Last updated on April 11th, 2023 at 02:30 pm
With its majestic beauty and unique ecosystem, Mount Kilimanjaro offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who are willing to take up the challenge of climbing to the top. Yet, with seven different Kilimanjaro Routes to choose from, selecting the best one can be a little overwhelming.
The correct route can make all the difference in the success and enjoyment of your climb. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a first-time climber, the following guide will provide you with all the information you need to select the best Kilimanjaro Route.
The guide has been designed considering our climber’s goals, expectations, and physical capabilities. So, let’s begin our journey to the top of Kilimanjaro and find the route that’s perfect for you!
After you have decided to climb Kilimanjaro, the next big step is choosing your route. There are seven Kilimanjaro Routes to choose from. Each with unique features and characteristics.
Here’s an overview of each route, including the length, difficulty level, scenery, altitude profile, and traffic.
Also known as the “Coca-Cola Route,” Marangu is the most popular and easiest. It is the only route with huts for accommodation. The route is recommended for those who are new to hiking. Climbers who have limited time or prefer the comfort of sleeping indoors can choose the route.
The Machame route is the second most popular and one of the most scenic Kilimanjaro Climb Routes. It is recommended for experienced hikers who are up for the challenge and want to enjoy stunning views of the mountain.
The Lemosho route is a less crowded and longer route up Kilimanjaro. It offers stunning views of the mountain. This Mt Kilimanjaro Route is recommended for those who want a less crowded experience and have more time to spare.
The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north. It is recommended for those who want a unique experience and prefer a steady ascent.
The Northern Circuit Route is the newest and longest Kilimanjaro route. The route offers stunning views of the mountain, with a 360-degree panoramic view from the summit. It is recommended for those who have more time to spare and are looking for a challenging but rewarding climb.
The Umbwe route is the shortest and most challenging route up Kilimanjaro. It is recommended only for experienced hikers who are up for the challenge and want a less crowded experience.
The Shira route is a less popular and longer route that joins the Lemosho route. It is recommended for those who want a less crowded experience and more time to acclimatize to the altitude.
When choosing among various Kilimanjaro Climb Routes, there are several factors to consider. These will in turn affect the climber’s experience and chances of success.
Here are some of the important factors to take into account and how they relate to the different route options:
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a physically demanding activity. Thus, climbers should choose a route keeping in mind their fitness level.
Also, it has been well established that the Kilimanjaro Routes vary in difficulty. While some require more physical strength and endurance, others are relatively easy.
Those new to hiking or have limited physical ability can choose the less challenging route such as the Marangu route. More experienced hikers can go for Kilimanjaro Routes like Machame, Lemosho, or Northern Circuit.
Climbers should consider previous hiking experience when selecting a route. For those who have never climbed a mountain, it’s recommended to choose a less demanding route. Experienced climbers can choose a more challenging route.
For beginners, Marangu, Rongai, or Shira Kilimanjaro Routes are best suited. Intermediate hikers can go for Lemosho or Machame routes. The Northern Circuit Route and Umbwe routes are suitable for experienced hikers.
Different routes require different amounts of time. Climbers should choose a route that fits their schedule.
Those with limited time can go for Marangu, Rongai, or Shira routes.
Those climbers who have more time in hand can opt for Lemosho, Machame, or Northern Circuit routes.
Climbing Kilimanjaro can be an expensive affair. Therefore, climbers should select a route that fits their budget. Affordable travelers to Mount Kilimanjaro can select any route out of Marangu, Rongai, or Shira routes.
High-budget mount Kilimanjaro climbers can choose one among Lemosho, Machme, or Northern Circuit routes.
Climbers may also have personal preferences regarding the scenery and wildlife they wish to see on the route. Those travelers interested in varied and stunning scenery can go for Lemosho, Machame, or Northern Circuit. And, anyone interested in unique wildlife sightings can also go for Lemosho, Machame, or Rongai routes.
The only rule that is to be followed when climbing Kilimanjaro is to walk high and sleep low. The risk of altitude sickness is minimized to a larger extent when climbers follow it. The chances of summiting the mountain become high too. Considering this aspect, the best route to climb Kilimanjaro is the Machame and Lemosho routes.
The summit night is the toughest on the Marangu Route and the Rongai Route. This route reaches the crater rim of the mountain on the North which is opposite Uhuru Peak. From here on, you need more than 2 hours to reach the summit.
To avoid this, climbers can choose Machame and Lemosho routes as these reach the crater rim at Stellar’s point which is less than an hour’s walk to the summit.
All the routes leading to Mount Kilimanjaro offer fully catered camping accommodations. The only route that does not provide tent accommodations is the Marangu Route. Instead, they provide stay-in basic huts. So, if you are someone who hates tents, go for the Marangu route.
Different popular Kilimanjaro Routes, their unique features, challenges, and highlights are summarized in the table below.
|Name of Kilimanjaro Routes||PROS||CONS|
|Marangu Route||Well-established and easy to follow, Has hut accommodations and Can be completed in 5-6 days.||Least scenic route. High traffic and crowded. Lower success rate due to fast ascent and limited acclimatization time.|
|Machame Route||Scenic route with diverse landscapes. Good acclimatization profile. Higher success rate due to longer climb and slower ascent. Well-established and popular route.||Higher traffic and can be crowded. Challenging ascent to Barranco Wall. Strenuous and requires a good fitness level|
|Lemosho Route||The longest and most scenic route. Good acclimatization profile. Higher success rate. Remote and uncrowded. Chances to spot wildlife||Longer and more expensive routes. Can be challenging due to higher altitude|
|Rongai Route||Quiet and less crowded. Beautiful alpine desert scenery.||Limited views and less scenic. Less time for acclimatization. Fewer route options for descent|
|Northern Circuit Route||Longest and most scenic routes. Low traffic and uncrowded. Good acclimatization opportunities. Crater Camp option for an extra night. Chances to spot wildlife||With the longer and more expensive route. Less established and fewer amenities. Some sections can be challenging|
|Umbwe Route||Steep and direct ascent. Beautiful rainforest scenery. Quiet and uncrowded||Least established and has fewer amenities. The Shorter route with less time for acclimatization. Steep and challenging ascent|
NOTE: The above data is for general informational purposes only and may vary depending on factors such as weather, time of year, and individual abilities and preferences. It is important to consult with a reputable guide or tour operator when planning a Kilimanjaro climb.
Undoubtedly, choosing the right Kilimanjaro Route is a crucial aspect of a successful and memorable climb. But, remember that climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenging and physically demanding endeavour. The right route can make all the difference in your success and enjoyment.
So take your time, do your research, and choose a route that offers the best chance for you to achieve your goal of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro. You can consult our safety experts and guides who are highly trained and certified to provide you with the best possible climbing experiences on four famous Kilimanjaro Routes. For more information on these routes and our exclusive Kilimanjaro Climbing Packages, contact our team of experts at African Scenic Safaris.
Also, remember the fact that the journey to the summit of Kilimanjaro is just as important as the destination, so choose your route wisely and enjoy the experience!