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Mount Kilimanjaro has not 5, but 6 distinct climate zones.  This is what makes Kilimanjaro truly unique from other peaks across the globe.  From start (Moshi) to summit, intrepid climbers will find themselves traveling through these varied and vastly different climate zones.  Many claim that traveling from the gate to the peak is like traveling from the equator to Antarctica in a weeks time.

Each one of these 6 zones is subject to various corresponding decrease or increase in rainfall, temperature, and flora/fauna as the altitude increases.  Here is a break down of the 6 Kilimanjaro Climate zones.

Zone 1 – Cultivation Zone/Area – Average altitude ranges from 2,600 ft. to 6,000 ft.

Zone 1 – The Cultivated Areas:

This lowland range is mainly used for agriculture.  The ancient volcanic soil is rich in nutrients that supports crops and vast grasslands.  Here you will find lowland forests and natural bush.  More details and images of Zone 1…

Zone 2 – Rain Forest Zone (Montane Forest) – Average altitude ranges from 6,000 ft. to 9,200 ft.

Zone 2 – The Montane Forest/Rain Forest:

Rising up to 6,oooft and 9,200ft elevation this zone is a composite of many different species of trees.  If you look you will see that their branches are interwoven forming a canopy.  Below the canopy you will find various lichens, moss, ferns and orchids.  You may notice a cloud that blankets the forest during most of the day.  More details and images of Zone 2…

Zone 3 – Heath Zone – Average altitude 9,200 ft. to 11,000 ft.

Zone 3 – The Heath:

Rising up from 9,200ft to 11,000ft elevation the Heath zone experiences much less precipitation which in turn results in sparse vegetation.  This zone typically is covered by clouds of mists.  The typical vegetation is one of rolling meadows, small wild flowers and “heath” plants.  More details and images of Zone 3…

Kilimanjaro climb moorland

Zone 4 – Moorland Zone – Average altitude 11,000 ft. to 13,200 ft.

Zone 4 – The Moorland.

Up in the high elevation of 11,000ft to 13,200ft the Moorland is much drier that the lower zones.  The temperature differences are more definitive, with very warm days juxtaposed by freezing cold nights.  Travelers through this zone will see a very unique plant native to east Africa.  The Grundsels.  More details and images of Zone 4 and these plants…

Zone 5 – Alpine Desert Zone – Average altitude 13,200 ft. to 16,500 ft.

Zone 5 – The Apline Desert.

Up in the high elevation of 13,200ft to 16,500ft you wouldn’t expect a desert.  This alpine desert is defined by it’s dry, windy conditions.  The air is much thinner at this elevation as well as the soil.  As such little water is retained, leading to few plants, such as lichens and moss.  More details and images of Zone 5 plants…

Zone 6 – Arctic Zone – Average altitude  16,500 ft. to 19,340 ft.

Zone 6 – The Arctic Zone.

Up in the high elevation of 16,500ft to 19,340ft  comprises zone 6, the summit Arctic zone.  This zone is defined by the hot sun during the day and freezing cold nights.  Rain doesn’t reach this height, snow and the glaciers are common.  More details and images of Zone 5 plants…