Climbing Kilimanjaro – Compare Routes & Options

Find your trekking - Kilimanjaro

The roof of Africa. At the foot you’ll find giraffes, lions and elephants and at the top you’ll find nothing but snow. Mount Kilimanjaro is the most famous mountain in the world. As a child you saw it in the background of the Lion King and ever since you have been wanting to climb it. The mystique of the almost 19’500 feet high massif is one in a thousand.
The Crown of Africa is relatively easy to climb for both seasoned mountaineers and amateurs. For untrained legs, there is the Marangu Route, known as the Coca-Cola Route. This is because the Marangu is the only route with comfortable huts where food and water is provided. The mountain goats choose the Umbwe Route. This route is known for its gravity and requires an iron will.

The most popular route is the Machame, better known as the Whisky Route. This trek lasts 6 or 7 days and is known for its breathtaking views. When it comes to climate zones, it doesn’t matter which route you choose. The Marangu, Machame, Rongai, Shira, Lemosho and Umbwe all migrate through various climate zones to the snow. Of course you can book all routes at Bookatrekking.com. Kitabu haraka! Book fast!

Lemosho Route (8 days) – Top Climbers Expedition FAQ

Is The Lemosho Route Difficult?

Although some would tell you that Marangu Route is the easiest route on Kilimanjaro, its success rates are actually quite terrible compared to others. This early Kilimanjaro climbing route doesn’t allow you to acclimatize as well as some other routes out there. The Lemosho Route is one of those routes that allow you perfect acclimatization.

The Lemosho Route was introduced as an alternative to the more challenging Shira Route, which starts at a higher altitude. The Lemosho Route was is all about acclimatization, and if you choose to the 8-day version of this route, you will be reaping the benefits of this fact.

One thing that is difficult about the Lemosho Route is the fact that climbers will have to pass the Barranco Wall. It requires some scrambling but there is no need to worry about technical climbing. It is very doable.

Can I Stay in The Crater Camp on the Lemosho Route?

One way to make your ascent of Kilimanjaro more special is to spend a night at the crater camp. Both the Lemosho Route and the Northern Circuit offer you this opportunity. You would spend the night at only 145 / 450 feet below Uhuru Peak and as such it can be fairly dangerous. Altitude Sickness (AMS) at such an altitude is very realistic.

Nonetheless it is possible to stay at Crater Camp when tackling the Lemosho Route. Note that price are a bit higher on this trek. This is because a stay at Crater Camp comes with a special permit.

Lemosho Route Distance

The Lemosho Route has a total distance of 70 kilometers or 42 miles from gate to gate.

Day-to-day distance on a 7-day climb:

Day 1: 6 km / 3,8 mi
Day 2: 8 km / 5 mi
Day 3: 14 km / 8.6 mi
Day 4: 7 km / 4.3 mi
Day 5: 5.5 km / 3.5 mi
Day 6: 3.5 km / 2.2 mi
Day 7: 15 km / 9.3 mi
Day 8: 20 km / 12.4 mi

The Barranco Wall on the Lemosho Route

The Barranco Wall isn’t just part of the Lemosho Route. Also, the Umbwe Route, the Machame Route, and the old Shira Route cross the Barranco Wall. Elevation on the Barranco Wall is 257 meters and although this is seen as the hardest part of the Machame Route it is by no means undoable. On most Machame Route you climb the Barranco Wall on day of the ascent.

You don’t need to worry about technical climbing when crossing the Barranco Wall. Scrambling does the trick. This means that you can use both arms and legs climbing the wall. Again, this does not mean that you will be entirely vertical. Because the Barranco Wall is the first thing you will do after breakfast, it is also called the Barranco Breakfast. You will love it!

Best Season for the Lemosho Route

There are no seasonal restrictions on Kilimanjaro. The mountain is open to trekking and climbing expeditions all year round. Having said that, there are certain months which a more suitable than others. The rainy season lasts from April to May and November to December. The dry season includes January to March and June to October. As such, the Lemosho Route is a route which is best enjoyed during the dry season.

Lemosho Route 7-Day Itinerary

Although the Lemosho Route is ideally tackled in 8 days, it is also possible in 7 days. The following itinerary gives you the fastest way to Uhuru Peak.

Day 1: Moshi – Starting point – Mkubwa camp

Early in the morning our driver will pick you up and take you to Londorossi Gate (2,250 m), an approximate two and a half hour drive away. After registration at the gate you will be driven up to a bumpy track that will take you into the dense rainforest to the drop-off point where your trek begins. You will follow a moderately steep track, which leads you through an amazing and unspoilt natural forest to Mkubwa Camp (2,800 m). As this region is also home to wild game, you will be accompanied by an armed ranger during the first 2 days of your trek.

Day 2: Mkubwa camp – Shira Camp 2

Today’s trek will starts on a small trail that passes through the rainforest. As you climb, the forest gradually thins out and the landscape changes into heath and moorland where plants like Erica and lobelia start to dominate the landscape. You now find yourself in the third climate zone of Mount Kilimanjaro. You will cross the Shira Ridge and after 4 to 5 hours of trekking, you will reach Shira Camp 1. Here you will stop for a lunch, relax a bit and enjoy the fantastic views of Mount Meru and the Rift Valley. For the last part of the climb, you will climb another 400 m in altitude. The landscape will change again and at Shira Camp 2 (approximately 4 hours). Shira camp 2 is the final destination for today and you will spend your evening and night there.

