Ultimate Kilimanjaro - The #1 Guide Service on Mount Kilimanjaro

What is the Weather on Kilimanjaro?

The short answer is that the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro range from hot to bitter cold. The journey from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a matter of days. This is because the routes to the Uhuru peak cross different ecological zones. Mount Kilimanjaro has five major ecological zones, each approximately 3,280 feet (1,000 m) in altitude. Each zone is subject to a corresponding decrease in rainfall, temperature and life as the altitude increases.

Moshi, the gateway town from which our climbs are organized, is located just south of the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. At 2,667 feet (900 m) above sea level, the town is located in the lowest, warmest ecological zone. Average temperature, humidity and precipitation figures for Moshi are reflected in the following table. As shown, January and February are the warmest months, April and May are the wettest months, June and July are the coolest months, and August and September are the driest months. These generalities about the weather in Moshi hold true for Mount Kilimanjaro as well.


Average Temperature, Humidity and Precipitation in Moshi, Tanzania
Month
Low (F)
Average (F)
High (F)
Humidity (%)
Rainfall (in)
January
64
78
92
58
1.4
February
64
78
92
57
2.0
March
66
78
90
63
4.7
April
67
76
85
73
13.8
May
65
72
79
77
9.3
June
62
70
78
72
1.5
July
60
69
78
69
1.0
August
60
70
80
66
0.7
September
60
71
83
61
0.6
October
62
75
88
57
1.0
November
64
76
89
57
2.5
December
64
77
90
60
2.1

Due to its proximity to the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro does not experience wide temperature changes from season to season. Instead, the temperatures on Mount Kilimanjaro are determined more so by the altitude and time of day. At the beginning of the climb, at the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 27 degrees Celsius). From there, the temperatures will decrease as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro's ecological zones. At the summit, Uhuru Point, the night time temperatures can range between 20 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 to -29 degrees Celsius). Due to Mount Kilimanjaro's great height, the mountain creates its own weather. It is extremely variable and impossible to predict. Therefore, regardless of when you climb, you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.

Below are the five zones from the lowest to the highest altitude along with the average annual precipitation, zone characteristics, and links/feeds to the current weather in each particular zone. (See What will I see on Kilimanjaro? 15 Amazing Sights.)

Bushland

Altitude: 2,600 to 6,000 ft (800 to 1,800 m)
Precipitation: 20 to 70 in (500 to 1,800 mm)

Cultivated land, grasslands and populated human settlements characterize this zone.Click for Moshi, Tanzania Forecast

Rain Forest

Altitude: 6,000 to 9,200 ft (1,800 to 2,800 m)
Precipitation: 79 to 40 in (2,000 to 1,000 mm)

The forest receives 6 feet of rain annually, supporting a variety of plants and wildlife while clear nights can produce low temperatures.

Heath

Altitude: 9,200 to 13,200 ft (2,800 to 4,000 m)
Precipitation: 51 to 21 in (1,300 to 530 mm)

This semi-alpine zone is characterized by heath-like vegetation and abundant wild flowers. The unique Senecio trees are abundant here. Heath Zone Weather

Alpine Desert

Altitude: 13,200 to 16,500 ft (4,000 to 5,000 m)
Precipitation: 10 in (250 mm)

The alpine desert receives little water and correspondingly light vegetation exists here. The temperature can vary from over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to below freezing at night. Alpine Desert Zone Weather

Arctic

Altitude: 16,500+ ft (5,000+ m)
Precipitation: <4 in (100 mm)

Characterized by ice and rock, there is virtually no plant or animal life at this altitude. Nights are extremely cold and the day's unbuffered sun is powerful. The oxygen level is half that of sea level. Arctic Zone Weather


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What Gear Do I Need to Carry in my Day Pack?

You are only required to carry items from your gear list that you may need prior to reaching your next campsite. A small to medium sized backpack, with a volume capacity of up to 2000 cu in (30 liters), is appropriate. The specific items to carry generally depend on the time to reach camp and trail and weather conditions. Typically, you will have inside your daypack: waterproof gear, extra clothing, water, snacks, gloves, hat, sunglasses, and other small items, such as bug repellent and sun screen. Consult your guide if you are unsure of what you need. (See How Should I Pack the Day Pack?).

