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Discover Mount Kilimanjaro Facts

Refundable, Rebookable, Authentic Kilimanjaro Safari

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Mount Kilimanjaro Facts

The world’s tallest individual mountain and literal highpoint of the African continent, 5,895m-high Mount Kilimanjaro straddles the border of Kenya and Tanzania. For those who just want to admire the view of its snow-capped summit, this can be done from either country, with Kenya’s Amboseli National Park being perhaps the most popular option thanks to its prolific plains wildlife. For hikers and climbers, however, the goal is invariably Tanzania, where the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro lie within a 756km² Kilimanjaro National Park gazetted in 1977 to protect all land above the 2,700m contour.

silhouette of mount meru peak

Geology

A relative infant in geological terms, Kilimanjaro comprises three distinct volcanic cones whose formation is linked to the same tectonic process responsible for the creation of the more westerly Great Rift Valley. The oldest cone Shira formed some 2.5 million years ago, but the taller peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo both came into being less than one million years ago. Mawenzi, like Shira, is now listed as extinct. By contrast, Kibo - which incorporates the 5,895m Uhuru Peak - is regarded to be dormant, though it probably hasn’t experienced serious volcanic activity in the last 100,000 years, despite the presence of several fumaroles in the crater. In addition, at least 250 parasitic cones can be found on the mountain’s flanks, the most famous being the one that hosts the gorgeous Chala Crater Lake on the eastern footslopes.

lake chala mount kilimanjaro

Brief History

The fertile, well-watered lower slopes of Kilimanjaro are home to the Chagga, an agriculturist people whose ancestors arrived in the region mediaeval times.The Maasai of the surrounding plains knew Kilimanjaro as Ol Doinyo Naibor (White Mountain), and believed it to be protected by evil spirits that froze anybody who tried to ascend it. Despite several ambiguous allusion to a Kilimanjaro-like mountain in ancient texts, from Ptolemy’s Geography to a 12th-century account of a Chinese trader, Kilimanjaro remained unknown to the outside world until the mid-19th century. The first European to see Kilimanjaro was the German missionary Johan Rebmann, who published a description of it in 1849, only to be derided by European experts sceptical about the presence of snow so close to the Equator. Its existence was confirmed independently by the geologist Baron von der Decken in 1861.

chagga woman

Oral tradition suggests that no local had successfully climbed Kilimanjaro – or at least returned to tell the tale – before Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller first summited in 1889. Indeed, one theory has it that the mountain’s name derives from a Chagga phrase meaning ‘Impossible Journey’, the response made by a bemused local farmer to Rebmann’s query about walking to the peak. More likely perhaps the name Kilimanjaro was bequeathed on the mountain by Swahili-speaking traders from the coast - kilima is the Swahili word for hill, while ‘njaro’ might derive from the Chagga word for a trade caravan, or a Maasai word meaning water, or the name of a Swahili demon of cold.


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Kilimanjaro National Park Safaris

These recommended tours for Kilimanjaro can be tailor-made to match your budget.

When is the best time to travel to Kilimanjaro National Park?

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Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Climbing Kilimanjaro in January

Extreme weather conditions are a likelihood at all times of year, especially at higher altitudes, where subzero nocturnal temperatures are often exacerbated by wind. But January is usually a good month to climb Kilimanjaro in climatic terms. It is quite dry and relatively cool, which reduces the impact of humidity on the lower slope and improves the likelihood of extensive snow on the peaks. There is a slight risk of late rains extending into the first week or two of January, and this…

Climbing Kilimanjaro in January

snow caps on mount kilimanjaro

Extreme weather conditions are a likelihood at all times of year, especially at higher altitudes, where subzero nocturnal temperatures are often exacerbated by wind. But January is usually a good month to climb Kilimanjaro in climatic terms. It is quite dry and relatively cool, which reduces the impact of humidity on the lower slope and improves the likelihood of extensive snow on the peaks. There is a slight risk of late rains extending into the first week or two of January, and this fortnight is also an extension of the secondary peak season associated with Christmas and New Year, so it can be relatively busy. The second half of January is quieter.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in February

February is an optimum month for climbing Kilimanjaro. Tourist volumes are lower than during the main hiking season of August to September, and the weather is quite dry and relatively cool, which improves the likelihood of extensive snow on the peaks. That said, it gets extremely cold at higher altitudes throughout the year, and hikers should be prepared for subzero temperatures and high winds.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in February

kilimanjaro to mount meru climb

February is an optimum month for climbing Kilimanjaro. Tourist volumes are lower than during the main hiking season of August to September, and the weather is quite dry and relatively cool, which improves the likelihood of extensive snow on the peaks. That said, it gets extremely cold at higher altitudes throughout the year, and hikers should be prepared for subzero temperatures and high winds.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in March