Day 3: Shira Camp 2 – Lava Tower – Barranco Camp

Today you will climb approximately 740 m but you will spend the night at an elevation only slightly higher than the previous night. This will allow your body to cope with the changes in altitude, as a height of over 4,600m will be reached before descending again. The trek begins with a long ascent above the Shira Plateau in the direction of the Lava Tower (4,640 m). The climb passes through the wide Barranco Valley with its beautiful flora. After 6 to 7 hours trekking, you will arrive at Barranco Camp – perhaps the most beautiful camp on Kilimanjaro.

Day 4: Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp

After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue on a steep ridge passing the Barranco Wall, en route to the Karanga Valley campsite. Then, we leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. Karanga camp is situated at an altitude of 4,640 m and will be reached in about 3 to 4 hours. In the afternoon you can relax and stretch your legs in preparation for the night in which we will push for the summit.

Day 5: Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp

Today we trek to Barafu Camp. At this point, you have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo can be seen from this side.

Day 6: Barafu Camp – Uhuru Peak – Mweka Camp

You will be woken up at 11:00 pm and we will provide you with a light snack and a steaming cup of tea before you begin your 5km trek to the summit. This is an extended hike that lasts approximately 16 hours making this the most challenging day on the 8 day Lemosho Route. Temperatures typically range between -5°C and -10°C. The gradual incline of the valley located near the eerily tranquil scree fields traverses amongst the Rebmann and Ratzel Glaciers – the view is so astonishing that the freezing temperatures will be forgotten. At Stella’s Point (5,672m) brilliant gold and orange hues bleed like fire over the rocks. The first slither of the sun peeks over the skyline in a radiant, white form and the snow turns liquid gold and silver.

After about an hour you will reach the highest point in Africa, Uhuru Peak (5,89m). You will have the chance to take some photos and marvel at the surrounding scenery, glinting ice cliffs and the jagged Mawenzi Peak. Our descent requires us to turn around and embark on the trail to Barafu Camp where we will rest for a while. The spectacular, vast plains of the Kilimanjaro are so enchanting that the 9km route to Mweka Camp (3,100m) feels rapid. The route is moderate and takes us around five hours. As you venture on the declining rocky spree trail, the scenery will start to sprout and the ice will melt away. The barren landscapes of the moorland will be the first milestone, dense vegetation and exotic wildlife will begin to radiate as we approach lower climate zones. We will proceed to the campsite where you can scoff down a scrumptious, piping hot dinner whilst seizing the last opportunity to see the Milky Way without any light pollution.

Day 7: Mweka Camp – Mweka Gate – Moshi

After breakfast, we continue our descent to Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevation, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear but it will be good to keep rain gear and warmer clothes handy. From the gate, you continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet you at Mweka village to drive you back to hotel in Moshi.

Lemosho Route 8-Day Itinerary

The following 8-day Lemosho Route itinerary is great for acclimatization and gives you the best chances for a successful ascent of Kilimanjaro.

Day 1 –  Londorossi Gate – Forest Camp

The drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate takes about four hours. A few formalities await us here. From the gate it will take an hour to reach the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival we will enjoy an energizing lunch. We then start our hike through an untouched forest. After about four hours we arrive at Forest Camp.

Day 2 –  Forest Camp – Shira Camp 1

Coming out of the forest we arrive at a savannah: we see high grasses, heathland and volcanic rock covered in lichens. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross a number of streams, we reach the Shira Ridge. From here we descend calmly to Shira Camp 1. The view of Kibo is stunningly beautiful.

Day 3 –  Shira Camp 1 – Shira Camp 2 – Moir Huts

Today we are exploring the Shira Plateau. It is a relatively easy hike towards the Kibo glaciers. Over heathlands and through a brook we finally arrive at Shira Camp 2. Here we cross with trekkers on the Shira Route. We continue our way to the Moir Huts. The Moir Huts are located on the Shira Plateau and are part of a relatively quiet camp. From here several shorter hikes are possible to make acclimatization as smooth as possible.

Day 4 –  Moir Huts – Lava Tower – Barranco Camp

From the Shira plateau we continue our way to the east over a shoulder and pass the crossing to the summit of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes to the southeast towards the Lava Tower, also called the “Shark Tooth”. Shortly after the Lava Tower we arrive at the second crossing that brings us to the Arrow Glacier at an altitude of 4800 meters (15800ft). We now continue down to the Barranco Hut at an altitude of 3962 meters (13000ft). Here we enjoy the peace and quiet, have dinner and stay for the night. It seems crazy to end up at the same altitude as we started this morning, but your body will be grateful later on. It helps to acclimatize for the day we are going to push for Uhuru Peak.

Day 5 –  Barranco Huts – Karanga Camp

After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue along the famous Barranco Wall, to the campsite in the Karanga Valley. Today you’re glad you chose the 7-day option and not the 6-day hike. Today we keep it simple and short to acclimatize as effectively as possible.

Day 6 – Karanga Camp – Barafu Huts

After breakfast, we leave Karanga and arrive at the crossing that connects to the Mweka Trail. We continue to the Barafu Hut. At this point, you’ve completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from various angles. Here you can camp, rest, enjoy dinner and prepare for Uhuru Peak. From the Barafu Huts you can see the two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo.

