with bad weather. So do the dangers. When climbing during the rainy season, it is better to plan less strenuous itineraries.