Early March, like February, is a great time to climb Kilimanjaro the weather is quite dry, relatively cool, and very quiet. Nocturnal temperatures drop below freezing at higher altitudes, as is the case all year though, and the risk of rain increases as the month progresses.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in March

lengai landscape

Early March, like February, is a great time to climb Kilimanjaro the weather is quite dry, relatively cool, and very quiet. Nocturnal temperatures drop below freezing at higher altitudes, as is the case all year though, and the risk of rain increases as the month progresses.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in April

April is by far the wettest month on Kilimanjaro and should be avoided at all costs. If that isn’t possible, use the Rongai Route on the dryer northern slopes. Whichever route you use, extreme weather - temperatures way below freezing and high winds - is likely at higher altitudes.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in April

uhuru peak summit

April is by far the wettest month on Kilimanjaro and should be avoided at all costs. If that isn’t possible, use the Rongai Route on the dryer northern slopes. Whichever route you use, extreme weather - temperatures way below freezing and high winds - is likely at higher altitudes.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in May

Credit: Modern Day Marco May is very wet and although rainfall is lower than April, the ground may be waterlogged and forest trails will still be very slippery. Climbing Kilimanjaro is best avoided in May, though it does have the advantage of being very uncrowded. If you do hike at this time of year, best to choose the Rongai Route, which ascends the dryer northern slopes. Even then, arctic temperatures exacerbated by wind are normal at night on the upper slopes.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in May

mount kilimanjaro in april credit modern day marco Credit: Modern Day Marco

May is very wet and although rainfall is lower than April, the ground may be waterlogged and forest trails will still be very slippery. Climbing Kilimanjaro is best avoided in May, though it does have the advantage of being very uncrowded. If you do hike at this time of year, best to choose the Rongai Route, which ascends the dryer northern slopes. Even then, arctic temperatures exacerbated by wind are normal at night on the upper slopes.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in June

Credit: andBeyond Early June is the tail end of the wet season and even though rainfall is unlikely to be too high, post-rain conditions on Kilimanjaro may be slippery and waterlogged underfoot. It gets dryer towards the end of the month, which is usually a pretty good time to climb Kilimanjaro, before the main high season tourist influx. As is the case throughout the year, be prepared for extreme cold and possibly high winds at night in the alpine and arctic zones.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in June

sunset mount kenya credit andbeyond Credit: andBeyond

Early June is the tail end of the wet season and even though rainfall is unlikely to be too high, post-rain conditions on Kilimanjaro may be slippery and waterlogged underfoot. It gets dryer towards the end of the month, which is usually a pretty good time to climb Kilimanjaro, before the main high season tourist influx. As is the case throughout the year, be prepared for extreme cold and possibly high winds at night in the alpine and arctic zones.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in July

Although extreme weather conditions - subzero nocturnal temperatures and chill winds - are a likelihood at higher altitudes, July is a relatively dry and warm month, and a very good time to climb Kilimanjaro. It also marks the start of summer holidays in the northern hemisphere, and of the busiest tourist season. Avoid the crowds by using the less popular Shira, Rongai or Mweka Route.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in July

shira route kilimanjaro

Although extreme weather conditions - subzero nocturnal temperatures and chill winds - are a likelihood at higher altitudes, July is a relatively dry and warm month, and a very good time to climb Kilimanjaro. It also marks the start of summer holidays in the northern hemisphere, and of the busiest tourist season. Avoid the crowds by using the less popular Shira, Rongai or Mweka Route.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in August

As is the case at all times of year, it will be freezing cold at night in the alpine and arctic zones, but assuming climatic conditions are your main consideration, August is probably the driest and warmest month, and ideal for climbing Kilimanjaro. However, as summer holidays in the northern hemisphere are in full flow, it is also usually one of the two busiest months. The Shira, Rongai or Mweka Routes will be less crowded than Marangu or Machame.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in August

dawn on the mweka route

As is the case at all times of year, it will be freezing cold at night in the alpine and arctic zones, but assuming climatic conditions are your main consideration, August is probably the driest and warmest month, and ideal for climbing Kilimanjaro. However, as summer holidays in the northern hemisphere are in full flow, it is also usually one of the two busiest months. The Shira, Rongai or Mweka Routes will be less crowded than Marangu or Machame.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in September

Credit: Bookmundi Dry and relatively warm weather can be expected, making September ideal for climbing Kilimanjaro in climatic terms, though extreme cold and possibly high winds are normal in the alpine and arctic zones. September coincides with summer holidays in Europe and North America, so the mountain tends to be very busy. Avoid the Marangu or Machame Routes in preference for the quieter Shira, Rongai or Mweka Routes.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in September

climbing mount kilimanjaro credit bookmundi Credit: Bookmundi

Dry and relatively warm weather can be expected, making September ideal for climbing Kilimanjaro in climatic terms, though extreme cold and possibly high winds are normal in the alpine and arctic zones. September coincides with summer holidays in Europe and North America, so the mountain tends to be very busy. Avoid the Marangu or Machame Routes in preference for the quieter Shira, Rongai or Mweka Routes.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in October

