One of the biggest questions when it comes to climbing one of the most famous mountains in the world is “When is the best time to climb Kilimanjaro?”
When to Climb Kilimanjaro
This question cannot be answered easily. Although April and May are the wettest months, the temperature does not vary that significantly. This is because seasonally Mount Kilimanjaro does not actually vary in weather.
Where the misconception may come from isn’t where you’d think it would. The weather does in fact change, and quite significantly, but the seasons do not dictate these changes. The weather you will experience as you climb Kilimanjaro is dictated by the ecological zone you are trekking through.
On your Mount Kilimanjaro hike you will see a total of 5 ecological zones, each lasting approximately 3,280 feet. Each zone has its own weather, scenery, and wildlife.
Kilimanjaro Zone #1: The Bushland
Altitude: The altitude here is approximately 2,600 – 6,000 feet. This ascent is fair to moderate.
Scenery: The scenery of this ecological zone of Mount Kilimanjaro is wide-open grassland. Human settlers are scattered all around.
Wildlife: Because of the increasing human presence around this area, larger animals have moved up into other ecological zones, leaving only smaller animals and birds such as bushbabies, genets, black-eyed bulbul, tree dassies and the bronze sunbird.
Weather conditions: The weather conditions generally depend on when you set out to climb but will typically range from 70 – 81 degrees.
Kilimanjaro Zone #2: The Rainforest
Altitude: The altitude of this level of your Kilimanjaro hike is approximately 5,900 to 9,200 feet.
Scenery: The scenery of this ecological zone is dense forest. It completely surrounds Mount Kilimanjaro.
Wildlife: Much like any other rainforest, this zone has abundant wildlife ranging from the Anubis baboon, leopards, lions and the silvery-cheeked hornbill to mongoose, bushpigs, and the hartlaub’s turaco.
Weather conditions: This zone receives the highest amount of rainfall of all the zones. It has high humidity and receives about 80 inches of rain annually.
Kilimanjaro Zone #3: The Mooreland
Altitude: The altitude of this level is about 9,200 to a little over 13,400 feet.
Scenery: The scenery of this zone when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is very boggy, noted by the Heathers and moss. There is very little vegetation here in the Heath.
Wildlife: Large wildlife is abundant in this zone. Animals here include elephants, buffalo, leopards, antelope, vultures, buzzards and eagles.
Weather conditions: The weather conditions here are cool and wet.
Kilimanjaro Zone #4: The Desert
Altitude: The altitude here is about 13,200 to 16,400 feet.
Scenery: This is a very desolate area with very little vegetation.
Wildlife: The unforgiving conditions of this desolate landscape leaves little room for animals to thrive. Here you may find spiders and small ground dwelling creatures.
Weather conditions: The weather here is an anomaly. It can range anywhere from 106 degrees by day to 32 degrees by night.
Kilimanjaro Zone #5: The Ice Cap
Altitude: Altitude here begins around 16,400 feet and extends to the apex of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Scenery: This is known as the arctic zone for a reason as it resembles a polar ice cap.
Wildlife: There is no wildlife here. Because of its climate, no animals could survive.
Weather conditions: The night can drop to 20 below zero and the days can be brutally hot.