Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?
There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close up of the approaches to the summit.
Is known as the “Coca Cola route” – the Marangu route is one of the most popular routes leading to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Many hikers believe that Marangu route is the easiest route to Uhuru peak, since it is the route which can be hiked in 5 days (making it lower budget option). It is also the only route offering accommodation on the mountain, in the huts in each station.
It is unfortunately a well-known fact, that the 5 days Marangu route has the lowest summit success rates of all the routes on the mountain. If you choose Marangu route, we strongly recommend hiking for 6 days, to increase your chance to reach the summit successfully as more time on the mountain allows a greater chance for altitude acclimatization. This is the only route, which provide comfortable sleeping huts, equipped with beds and mattresses at every overnight station.
Marangu route utilizes the same route for ascend and descend
The Machame route is our most popular and successful route leading to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Hikers sleep in tents which are carried up the mountain by support crews. The Machame route is a very scenic and beautiful route, which can be completed in 6 days, however we strongly recommend hiking the route in 7 days, allowing for more time to acclimatise. The key to the success of the Machame route is its topography, allowing hikers to climb high and sleep low, helping towards better acclimatisation. There are however two drawbacks on this route:
Firstly hikers will need to pass an area just before the Shira ridge and hike the Barranco Wall, both of which are physically demanding and also present a potential problem for hikers with a fear of heights.
The second problem relates to the route’s high success rate, compounded by the fact that other routes join the Machame route from day 3 onwards – higher numbers of hikers can be therefore be encountered on this route.
Shira Plateau is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions you can drive by 4 wheel drive vehicles, to within a 2 hours walk of Shira Hut (4000m).
Even this drive is very spectacular indeed and offers some magnificent views of Mt Meru and the Great Rift Valley in general. Game is often sighted and the road features some striking vegetation changes ranging from forest, grassland, heath to moorland.
The fast ascend by vehicle to about 4000m will require additional acclimatization, after which it will be possible to ascent to Uhuru Peak either via the Western Breach or via the Barafu campsite 4600Mt.
Shira route is only offered to hikers who are already acclimatized to 4 000m, by hiking either Mt Meru or Mt Kenya a few days before attempting Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions you can drive by 4 wheel drive vehicle, to within a 1 hour before walking to Shira Hut (3 840m). This drive is very spectacular and offers some magnificent views of Mt Meru and the Great Rift Valley in general. Game is often sighted and the road features some striking vegetation changes ranging from forest, grassland, heath to moorland.
Rongai route ascents Kilimanjaro from the north-eastern side of the mountain, along the border between Tanzania and Kenya. This route retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north.
Rongai route’s premier advantage is that it is one of the quietest routes on the mountain. A disadvantage is the long travel time to the starting point of the route. The route also becomes busier when it connects with the Marangu route just before reaching Kibo hut.
Rongai route descends along the Marangu route as well.
Umbwe route is known for its caves. The first night you actually sleep at the Umbwe Cave Camp with two more caves that can be visited en route the following day. Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably one of the most scenic, non-technical routes on Kilimanjaro. There are however higher risks involved when attempting to summit via the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier and overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp, which include:
Safety on the Western Breach – nobody can guarantee your absolute safety, as the area is unstable and rock falls may occur at any time
During a normal summit of Kilimanjaro you will sleep at Barafu camp (4 600mt) or Kibo Hut (4 650m) before attempting the summit. By sleeping at Arrow Glacier camp (4 800) the risks for severe altitude sickness are considerably higher.
Most of Umbwe route hikes are currently re-routed, to join with the Machame route from second night on the mountain. On special request we can assist with Umbwe route hikes attempting to summit using the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier path and overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp (and the Crater camp). Please note this can only be arranged through extra charges.
The Northern Circuit
The Northern circuit is the area that connects the northern side of Kilimanjaro with the western side. The area is pristine with great views and very few hikers. On special request, can we arrange to include the Northern circuit in your hike. There are actually two options, starting with Rongai route and moving west and south (counter-clockwise) or starting with Lemosho route and moving north and east (clockwise):
Counterclockwise option: Start the hike on the Rongai route and instead of heading east towards Mawenzi peak, head west towards the Shira plateau where you connect with the Machame route, attempt the summit from the Barafu camp and descend via Mweka route.
Clockwise option: Start the hike on the Lemosho route and on day 3 instead of heading east towards Lava tower, head north where you will connect with the Rongai route, attempt the summit from the Kibo hut and descend via Mweka route.
This route may only be use as a descending route for all the western routes
Technical climbs or adventure activities such as paragliding and cycling are now allowed on Mount Kilimanjaro but need special permits.