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Which is the best route to climb mount Kilimanjaro

Before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s best to know that there are seven well-established routes that you can choose for your trekking adventure.

But, which is the best route to scale Mount Kilimanjaro? The answer to this question depends on your experience, fitness, and the views you want to see. If you’re an inexperienced climber, the best route for you is the Marangu route. It’s the easiest route and only takes five days to trek.

However, if you’re an adventurous person and want to see the best views in Kilimanjaro, the Machame route will suit you best!

Picking the best course for your Kilimanjaro climb can be daunting, as you have to consider several factors, such as:

  • Route’s scenery
  • Route’s difficulty
  • Traffic on Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Altitude acclimatization points

Thus, we made this guide to help you come up with the best route possible for your Kilimanjaro climb. So, without much further ado, here are the seven routes in Mount Kilimanjaro:

Route 1: Marangu ‘Coca-Cola’ route

Tanzania - marangu route 6 days map - kilimanjaro routes

The Marangu ‘Coca Cola’ route is the oldest, most well-established path on Kilimanjaro. Many trekkers prefer this route as this is the most straightforward course on the mountain due to its gradual slope.

In addition, it’s also the only track that offers sleeping huts in dormitory-style accommodations. Using this route will only take you five days to complete your climb.

However, the success rate of this route is pretty low due to acclimatization. Using a longer route will help your body acclimatize better to the mountain’s environmental conditions.

The route’s short time frame makes the acclimatization more difficult. This trail approaches from the southeast and is less picturesque compared to other tracks as it has the same ascent and descent route.

Pros In Using The Marangu Route

  • It’ll take five to six days to climb
  • The easiest and most established path out of the seven Kilimanjaro routes
  • The only route that offers sleeping huts
  • cheapest route

Cons In Using The Marangu Route

  • low success rate
  • need to have a better acclimatization
  • less scenic
  • Most crowded route

6 days Marangu itinerary

If you’re looking for the breakdown of itineraries for the Marangu route, you’re in the right place!

DAYSTARTMETERFEETFINISHMETERFEETZONEHRSKMMILES
DAY 1Marangu Gate19706400Mandara Hut27008858Rain Forest4-585
DAY 2Mandara Hut27008858Horombo Hut372012,205Moorland6-8127
DAY 3Horombo Hut Zebra Rock3720 410012,205 13,451Zebra Rock Horombo Hut4100 372013,451 12,205Moorland1-1.5 1-1.52 21.2 1.2
DAY 4Horombo Hut372012,205Kibo Hut470315,430Alpine Desert6-8106
DAY 5Kibo Hut Uhuru Peak4703 589515,430 19,341Uhuru Peak Horombo Hut5895 372019,341 12,205Ice Camp Alpine Desert6-8 4-56 164 10
DAY 6Horombo Hut372012,205Marangu Gate19706400Moorland Rain Forest5-72012
         7646.4

 

Route 2: Machame ‘Whiskey’ route

Whiskey’ route

Machame route, also known as the whiskey route is the most famous route in Kilimanjaro due to its scenic landscapes. However, this mountain trail is challenging due to its steep hills and difficult path.

Thus, this route is ideal for more adventurous types of people or those who have experience in hiking, backpacking, or dealing with high altitudes. However, if you’re hell-bound to try this route, make sure that you’re physically fit to tread on this trail.

Pros In Using The Machame ‘Whiskey’ Route

  • Scenic landscapes
  • Good acclimatization
  • High success rates

Cons In Using The Machame Route

  • Challenging trails
  • Crowded

 

7 Days Machame route itinerary

DAYSTARTMETERFEETFINISHMETERFEETZONEHRSKMMILES
DAY 1Machame Gate16405381Machame Camp29729751Rain Forest5-6117
DAY 2Machame Camp29729751Shira 2 Camp380412,480Heath & Moorland4-653
DAY 3Shira 2 Camp Lava Tower3804 463012,480 15,190Lava Tower Barranco Camp4630395015,190 12,959Alpine Desert4-52-37 34 2
DAY 4Barranco Camp395012,960Karanga Camp403313,232Alpine Desert4-563
DAY 5Karanga Camp403313,232Barafu Camp455614,948Alpine Desert4-542
DAY 6Barafu Camp Uhuru Peak4556 589514,948 19,341Uhuru Peak Mweka Camp5895 310019,341 10,171Ice CampRain Forest7-8 4-65 123 7
DAY 7Mweka Camp310010,171Mweka Gate16405381Rain Forest3-4106
         6337

 

 

Route 3: Lemosho Route

Lemosho route

Choosing the Lemosho route for your trek can provide you with the most spectacular path on Kilimanjaro. This route will grant you scenic views on different sides of the famous mountain.

