Altitude Sickness on Kilimanjaro Mountain

Many people travel to Tanzania in hopes of summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world with its five volcanic cones reaching above 5000 meters (16,500 feet). With 90% of the mountain being above 1500 meters (5000 feet), high altitude trekking can pose some serious health risks, particularly Altitude Sickness which can be fatal if left untreated. Here are some tips to avoid Altitude Sickness on Kilimanjaro Mountain and how to treat it if you do get it.

Symptoms of Altitude Sickness on Kilimanjaro Mountain

In order to understand altitude sickness, it’s important to know what symptoms to look for. The most common symptoms of altitude sickness include:

  • headache
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness and lightheadedness,
  • ncreased urination
  • rapid heart rate (tachycardia).

All of these symptoms have a lot in common with severe acute mountain sickness: HACE or high-altitude cerebral edema which can lead to death as well as AMS or high-altitude pulmonary edema which is highly dangerous if left untreated and can cause extreme respiratory distress that could result in death.

Prevention tips while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

3 Tips for climbing kilimanjaro
If you’re planning on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you might want to think about bringing some of these tips along with you:

  • 1. Learn about altitude sickness ; If you’re used to being around sea level, climbing up a mountain that’s 19,340 feet above sea level can be pretty dangerous. That’s why it’s important that you prepare by learning as much as possible about altitude sickness and its symptoms. This will help your doctor know what treatment (if any) he needs to administer for your climb.
  • 2. Work on your cadence : Maintain a similar cadence as you climb
  • 3. Choose the Best Route for Your Capabilities
how hard is to climb

Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro

Best time to climb Kilimanjaro

The Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro is during the driest and warmest times of the year, which fall between December to mid-March and mid-June to the end of October. However, keep in mind that these periods are also the busiest for Kilimanjaro climbers.

In this guide, we’ll provide a breakdown of Kilimanjaro’s climbing season, alternative off-peak times to consider, and periods to avoid. We’ll also discuss other key factors to keep in mind as you plan your Mount Kilimanjaro adventure.

Best time to climb Kilimanjaro

The Best Month by month to climb Kilimanajaro

Best time to climb Kilimanjaro

Best time to Climb Kilimanjaro During Full Moon

Ascending Mount Kilimanjaro during a full moon offers an unparalleled experience, as the summit and its breathtaking glaciers are illuminated by the bright moonlight, creating stunning views. In addition to the aesthetic benefits, trekking during this time also provides greater visibility throughout the climb, particularly during the final ascent to Uhuru Peak.

While it’s not necessary to summit on the exact date of the full moon to enjoy the benefits of the moonlight, many climbers plan their trek to coincide with this monthly celestial event. To do so, a seven-day climb should begin five days before the full moon date, while an eight-day climb should start six days prior. These full moon summit dates are highly popular and tend to book up quickly, so it’s advisable to book well in advance.

However, if you prefer a less crowded experience and the opportunity to enjoy a star-filled sky, it may be best to avoid the full moon period altogether. By departing on an “off” day, such as Tuesday or Wednesday, you can also avoid the peak weekend traffic on the mountain. Ultimately, whether or not you choose to summit during a full moon, the majestic beauty of Kilimanjaro is an experience that will stay with you forever.

Important Considerations for Climbing Kilimanjaro

It’s important to keep in mind that the time of year and weather are not the only factors that will affect your Kilimanjaro climb. There are several other variables that you should consider when planning your ascent of Africa’s highest peak. Here are some additional factors that you may want to explore before you decide on the best time to climb Kilimanjaro:

Choosing the Best Kilimanjaro Route

When considering climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s important to choose the best route for your skill level and preferences. The three most popular routes are the Machame, Lemosho, and Rongai routes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

The Machame Route is a popular choice as it offers a shorter trekking duration, but it’s also more challenging than the other routes. This route features stunning scenery on the ascent to Uhuru Peak. If you’re interested in this route, you can read our full Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Trek itinerary for more information.

