MARANGU ROUTE HUTS
LODGING ON MARANGU
An alternative to camping on Kilimanjaro is to stay in the mountain huts on the Marangu route. These are permanent little villages at scenic locations on the eastern side of the mountain and are maintained by the Kilimanjaro National Park. Marangu is the oldest and one of the two most popular climbing routes and is sometimes referred to as the “Coca-Cola” route, because back in the day it was easier to climb than the more challenging Machame Route (Whiskey Route). These were the only routes commonly climbed in the old days. Marangu is the least expensive route to climb because climbing companies do not have to hire a large crew to transport camp equipment every day from site to site.
HUTS VS. TENTED CAMPS
On Marangu you sleep in permanent mountain huts along the way. And because the huts are permanent, you climb to the summit and back down on the same trail. On Tusker’s tented camp routes, you take more time, and climb to the summit and descend on different trails. This allows you to experience several sides of Kilimanjaro in a more diverse range of terrain and landscapes.
FACILITIES AT THE HUTS
The three mountain hut sites are like little mountain villages, each with different facilities. Some common features are:
- Sleeping huts that accomodate 4 to 20 people
- Communal dining hall
- Park ranger hut
- Kitchen hut
- Separate huts for crew
- Concessions at some locations
- Solar power
- Running water at lower huts
- Mattress pads
The sleeping huts are spartan with simple bunks, mattress pads, and pillows. You will need to provide your own sleeping bag. At Kibo, the buildings are more like dorms, and sleep up to 20 climbers. There are times when you can buy a few snacks and refreshments at some of the huts.
“When I climb the Marangu route, it gives me a special connection with history. This is the route that was climbed when Kilimanjaro was first summitted back in 1889. And it was the only route I climbed in my early days back in the 1970’s. When I climb this route today, it still gives me that first incredible feeling of discovery you get when you explore a new place for the very first time. That’s why I keep going back there.”
Each one of the hut locations has a permanent central dining hall, where everyone congregates. Designed to seat many people with benches and tables, the dining hall the atmosphere buzzes with excitement from climbers coming from all over the world. It’s a great place to meet new people, swap stories and get tips from climbers heading down the mountain. You will be the envy of all the other climbers in the room, while you enjoy delectable meals prepared by Tusker chefs, trained by the Culinary Institute of America.
Your day starts early. One of your guides wake you up with a hot cup of tea or coffee. Meanwhile, your chef has already been preparing breakfast. After filling up, you and the group start prepping for the miles you’re going to put in. But first, your morning medical check, then you’re off on your climb.
Marangu is the oldest and most climbed route with its own historical charm. Each hut location has a unique character and appeal, with the vegetation zone transitioning at each place. Two nights at Horombo Hut allows you to acclimatize to the altitude. The extra day gives you an opportunity to explore the spectacular area on an extended hike.
The dining hall is your social hub. When you arrive at camp, relax and enjoy the beautiful mountain setting. At the end of the day every climber enjoys the camp in different ways. You may want to go exploring with your camera, meet new friends from distant parts of the world, or just chill out.
Most climbers savor this incredible moment and connect with their climbing partners. The team spirit is palpable and present throughout your Kilimanjaro climb. Before you know it, you are part of a family, functioning as a tight, well-bonded group with a common goal.
A-Frame Huts – (Elevation 8,875-ft/2,705-m)
Located in Kilimanjaro’s montane forest on the southeastern side of Kilimanjaro, Mandara hut is located deep in the rainforest, surrounded by nature where trees abound, and the night air is filled with the chattering of nocturnal animals. The A-frame huts house 4 to 8 people, with the entire camp accommodating about 60 climbers. There’s also a ranger’s office, a kitchen hut and dining hall where climbers gather for their meals. There are bathrooms with sinks that have running water, and a small shop where you can buy snacks, soda, and beer once in a while.
There’s a short trail that takes you to the Maundi crater with great views of Kibo Peak and the rain forest you just hiked through. Fantastic for great photography. Mandara is a nexus point for most climbers descending the mountain, so you will meet quite a few climbers coming down the mountain.
A-Frame Huts – (Elevation 12,340-ft/3,761-m)
Located on the south-eastern ridge of Kilimanjaro on one of Mawenzi’s ridges, Horombo is one of the largest on Kilimanjaro, accommodating up to 120 climbers, with 4 to 8 people per hut. You’ll find a ranger’s hut, kitchen hut, central dining hall, bathrooms and separate housing for porters and guides. Water is piped in.
Here, on the edge of the heath-moorland and alpine desert zones, is where climbers usually feel the altitude. On your Tusker climb you spend an extra day here to acclimatize and take a hike to Zebra Rocks, a lava cliff comprised of volcanic rocks that have formed black and white stripes from mineral rich rainwater.
Stone Structure – (Elevation 15,446-ft/4,708-m)
Kibo Hut site is located at the base of its namesake, Kibo peak’s volcanic cone. It accommodates up to 60 climbers in dorm-style rooms with a central dining area. It has been built from stone to withstand the severity of weather at this altitude. There’s also a separate ranger hut, as well as accommodation for your guides and crew. There are pit toilets, and as all water has to be carried in by porters there is no running water. Kibo hut is located in the alpine desert so you will notice how eerily quiet it is, with little wildlife at this altitude.
The toughest part of the climb to the summit is coming up soon. You feel the lack of oxygen at this altitude, slowing your pace, no matter how well acclimated you are. Even though your guides tell you to hike pole pole (slowly), you really have no choice. On your decent after summiting, you hike past Kibo hut and head back down to Horombo hut for the night.
THE ASTONISHING SKY
Whether you’re camping or staying in the huts, one of the most unforgettable experiences on Kilimanjaro happens only at night - The sky. And it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The view is best at Kibo Hut, because at 15,446-ft/4,708-m you have the clearest view, the greatest show on earth.
Watch the time lapse video for a taste of what's to come.
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