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The main trekking seasons on Kilimanjaro correspond with the mountain’s two dry seasons (an imprecise term, the weather being occasionally inclement during these periods too) namely January to mid-March and June to October. Of course you can trek up Kilimanjaro in the rainy season but not only is there a much higher chance of trekking in the rain, the summits of Kibo and Mawenzi are likely to be wreathed in thick cloud too. Indeed, several agencies even suspend their operations in November and December, deciding that any trek up Kilimanjaro is foolhardy at this time and the rewards for the trekkers considerably less. Curiously, however, Christmas and New Year, when the weather is far from perfect, are actually the most popular times for climbing Kilimanjaro.
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The January-to-March trekking season on Kilimanjaro
As to the relative merits of the two trekking seasons, the differences are small though significant. The January to March season tends to be (slightly) colder and there is a much greater chance of snow on the path at this time. The days, however, are often clearer, with only the occasional brief shower. It is usually an exceptionally beautiful time to climb and is often a little quieter than the other peak season of June to October, which coincides with the main academic holidays in Europe and the West. In this latter season the clouds tend to hang around the tree-line following the heavy rains of March to May. Once above this altitude, however, the skies are blue and brilliant and the chance of precipitation minimal (though still present).
The June-to-October trekking season on Kilimanjaro
Although the June to October season tends to be busier, this is not necessarily a disadvantage. For example, if you are travelling independently to Tanzania but wish, for the sake of companionship or simply to cut down on costs, to join up with other travellers for your Kilimanjaro trek, then the high visitor numbers in the June-October peak season will give you the best chance of doing this.
While if you do crave solitude when you walk, it can still be found on the mountain during this peak season. The trails are long, so you can always find vast gaps between trekkers to allow you to walk in peace; some of the routes – Rongai, for example, or the two trails across the Shira Plateau – almost never have more than one or two trekking groups on them at any one time, and are often completely deserted.
And besides, Kilimanjaro is just so huge that its presence will dwarf your fellow trekkers to the point where they become, if you wish them to be, quite unnoticeable.