Subzero nocturnal temperatures are normal throughout the year at higher altitudes, often exacerbated by wind. Nevertheless, October is a very good month to climb, with relatively dry and warm weather, and it is generally less busy than August or September. The short rains may start to kick in towards the end of the month, but after four months of dry weather, this shouldn’t be a major concern.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in October

kibo climbing mount kilimanjaro

Subzero nocturnal temperatures are normal throughout the year at higher altitudes, often exacerbated by wind. Nevertheless, October is a very good month to climb, with relatively dry and warm weather, and it is generally less busy than August or September. The short rains may start to kick in towards the end of the month, but after four months of dry weather, this shouldn’t be a major concern.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in November

November is a wet month, even by Kilimanjaro’s soggy standards, so it isn’t an optimum time for climbing. As is the case throughout the year, ground temperatures drop below freezing at night at higher altitudes, but November is colder and windier than average. Avoid if possible.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in November

mount kilimanjaro clouds

November is a wet month, even by Kilimanjaro’s soggy standards, so it isn’t an optimum time for climbing. As is the case throughout the year, ground temperatures drop below freezing at night at higher altitudes, but November is colder and windier than average. Avoid if possible.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in December

Credit: Nuvo Magazine December tends to be wet and very cold. Expect slippery trails at lower altitudes and, as you approach the summit, subzero temperatures and howling winds at night. Towards the end of the month, the mountain experiences a secondary high season associated with the Christmas and New Year holidays. Best avoided.

Climbing Kilimanjaro in December

mount kilimanjaro credit nuvo magazine Credit: Nuvo Magazine

December tends to be wet and very cold. Expect slippery trails at lower altitudes and, as you approach the summit, subzero temperatures and howling winds at night. Towards the end of the month, the mountain experiences a secondary high season associated with the Christmas and New Year holidays. Best avoided.

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Tours in Kilimanjaro

These recommended tours for Kilimanjaro can be tailor-made to match your budget.

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Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard

Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

What is Alice’s favourite place in Africa?

Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

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Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington Megan Warrington

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Megan Warrington

Megan is an Africa Concierge Expert at Discover Africa, she is responsible for compiling travel programs for people in search of their dream safari in Africa.

About Megan

What does Megan love about African travel?

There is always a new adventure around the next corner.

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana and Tanzania.

What is Megan’s favourite place in Africa?

Namibia

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard Alice Lombard

Meet the Team

Alice Lombard

Alice is Discover Africa’s Sales & Product Manager, responsible for managing the Discover Africa Sales Consultants as well as all the products and itineraries that we promote.

About Alice

What does Alice love about African travel?

The people, the culture, the diverse scenery, the wildlife and of course the food & wine.

What African countries have you travelled to?

Zimbabwe (Victoria Falls), Botswana (Okavango Delta, Linyanti, Chobe), Namibia (Southern), Zanzibar, Kenya (Mombasa and Malindi), Mauritius and South Africa.

What is Alice’s favourite place in Africa?

Victoria Falls and Cape Town.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen Matthys van Aswegen

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Matthys van Aswegen

Matthys is Discover Africa’s Senior Travel Consultant, with over 13 years experience in the travel industry and a keen eye for photography.

About Matthys

What does Matthys love about African travel?

Diversity and abundance of landscapes, cultures, wildlife, beaches, food and everything you can think of.

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mauritius and Tanzania.

What is Matthys’s favourite place in Africa?

Cape Town

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

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Adelle Bell

Adelle is Discover Africa’s Senior Travel Consultant and has been in the travel industry for the past 10 years. She is a FIT specialist and has extensive experience in planning and executing dream itineraries in luxury travel.

About Adelle

What does Adelle love about African travel?

You have not lived if you have not experienced an African Safari - the early morning safari drives with the African sun rising in the distance, the smell of morning freshness, coffee in the Bush. You have got to experience a morning in Africa!

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa (Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands and Phinda Game Reserve), Botswana and Mozambique.

What is Adelle’s favourite place in Africa?

Kruger National Park

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

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Antoinette Van Heerden

Antionette is a Travel Consultant at Discover Africa, with 5 + years experience in the travel and tourism industry. She specializes in luxury safari packages.

About Antoinette

What does Antoinette love about African travel?

Adventure combined leisure travel makes for the best trip!

What African countries have you travelled to?

South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

What is Antoinette’s favourite place in Africa?

South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

Contact Discover Africa

Send us a message, to ask any questions, or request a tailor-made safari or experience.

Call Discover Africa on +27 (0)21 422 3498

Get in touch to find out more about the tours on offer or request a personalized no-obligations quote.

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