How is the Weather and Climate on Kilimanjaro?

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:

AVERAGE RAINFALL IN MOSHI, KILIMANJARO (IN MM)

AVERAGE RAINFALL IN MOSHI, KILIMANJARO (IN MM)

AVERAGE TEMPERATURES IN MOSHI, KILIMANJARO (IN °C)

AVERAGE TEMPERATURES IN MOSHI, KILIMANJARO (IN °C)

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.

Cultivated Zone

Altitude: 800m to 1.800m (2,600 to 6,000ft)
Rainfall: 500 to 1.800 mm (20 to 70in)

Cultivated Zone Around KILIMANJARO

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)

Rain Forest Zone on KILIMANJARO

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.

Moorland Zone

Altitude: 2.800 to 4.000m (9,200 to 13,200ft)
Rainfall: 1.300 to 530mm (51 to 21in)

Moorland Zone on KILIMANJARO

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)

Alpine DESERT ZONE ON KILIMANJARO

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.

Arctic Zone

Altitude: 5.000 to 6.000m (16,500+ ft)
Rainfall: 100mm (<4in)

ARCTIC ZONE ON KILIMANJARO

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.

What are the Accommodations Before and After climbing Kilimanjaro?

VIEW OF KILIMANJARO SEEN FROM MOSHI TOWN

VIEW OF KILIMANJARO SEEN FROM MOSHI TOWN

You will arrive in Moshi town before climbing Kilimanjaro. We provide transport from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) to your accomodation. Your accomodation before and after your climb is included in your booked service. Here is also where our guides will meet you before climbing Kilimanjaro and will explain to you what to expect on the mountain, your climbing route, to check your equipment according to our Gear List, your health condition and to let you ask all further questions that you might have. You will be able to leave the luggage that you don’t need during your climb at your accomodation where it will be kept securly.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris offers 3 different categories of accomodation according to your individual preferences.

Please see some examples of our categories below:

The accomodation categories are:

  • Adventure
    You will stay in a clean, calm, budget accomodation with a pool to relax before and after your climb. The accomodation offers a private restaurant and a garden. It is the perfect choice for all budget travellers to climb Kilimanjaro. 2** - 3***

  • Comfort
    This category offers a big variety of spacious rooms, a roof top terrace and a big pool to relax especially after your climb. It meets international standards of 3*** - 4 ****

  • Luxury
    Our luxury accomodations offer a big garden on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. You will enjoy all comforts of a 4 **** - 5***** hotel & restaurant in a calm and friendly environment. It is the perfect choice for climbers that want to add some special architecture and environment to their Kilimanjaro climb.

After climbing Kilimanjaro you might want to add a Daytrip or a Safari to complete your Tanzania Experience!

Feel free to contact us for further details!

How does a typical climbing day look like?

Kilimanjaro Breakfast.jpg

Getting ready

On a typical day on Kilimanjaro we will wake you up at 6:30AM and bring you a pan of hot water to your tent to wash your face, hands and body. Then you have to pack your Daypack and your Duffel Bag. Breakfast will be served in a special mess tent. Our team will provide fresh water for your Daypack to refill your bottles. The porters will start packing all other items, tents and equipment and hike to the next camp before you. You will start hiking around 8:00 AM.

Getting Ready.jpg

Hiking

Hiking.jpg

Pole Pole! Take Slow! It is probably the most important rule while hiking Kilimanjaro to adapt to the altitude. Every day on the mountain will be different. You will hike through different climate zones and weather conditions. According to that our guides will advise you how to arrange your Daypack. You will hike around 6 to 8 hours per day. Our porters will prepare a hot lunch for you part way around noon time. Here you will take a rest before arriving at your next campsite where dinner will be served around 6PM. Throghout the day we will perfom many small breaks and health check-ups to guarantee your safety. If you notice any kind of signals of Altitude Mountain Sickness don’t hesitate to talk to our guides!

Summit

Summit day, or better to say summit night, is extremely tough. It will be the last and most exhausting step to reach your goal of standing on top of the highest mountain of Africa! We will try to arrive at Uhuru Point at sunrise. Therefore we will wake you up around midnight and give you a small snack and hot drinks. Here you will need all your extra layers to be prepared for the extreme cold. Temperatures at night can go down to -25 °C (-13 °F). From Barafu Camp we will start our climb and walk about 6 to 7 hours to pass Stella Point and then to arrive the top of Mount Kilimanjaro!