Everything else should be placed into your duffel bag, which the porters will carry. The weight limit of the duffel bag is 15 kgs. The porters will carry the duffel bag from campsite to campsite. Use plastic bags or dry bags to separate and water proof your gear. You will be expected to pack your daypack and duffel bag each morning. Note that it is acceptable to use a backpack instead of a duffel bag. However, since porters bundle the bag with other items and carry the load on their heads, a duffel bag is preferred.


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Where Will I Sleep?

Climbers will sleep in state of the art, four-season mountain tents during the trek. Our MSR and Mountain Hardwear tents are warm, waterproof and roomy - perfectly suited for your Kilimanjaro adventure. We understand that some climbers are anxious about camping for so many days, so we aim to have them be as dry, warm and comfortable as possible.

The MSR Mutha Hubba are classic backpacking tents, with two doors providing easy entry and exit, dry vestibules and 40 square feet of floor space. Each three person tent wil comfortably house two climbers and their gear. The fly and floor seams are factory taped for extreme weather protection.

Mountain Hardwear EV3 tents are built for the toughest alpine conditions. EV3 tents are standard issue for refined basecamp shelters on mountaineering expeditions worldwide.

ev2


Each three-person sized tent will comfortably house two climbers and their gear. The interior floor space is 46 square feet, with an integrated vestibule, dual doors, and internal mesh pockets. The EV3 is a single walled tent with adjustable zippered vents, welded zipper flaps and watertight door zipper construction.

A 1.5 inch foam sleeping pad is provided to all climbers. These locally sourced sleeping pads are better than any commercially available sleeping pad. They are thick, warm and comfortable, even for those not used to camping.

Mountain Hardwear Lamina sleeping bags are available for rent. This warm, winter synthetic sleeping bag is constructed to enhance loft and eliminate cold spots. The durable nylon shell repels water while the polyester lining wicks away moisture, keeping weary climbers dry and warm. The Lamina is temperature rated to -15F (-26C), sufficient for Kilimanjaro's chilly nights.

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What is a Typical Day's Schedule?

On a typical day on the mountain, you will be awaken from your tent around 6:30 AM by your waiter/porter, who will bring you a warm pan of water to wash your face and hands. Breakfast will then be served. Meals are served in a mess tent - complete with chairs, tables, dinnerware and silverware. After you assemble your day pack, you will begin walking around 8:00 AM, while the porters stay behind to clean up the campsite, and pack up the tents and other equipment.

While the hours vary from day to day, your average walking time will be around four to five hours per day. During the walk, your guide will decide the pace and when to take a breaks depending on his assessment of the party's performance. The porters consistently move ahead of the group in order to prepare food, collect water, and set up tents so that everything is ready when the party arrives. Lunch may be a boxed lunch or on occasion a hot lunch if the day's hike is a short one.

Once you arrive at the campsite, snacks are served. Then, before dinner, a pan of water is again provided for clean up. Dinner is served around 6:00 PM. The guide will discuss the next day's events with the group after dinner. Down time is spent chatting with your fellow climbers, staff and others sharing the campsite, reading, or otherwise relaxing.

Summit day is a tough, 11 to 16 hour day. This monumental effort is what makes climbing Kilimanjaro an achievement. It begins very early as guides try to time their trekking party to reach Uhuru point at sunrise. Climbers go to sleep after an early dinner the night before and are awaken around midnight to prepare for the summit attempt. After a light snack, climbers ascend in the darkness, cold and wind. It goes without saying that under these conditions, climbing is difficult, especially on loose rock and up a very steep slope. Once you reach the summit, a short time is spent celebrating and taking photos, before returning to high camp, either Barafu or Kibo Hut. There, you eat lunch and regain your strength, before continuing the descent to a much lower camp.

During the trek, it is common that someone may have to turn around on the mountain due to altitude sickness, exhaustion or a variety of other matters. Each group will have a lead guide, a number of assistant guides depending on the party size, and lead porters - all of whom are able to escort climbers down. Therefore, if a person cannot continue the ascent, one of the staff members will accompany this climber while the lead guide takes the group onward. The remaining party is unaffected and continues their climb as scheduled.


