Routes on Mount Kilimanjaro

Different Kilimanjaro routes

Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a simple case of going up and heading back down again. There are a number of route options to choose from. Considerations such as climate, scenery, difficulty and foot traffic ultimately play a large role in the route a climber decides to take. Find the route that works best for you to start planning your ideal Kilimanjaro experience:

Kilimanjaro Routes:


Lemosho Route

Duration: 7 or 8 days

This 70km route will take most climbers at least 7 or 8 days to complete. It is considered by many as the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro and has also become popular due to the low foot traffic, high summit success rate and incredible panoramic views. This route is highly recommended.

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Machame Route

Duration: 6 days

Most climbers will take a minimum of 6 days to complete Kilimanjaro on this route. It is considered fairly difficult and is well suited to the more adventurous and those with hiking experience. Nicknamed the ‘whiskey route’, it is the most popular route with our guests thanks to its challenging conditions and spectacular views of the summit.

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Marangu Route

Duration: 6 days

Perhaps the oldest but also the easiest route up Kilimanjaro, the Marangu route follows a gradual slope up the mountain. The route can be completed in 5 days but Kilimanjaro-Experience takes the 6-day option to allow for better acclimatisation. The route is 69km in length and is nicknamed the ‘Coca Cola route’ being the most classic trek up the mountain. It is favoured during the rainy season and ascends and descends using the same path.

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Rongai Route

Duration: minimum 6 days

This 70km route approaches from the north, very close to the Kenyan border. It is a route gaining traction and a recommended option for those looking to stay away from the crowds. It takes a minimum of 6 days to complete this route which is regarded as moderately steep and difficult. It is a great option for those with little hiking experience. It is also a popular option during the rainy season.

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Shira Route

Duration: 7 days

This route is nearly identical to the Lemosho route and approaches Kilimanjaro from the west. It takes around 7 days to complete and climbers using this route need to be confident with their ability to acclimatise, given the high starting point. It is a varied and beautiful route and crosses the incredible Shira Plateau before later joining the Machame route.

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Umbwe Route

Duration: minimum 5 days

Short and steep, the Umbwe route is not often used and said to be the most demanding on the mountain. Due to the route not providing much time for acclimatisation, the success rate is not as high as on the other routes. This climb takes a minimum of 5 days and is 51 km in length.

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Northern Circuit

Regarded as one of the best routes up Kilimanjaro, the Northern route is also among the newest. It is one of the longest routes available, which allows for more climbing time and is great for acclimatisation. This means it has one of the highest success rates for reaching the summit. The route offers incredible varied scenery and, generally, a low number of visitors.

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Summit Circuit

Many climbers enjoy the southern part of this circuit only, where they can then leave the circuit from a number of points. It contours the base of the Kibo Crater and allows climbers to then choose a route to the summit. Find out more about the Summit Circuit.

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Going up

Six trails lead up to the base of Kibo cone.

These are:

These six routes all meet up with a path – the Summit circuit – going around the foot of the Kibo cone. You will go along either the Northern Circuit or the Southern Circuit depending on which side of the mountain you started.

Going to the summit

From the circular path around the foot of Kibo there are three routes leading to the summit. Which one you take depends on which of the six routes you took up to the circular path.

The three summit routes are:

  • **Western Breach
  • Barafu
  • Kibo Huts route

**The Western Breach

The Western Breach was closed after rockfalls fatally injured three climbers in 2006, but has since been re-opened. The danger lies in the glaciers above the route: as it melts, rocks are released and rock slides occur.It is still considered unsafe to use and is the most dangerous route to the summit.

It is still considered unsafe to use and is the most dangerous route to the summit.

Going down

There are two trails leading down the mountain. If you used the Machame, Umbwe, Shira or Lemosho routes, you will descent with the Mweka trail.

If you went up on the Rongai or Marangu route, you will come down on the Marangu route.

The most popular Kilimanjaro routes are:

  • Marangu route
  • Machame route
  • Rongai route

The routes considered least difficult are:

  • Marangu
  • Rongai

The routes considered more difficult are:

  • Machame
  • Shira
  • Lemosho

Marangu is the only route where you sleep in huts; on all other routes, you overnight in tents.