Our guides will constantly check your condition while taking short breaks to drink hot tea and for small snacks on the way. It is extremely important to listen to their advise at all times. Every group will have a main guide and assistant guides that will give a helping hand. At this point you will reach 5.895m and exhaustion and the risk of altitude sickness are most high but we will do our best to lead you to the summit. Your success is our success!

By reaching Uhuru Point you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the sunrise over the african continent, seeing Tanzania and Kenya and the seemingly endless sky!

Arriving BY sunrise at uhuru pOINT

Arriving BY sunrise at uhuru pOINT

What Food and Water Will be Provided during the climb?

FOOD FROM THE LOCAL MARKET IN MOSHI, KILIMANJARO

FOOD FROM THE LOCAL MARKET IN MOSHI, KILIMANJARO

You will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner each day spent on the mountain. Every breakfast will start with hot drinks such as tea, hot milk, hot chocolate, coffee and additional water. We carry special tents where our clients will take all their meals. The food, specifically selected to help your climb, is high energy food that is easy to digest and to give you the energy that you need to climb. We mostly serve soups to give you enough water and calories for every day on the mountain. The primary carbohydrate of the meals are rice, potatoes and pasta. In additon we serve fresh fruits like mangos, bananas and avocados. Also vegetables accompany every meal. Meat is served on the mountain but not in large quantities because it is not easily digestible at high altitude. The best meals for climbing contain a high quantity of water, such as soups and porridge. We buy all our food locally on the market in Moshi. Every climbing group will have a private cook that will check the qualityof the food before every climb. All food will be prepared on the mountain with clean water.

Water is collected from mountain streams and treated with Aquatabs water purification tabs. Water is provided only at the campsites in the morning so you need to carry enough water, usually about 3 to 4 liters to stay hydrated while you are hiking. This is very important to avoid headaches and to minimize the risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

You may want to bring some supplementary snacks that contain sugar, such as chocolate bars, energy bars and powdered energy drinks. Please note that you don’t have to buy expensive energy bars. Just to name a few, Snickers, Mars or equal snacks are very enough to help to keep your calories up while you are climbing.

Kilimanjaro Mountain Meals.jpg

We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets. For those with special diets, please contact us in advance to discuss what we can or cannot do. Note that food selection is limited in Tanzania and especially for climbing Kilimanjaro, so although we will try to please all clients, in some cases clients will be asked to bring their specific food items to us, which our cooks will prepare.

How are the trail conditions to climb Kilimanjaro?

KIlimanjaro 7 Days Lemosho Route

The trails on Mount Kilimanjaro are well marked and maintained by Kilimanjaro National Park Authorities. Special technical skills are not required on our Kilimanjaro Routes but a minimum fitness level will definetely help to enjoy your climb. Please read our article about How do I prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro?” There are only a couple of spots where climbing on hands and feet is required. The last part to and from Uhuru Peak is on loose rubble, which is slippery and very exhausting also for descending.

Tanzania Horizon Safaris Climbing Kilimanjaro (22).jpg

At some parts of the trail, depending on the route that you chose, a bit of climbing is actually required. Not all routes have the same level of difficulty so we advice you to communicate with us before your arrival. Please also read our articles about What is the best Route to climb Kilimanjaro?” and also to check your fitness level before the climb. For your safety we will always climb together and remain together as a group. Please listen to our experienced guides at all times and don’t walk away from the group. Over the days you will become a team with your fellow climbers and the whole crew of guides and porters.

Bad weather conditions can complicate your climb. You must be prepared to trek through all types of weather from sunshine to fog, rain, snow, and all types of soil, whether loose, dusty, muddy, wet, snowy or icy. Beside preparing your gear and body, that also means to prepare yourself mentally to an exhausting time. But the better you prepare yourself, the more you will enjoy your climb!