The Lemosho Route is longer and more gradual, making it a great choice for those with limited trekking experience. This route is also less popular, but equally beautiful. We highly recommend it for those taking on the Kilimanjaro challenge. You can find out more about this route in our full Mount Kilimanjaro Lemosho Trek itinerary.

The remote Rongai Route approaches the summit from the north, on Kenya’s side of Kilimanjaro. This route is less popular, but it offers options of faster or gradual ascents. Additionally, you may be treated to sightings of big game, such as antelope, elephant, and buffalo. If you’re interested in this route, please contact us directly to inquire about it.

Weather Conditions

Kilimanjaro is situated near the equator and experiences two main seasons: dry and rainy. Climbing during the dry months, which are January through early-March and June through October, is recommended. These months offer clear skies, great views, and comfortable hiking conditions. 


The temperatures on the mountain vary based on the seasons and different climate zones. The summit zone is considered “Arctic,” and temperatures drop well below freezing throughout the year. The coldest months are usually December to March and June, just after the rains, with a good chance of snow on the summit. This reduces the number of visitors, making it less crowded than July through August, which is the busiest time.

Rain Rainy season

Kilimanjaro experiences two distinct wet seasons: long rains from the end of March through May, and short rains in November. April and November typically have the highest rainfall, but this can vary. Climbing during the rainy season can be challenging, as conditions can be wet, stormy, and muddy, particularly on the southern face of the mountain.

It’s essential to consider the weather and temperature conditions when planning to climb Kilimanjaro to ensure a safe and comfortable climb.

Consider the Crowds: Number of climbers on Kilimanjaro

As Kilimanjaro continues to gain popularity, the number of climbers on the mountain increases, especially during the favorable weather of January to early March and June to October. The Marangu and Machame routes are the busiest, while the Northern Circuits, Rongai, or Lemosho offer a less crowded experience with stunning views.

Toilets at campsites can get overcrowded during busy times, but our climbers can use private toilet tents, used exclusively by our group. Despite the crowds, climbers often form lifelong friendships with other climbers they meet on the mountain.

If you prefer to avoid crowds, the shoulder seasons just before and after the rains are the quietest times of year, but you should be prepared for the possibility of rain. Climbing during the height of the rainy season (April/May and November) is not recommended, but you could opt for the routes on the northern side of the mountain, which receive less rainfall and are more sheltered.

Kilimanjaro Safety & Trail Conditions

Safety is our top priority when it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro. As a hiker, you may be accustomed to challenging trails and slippery conditions, but for inexperienced climbers, we recommend avoiding the rainy season to minimize discomfort and ensure a safe ascent.

The lower slopes, especially through the forested areas, can become muddy and slippery, while the higher altitudes present rocky and sometimes treacherous terrain. Our experienced guides are familiar with all weather conditions on Kilimanjaro and remain flexible to adjust the itinerary when necessary for your safety and comfort.

Ascending Kilimanjaro means dealing with altitude effects, and getting wet increases the risk of hypothermia. That’s why we emphasize the importance of keeping your gear dry and avoiding getting soaked, especially during rainy periods. We recommend using high-quality, waterproof gear, particularly on less challenging itineraries. Be sure to store your gear in waterproof bags, avoiding plastic bags, which are banned by the Tanzanian government.

Note: the Tanzanian government has banned the use of all plastic bags, so please don’t use garbage bags or ziploc bags to store any of your gear. 

best time to climb mount Kilimanjaro

If you’d like to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, call our africa bucket list  Specialists for a chat about your dream trip or fill out our no-obligation enquiry form.