This is one of the newer routes in Kilimanjaro and one of the most recommended due to its beautiful scenery, high success rates, and low crowds. This route advances Mount Kilimanjaro from the west, commencing from Arusha to the Londorossi Gate.

From the Londorossi Gate, you’ll spend the first two days trekking the rain forest to Shira Ridge. This path traverses the Shira Plateau from west to east, having only a few crowds until route intersection on the Machame trail near the Lava Tower.

The route then crosses underneath the Southern Ice Field of Kilimanjaro on a trail known as the Southern Circuit. Then, descend through the Mweka route.

Pros In Using The Lemosho Route

  • has the most spectacular panoramas
  • better acclimatization opportunities
  • higher success rates
  • low crowds

Cons In Using The Lemosho Route

  • Longer trek days
  • more expensive than shorter routes

 

 

8 days Lemosho itinerary

DAYSTARTMETERFEETFINISHMETERFEETZONEHRSKMMILES
1Londorossi Gate23607743Mti Mkubwa28959498Rain Forest3-464
2Mti Mkubwa28959498Shira 1 Camp350511,499Heath & Moorland5-685
3Shira 1 Camp350511,499Shira 2 Camp380412,480Heath & Moorland5-7117
4Shira 2 Camp Lava Tower3804 463012,480 15,190Lava Tower Barranco Camp4630 395015,190 12,959Alpine Desert4-5 2-37 34 2
5Barranco Camp395012,959Karanga Camp403313,231Alpine Desert4-553
6Karanga Camp403313,232Barafu Camp455614,948Alpine Desert4-542
7Barafu Camp Uhuru Peak4556 589514,948 19,341Uhuru Peak Mweka Camp5895 310019,341 10,171Ice Camp Rain Forest7-8 4-65 123 7
8Mweka Camp310010,171Mweka Gate16405381Rain Forest3-4106

 

Route 4: Shira route

Tanzania - marangu route 6 days map - kilimanjaro routes

The Shira Route is a little-used trail, starting near the Shira Ridge. It is almost indistinguishable from the Lemosho route.

Shira was the primary route, and Lemosho is the improved variation of the route. Although Shira is a diverse and fascinating route, it’s less desirable due to its relatively high altitude.

This trail advances Mount Kilimanjaro from the west side, commencing with a drive from Arusha to Shira Ridge. The vehicle will pass through the rain forest zone and begin the hike on Shira Ridge.

The Shira route crosses the Shira Plateau as a whole from west to east and traverses underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field. This is known as the Southern Circuit. The Mweka route will be our descent trail.

Pros In Using The Shira Route

  • Excellent scenery
  • Medium traffic

Cons In Using The Shira Route

  • High altitude
  • Difficult trail

 

7 days Shira route itinerary

NUMBER OF DAYSSHIRA ROUTEELEVATIONDISTANCEHIKING HOURSHABITAT
DAY 1Shira Gate to Simba Camp11,800 ft to 11,800 ft4 km/2 miles1 to hoursHeath
DAY 2Simba Camp to Shira 2 Camp11,800 ft to 12,500 ft6 km/4 miles2 hourHeath
DAY 3Shira 2 Camp Going to Lava Tower Lava Tower to Barranco Camp12,500 ft to 15,190 ft 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft7 km/4 miles 3 km/2 miles4 to 5 hours 2 to 3 hoursAlpine Desert Alpine Desert
DAY 4Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp13,044 ft to 13,106 ft5 km/3 miles4 to 5 hoursAlpine Desert
DAY 5Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp13,106 ft to 15,331 ft4 km/2 miles4 to 5 hoursAlpine Desert
DAY 6Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp15,331 ft to 19,341 ft 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft5 km/3 miles 12 km/7 miles7 to 8 hours 4 to 6 hoursArctic Rain Forest
DAY 7Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate10,065 ft to 5,380 ft10 km/6 miles3 to 4 hoursRain Forest

 

Route 5: Northern circuit

Tanzania - marangu route 6 days map - kilimanjaro routes

Opting for the Northern Circuit will offer you 360 degrees of stunning views, including the infrequently visited northern slopes. This is the longest route in Kilimanjaro and has the most acclimatization time with the highest success rate.

