Kilimanjaro: Which is the best route? Machame or Lemosho?
Full 12 day Kilimanjaro immersion
If you want to fully embrace Kilimanjaro’s biodiversity along with its harsh beauty take the 9 day Lemosho route. If your budget and time are tight and all you want is to bag the summit, take the 7 day Machame route.
Tusker Trail runs climbs on both routes, but founding guide, Eddie Frank strongly recommends Kilimanjaro’s Lemosho Route and here is his rationale.
Of the six possible routes on Kilimanjaro Lemosho is among the longest at 45 miles over nine trekking days while Machame is the shortest at 37, gate to gate. Long is a good thing because it forces to you spend more time gaining elevation, giving you plenty of time to acclimatize. Machame is probably the steepest and if you do it on a quick 6-7 day trip as many companies offer, it has a higher probability of altitude sickness and summit failure.
“Lemosho gives you more time to acclimatize and that’s why our summit success is 98 percent. With Machame it’s between 80 and 90 percent,” Eddie says. Overall, Machame’s summit success rate for all companies in around 65 percent. However, Tusker spends a crucial extra day, which improves your chances of summit success.
Machame is the most popular route on the mountain because it’s cheap and quick – 16,000 people are on it yearly. Conversely Lemosho is the least crowded and on the first four days you will see many more beautiful impatiens, begonias and lobelias than you will people. Watch the treetops for birds and monkeys and wake up to their chatter.
A camp site with a view
“On Machame there are no panoramic views of Kilimanjaro until the fourth day because of the forest canopy – however while on Lemosho you will get them early on,” Eddie says. Walking through the lightly traveled Londorossi Gate on the mountain’s west side you enter a dense rainforest and camp at Big Trees. The next day is where the views start.
Take me to the moon then let me camp there
Camping in Kilimanjaro’s crater at 18,700 feet is what separates you from the Kilimanjaro horde. Few companies offer a night at this elevation, but Tusker prides itself on providing this experience on its 11 day Lemosho climbs. It’s a chance to camp between glaciers and peer into the caldera. You feel as if you landed on the moon and your lunar landing sets you apart. You will be among the few adventure travelers to have been there.
Bottom line: When they go short, you go long
Climbing Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime experience for most of us. If you do something once you want to be precise and right. Scrape up the time and dough and opt for Lemosho. It has the highest satisfaction level among Tusker’s clients and after Eddie’s 52 climbs, Lemosho comes out on top.