Toilet Tent Kilimanjaro.jpg

There are public toilets at every campsite usually without running water and rather dirty. Please always remember that you are climbing one of the highest mountain on earth, it is not a walk in the park. Tanzania Horizon Safaris provides private toilets per group on request. Please contact us before your climb, changes can be made anytime before you start climbing. Private toilets consist of a plastic toilet and a privacy tent. There are no shower facilities on the mountain, but a bowl of hot water will be provided everyday before and after your climb at your tent.

Tipping Guidelines - How much do I tip my guides and porters?

It is common to tip your mountain crew after climbing Kilimanjaro. The decision on how much you tip your crew should be based on the quality of service that you received - not if you reached the summit or not as this cannot be guaranteed. Make your decision on how well the guides, cooks and porters served you while you were on the mountain. The standard tipping amounts PER GROUP is 20USD/day for guides, 15USD/day for cooks & waiters/toilet porters, and 10USD for standard porters. In addition to that you might also think about donating equipment that you don’t need anymore after your climb.

Each group will have one Lead Guide that is responsible for the whole crew. There is generally one assistant guide per three clients. Every group will have a cook, a waiter for all meals and toilet porter. The total number of porters depends on the selected route, the number of days and the total weight of all items needed. Generally, there are two porters per person on the Marangu & for climbing Mount Meru, and three porters per person on all other routes. However, the porters/client ratio is larger for small groups. Make an effort to know your guides and porters and their roles if possible. They will be happy to be recognized as they all have their individual roles for your successfull climb.

Below are some guidelines on how much to tip your staff on a full eight day climb, provided that their service was satisfactory. These figures are the total tips given for your total group.

Tipping guidelines per Group per day:

  • Lead Guide: 20 USD

  • Cook: 15 USD

  • Waiter (for meals): 10 USD

  • Toilet Porter: 10 USD

  • Porter: 10 USD (number of porters depend on total luggage)

Example: 8 Days / 6 climbers / 20 Crew Members (number of porters depend on total luggage)

  • 1 Lead Guide: 160 USD
    2 Assistant Guides: each 160 USD
    1 Cook: 120 USD
    1 Waiter: 80 USD
    1 Toilet Porter: 80 USD
    14 Porters: each 80 USD = 1.120
    20 Total Staff: 1.880 USD
    /6 clients: 313 USD per client

PLEASE NOTE:
It is against company policies for guides or porters to discuss tips during your climb. Unless there were special circumstances that justify higher tips, please try to stay close to the guidelines above.


Tipping Ceremony on Kilimanjaro on the last day (after summit)

It IS COMMON TO TIP YOUR CREW AFTER CLIMBING KILIMANJARO

It IS COMMON TO TIP YOUR CREW AFTER CLIMBING KILIMANJARO

We will explain to all details of the Tipping Ceremony in briefinf before your climb. The ceremony will take place on the last night on the mountain, after the summit day and before arriving to the departure gate of Kilimanjaro National Park. The Lead Guide will assemble the entire staff to say a word of thanks. Each crew member signs a tip receipt which we review after every climb to enforce fair and proper payment. Tips can be made in US Dollars (USD) or Tanzanian Shillings (TSH). It is very important that US bills are not older than 2002, as they are not accepted in the country. It is very helpful to organize a well estimated amount of USD before arrival, as exchange rates may vary and differ a lot.


Donation of Clothing & Equipment

You might consider donating your clothing and equipment to the climb team in addition to tipping them after your climb. Remember that the staff climbs Kilimanjaro many times a year and can go through their clothes and gear rather quickly. You can be straight forward to ask if something is needed and then donate it individually. Your donation is of great assistance to these individuals, many of who are unwilling to spend their money on material goods they consider a luxury rather than a necessity. They will appreciate your generosity tremendously. Avoid giving items to your guide for distribution to porters. Donations should be given directly to individuals they are intended for, perhaps those with the greatest need or who were of particularly good service.


Tipping for Safaris, Hotels and Restaurants

The suggested tips for the safari are 20 USD to 30 USD per day for the guide (who is also the driver). So for instance, in a five day safari the guide can be tipped 100 USD to 150 USD total from the entire group (not per individual).

Small tips (1 USD / 2000 TSH) may be given to hotel staff or drivers for their service, however this is not customary. It is also not customary to leave tips at restaurants.