How hard is it to climb Mount kilimanjaro

If you happened to meet people who have successfully climbed and reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, they will probably say “Kilimanjaro is the hardest thing I’ve ever done especially the summit night”. And couple years later you will see the same person bringing friends along with him to do it again. We know by experience that the hardest part of Climbing Kilimanjaro is the summit night. You will face the very cold weather with temperature going under -15is the coldest with 49% less oxygen and a descent of nearly 6,870ft. So how hard is it to climb Mount Kilimanjaro ? There is no yes it hard or no it’s not hard, we would say that it depends on many factors, and most of the time is very individual. Let’s dig into those factors to give you a better indication on how hard it is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

The Facts About Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

It’s impossible to say exactly how hard it is to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro because there are so many factors, including your fitness level, how long you’ve been preparing for your trip and even your travel company (some are better than others). However, we can tell you that Mount Kilimanjaro should not be taken lightly. This climb requires both physical and mental strength. And while there aren’t any technical aspects to worry about on Kili, difficulty level lies in its altitude—which means you must be prepared for life at high altitudes. In fact, acclimatization is one of Kili’s most critical components.

how hard is it to climb mount Kilimanjaro

The Best Route for Climbing

Planning your route for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be difficult. Climbing routes are influenced by several factors, including weather conditions, timing, ability level and more. That’s why it’s important to select a climb that matches your experience and ability level. For example, a beginner may want to start off with an easier climb like Marangu, which takes between five and six days to complete. Climbers who have climbed other peaks like Denali or Elbrus may choose an alternative route known as Rongai Route; it’s one of the easiest but still offers stunning views.

How to deal with sickness Altitude on Mount Kilimanjaro

One of the toughest challenges of climbing Kilimanjaro is coping with the high altitude. Adjusting to the thin air while trekking long distances sets Kilimanjaro apart from your average hiking adventure. Altitude training is a crucial part of your preparation, although its effectiveness can vary.

Opting for a longer route, spanning over six days or more, provides your body with ample time to acclimatize. It also allows for necessary rest and recovery, without the pressure of rushing to cover the miles. Remember, it’s important to maintain a slow pace during the climb. Your guide will often remind you with the Swahili phrase “Pole pole,” meaning “slowly slowly.” By conserving your energy and avoiding exhaustion, you increase your chances of proper acclimatization. Remember, it’s not a race!

If needed, you can discuss with your doctor the possibility of taking Diamox, a medication that aids acclimatization. A prescription is required for it.

best to to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Unpredictable Weather Conditions

The weather on Kilimanjaro can be highly unpredictable, adding another layer of challenge to the climb. Climbers may encounter extreme temperatures, ranging from scorching heat during the day to freezing cold at night. Heavy rainfall and strong winds are also common on the mountain. It is essential for climbers to pack suitable clothing and equipment to protect themselves from the elements and ensure their safety throughout the journey.

Mental Stamina and Determination

Climbing Kilimanjaro is not only a physical test but also a mental challenge. The climb can be mentally demanding, requiring perseverance, determination, and a positive mindset. As climbers face fatigue, discomfort, and the possibility of altitude sickness, maintaining mental strength becomes crucial to overcome the obstacles that arise along the way. Proper mental preparation, such as visualization and goal setting, can greatly enhance a climber’s chances of success.

Safety Precautions and Expert Guidance

Ensuring safety during a Kilimanjaro climb is paramount. It is highly recommended to climb with an experienced guide or join a reputable trekking company. Expert guides have extensive knowledge of the mountain, including its routes, weather patterns, and safety procedures. They can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the journey, increasing the chances of a safe and successful climb.

Your Physical Fitness

Your physical fitness is another essential aspect to consider. While you don’t need to be an ultra-marathon runner, you should be prepared to hike uphill for multiple hours each day, carrying a weighted backpack. Keep in mind that the slow pace of the climb might make you think it’s too easy if it weren’t for the altitude!

Our advice is to strive for the highest level of fitness possible, after consulting with your doctor.

If you do have any questions about how hard it is to climb Kilimanjaro? Our expert guide are ready to answer them for you! Have you climbed Kilimanjaro ? pleas drop your experience and share your personal advise !