This is perhaps the most critical part of your climb. Please spend some time choosing the correct route best suited to you. Below is a brief outline of the various routes on Kilimanjaro. After you have looked at these summaries take a careful look at the full itineraries with the day to day details for each route. We realize this can all be very confusing - drop us a note at Contact Us and we will answer your questions.
While being physically fit is recommended, many not so fit climbers make the summit without problems as long as they are highly motivated and determined. Success depends mainly on you and it is up to you to make some important choices; in particular which route you ascend and for how many days.
For most hikers we would recommend Marangu, Machame, or the Rongai routes.
Popular Kilimanjaro Route Summaries
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||Very popular. Gentle gradients and long sections up to 4700m. Beautiful forests and moorlands, comfortable but basic huts. The 6 day variant provides good time for acclimatization.
|75 - 85%
||Second most popular route. Beautiful forest, very good for acclimatisation, scenic traverse to Barafu.
75 - 80% for 6 day
85 - 90% for 7 day
||Long access drive, remote, less frequented, some fine, wild, high-altitude mountain scenery and camping. Good for acclimatization.
||65km (40 Miles)
||Shortest and steepest route, tough. Beautiful forest, spectacular ridge, not as good for acclimatization, scenic traverse to Barafu, camping.
|37km (23 miles)
||Most successful route due to time it takes. May spend night in crater
||5 + 1
||63 km (40 miles)
||90 - 95% for 8 day
95-100% for 9 day
|Lemosho 7 day
Lemosho 10 day
|Little used route. Joins Machame route after spending time on Shira Plateau. Good for acclimatization.
||7 to 10
||100 km (60 miles)
||Used for descent only or used for emergencies.
||12 km (8 miles)
NOTE: Click "DETAILS" below to see summary of the most common itineraries. Routes can be varied, so if you would like something different email us at Contact Us.
Marangu Route (South Eastern Approach)
Also known as the Coca-Cola route, Marangu takes over 70% of the mountain traffic, making it the main tourist route and the easiest and shortest route to Uhuru Peak. While most of the route is a fairly easy hike, bear in mind that the final summit attempt is as difficult as any of the other routes. Because of the easier lower sections many climbers are not adequately conditioned or acclimatized for the summit assault which is very strenuous. It would be unwise to think that everyone makes the summit because this is the easiest route - in fact this route has the highest rate of failure.
The 5-day option is the least expensive route on the mountain, however the 6-day option with an extra day of acclimatization is recommended. This is also the most ‘luxurious’ of routes as it offers huts with beds and mattresses as a welcome alternative to the tents of the other routes. You will also find the creature comforts such as beer, chocolates, mineral water, and cool drinks on sale at every camp.
Unfortunently this route has a bad reputation as being crowded, noisy, trash-covered, and unpleasant. Most of the reports you read that say Kilimanjaro is a bad experience come from climbers on the Marangu Route. For this reason, we like most of the better climbing companies, rarely recommend this route.
Also referred to as the Whiskey Route, Machame attracts around 25% of the total climbers on the mountain. We feel that this is the most varied and scenic route up Kilimanjaro.
The downside is that accommodation on the Machame route is strictly tents only. This is more than made up for by the incredible sights you will be treated to, that will not be seen by those who have chosen the easier Marangu route. From late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty heights of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, the Machame route provides the more adventurous hiker with stunning photo opportunities.
The day walks are longer and steeper and generally physically more challenging than the Marangu route, so you need to be fit to do this route.
This route will better condition and acclimatize you and better prepare you for the final summit push.
If you have the time, want to maximize your chances of success, desire to see varied scenery we would highly recommend this route with the extra day.
The second easiest route on the mountain after Marangu route is the little used Rongai trail, which is the only route to approach the mountain from the Northeast. This is one of the newest routes and connects with Marangu on the third day.
There are two ways to start this route. You can choose to start this route from the Kenyan side of the mountain or from the Tanzanian one. You do however, need to finalize all your arrangements (including park fees) at the Marangu gate. As with the Umbwe Route, you will encounter a number of caves on your climb (some are used by the porters as overnight stations). The Rongai route is only used to ascend the mountain, and in its final stages it meets up with the Marangu Route which also serves as your descending route.
Talk about alternative lodgings! Your first night on the Umbwe route may be spent in a cave at the Umbwe Cave Camp - one of three caves you’ll get to see during your climb. There are two options on this route - the first option is the shortest and is aimed at the more experienced climbers. You can always bet that when you cut down on distance, it can only mean that your climb becomes more vertical! Yes, this is one of the more difficult routes you can take - but it is quite out of this world. The route to the summit is pretty direct, taking you via Barranco Camp and Arrow Glacier.
The second option has you joining the Machame route at Barranco Camp and takes you round the southern slopes before your final ascent to the summit via Barafu Hut. This is a longer way round but is an easier route.
.On this route climbers frequently ascend the mountain too rapidly to allow for proper acclimatization. Clients on the Umbwe Route are at higher risk from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS, or altitude sickness).
The Shira Route is the route taken mostly by the more serious types who want to get up the the mountain. The route traverses the Shira Plateau from the west, which is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. The Shira Hut (4,000m) is easily reached by vehicle, followed by half an hour’s walk (weather allowing) - fast tracking the initial start-up phase and allowing the pro’s to ‘get right down to business’.
Lemosho Glades Route (Western approach)
This is an unspoiled, remote, little-used and beautiful way up to the Shira Plateau, which is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. At Shira Camp 2 you can ascend to Uhuru Peak summit via either the challenging Western Breach/Arrow Glacier route (see below) or hook up with the Machame route which skirts the southern slopes taking you 700m down to Barranco Camp (3950m) and then onto Barafu hut (4710m) - this is the preferred route for getting acclimatisation.
The route is one of the few where groups are accompanied by an armed ranger as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo and other big game animals such as elephant and buffalo. This route is however a long route which requires 7-days for a comfortable completion, which also makes it more expensive.
This route can only be used as a descending route or in emergencies by the park rangers
This route was closed in 2006 after the death of four climbers following a rock slide at Arrow Glacier Camp. The route was reopened 12/07 but because of the risks in not used often.
This is an alternative final ascent route which can be taken from all of the western routes, sleeping at either the Lava Tower Hut or the magnificent Arrow Glacier on your summit night. The Western Breach presents very difficult conditions with steep spree. After snowfalls the route can become icy and in these conditions an ice axe, or a ski stick, and maybe even crampons may be required.
It is possible to camp almost anywhere in the Kibo crater for an extra night. Alternatively you may want to persevere for a further 2 hours to make the summit at Uhuru Peak.
Machame Route (South Western Approach)
Rongai Route (North East Approach)
Umbwe Route (Southern Approach)
Shira Route (Western Approach)
Lemosho Route (Western Breech)
Mweka Route (Southern Descent)
Weatern Breach/Arrow Glacier (Upper Western Approach)