Day 7 –  Uhuru Peak via Stella Point – Mweka Camp

You hike onwards to Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trip. At Stella Point, you will stop for a short break and will be rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise you will ever see. If you started a little earlier and would have trotted a bit faster, you can also enjoy the same sunrise from the top. From Stella Point you can encounter snow on your 1 hour climb to the top. At Uhuru Peak, you have reached the highest point of Kilimanjaro. Congratulations, you are now on the roof of Africa.

The day has only just begun. From the top we now descend straight down to the Mweka Hut. On the way we stop at Barafu for lunch. You will want to wear gaiters and use hiking poles for the loose gravel on the way down. Mweka Camp is located in the higher forest and in the late afternoon rain or fog can be expected. Later in the evening we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and get ready for a well deserved night’s sleep.

Day 8 –  Mweka Camp – Mweka Park Gate

After breakfast we continue our descent to the Mweka Park Gate. Here you will receive a certificate for making it to Uhuru Peak. These always do well at birthday parties. At the lower altitudes it can be wet and muddy again. Gaiters and hiking poles are recommended. Although this last segment is easy to do in shorts and a t-shirt, it is recommended to keep rainwear handy. At Mweka we finish our trekking. From here you will be taken back to Moshi.

*This itinerary is subject to change and may vary from one tour operator to another.

Machame Route (6 days) – Top Climbers Expedition FAQ

Is The Machame Route Difficult?

When you are comparing the different routes on Kilimanjaro, the Machame Route doesn’t come up as the most difficult one. In terms of acclimatization, you can’t really go wrong on the Machame Route. You can either do the Machame Route on Kilimanjaro in 6 or 7 days. If you want to make the most of it while at the same time get the best acclimatization, you should opt for 7 days.

The longer your itinerary, the better your acclimatization and the more you will enjoy your ascent of Kilimanjaro. On the Machame Route, you climb high and sleep low. This is the golden rule for acclimatization. In that regard, the Machame Route is definitely not the most difficult one. Definitely not as difficult as for example the Umbwe Route.

One thing that is difficult about the Machame Route is the fact that climbers will have to pass the Barranco Wall. It requires some scrambling but there is no need to worry about technical climbing. It is very doable.

Why is the Machame Route known as the Whisky Route?

The Machame Route on Kilimanjaro is also known as the Whisky Route. This is not because of all the Whisky you can drink on this popular Kilimanjaro route. The Machame Route is known as the Whisky Route because the Marangu Route is known as the Coca Cola Route. For a long time, the Marangu Route, known as the Tourist Route or the Coca Cola Route, was seen as the easiest route on Kilimanjaro.

The Machame Route was considered a more difficult option than the Marangu Route, and therefore this route was soon given the nickname Whisky Route. Interestingly enough, one can consider that the Whisky Route is easier than the Coca Cola Route. Unlike the Marangu Route, the Machame Route offers climbers the opportunity to acclimatize adequately.

Machame Route Distance

The Machame Route has a total distance of 62 kilometers or 37 miles from gate to gate.

Day-to-day distance on a 7-day climb:

Day 1: 10.8km / 6.7mi
Day 2: 5.4km / 3.4mi
Day 3: 10.8km / 6.7mi
Day 4: 5.5km / 3.4mi
Day 5: 3km / 1.9mi
Day 6: 13.4km / 8.3mi
Day 7: 12.1km / 7.5mi

The Barranco Wall on the Machame Route

The Barranco Wall isn’t just part of the Machame Route. Also, the Umbwe Route, the Lemosho Route, and the old Shira Route cross the Barranco Wall. Elevation on the Barranco Wall is 257 meters and although this is seen as the hardest part of the Machame Route it is by no means undoable. On most Machame Route itineraries you climb the Barranco Wall on day of the ascent.

You don’t need to worry about technical climbing when crossing the Barranco Wall. Scrambling does the trick. This means that you can use both arms and legs climbing the wall. Again, this does not mean that you will be entirely vertical. Because the Barranco Wall is the first thing you will do after breakfast, it is also called the Barranco Breakfast. You will love it!

Best Season for the Machame Route

There are no seasonal restrictions on Kilimanjaro. The mountain is open to trekking and climbing expeditions all year round. Having said that, there are certain months which a more suitable than others. The rainy season lasts from April to May and November to December. The dry season includes January to March and June to October. As such, the Machame Route is a route which is best enjoyed during the dry season.

Machame Route 6-Day Itinerary

Although the Machame Route is ideally tackled in 7 days, it is also possible in 6 days. The following itinerary gives you the fastest way to Uhuru Peak.

Day 1: Machame Gate (1,790m) – Machame Camp (3,010m)

After breakfast, you will be picked up at hotel and make the 45-min drive to the Kilimanjaro National park gate. After completion of all the necessary paperwork, your adventure commences. Your destination for today is the Machame Camp, a 5 – 6 hour hike. Soon you will be hiking through the lush rainforest with its large ancient trees, primeval ferns, and endemic flowers, like the Impatiens Kilimanjaro. You might also spot black and white thumb colobus monkeys, peeking through the leaves. Reaching the campsite you will have time to relax, stretch your legs and enjoy a hearty meal, before snuggling into your tent for the night.

Day 2: Machame Camp (3,010m) – Shira Camp (3,845m)

Today’s early start is not due to a long stretch, but rather to allow you to reach Shira Camp at around mid-afternoon. As you walk you will notice the dramatic change in the landscape – from lush and green rainforest to dry moor and heath land. Arriving at your campsite a beautiful view of the mountain range opens up before you. The glaciers of Kibo glistens in the golden hue of the setting sun as you enjoy another lovingly cooked meal before climbing into your tent.

