Trekking Routes On Mount Kilimanjaro!

The routes to climb Kilimanjaro approach the mountain from different sides and they vary considerably in length, difficulty, traffic levels and other aspects.

There are seven established routes by which to reach Kibo, or Uhuru Peak, the highest summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, namely, Lemosho, Marangu, Shira, Umbwe, Northern Circuit, Machame and Rongai.

The Rongai, Lemosho, and Machame routes are camping routes that take longer and are considered more scenic than the Marangu. On the Marangu route you will be staying in huts as opposed to camping, and you hike up and down the same path.

The Rongai route takes you up the north side of the mountain and you descend down the Marangu route. The Lemosho and the Machame routes traverse the mountain and descends down the Mweka route.

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro by The Marangu Route

If trekking at high altitude is a new experience for you and you’re not too keen on the ‘camping’ aspects of the trek, then the Marangu may be the route for you. This is the shortest route and sleeps in 4 bed communal huts giving you the comfort of sleeping on a mattress each night. A good nights sleep and a little extra warmth can all help in preparing you for the day ahead!

Pros of Marangu

  • Quickest route
  • Cheapest route
  • Huts for overnight
  • Accessible in the wet season

Cons of Marangu

  • Low summit success rates
  • Crowds on the trail
  • Overcrowded huts with poor sanitation

* Note: Marangu has traditionally been the cheapest option because it was the simplest and easiest for an operator to equip. With a paved road to the gate, huts and communal kitchens, the equipment and staffing requirements are far lower than other routes. It also has a reputation as the least physically demanding route, whilst this may be true it is also offers the worst acclimatisation.

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro by The Machame Route

If joining up with others to trek as a group is high in your priorities then the Machame should be one of your top choices. This is a popular route, with a good success rate and the preferred route of many of our solo travellers.

Pros of Machame

  • Attractive route
  • Accessible in the wet season
  • Offers the second greatest chance of summit success behind TK Rongai

Cons of Machame

  • Crowding in the high season

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro by The Lemosho Route

For those where time is not a major factor the Lemosho route is an excellent choice! This is the longest route on the mountain and offers diverse scenery along the way – arguably the most beautiful route on the mountain. Those extra days on the mountain gives this route one of the best success rates for reaching the summit. A great choice for the photographers among you!

Pros of Lemosho

  • Attractive route
  • Very quiet, particularly on the first two days. (Great option in the peak season)

Cons of Lemosho

  • The traditional Lemosho route bottlenecks at Barranco with Machame & Umbwe. (This is avoided in the TK Lemosho route)
  • Not possible in the wet season (the approach to the start point by vehicle is not possible)

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro by The Rongai Route

If you prefer to get ‘away from the crowds’ then the Rongai is possibly the best option for you. Less used than the ‘Coca-Cola’ (Marangu) or the ‘Whiskey’ (Machame) routes this trek begins from the north side of Kilimanjaro and takes quite a gentle approach at the start. Also a good option if you are considering an ‘out of season’ trek as the north side of the mountain sees less rain!

Pros of Rongai

  • The best climb high sleep low differential of all routes
  • The gentlest approach to high camp

Cons of Rongai

  • Summit assault point is shared with climbers from Shira, Lemosho, Machame and Umbwe
  • Not possible in the wet season (the approach to the start point by vehicle is not possible)

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro by The Umbwe Route

Prefer a more challenging approach to the summit? Then this is the route for you! This is one that we recommend for the experienced climbers, as its reputation is not unjustified – this is a demanding route and very steep in places, however the rewards are definitely worth it as this route will show you some of the most stunning scenery on the mountain

Pros of Umbwe

  • Access to the Western Breach for experienced climbers

Cons of Umbwe

  • Poor acclimatisation
  • The Western Breach is dangerous

Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro by The Northern Circuit Route

See the unknown side of Kilimanjaro. This is the spectacular route which starts in the west and traverses along the remote North side of Kilimanjaro where you can see down into Kenya and ascend the summits via School Hut (4,720m).

It gives you the best combination of Lemosho and Rongai Routes..

It is true wilderness and rarely trekked, if you looking for something different then this is the best choice.

Because of the longer duration you get greater acclimatization.

It doesn’t include the Barranco Wall so it’s good for trekkers who prefer not to scramble up.

This climb can be done in 7 days but it makes a huge difference to acclimatization to take an extra day.

Regardless of which route you choose, you are in for a fantastic journey and one heck of an adventure! You will see sunsets that you will remember fondly for a lifetime, have great conversations with and learn from the wonderful guides, keep in touch with the interesting people you meet and you’ll still be able to see the famous (though sadly disappearing) highest snow cap on the equator. This will be a story for you to tell for years to come!

Kindly note: The terms Coca-Cola and Whiskey don’t talk about the drink options available on the route, rather they were/are used to dictate the difficulty of the route. Coca-Cola is a softer drink and Whiskey is the harder drink.