Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa with an altitude of 5.895m above sea level and is located right next to the equator. These two facts are giving Mount Kilimanjaro its extreme contrasts. You stand in Moshi Town in front of the mountain, temperatures can easily reach 30 °C and more, while the top of Kilimanjaro is covered with ice and snow and temperatures of -25 °C (-13 F°) all year around. On the way from the surrounding plains you will be hiking through five different climate zones. It is said that hiking from the gate of Kilimanjaro to the peak is like travelling from the equator to Antarctica in a few days! Each climate zone consists of about 1.000m in altitude. Every zone offers an individual amount of rainfall, temperature and flora/fauna according to its altitude.
Moshi town, where you will start your journey, is located on the base of Mount Kilimanjaro at 900m above sea level at the warmest ecological zone and shows a big contrast to the climate at Uhuru Peak. Average rainfalls and temperatures can be seen in the tables below:
January and February are the warmest months, March and April are the rainiest months, June and July are the coldest months, and July and August are the driest months. These generalities about the weather in Moshi hold true for Mount Kilimanjaro as well but can vary slightly from year to year.
Due to its short distance to the equator, Mount Kilimanjaro has a quite constant climate all year around. Temperatures are more defined by the time of the day and altitude. Sunrise is about 7AM and dawn at around 7PM. In Moshi town, at the beginning of your climb, it is quite humid and the average temperature will be around 25 to 30 °C (77 °F to 86°F). From day to day you will cross Kilimanjaro’s 5 ecological zones and temperatures will decrease until you arrive Uhuru Point at 5.895m asl. At summit night temperatures can range between -10 °C and -30 °C (-14°F to -22 °F). Additionally there can be strong winds around the crater. Due to Mount Kilimanjaro's altitude the mountain creates its own weather that can change quickly. You should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights!
Please see the current weather conditions for Moshi & Uhuru Peak below:
Kilimanjaro knows Five Ecological Zones:
Below are Mount Kilimanjaro's zones from the lowest to the highest altitude along with the average annual rainfall and zone characteristics.
Altitude: 800m to 1.800m (2,600 to 6,000ft)
Rainfall: 500 to 1.800 mm (20 to 70in)
The lowest elevation climate zone is a cultivated area, mostly used for coffee plantations and farming by surrounding villages up to an altitude of 1.800m (6,000ft).
As the mountain provides fresh water all around the year, the soil is very fertile and ideal for farming for all kind of tropical fruits, coffee, tea and animals. The Chagga people have cultivated the land around the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro for centuries. Therefore wild animals are rarely seen, but many bird specied can be spotted and monkeys in the rainforest areas.
Rain Forest Zone
Altitude: 1.800 to 2.800m (6,000 to 9,200ft)
Rainfall: 2.000 to 1.000 mm (79 to 40in)
The rain forest zone around Kilimanjaro is hot and humid throughout daytime, but temperatures can already drop down significantly at night. Here is where the entrance Gates of Kilimanjaro National Park are located around the mountain and here is where you will start climbing. The area is rich of ferns, sycamore figs, palm trees and enormous camphorwood trees. Blue and Colobus monkeys can be see and heard at night at your first campsite. Climbers arriving from the Rongai, Lemosho, Shira or Northern Circuit routes may be lucky enough to spot elephants and antelopes that are sometimes passing the rain forest zone.
Altitude: 2.800 to 4.000m (9,200 to 13,200ft)
Rainfall: 1.300 to 530mm (51 to 21in)
You will leave the rain forest zone and notice that the trees are getting smaller and then suddenly disappear as you are reaching this semi-alpine zone that is characterized mostly by shrubs and moorland. After breaking through 2.500m (8,200ft) the first symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) may start to show up. We will take several short stops to give your body enough time to adapt to the dryer and cooler climate at high altitude. We regularly advise our clients to spend several days at this altitude to gradually acclimatize properly to the decreasing oxygen and the higher elevations to come. It is very important to choose the right climbing route and right number of days for your climb.
Alpine Desert Zone
Altitude: 4.000 to 5.000m (13,200 to 16,500ft)
Rainfall: 250mm (10in)
This region is extreme, impressive and intense. There is hardly any water and vegetation. During daytime temperatures can reach more than 35 °C (95° F) and solar radiation is harmful. It is necessary to protect your skin and eyes, and to drink enough water to prevent your body from dehydration. During night temperatures can drop down below freezing of -5 °C (40 °F) so don’t be surprised to see some ice on your tent when you wake up. According to mountain medicine definition this zone is defined as “very high altitude” and can initiate some first stronger symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You should communicate any kind of discomfort immediately to our guides. It will take time for your body to acclimatize to this region.
Altitude: 5.000 to 6.000m (16,500+ ft)
Rainfall: 100mm (<4in)
The final region of the climb up Kilimanjaro is the arctic zone which is the most remarkable area as you are still in a tropical region but now only surrounded by rocks and ice. Nights on Kilimanjaro are extremely cold and windy with temperatures down to -25 or even -30 °C (-13 °F to -22 °F).
Mountain medicine classifies this zone as "extreme altitude." Oxygen levels are roughly 50% of what they are at sea level, making breathing exhausting and difficult. You literally have to earn every step to the summit but you will be rewarded with the most spectacular view that Africa has to offer.