Day 3: Shira Camp (3,845m) – Lava Tower Hut (4,640m) – Barranco Camp (3,960m)

Acclimatization is on today’s menu, where you will climb roughly 700 m, but sleep on a level not much higher than the previous night. Starting at Shira Plateau, you will make your way up to Lava Tower (4,640m), where you will rest a while, before continuing through the Barranco Valley to the beautiful Barranco Camp. The trek will take approximately 6 – 7 hours, but the various distractions of the alpine desert as well as the Barranco Valley with its small lobelia plants and giant senecios, will keep your mind off the stretch still ahead. A well-deserved dinner and overnight awaits you at Barranco Camp.

Day 4: Barranco Camp (3960m) to Barafu Camp (4640m)

Our day starts by descending into the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We then exit steeply, up the Great Barranco Wall, which divides us from the southeastern slopes of Kibo. It’s a climb over rock, not technical, but long and tiring. Passing underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we head towards the Karanga valley, which is our last stop for fresh water before the summit. Scree now forms the terrain as we walk through arid and desolate land towards Barafu camp.

Day 5: Barafu Camp (4,640m) – Uhuru Peak (5,895m) – Mweka Camp (3,080m)

At around midnight you will be awoken by your guide with a warm cup of tea and biscuits to get you ready for your final ascent. The moon and your headlamps will be your only source of light as you make your way up to Stella Point, reaching the crater rim in about 5 – 7 hours. Another 1 – 2 hours will take you to Uhuru Peak (5,895m), where you can enjoy the sun rising over the African landscape, casting a pink hue over the snowy peak and making the glaciers sparkle like diamonds around you. After capturing this incredible view and achievement on film, you will start your descent along the same route back to Barafu Camp, where your team awaits you with some snacks and refreshments. Rested and relaxed you will make your way to Mweka Camp for your last night on the highest mountain in Africa.

Day 6: Mweka Camp (3,080m) – Mweka Gate (1,630m)

A scrumptious breakfast is followed by a traditional farewell ceremony from your mountain crew, before you start your final stretch down the mountain. You will once more trek through the rainforest, giving you another opportunity to spot the cheeky colobus monkeys, finally reaching the Mweka gate in about 2 – 3 hours. You will be met at the gate and taken back to hotel for a long shower. The rest of the day is for you to enjoy at leisure and giving yourself a pat on the back for conquering the famous Kilimanjaro!

Machame Route 7-Day Itinerary

The following 7-day Machame Route itinerary is great for acclimatization and gives you the best chances for a successful ascent of Kilimanjaro.

Day 1 – Machame Gate – Machame Huts (11 kilometres – 6.8 miles, 5-7 hours, 1200m/3940ft elevation)

The drive from Moshi to the gate of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park will take about fifty minutes. The tour goes through the village of Machame, which lies on the lower slopes of the mountain. Upon arrival we walk through the rainforest on a winding path up a ridge. At the foot of the mountain, the path can be muddy and slippery. Gaiters and hiking pools will come in convenient. We go a little further until we reach the Machame Camp.

Day 2 – Machame Huts – New Shira Camp (5.5 kilometers – 3.4 miles, 4-6 hours, 820m/2700ft elevation)

After breakfast, we leave the glades of the rainforest and continue our trek on an elevating trail. We cross the valley and walk over a steep, heathland-covered rocky ridge. The route now goes west, to a gorge on the river. It’s a short day today, but it’s definitely one that you can feel in your legs. At New Shira Camp the surroundings are starting to look much rougher. No matter which tent you choose, the view is equally fantastic. You can see the Kibo, the Western Breach, the Shira Cathedral and the Needle.

Day 3 – New Shira Camp – Lava Tower – Barranco Huts (10 kilometres – 6.2 miles, 5-7 hours, 790m – 2600ft elevation)

From the Shira plateau we continue our way to the east over a shoulder and pass the crossing to the summit of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes to the southeast towards the Lava Tower, also called the “Shark Tooth”. Shortly after the Lava Tower we arrive at the second crossing that brings us to the Arrow Glacier at an altitude of 4800 meters (15800ft). We now continue down to the Barranco Hut at an altitude of 3962 meters (13000ft). Here we enjoy the peace and quiet, have dinner and stay for the night. It seems crazy to end up at the same altitude as we started this morning, but your body will be grateful later on. It helps to acclimatize before the day we are going to push for Uhuru Peak.

Day 4 – Barranco Huts – Karanga Camp (5.5 kilometers – 3.4 miles, 4-5 hours, 55m – 180ft elevation)

After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue along the famous Barranco Wall, to the campsite in the Karanga Valley. Today you’re glad you chose the 7-day option and not not the 6-day hike. Today we keep it simple and short to acclimatize as effectively as possible.

Day 5 – Karanga Camp – Barafu Huts (3.5 kilometres – 2.2 miles, 4-5 hours, 640m – 2100ft elevation)

After breakfast, we leave Karanga and arrive at the crossing that connects to the Mweka Trail. We continue to the Barafu Hut. At this point, you’ve completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from various angles. Here you can camp, rest, enjoy dinner and prepare for Uhuru Peak. From the Barafu Huts you can see the two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo.

