KILIMANJARO TREKKING ROUTES

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Machame, Marangu, Lemosho, Umbwe, Shira, Northern Circuit or Rongai, each one offering their own unique scenery and sights en-route, and each varying in difficulty. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain. The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The Mweka Route, is used as a descent route.

On average, it  takes 6 days to climb Kilimanjaro but extra days should be added on to your trek acclimatise to the high altitude.

Each trekking route on Kilimanjaro has its own advantages and disadvantages and should be carefully chosen according to
  You AND your teams level of fitness. If you are going in a group make sure you pick a route best suited to everyone in your team
  Your prior trekking experience. Have you done altitude climbs before and do you quickly acclimitise or not?
  Do you hate crowds? If so, go with a route where you are going to have a quieter experience?
  What do you want to get out of it? Are you interested in photography, or simply bagging a peak?
  Are you looking for variations in scenery? Are you happy to go up and down Kilimanjaro using the same route?
  How long can you take on the trek? If you only have a short time look at Marangu or even our short Kilimanjaro treks that don't take you to summit.
  How much can you spend on the trek? Remember if you choose Rongai, Lemosho, Shira and Northern then there is an extra transfer cost.
  What time of year do you have available to go?
  Are you happy to sleep in tents or do you prefer huts? If you are not a camper then choose Marangu.
  Are you afraid of heights and relatively steep drop off's? If so, have a look at video's of the Barranco Wall. If this scares you then avoid Machame, Lemosho, Shira and Umbwe routes.

Marangu

Marangu is seen as the easiest trekking route on Kilimanjaro - but be careful as no route on Kilimanjaro is "easy". It is given this rating as it has a gradual trek, less steep climb, which means you cover greater distances each day. It is also the shortest route. Accommodation is in shared dormitory mountain huts. As a result of its shorter duration, accommodation and ascent profile, it is a much busier path.

The downside to Marangu  is that it also offers no chance of acclimatising by the principle of climb high, sleep low, It is also, because of its "easier route" status, often selected by people who are less fit and consider it to be the easy trek to summit. As a result, the number of people who reach the summit, is lower than on most of the other routes.

To make a success of Marangu route, it is important to add on a day's acclimatisation trek from Horombo Huts. It will increase your chances of success. It is also known as the "Coca Cola Route. Ascent climb and descent is via the same way making variation of scenery, limited.

5 - 6 days trekking
  30 minutes road to Marangu Gate
  Busy route
  Less scenic - same ascent and descent
  Need to add a day for acclimatisation
  Route joins Northern Circuit and Rongai Route
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Huts
  Descend via Marangu Route
Marangu Route

Rongai

Rongai route is also known as the Loitokok or the old Outward Bound Route. It takes off from near the Kenyan border and heads up in a northerly direction. The ascent profile of Rongai is is similar to the Marangu and considered to the the second easiest route. Like Marangu, it is a slow and gradual climb up to Kibo. However, like Marangu it also does not offer any nights for "climb high, sleep low", so adding a day is highly beneficial to increase your chances of success.

One of the benefits of the route is that it is a very quiet less populated route. Accommodation is in tents and descent is down the Marangu Route.

6 - 7 days trekking
  4 hours of driving to Park Gate
  Very quiet
  Need to add a day for acclimatisation
  Starts near Kenyan Border
  Route joins Marangu Route
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Marangu Route
Rongai Route

Umbwe

Umbwe Route is one of the toughest and steepest routes up to Kibo and should not be undertaken by anyone who is not fit and accustomed to steep trekking. It also has some steep drop  so best avoided for people who are afraid of heights. The route heads directly upward in a northerly direction to Barranco Wall where it joins in with Shira, Lemosho and Machame. Because of its steep ascent profile, it has a much lower success rate with little acclimatisation chances.

5-7 days trekking
  40 Minute road trip to Umbwe Gate
  Very Quiet
  Very steep and fast approach
  Poor chances for acclimatisation
  Route joins Shira, Lemosho and Machame Routes
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Mweka Route
Umbwe Route

Machame

Machame route, also known as the "Whisky route", starts off in a south westerly direction before turning in an easterly direction, and heading back down the south east side down Mweka. It is one of the steeper but more scenic routes up the mountain. The route takes six days to complete, although seven days is recommended with a nights stop at Karanga Camp.

The descent is down Mweka route. Accommodation on the route is in tents. It also has, apart from unsurpassed scenery, the added benefit of a night of "climb high and sleep low" at Barranco Camp.

 6 - 7 days trekking
 40 minutes drive to Machame Gate
 Scenic but steep
 Good for acclimatisation
 Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Shira routes
 Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
 Sleep in Tents
 Descend via Mweka Route
Machame Route

Northern

Northern Circuit route is the newest route to open and has already been given such names as the 360 route and Grand Traverse by some companies. It starts out from Morum Barrier gate after a 4 hour road transfer and then further up by car to near Shira I. As a result, the altitude gain as with Shira is very quick. The trek can be done in 7 days but best done in 8. Of all the routes, it offers fantastic acclimatisation as the altitude gain each day is very low, as you climb in an easterly direction to Shira II, then west around to Moir Camp. You then trek on the far side and seldom used route around the back of the Kibo massif until joining up with the Rongai route at Third Caves. Summit climb is best attempted from Kibo huts. Descent is then down the Mweka Route.

8-9 days trekking
  4 Hour drive to Shira Gate
  Very Quiet
  Less scenic but longer approach
  Start higher but route is good for acclimatisation
  Route joins Rongai and Marangu Routes
  Summit via Kibo Hut and Gilman's Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Marangu Route
Northern Circuit Route

Lemosho

Lemosho Route also starts on the far western side of the mountain and as such requires a lengthy transfer of around 4 hours to get to the Park Gate. It is also a much longer approach with a longer period of time being spent in the rain forest and also a very tough days trek to get up to Shira Camp I. For this reason, it is best down in 7-8 days. It is also a quieter route for the first few days. Like Shira, it then joins up with Machame near Lava Tower and follows the same route to summit, returning down Mweka Route. Accommodation is in tents.

 7 - 8 days trekking
 3 hour drive to Park Gate
 Scenic, quiet, longer approach
 Good for acclimatisation
 Starts in forest and joins Machame and Shira routes
 Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
 Sleep in Tents
 Descend via Mweka Route
Lemosho Route

Shira

Shira Route starts on the far western side of the mountain and as such requires a lengthy transfer of around 4 hours to get to the Londorossi Park Gate at 2200m. A 4x4 ride then takes you up  to the Simba River where the trail starts, making your first nights stop at 3500m. The trek also starts at a higher altitude meaning that one gains altitude very quickly and can led to problems. The route then heads across the Shira plateau, joining up with the Lemosho and Machame near Lava Tower. The rest of the route is the same as for the Machame Route. Accommodation is in tents.

6 - 7 days trekking
  3 hour drive to Park Gate
  Scenic and quiet
  Good for acclimatisation
  Starts in forest and joins Lemosho and Machame routes
  Summit via Barafu Hut and Stella Point
  Sleep in Tents
  Descend via Mweka Route
Shira Route

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