How Cold Is It On Mt Kilimanjaro

Have you ever wondered just how cold it can get on Mt Kilimanjaro? Standing more than 5,895m (19,341 feet) tall, Kilimanjaro is one of the tallest free-standing mountains in the world. It is located in Tanzania in East Africa, near the Kenyan border. As its elevation increases, so does the temperature drop – making it an awe-inspiring but extreme place to visit.

Depending on the season and the altitude you are at, the weather on the mountain can range from the mid-70s to below 0°F (-18°C). As you climb higher, the temperatures can drop significantly. For example, at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro the temperature ranges from a pleasant 50°F (10°C) to a chilly 32°F (0°C) – and as you reach the peak of Mt Kilimanjaro, near Uhuru Peak, the temperature can drop dramatically to below 0°F (-18°C).

For unprepared climbers and tourists, this extreme cold can be dangerous. Dr. Rob Shick, the chief medical officer at The Big Five Marathon, warned that WCM (the remoteness of Mt Kilimanjaro, the temperature and the weather) can be “a serious consideration for undertaking this climb.” Thanks to the cold temperatures, certain conditions such as hypothermia and frostbite could happen.

However, with the proper clothing and equipment, you can still enjoy a safe and comfortable experience on Mt Kilimanjaro. Tour operators and locals advise that you bring along ski wear as this makes the trek much more bearable. Wind-proof and waterproof jackets, hats, gloves and boots that can handle wintry weather should also be packed. Additionally, you may want to consider investing in trekking poles and other equipment to help you make it up the steep but rewarding trails of Mt Kilimanjaro.

Despite the temperatures, Mt Kilimanjaro remains a popular destination for hikers and climbers from all over the world. According to the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority, it welcomed over 45,000 visitors in just one year. For those who are ready to take on the challenge of a lifetime, the cold on Mt Kilimanjaro can be well worth the effort.

The Weather On The Way To The Summit

Weather conditions can change quickly and drastically on Mt Kilimanjaro, especially the higher up you get. Typically the temperatures on the lower levels are relatively warm and humid. The altitude changes rapidly and can sometimes surprise you with strong winds, a cold temperature and even snow. As you reach the three volcanic summits your environment will transform completely, and take on the characteristics of an alpine environment.

On the way to the summit, you will travel through five distinct climate zones – each with its own characteristic temperatures. The first zone is the rainforest, where the temperatures range from a hot and humid 70°F (21°C) to a cool 75°F (25°C). Next is the moorland zone, which features colder temperatures around 45°F (7°C) and winds with 2 to 8 mph (3 to 13 kph). As you reach the alpine desert zone, you can expect a dry, arid climate with temperatures below 20°F (-7°C). Finally, the glaciers and snow fields of the arctic zone can drop to subfreezing temperatures, with an average temperature below 0°F (-18°C).

How To Prepare For The Cold

Learn about the weather conditions that you may experience before even setting foot on the mountain. Knowing the temperatures and weather to expect can help you plan your trek accordingly. Get up-to-date forecasts from experienced climbers or meteorologists before you begin your journey. This can help you to plan exactly which clothing and equipment you need to pack.

Dr. Shick also advises that visitors “acclimate prior to heading to Kilimanjaro to help prepare their bodies for the conditions at altitude.” That means allowing your body to adjust to the altitude, temperatures and weather as much as possible before attempting to summit the mountain. The national park website also recommends scheduling your trek for either late spring or early fall for the best and least extreme weather.

When packing for the climb make sure to bring the warmest clothes you own. You should try to make layers of clothes that can be easily taken off or put on as needed. Bring hats, gloves and thermal socks to keep your extremities warm and stave off frostbite. Also bring along sunscreen to protect yourself from the strong UV levels at high altitude. Whenever possible, invest in clothing and equipment with waterproof and windproof features.

Tips To Stay Warm On Your Trek

When you reach higher altitudes and the temperatures begin to drop, staying warm is a necessary part of the experience. Talk to experienced climbers and tour operators to get tips on how to stay warm on your trek. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to help you make the climb safely and comfortably:

  • Wear lots of layers and make sure they are breathable! Pack extra warm clothes in case of weather changes.
  • Take regular breaks and during them you should put on all the warm clothes you have!
  • Eat the right food and drink plenty of water to stay energised.
  • Carry hot water in your water bottle to keep your hands warm.
  • Sleep in a four-season sleeping bag to get the extra warmth you need.
  • Make sure you use enough sunscreen to protect yourself from the strong UV rays at high altitude.

Potential Health Risks On Mt Kilimanjaro

The cold temperatures and windy conditions on Mt Kilimanjaro can present some health risks if you are not properly prepared. Some of the most common risks are hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia is a serious condition that happens when your body temperature drops dangerously low and can be life threatening. Frostbite, on the other hand, is a freezing of the skin caused by extreme cold.

Wearing the proper clothing and taking measures to stay warm are the best way to avoid these risks. Other health problems can include nausea, headaches, vomiting and other altitude-related illnesses. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to rest and slowly adjust to the environment.

The View From The Summit

When you finally make it to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, you will be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking views in the world. If you are lucky enough to have clear skies, the snow-capped summit will truly take your breath away. You will be able to look out across the wilderness of the savannah and the distant mountains of Tanzania and Kenya.

From the summit you can also experience the thin air, colder temperatures and technically challenging terrain that make Mt Kilimanjaro so unique. There is no other place quite like it, and it is well worth the trek.

Equipment Needed For The Trek

When planning your Mt Kilimanjaro trek, make sure to pack the right equipment. Investing in quality gear can make all the difference to your experience. Besides warm clothes, you will need a tent, sleeping bag, stove, good hiking boots and other trekking gear for your journey. Your tour operator will be able to provide you with more detailed advice and suggestions on the type of equipment you need.

Your tour operator will also help you arrange transport to the base of Mt Kilimanjaro. For example, most tour operators provide 4×4 vehicles or charter flights to the Mt Kilimanjaro National Park. Make sure to leave enough time to get to the base in time for your trek and to make any last minute purchases.

Water Sources & Toilets On The Trek

Before beginning the trek, it is important to talk to your tour operator about how you will manage water and toilet access during your journey. It is not recommended that you drink directly from taps or river sources as water-borne diseases are a risk in the area. Make sure you bring plenty of bottled water or a water purification system that is proven to rid water of bacteria and contaminants.

Toilets can be hard to come by along the way, so make sure to speak to your tour operator about where you will be able to access them. Night stops at campsites or lodges usually include access to basic toilet and shower facilities.


Climbing Mt Kilimanjaro may be a difficult challenge, but it is one that is well worth taking on. The views and the feeling of accomplishment are entirely unique, and the temperatures and weather can be thrilling and rewarding if you take the right precautions. As long as you are well prepared and have the right clothing and equipment, a trek on Mt Kilimanjaro could be one of the most rewarding and unforgettable experiences of your life.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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