Day 6 – Uhuru Peak via Stella Point – Millenium or Mweka Camp* (15 kilometres – 9.3 miles, 10-16 hours, 1072m – 3517ft ascent / 2075m – 6807ft descent)

You hike onwards to Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging part of the trip. At Stella Point, you will stop for a short break and will be rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise you will ever see. If you started a little earlier and would have trotted a bit faster, you can also enjoy the same sunrise from the top. From Stella Point you can encounter snow on your 1 hour climb to the top. At Uhuru Peak, you have reached the highest point of Kilimanjaro. Congratulations, you are now on the roof of Africa.
The day has only just begun. From the top we now descend straight down to the Mweka Hut. On the way we stop at Barafu for lunch. You will want to wear gaiters and use hiking poles for the loose gravel on the way down. Mweka Camp is located in the higher forest and in the late afternoon rain or fog can be expected. Later in the evening we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and get ready for a well deserved night’s sleep.

Day 7 – Millenium Camp – Mweka Park Gate (20 kilometres – 12.4 miles, 5 hours, 2075m – 6807ft descent)

After breakfast, we continue our descent to the Mweka Park Gate. Here you will receive a certificate for making it to Uhuru Peak. These always do well at birthday parties. At the lower altitudes it can be wet and muddy again. Gaiters and hiking poles are recommended. Although this last segment is easy to do in shorts and a t-shirt, it is recommended to keep rainwear handy. At Mweka we finish our trekking. From here you will be taken back to Moshi.

*This itinerary is subject to change and may vary from one tour operator to another.

Marangu Route (5 days) – Top Climbers Expedition FAQ

Is The Marangu Route Difficult?

The Marangu Route is perceived as an easy Kilimanjaro climbing route. The Marangu Route goes via a relatively comfortable trail and has a very steady, gradual slope. This would make you believe that the Marangu Route is easy. The route is also dubbed Coca Cola Route or Tourist Route. This can give a bad impression to people who are interested in tackling the Marangu Route. It sounds easy, right?

In fact, the Marangu Route is fairly difficult. It is not easy and it’s definitely not for tourists. Most people who take on the Marangu Route do so because it allows them to climb Kilimanjaro in five days. Unlike on other routes like the Machame Route or the Lemosho Route, the Marangu Route has a low success rate. Only about a third of all climbers make it to Uhuru Peak.

Nonetheless, the Marangu Route is a Kilimanjaro classic. It is one of the oldest routes and, let’s not forget that, the Marangu Route comes with huts. If you don’t like sleeping in tents, then the Marangu Route is your choice.

Why Is The Marangu Known as The Tourist Route or Coca Cola Route?

The Marangu Route has a reputation problem going on. It is known as the Tourist Route or the Coca Cola Route and the reason for that is that it is an easy route. But because of poor acclimatization it is not an easy route at all. In fact, it is quite difficult. Why then is it called the Tourist Route or the Coca Cola Route?

In the huts that can you find on the Marangu Route they sell that particular beverage. The fact that it has huts, is a drawcard for tourists. Where there are huts, there must be some comfort right? That is one of the reasons. The other reason why it is called the Tourist Route is that it is quite the crowded one. Although the popularity of the Marangu Route is shrinking, it still attracts a lot of climbers who want to make it to Uhuru Peak.

Marangu Route Distance

The Marangu Route has a total distance of 73 kilometers or 45 miles from gate to gate.

Day-to-day distance on a 6-day climb:

Day 1: 8 km / 5 mi
Day 2: 12 km / 7.5mi
Day 3: Rest day
Day 4: 9 km / 5.5 mi
Day 5: 6 km / 4 mi up / 15 km / 9 mi down
Day 6: 20 km / 12.5 mi

What About The Huts on The Marangu Route?

If you are not much of a camper and you like to have a solid roof over your head, the Marangu Route is your Kilimanjaro climbing route. After all, it is on this route that you get to stay in huts. You will find the huts spread out in camps along the route. There will be your checkpoints where you will get to spend the night. You will spend the night at the Mandara Huts, the Horombo Huts and the Kibo Huts.

The huts are pretty basic. They are communal, which means that you will sleep in bunk beds dormitory style. The sanitary facilities will make you go back to basics as well. Some of the camps have running spring water that also supplies toilets, others come with long drop toilets. Expect to share a hut with 6 to 8 other people.

Best Season for the Marangu Route

There are no seasonal restrictions on Kilimanjaro. The mountain is open to trekking and climbing expeditions all year round. Having said that, there are certain months which a more suitable than others. The rainy season lasts from April to May and November to December. The dry season includes January to March and June to October. As such, the Marangu Route is a route which is best enjoyed during the dry season.

Marangu Route 5-Day Itinerary

It is not recommended to do the Marangu Route in 5 days. If you, however, do not have more time at your disposal, this itinerary could work for you.

Day 1: Marangu Gate to Mandara Hut

After breakfast, you will be collected from your lodge in Moshi and taken to the Marangu gate. Once the necessary paper work has been completed, your trek can begin and you will soon be hiking through the dense rainforest. Alongside the impressive vegetation, you will have the chance to catch a glimpse of some primates as you head to the Mandara Hut. After a well-earned rest, your guide can take you to the Maundi Crater where you can enjoy the wonderful view of the Kenyan interior.

Day 2: Mandara Hut to Horombo Hut

The day begins with an early breakfast. Shortly after you have left Mandara Hut, you will reach the timberline and then enter the heath and moor zone. Approximately 4 – 6 hours later, the Horombo Hut will come into sight, standing at an altitude of 3700m. From the hut, you will have fantastic views overlooking Mawenzi, Kibo and the wide plain of the Masai steppe.

