MT. KILIMANJARO CLIMBING ROUTES OVERVIEW

By on February 9, 2015 in Kilimanjaro with 3 Comments

Once you’ve decided to embrace the adventure of climbing Kilimanjaro, your next step is to identify the right route for you to climb. There are many factors to consider, including your physical strength, hiking skills, landscape preferences, price and the length of your trek. Here’s a look at the different routes to help you plan an unforgettable experience that is the perfect fit for you.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

1. Lemosho Route (A.K.A. Shira)

This is our favorite route, offering the most scenic way up Kilimanjaro.

Pros:

  • Longer route, typically completed in 8-9 days, offers optimal altitude acclimatization
  • High summit success rates
  • Beautiful scenery as you weave through 6 different ecological zones
  • Less crowds as you trek through the Lemosho Glades on one of the least traveled sections of Kilimanjaro National Park
  • Optional day hikes for acclimatization
  • Opportunity to sleep in the Crater at 18,700 ft. on the longer Lemosho itineraries
  • Daytime summit ascent

Cons:

  • Pricier due to extra time on the mountain

Lemosho

2. Machame Route

Machame is one of the oldest and most trekked routes on Kilimanjaro.

Pros:

  • Offers breathtaking scenery, trekking to storied sights such as the Shira Caldera, Lava Tower, and Barranco
  • As a shorter route, typically completed in 6-7 days, it is one of the less expensive options

Cons:

  • Usually crowded, particularly through the high seasons
  • Less time to acclimate to the altitude decreases summit success
  • Midnight summit ascent

Machame

3. Umbwe Route

Historically, this trail was not well maintained.  However, the National Park service recently renovated some of the bad spots, making Umbwe a great alternative to the more crowded Machame route.

Pros:

  • One of the least climbed Kilimanjaro routes, it is quiet enough for hikers to soak up the captivating views without the distraction of massive crowds
  • Beautiful landscapes, including exquisite caves, deep gorges, and varied ecosystems
  • As a shorter route, typically completed in 6-7 days, it is one of the less expensive options

Cons:

  • Steep inclines from the start make this a more physically demanding route
  • Less time to acclimate to the altitude decreases summit success
  • Midnight summit ascent

Umbwe

4. Rongai Route

The Rongai route is located on the north side of the mountain, close to the Kenyan border.

Pros:

  • Remote and low traffic, but in recent times, it has experienced a surge in popularity
  • Ideal for those who prefer drier conditions, as northern locations receive less precipitation

Cons:

  • Less scenic than the longer routes, as hikers do not circumnavigate the mountain
  • Though short routes tend to be less expensive, Rongai is a bit pricier due to the higher cost of traveling to the remote northern slopes to start the climb

5. Kili 360 (Northern Circuit) Route

Kili 360 gets its name from the striking, panoramic views it provides as you complete a “360” around the peak.

Pros:

  • The views are nothing short of spectacular; it is true wilderness
  • Remote and rarely trekked, you have the mountain to yourself on the untouched northern slopes
  • Taking 11 days to complete the journey, you have ample time to acclimatize to the altitude
  • Best summit success rate of all the routes
  • Daytime summit ascent

Cons:

  • The Northern Circuit route is among the more expensive, due to its length

Kili 360

6. Marangu Route

Marangu is the original route taken by European explorers over a century ago.

Pros:

  • Typically completed in 5-6 days, Marangu is the least expensive route on Kilimanjaro
  • The only route that offers accommodation in A-frame huts rather than tents
  • Terrain wise, Marangu is one of the easiest routes

Cons:

  • Less time on the mountain results in poor altitude acclimatization
  • Lowest summit success rate of all of the Kilimanjaro routes
  • Midnight summit ascent

Marangu

Remember, the longer the route, the better acclimatized you are to the altitude, increasing your chances of reaching the summit. Whichever route you choose, climbing Kilimanjaro will be an unforgettable experience.

Want help deciding on a route? Contact us to talk with one of our Kilimanjaro experts.

Tusker Trail

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