Pros In Using The Northern Circuit

  • Better acclimatization
  • Scenic views
  • Highest success rates
  • Very low traffic
  • Highly Recommended

Cons In Using The Northern Route

  • Difficult trail
  • Long climbing days
  • More expensive than other short routes

 

 

9 days North Circuit route itinerary

NUMBER OF DAYSNORTH CIRCUIT ROUTEELEVATIONDISTANCEHIKING HOURSHABITAT
DAY 1Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa7,742 ft to 9,498 ft6 km/4 miles3 to 4 hoursRain Forest
DAY 2Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp9,498 ft to 11,500 ft8 km/5 miles5 to 6 hoursHeath
DAY 3Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp11,500 ft to 12,500 ft7 km/4 miles3 to 4 hoursHeath
DAY 4Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower Lava Tower to Moir Hut12,500 ft to 15,190 ft 15,190 ft to 13,580 ft7 km/4 miles 7 km/4 miles3 to 4 hours 2 to 3 hoursAlpine Desert Alpine Desert
DAY 5Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp13,580 ft to 13,200 ft12 km/7 miles5 to 7 hoursAlpine Desert
DAY 6Buffalo Camp to Third Cave13,200 ft to 12,700 ft8 km/5 miles5 to 7 hoursHeath
DAY 7Third Cave to School Hut12,700 ft to 15,600 ft5 km/3 miles4 to 5 hoursAlpine Desert
DAY 8School Hut to Uhuru Peak Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp15,600 ft to 19,341 ft 19,341 ft to 10,0656 km/4 miles 12 km/7 miles6 to 8 hours 4 to 6 hoursArctic
DAY 9Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate10,065 ft to 5,380 ft10 km/6 miles3 to 4 hoursRain Forest

 

Route 6: Rongai route

Rongai route

The Rongai route is near the Kenyan border. It’s the sole route that advances Kilimanjaro from the north. This route has low crowds and has a gradual slope than other routes of the mountain.

This route is highly recommended for those with little to no backpacking experience.

Pros In Using The Rongai Route

  • Low crowds
  • Gradual slope
  • Highly recommended for newbie trekkers
  • Less rain expected on the trek

Cons In Using The Rongai Route

  • Not varied scenery

 

 

7 days Rongai route itinerary

DAYSTARTMETERFEETFINISHMETERFEETZONEHRSKMMILES
1Rongai Gate19506398Simba Camp26208596Rain Forest3-485
2Simba Camp Second Cave2620 34508596 11,319Second Cave Kikelewa Camp3450 360011,319 11,811Heath & Moorland3-4 3-46 64 4
3Kikelewa Camp360011,811Mawenzi Tarn430014,108Alpine Desert3-453
4Mawenzi Tarn430014,108Kibo Camp470015,420Alpine Desert5-685
5Kibo Camp Uhuru Peak4700 589515,420 19,341Uhuru Peak Horombo Camp5895 372019,341 12,205Ice Camp Heath & Moorland6-8 4-56 164 10
6Horombo Camp372012,205Marangu Gate19706463Rain Forest5-72012
         7547

 

Route 7: Umbwe route

Tanzania - marangu route 6 days map - kilimanjaro routes

The Umbwe route is deemed the most challenging track on Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the fast ascent to high altitude, this route does not present the required steps for acclimatization.

Though the traffic of this trail is quite low, the success rate is also low. This route is very challenging to climb and is ideal only for those who can acclimatize to the altitude quickly.

Pros In Using The Umbwe Route

  • Low traffic

Cons In Using The Umbre Route

  • Fast ascent
  • Difficult trail

 

 

7 days Rongai route itinerary

NUMBER OF DAYSUMBWE ROUTEELEVATIONDISTANCEHIKING HOURSHABITAT
DAY 1Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp5,249 ft to 9,514 ft11 km/7 miles5 to 7 hoursHeath
DAY 2Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp9,514 ft to 13,044 ft6 km/4 miles4 to 5 hoursHeath
DAY 3Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp13,044 ft to 13,106 ft5 km/3 miles4-5 hoursAlpine Desert
DAY 4Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp13,106 ft to 15,331 ft4 km/2 miles4-5 hoursAlpine Desert
DAY 5Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp15,331 ft to 19,341 ft 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft5 km/3 miles 12 km/7 miles7 to 8 hours 4 to 6 hoursArctic Rain Forest
DAY 6Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate10,065 ft to 5,380 ft10 km/6 miles3 to 4 hoursRain Forest

 

 

The busiest route in Kilimanjaro

Green route kilimanjaro

The busiest route in Kilimanjaro is the Marangu route. It’s the busiest out of all routes and receives almost half of all trekkers in Kilimanjaro. The next busiest is the Machame route—the second of the most famous routes chosen by third of all tourists.

 

 

The most picturesque in Kilimanjaro

Landscape view kilimanjaro

The most picturesque out of all routes are the Lemosho route, Machame route, Rongai route, and the Northern Circuit.

 

 

Conclusion: Our favourite route

Our favorite out of all routes, considering the scenery, difficulty, and traffic, is a combination of the Lemosho route and the Machame route. The Lemosho route takes around 8 days to trek while the Machame route takes around 7. These routes offer some of the best views of the mountain with less traffic and good acclimatization opportunities. If you need help planning your route, safari or any itineraries for your adventure in Tanzania.

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