Day 3: Horombo Hut to Kibo Hut

Today’s stage is long and tough. The well-built trail passes the “Last Water point” which is followed by the so-called “saddle”. This nearly vegetation less plateau joins the main summit Kibo with Mawenzi. Today’s destination is the Kibo Hut that is usually reached in about 5 – 6 hours. Here, you will enjoy an early evening meal followed by an early night, as the night will be short.

Day 4: Kibo Hut to UHURU PEAK & down to Horombo Hut

Today is “The Big Day” – the summit stage. You will begin your final ascent around midnight which will be long and strenuous. Passing the Hans Meyer Cave at 5220m, the climb slowly but surely goes upwards. At sunrise, you will reach Gillman’s Point (5681m) – the crater rim of Kilimanjaro – where the sun will slowly start to warm up the land. You will have soon forgotten the cold of the night and after a further hike of 1 – 2 hours, you will reach Uhuru Peak at 5895m. On your return to Kibo Hut, a warm meal awaits you followed by a 1 – 2 hour break before proceeding back down to Horombo Hut.

Day 5: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate

The last stage passes through the heath and moor zone to the Mandara Hut (2700m) where a warm lunch is waiting for you. Soon, you will once again pass the tropical rainforest and after a total time of 6 hours trekking, you will be back at the Kilimanjaro National Park Gate (1860m). After saying goodbye to your mountain guides, a short transfer follows to take you back to your hotel in Moshi. Once there, you can take a warm and relaxing shower and celebrate your success in reaching the summit of the Kilimanjaro.

Marangu Route 6-Day Itinerary

The following 6-day Marangu Route itinerary includes a day for rest and acclimatization and offers you the best chances to make it to Uhuru Peak.

 

Day 1: Drive to Marangu Gate – Hike to Mandara Hut

After breakfast and briefing, drive to the Kilimanjaro National Park Gate (about 1 hour), register and commence the trek. Walk through the rainforest to the Mandara Huts. A side trip to Maundi Crater is a good way to see the surroundings including Northern Tanzania and Kenya. In the rainforest, look for towering Eucalyptus trees, bird life, and Colobus monkeys.

Day 2: Mandara Hut – Horombo Hut

You leave the glades of the rain-forest and follow an ascending path on the open moorlands to the Horombo Huts. Views of Mawenzi and the summit of Kibo are amazing. Look for giant lobelias and grounsels. You may begin to feel the affects of the altitude.

Day 3: Rest day at Horombo Hut

Rest day at Horombo Hut with an optional hike to Mawenzi Peak.

Day 4: Horombo Hut – Kibo Hut

Ascending, we now pass the last watering point, walking onto the saddle of Kilimanjaro between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. Vegetation begins with upper heath-land but then disappears into “moonscape”. Eat, rest, and prepare for summit climb.

Day 5: Kibo Hut – Summit Uhuru Peak – Horombo Hut

Very early in the morning (midnight to 2am), commence the climb to the summit on steep and heavy scree or snow up to Gilman’s point located on the crater rim. Continuing, we now ascend to Uhuru Peak, which is the highest point in Africa. There are unbelievable views at every turn. Have your picture taken at the summit to show your friends and family. From here we descend, stopping for lunch and a rest at Kibo before continuing on to the Horombo Huts.

The beginning of this climb is done in the dark and requires headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is by far the most difficult part of the trek with many switchbacks. Going slowly “pole pole” and an optimistic attitude will get you there!

Day 6: Horombo Hut – Trailhead – Moshi

After breakfast, a steady descent takes us down through moorland to the Mandara Hut. Continue descending through lush forest path to the National Park gate at Marangu. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).

Tanzania Joy Tours vehicle will meet you at Marangu gate to drive you back to your hotel in Moshi (about 1 hour).

Rongai Route (6 days) – Top Climbers Expeditions FAQ

Is The Rongai Route Difficult?

The Rongai Route is usually the first choice in the rainy season. The rainy season lasts from April to May and November to December. The dry season includes January to March and June to October. The Rongai Route isn’t too technical and as such, it is seen as a moderately difficult climbing route. To give you an idea, the route is technically easier than the Lemosho Route, the Northern Circuit and the Machame Route.

It is the only route ascending Mount Kilimanjaro from the North, the Kenyan side of the mountain. Because this is also the quiet side of the mountain, you can get a fairly unspoiled Kilimanjaro experience. It is a lot quieter on the trails and that has its positive impact on the nature and vastness of this side of the mountain.

Is the Rongai Route difficult? The only thing that doesn’t speak for the Rongai Route is the fact that it is a pretty flat route. This means that you can not really climb high and sleep low. Other than that, the Rongai Route is one of the easier options and considering its favorable climate it is your best option during the rainy season.

What is The Added Benefit of the Rongai Route?

The Rongai Route starts on the Kenyan side of the mountain. That is a pretty big deal and a massive drawcard for climbers who favor the Rongai Route over other Kilimanjaro climbing routes. Fair enough, it is a pretty long distance from Arusha or Moshi but for that bit of driving you get a very nice climate in return. This makes the Rongai Route a great option for during the rainy season.

