Which route to take up Mount Kilimanjaro?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a great adventure. But it’s an adventure that needs some serious planning, preparations and decisions. One of the most important choices to make when planning to summit Africa’s highest mountain is obviously which route to take?
There is not a quick and easy answer. Each route up this incredible mountain has its own distinctive features and drawcards, as well it’s potential drawbacks. To get a sense of what route might work best for you, read through our list below.
Tackling Kilimanjaro is a very personal journey for many. If there are specific dates, routes or any other individual preferences, a private climb will be best suited to your needs. These private climbs are perfect for groups of friends or families who want to make the journey in a small intimate group. These routes are extremely versatile and allow you to create your Kilimanjaro experience according to your own needs. If this is the type of journey you are looking for, have a look at our private climbs.
If you are a solo hiker or would like to join a group of like-minded hikers ready to tackle the mountain, scheduled climbs are your best option. Anywhere between five and ten hikers can depart on a scheduled climb, where new bonds and friendships are often formed. Prices are fixed making this the most cost-effective choice for getting to the top of Kilimanjaro. If this sounds like the right option for you, have a look at our scheduled climbs .
If you are still not sure, contact one of our experienced sales consultants to weigh up the pros and cons of private and scheduled climbs. In the meantime, get a first idea on which route to take to the top:
When it comes to the camping routes on Kilimanjaro, Machame is the most popular. It is a well-priced option and offers climbers some of the best views and all the highlights of the western approach such as the Shira plateau, Lava Tower and the breath-taking Great Barranco wall. It is a challenging route, but has a good acclimatisation profile.
If you are reasonably fit and like a challenge, then the Machame route is the a good one to choose. Be aware that in season (end of December to mid-February and in July/August) this route tends to get busy.
Usually the Machame tour requires at least six days. You will be faced with some technical and steep passages that will leave your heart beating with excitement. Accommodation is in tents and the route is available as a scheduled climb (starting on Fridays) or as a private climb (you choose your day of departure).
This route is the oldest and probably the most well-known on the mountain and is nicknamed the “Coca-Cola” route. It is one of the shorter trails too, potentially taking just five days, though most people decide to take an extra day at Horombo Huts to acclimatise.The Marangu route is considered a route for everyone, which makes it a great choice for climbers with little or no experience in mountain hiking. The route is gradual and allows a relatively easy ascent up until the night before tackling the summit.
However, bear in mind that although it is often considered the easiest route, Marangu still requires a decent level of fitness and determination to reach the top. Also note that the almost constant ascent of this route means the acclimatisation profile is not as good as certain other routes.
Unlike other routes, Marangu ascends and descends on the same path, but climbers still experience a variety of flora and fauna of Kilimanjaro. Marangu route offers a good experience of all the climate zones and magnificent views of the smaller peak, Mawenzi.
Marangu is the only route on Kilimanjaro that offers accommodation in huts – perfect for those who want more comfort or for those who just don’t want to sleep in a tent. The huts have both single and bunk beds. Marangu route is available as a scheduled climb (starting on Fridays) or as a private climb (you choose your day of departure).
Lemosho is the perfect route for those looking for a challenge and with a taste for adventure. This camping tour is one of the newest and longest routes on the mountain, lasting seven to eight days,which makes Lemosho a slightly more expensive option. There are often less visitors on the early sections of this route before it joins up with the Machame route, and the peace and quiet over the first couple of days can be a plus for those that choose Lemosho.
The longer distance also makes Lemosho one of the most diverse routes in terms of the changing landscapes and experiencing all ecological systems and climate zones that can be found on the mountain. Climbers can experience the tranquillity of the forest and the Shira plateau and, with some luck, see wildlife ranging from birds and primates to buffalos. If altitude acclimatisation is an important factor for you, then this longer route provides exactly that, but a good level of fitness is needed to maintain energy for this long route.
Lemosho route is a camping trip and available as a scheduled option (starting on Thursdays) or as a private climb (you choose your day of departure).
The Rongai route starts off with a long drive to the northern flank of Kilimanjaro during which you will pass farms and bustling Chagga villages before arriving at Nalemoru Gate. The drive to the start is probably one of the reasons why not many people choose this route. So, Rongai is perfect if you want a quieter option away from the crowds. The descent on Rongai follows the same route as Marangu.
If you don’t like the idea of walking in rain, then Rongai route could be the right choice for you. This part of the mountain receives the lowest precipitation, even during the rainy season. Trekking this camping route normally requires at least five days but we recommend the 6-day option. Apart from being the easiest camping route on the mountain, hikers also have the opportunity to camp at the Mawenzi Tarn camp at one of the only lakes on the mountain.
The Rongai route meets up with the Marangu route on the summit night at Kibo Hut after which the descent follows the Marangu route down to the gate. This tour is accommodated in tents and is available as a private climb only. This means you can choose your day of departure.