Due to Tanzania's proximity to the equator (between 1 and 11.45 degrees latitude south of the Equator and 29.20 and 40.35 degrees longitudes east), this region does not experience the extremes of winter and summer weather, but rather dry and wet seasons. The local Weather conditions on Kilimanjaro can be somewhat unpredictable to say the very least. Rainfall varies from 2100 mm per year in the rainforest belt to less than 120 mm per year in the summit zone. Similarly, daily temperature changes are unexpected when compared to normal weather cycles, and are largely dependent on Altitude.
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. At the beginning of the climb, at the base of the mountain, the average temperature is around 70°F to 80°F (27°C to 32°C). From there, the temperatures will decrease as you move through Mount Kilimanjaro's ecological zones. At the summit, Uhuru Peak, the night time temperatures can range between 0°F to -15F (-18°C to -26°C). This make Kilimanjaro weather very dynamic and you should always be prepared for wet days and cold nights.
We recommend to our clients who want to climb Kilimanjaro that the long rains typically occur from February to May, and basically it is at this time when visibility is bad and the mountain becomes slippery and treacherous. The shorter rains occur during November and December while June though October it is a summer time and conducive for climbing the Mountain.
NB: Provided that February through May is long rain season mountaineers climb this mountain to the top without any problem so long as they have all required climbing gears.
Weather Conditions near the base of the mountain tend to be tropical to semi-temperate and are relatively stable all year round. The lower plains are hot and dry with average temperatures of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As one heads away from the Lower Plains towards the Rain Forest, conditions become increasingly warm and humid.
Mount Kilimanjaro is divided into five distinct zones: Cultivated farmlands on the lowest levels, next is the rainforest zone, followed by heath and moorland with alpine vegetation, and just before the barren, snowy summit is lunar-like desert. The climate and animal life is dependent on the zone.
Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness
Mount Kilimanjaro climbing climbers might encounter some challenges during climbing on health issues. On your arrival it is recommended that you have a day in Moshi or Arusha town for the acclimatization of weather as well as resting from jet lag before attempting Kilimanjaro. There are numerous health issues while climbing Kilimanjaro as listed below and majority of them are due to the change of altitude and weather:
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Mountain Kilimanjaro Altitude Sickness normally occurs on the high altitude such as Gilman's Point, Stella Point or on the Summit of Kilimanjaro. The record shows that more than 80% of Mount Kilimanjaro climber suffers from this illness but they recover and make it to the top. For those who get serious illness the only proper cure is to descent to at least 600 m from the point you are. The symptoms of the illness include reduced urine output, nausea, anorexia, headaches, rapid pulse, insomnia, swelling of the hands and feet.
Regularly the avoidance of this situation is by far to reduce the pace of your trekking from the first day, eating as much as you can since altitude change tend to reduce appetite completely as well as drinking much water 3 to 4 liters per day including hot drinks such as chocolate, coffee or tea. While trekking with us we feed you much to make sure that you have enough energy.
Along with all the natural precaution also preventative medicine (such as Diamox) is available and you should consult your physician for specialist advice. Fluid build-up may cause a situation known as edema, which can affect the lungs, preventing effective oxygen exchange, or affect the brain (cerebral) which will result in the swelling of the brain tissue. When this situation occurs immediately ask for assistance from our guide as we always trek with oxygen kit to take care of such circumstance.
The hypothermia illness is a situation whereby your body fails to generate a proper temperature during climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Regularly Mount Kilimanjaro weather change and covering of mist and rain is a common thing. If it happens that a climber's clothes get wet his/her body is likely to be unstable on temperature stability. As mountaineers we are aware of this and before trekking we always countercheck your climbing gear to avoid inconveniences like this. Common gear like raincoat is a mandate to have it even if isn't a rain season as on Kilimanjaro it rains anytime.
Treatment of this illness is simple but should not be undermined. Remove all the wet clothes and wear dry warm clothes. If the fire is light up for cooking then you can stay around for some few minutes for stabilization and thereafter retire as it might ruin your acclimatization of climbing weather. The other more proper solution but takes time is by sleeping in a sleeping bag with your colleague who hasn't experience the same problem.
Sun related injuries
About 55% of the earth's protective atmosphere is below an altitude of 5000m. Far less ultraviolet light is being filtered out, making the sun's rays much more powerful, which could result in severe sun burning of the skin. It is strongly recommended to use a 20+ sun protection cream at lower altitudes, and a total block cream above an altitude of 3000m.Wearing sun glass when in Kilimanjaro especially places with snow or ice is highly recommended. Basically the sunshine at the top of Kilimanjaro in the morning makes the Kili ice shinning much and will bring to snow blindness. Snow blindness is a painful thing and might require your eyes to be bandaged for sometime.