The North Side of Mount Kilimanjaro receives less precipitation. This has everything to do with the fact that rain clouds don’t get stopped by the mountain this side. During the rainy season, it is thus a little bit busier. But even then, this is a very quiet route which attracts a lot fewer climbers than the West and South side of Kilimanjaro. That is a benefit of the Rongai. On top of that, the Rongai Route is also a moderately difficult route and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.

Rongai Route Distance

The Rongai Route has a total distance of 72 kilometers or 44 miles from gate to gate.

Day-to-day distance on a 7-day climb:

Day 1: 6 km / 4 mi
Day 2: 6 km / 4 mi
Day 3: 9 k m / 5 mi
Day 4: 6 km / 4 mi
Day 5: 9 km / 5 mi
Day 6: 6 km / 4 mi up / 15 km / 9 mi down
Day 7: 20 km / 12.5 mi

Best Season for the Rongai Route

There are no seasonal restrictions on Kilimanjaro. The mountain is open to trekking and climbing expeditions all year round. Having said that, there are certain months which are more suitable than others. The rainy season lasts from April to May and November to December. The dry season includes January to March and June to October. The Rongai Route is not affected by the season as some other routes are. As such, the Rongai Route is a route which really can be enjoyed throughout the year. It is the first choice during the rainy season and it can definitely be done in the dry season as well.

Rongai Route 6-Day Itinerary

It is not recommended to do the Rongai Route in just 6 days. If you, however, do not have more time at your disposal, this itinerary could work for you.

Day 1: Drive to Rongai Gate – Hike to Simba Camp

Drive to the attractive wooden village of Nale Moru (about 2 hours including a stop to get permits at Marangu). After signing in and preparing the porters, you will begin the hike on a wide path that winds through fields of maize and potatoes before entering pine forest. The track then starts to climb consistently but gently through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife. The forest begins to thin out and the first camp is at the edge of the moorland zone with extensive views over the Kenyan plains.

Day 2: Simba Camp – Second Cave

The morning hike is a steady ascent up to the Second Cave with superb views of Kibo and the Eastern ice fields on the crater rim.

Day 3: Second Cave – Third Cave

Today we continue our hike from the Second Cave to the Third Cave.

Day 4: Third Cave – Kibo Hut

Hike to Kibo Hut at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent and a very early day!

Day 5: Kibo Hut – Summit Uhuru Peak – Horombo Hut

Very early in the morning (midnight to 2am), commence the climb to the summit on steep and heavy scree or snow up to Gilman’s Point located on the crater rim (elev 5700m/18,700ft). Continuing, we now ascend to Uhuru Peak, which is the highest point in Africa. There are unbelievable views at every turn. Have your picture taken at the summit to show your friends and family. From here we descend, stopping for lunch and a rest at Kibo before continuing on to the Horombo encampment.

The beginning of this climb is done in the dark and requires headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is by far the most difficult part of the trek with many switchbacks. Going slowly “pole pole” and an optimistic attitude will get you there!

Day 6: Horombo Hut – Trailhead – Moshi

After breakfast, a steady descent takes us down through moorland to the Mandara Hut. Continue descending through lush forest path to the National Park gate at Marangu. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). A Tanzania Joy Tours vehicle will meet you at Marangu gate to drive you back to your hotel in Moshi (about 1 hour).

Rongai Route 7-Day Itinerary

The following 7-day Rongai Route itinerary includes a day for rest and acclimatization and offers you the best chances to make it to Uhuru Peak.

Day 1: Drive to Rongai Gate – Hike to Simba Camp

Drive to the attractive wooden village of Nale Moru (about 2 hours including a stop to get permits at Marangu). After signing in and preparing the porters, you will begin the hike on a wide path that winds through fields of maize and potatoes before entering pine forest. The track then starts to climb consistently but gently through attractive forest that shelters a variety of wildlife. The forest begins to thin out and the first camp is at the edge of the moorland zone with extensive views over the Kenyan plains.

Day 2: Simba Camp – Second Cave

The morning hike is a steady ascent up to the Second Cave with superb views of Kibo and the Eastern ice fields on the crater rim.

Day 3: Second Cave – Kikelewa Camp

Head out across the moorland on a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi. The campsite is in a sheltered valley with giant Senecios nearby.

Day 4: Kikelewa Camp – Mawenzi Tarn

A short but steep climb up grassy slopes is rewarded by superb views. Leave the vegetation behind shortly before reaching the next camp at Mawenzi Tarn, spectacularly situated in a cirque directly beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. The afternoon will be free to rest or explore the surrounding area as an aid to acclimatization.

If you are spending an extra day on the mountain, you will camp for two nights here. You can hike up and around Mawenzi for your acclimatization hike.

Day 5: Mawenzi Tarn – Kibo Hut

Cross the lunar desert of the ‘Saddle’ between Mawenzi and Kibo to reach Kibo campsite at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent very early.

Day 6: Kibo Camp – Summit Uhuru Peak – Horombo Hut

Very early in the morning (midnight to 2am), commence the climb to the summit on steep and heavy scree or snow up to Gilman’s Point located on the crater rim (elev 5700m/18,700ft). Continuing, we now ascend to Uhuru Peak, which is the highest point in Africa. There are unbelievable views at every turn. Have your picture taken at the summit to show your friends and family. From here we descend, stopping for lunch and a rest at Kibo before continuing on to the Horombo encampment.

The beginning of this climb is done in the dark and requires headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is by far the most difficult part of the trek with many switchbacks. Going slowly “pole pole” and an optimistic attitude will get you there!