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What are the Trail Conditions?

The trails on Mount Kilimanjaro are well marked and maintained. Technical skills are not required on our routes. There are only a couple spots where scrambling (climbing on hands and feet) is required, such as the Barranco Wall, the Western Breach approach (now closed) and optional Lava Tower climb. The path to and from Uhuru Point is on scree, which can be especially tiring and slippery.

Bad weather conditions can complicate matters. Climbers should be prepared to trek through all types of weather, such as fog, rain, snow, and all types of earth, whether loose, dusty, muddy, wet, snowy or icy.

There are "long drop" public toilets at every campsite. Essentially, they are wooden structures built around a deep hole dug into the ground (left photo). There are no commodes in the public toilets. You relieve yourself in a hole cut into the bottom of the shack in a standing or squatting position.

Given the crowds on Kilimanjaro, these public toilets see a lot of use and therefore can get rather dirty.

Private toilets are available for our climbs. Private toilets consist of a plastic toilet (middle photo) and a privacy tent (right photo). We include private toilets on all of our group climbs, and are offered for an additional fee on private climbs.

There are no shower facilities on the mountain.


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What Food and Water Will be Provided?

You will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner each day spent on the mountain. The food, specifically selected to help your climb, are high energy carbohydrate foods that are easily digestible. The primary carbohydrate of the meals are rice, potatoes and pasta. Fresh fruit and vegetables accompany every meal. Meat is served on the mountain but not in large quantities because it is not easily digestible at high altitude and nor does it keep well on the mountain. For longer climbs, we resupply the team with fresh food near the end of the climb.

fresh food on kilimanjaro

Water is collected from mountain streams. It is usually boiled for purification, although filters may also be used for purification. There is no need for further treatment of water, but you can add chemical water treatment pills to boiled water if you have a sensitive stomach. Water is provided only at the campsites so you need to carry enough water, usually about 3 liters, to stay hydrated while you hike.

Below are sample menus for your three meals:

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate
Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate Tea, Coffee, Hot Chocolate
  Vegetable Soup Vegetable Soup
Toast, Biscuits with Margarine, Jam, Peanut Butter, Honey Bread, Biscuits or Pancakes with Jam, Peanut Butter, Honey Bread, Biscuits or Pancakes with Jam, Peanut Butter, Honey
Eggs, Sausages or Bacon Sandwich with Meat or Cheese, Boiled Egg, Fried Chicken Roasted Chicken, Beef or Fish
Porridge or Pancakes Snack: Peanuts, Popcorn, Cake, Cookies Potatoes, Rice, Pasta
Fresh Fruit: Mango, Orange, Pineapple, Banana, Avocado or Watermelon Fresh Salad: Tomato, Cucumber, Onion, Carrots, Green Peppers Fresh Vegetables: Carrots, Peas, Tomato, Beans, Greens

You may want to bring some supplementary "comfort" foods, such as candy, gum, chocolate, health bars or powdered energy drinks.

We can accommodate any diet - such as vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.

Top left: vegetable stew and rice, Top right: chicken, rice, and green beans
Bottom left: beef, potato and cabbage salad, Bottom right: pancakes and leek soup

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What are the Accommodations Before and After the Climb?

We provide hotel accommodations before and after climbing Kilimanjaro. Our standard hotels are the Keys Hotels located in Moshi. These simple, clean hotels are about 35 minutes by vehicle from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Keys Hotels have the following amenities:

^ Telephone services ^ Satellite television ^ Swimming pool
^ Air conditioning ^ Wifi internet access ^ Laundry services
^ Mosquito nets ^ Restaurant ^ Room service
^ Safe deposit box ^ Locked storage facilities ^ Massage

In some instances, Keys Hotels may be unavailable and we will provide accommodations at comparable hotels in Moshi.

If you are going on a safari with us, your overnight accommodations after the climb will be in Arusha, rather than Moshi. Arusha serves as a better starting point for safaris given its closer location to Tanzania's parks to the north. Our standard hotel in Arusha is the Milimani Lodge.

In some instances, Milimani Lodge may be unavailable and we will provide accommodations at comparable hotel in Arusha.

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