Choose your route to Kilimanjaro
This is the most important and crucial part of your climb, choosing the right route suited to you. Here is a short description of the different routes to climb Kilimanjaro. Further we offer detailed itinerary for most visited and most common routes. Have a look at the full itineraries before making final decision.
Marangu Route is the one we recommend to our clients, it’s south eastern approach and it is also known as the Coca-Cola route. Marangu route is chosen by 70% of all the visitors, making it the main tourist route and the easiest and shortest route to Uhuru Peak. While most of the route is a fairly easy hike, bear in mind that the final summit attempt is as difficult as any of the other routes.
The 5-day option is the least expensive route on the mountain, however the 6-day option with an extra day of acclimatization is recommended. This is also the most ‘luxurious’ of routes as it offers huts with beds and mattresses as a welcome alternative to the tents of the other routes.
Failure or success
It would be unwise to think that everyone makes the summit because this is the easiest route – in fact this route has the highest rate of failure. You could put this down to the high number of bad operators on this route, or due to bad personal preparation on the part of the hiker who hasn’t taken this expedition seriously enough.
Safety and comfort
Because of the high traffic on this route, and because it is relatively easy, it attracts the more casual type of hiker and in turn has to be well organized with good safety measures – for instance all the camps on this route have radio contact with the Park HQ. Also you will find the creature comforts such as beer, chocolates, mineral water, and cool drinks on sale at every camp.
Another route recommended by us is south western approach called Machame route or also Whiskey Route. Machame attracts around 25% of the total climbers on the mountain. We consider it as most scenic route to the summit.
The downside is that accommodation on the Machame route is strictly tents only. This is more than made up for by the incredible sights you will be treated to, that will not be seen by those who have chosen the easier Marangu route. From late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty heights of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, the Machame route provides the more adventurous hiker with stunning photo opportunities.
More demanding walks
The day walks are longer and steeper and generally physically more challenging than the Marangu route, so you need to be fit to do this route.
The only route to approach mountain from the northeast is so called Rongai route. At the same time is also second easiest route to reach summit, but not much in use. We recommend you this route in case you want to avoid a big number of climbers.
You can choose to start this route from the Kenyan side of the mountain or from the Tanzanian one. It doesn’t matter where you star you need to finalize all your arrangements (including park fees) at the Marangu gate. As with the Umbwe Route, you will encounter a number of caves on your climb (some are used by the porters as overnight stations). The Rongai route is only used to ascend the mountain, and in its final stages it meets up with the Marangu Route which also serves as your descending route. We highly recommend this route but with a 6-day itinerary.
There are some other routes but sometimes only for descent or ascent, so you can combine them with above mentioned routes.
If you would like to try some alternative accommodation this is the right route for you. You will spend your first night on this route in a cave at the Umbwe Cave Camp – one of three caves you’ll get to see during your climb. There are two options on this route – the first option is the shortest and is aimed at the more experienced climbers. You can always bet that when you cut down on distance, it means the route is much steeper. In really we consider this route as one of the more difficult routes you can take – but it is quite out of this world. The route to the summit is pretty direct, taking you via Barranco Camp and Arrow Glacier. The second option gives you opportunity to join the Machame route at Barranco Camp and takes you round the southern slopes before your final ascent to the summit via Barafu Hut. This is a longer way round but is an easier route.
The Shira Route is the route taken mostly by the more experienced climbers who want to spend a lot of time on the mountain. The route traverses the Shira Plateau from the west, which is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. The Shira Hut (4 000m) is easily reached by vehicle, followed by half an hour’s walk (weather allowing) – fast tracking the initial start-up phase and allowing the pro’s to ‘get right down to business’.
This route can only be used as a descending route for all the western routes.
Lemosho Glades Route
This is an untouched, remote, little-used and beautiful way up to the Shira Plateau, which is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. At Shira Camp 2 you can ascend to Uhuru Peak summit via either the challenging Western Breach/Arrow Glacier route (see below) or continue with the Machame route which skirts the southern slopes taking you 700m down to Barranco Camp (3950m) and then onto Barafu hut (4710m) – this is the preferred route for getting acclimatization.
The route is one of the few where groups are accompanied by an armed ranger as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo and other big game animals such as elephant and buffalo. This route is however a long route which requires 7-days for a comfortable completion, which also makes it more expensive.
Weatern Breach/Arrow Glacier
This is an alternative final ascent route which can be taken from all of the western routes, sleeping at either the Lava Tower Hut or the magnificent Arrow Glacier on your summit night. The Western Breach presents very difficult conditions. After snowfalls the route can become icy and in these conditions an ice axe, or a ski stick, and maybe even crampons may be required.
It is possible to camp almost anywhere in the Kibo crater for an extra night. Alternatively you may want to persevere for a further 2 hours to make the summit at Uhuru Peak.
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