Day 7: Horombo Hut – Trailhead, drive to Moshi

After breakfast, a steady descent takes us down through moorland to the Mandara Hut. Continue descending through lush forest path to the National Park gate at Marangu. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).

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FAQ

FAQ

What is the best season for climbing Kilimanjaro?

Mother Nature can be grumpy and in the mountains, also on Kilimanjaro, she can have some serious mood swings. On the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro, it can be hot and you can find all sorts of wildlife, while on the top there can be ice and snow. A few thousand meters can make a lot of difference and having five distinct climbing zones on Kilimanjaro don’t make it easier to predict the weather either. With Kilimanjaro being close to the equator, the difference in temperature is not that big if you compare the months. The only thing that has to be taken into account is precipitation. The best seasons are also the busiest: From January until the end of March and from June to the end of October. Should you stick to these seasons? No, you don’t have to. In fact, as you can read in our blog post, you can climb Kilimanjaro all year round. Just keep one thing in mind: The Rongai Route is for climbing Kilimanjaro during the rainy season.

What is the best climbing route on Kilimanjaro?

This question could be on the top of the FAQ section of Kilimanjaro. It is arguably one of the most frequent questions answered by our trekking experts. Answering the question of the best climbing route on Kilimanjaro is hard but if you stick to a few rules of thumb, you end up with our favorite routes: The Lemosho Route and the Northern Circuit. Unlike for example the Marangu Route and the Machame Route, these two routes are designed with acclimatization in mind. Acclimatization and Altitude Mountain Sickness (AMS) should be the only two things to have in mind when choosing a route for climbing Kilimanjaro. If you are thinking seasons, you can choose any route in the dry season and you can consider the Rongai Route for climbing Kilimanjaro in the rainy season. Okay, perhaps one more factor. If you want something rough, then the Umbwe Route is the best climbing route.

How much does it cost to climb Kilimanjaro?

Climbing Kilimanjaro is by no means a cheap affair. Cheap also has a very negative connotation and if you buy cheap, you will get cheap. You can, however, buy affordable. Affordable is positive. It means that you can afford it and that the other party, in this case, the trekking company, also has some profit from your adventure. This way, everyone wins. Climbing Kilimanjaro, including flights, tips, and personal expenses can cost as much as 5000 Dollars, depending on what flights you’ve booked, how much you are tipping your porters and the route you have chosen. In this blog post, you can read more about the real cost of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Do I need permits for climbing Kilimanjaro?

Yes, you do need permits for climbing Kilimanjaro. These permits are part of the deal when you book your ascent through a trekking and climbing company. The permits are better understood as park fees. If you have your park and climbing fees, your permit is arranged. When you want to climb Kilimanjaro, you pay rescue fees, conservation fees, camping fees, hut fees (when you are doing the Marangu Route), crater fees (when you are doing the 9-day version of the Lemosho Route) and fees for your guides and porters. All these fees are part of your total cost, but if you want to know what exactly they are and, more importantly, how much they are, you can read more about the park fees for climbing Kilimanjaro here.

Do I need a visa for entering Tanzania?

If you are a citizen of Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia or Zimbabwe, you do not need a visa for entering Tanzania. All other nationals can either organize a visa at their local Tanzanian embassy or consulate or at arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport, Dar es Salaam International Airport, Zanzibar International Airport or the Namanga border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania. Consult with your local embassy or consulate for the costs of your visa.

Do I need vaccinations for Tanzania and climbing Kilimanjaro?

If you are intending to visit Tanzania and climb Kilimanjaro a few vaccinations are recommended. We are by no means medical health professionals and don’t intend to open a travel clinic at some point, so please check with your local GP or travel clinic what is exactly needed. The following vaccinations may be necessary: Yellow fever, hepatitis A&B, rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, and typhoid. Above all, we can recommend a full medical check-up before undertaking a Kilimanjaro ascent. Malaria tablets can also be handy, but just note that these mosquitos are not found at higher altitudes.

Do I get a certificate when I have made it to Uhuru Peak?

You don’t only get a certificate when you have made it to Uhuru Peak, the summit of Kilimanjaro, you can also get a certificate if you have “only” made it to Stella Point or Gilman’s Point. You can imagine that these certificates will do well impressing your neighbor or when in the need to show something unusual at your next job interview.

What should I pack for my Kilimanjaro ascent?

Your trekking company makes sure of the most essential of essentials like a tent, sleeping double-layered sleeping mats, cooking utensils, food and more. You, however, need to make sure that you bring a good pair of hiking boots or trail running shoes, basic expedition gear like base-layers, waterproof jackets and so on and snacks for during your climb. You can afford to bring a little bit more because you have porters that will carry most of your belongings. This shouldn’t invite you to go overboard. Maintain a healthy balance of enough and not being too heavy. Check our ultimate packing list for climbing Kilimanjaro for more inspiration.

Where should I stay before and after my Kilimanjaro climb?

Our trekking and climbing offers come by default without accommodation. It is however possible to add accommodation to your Kilimanjaro ascent. Together with our partners, we have curated a list of suitable accommodation for before and after your Kilimanjaro climb. This way you can make sure that you are staying in a cool place and spend your time in Moshi right.  Get in touch with our trekking experts to get the best rates on single and double rooms at either the Parkview Inn Hotel, the Kilimanjaro Wonders Hotel or the Altezza Lodge.