Kilimanjaro Routes – An Overview & How to Choose
Trying to decide which Kilimanjaro route is best for your trek? Don’t worry, this page will help you choose the right one.
Kilimanjaro has several routes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some routes offer great scenery but may pose challenges with altitude sickness. Others have high success rates but can get crowded at certain times of the year. Let’s explore the different routes to the Kilimanjaro summit.
Kilimanjaro Climb Routes
There are six main Kilimanjaro routes for trekking the tallest mountain in Africa. The seventh route, Mweka, is for descent only.
- Lemosho Route
- Machame Route
- Marangu Route
- Mweka Route (descent only)
- Rongai Route
- Shira Route
- Umbwe Route
- Northern Circuit
- Western Breach
Kilimanjaro Route Summaries
Best Kilimanjaro Routes
The top Kilimanjaro routes in the southern circuit are Machame and Lemosho.
Machame Route – The Machame route is known for its stunning scenery and high success rate, especially with the 7-day itinerary. We don’t recommend the 6-day option for first-time trekkers. It’s great for acclimatization as it involves climbing high and then sleeping at a lower altitude on day 3. This route takes you through four diverse climatic zones, offering breathtaking views. You can add an extra rest day at Karanga Camp for better preparation before the summit. Keep in mind that it can get crowded, especially at Barranco Camp where it merges with other routes. Camping is the only accommodation option.
Lemosho Route – The Lemosho route starts from the west side and offers 7 or 8-day itineraries, allowing for better acclimatization and high success rates. It provides a remote and wild start with the chance to spot wildlife. This route offers spectacular views of the western gorges and the Shira Plateau. It can also connect with the Northern Circuit for a unique experience. It’s suitable for those planning to climb the Western Breach. Camping is the only lodging option.
Northern Circuit – The Northern Circuit is the longest route and boasts one of the highest summit success rates due to its acclimatization opportunities. It departs from the same start point as Lemosho and joins the Northern Circuit near Lava Tower. It offers a quiet and wild experience for those seeking solitude.
Rongai Route – The Rongai route is the only one starting from the north-east side, providing a wilderness experience and a chance to see wildlife. This route is drier but offers clear views of Kilimanjaro. It’s relatively flat in the beginning, suitable for a 7-day itinerary. The route joins the Marangu route for descent.
Easiest route up Kilimanjaro
While there’s no easy route, the Marangu Route, also called the Coca-Cola Route, is considered the easiest.
Marangu Route – This route is known for being the shortest and easiest but has a lower success rate. The 6-day option allows for some acclimatization. It offers dormitory-style accommodation in huts with basic amenities.
Difficult Routes – We Don’t Recommend
Shira Route: Similar to Lemosho but starts at a higher point, leading to poor acclimatization.
Umbwe Route: A steep ascent with limited acclimatization opportunities.
Western Breach: Technically challenging, recommended for experienced trekkers.
Kilimanjaro Summit Routes (Passages)
There are three summit passages:
- Stella Point: Used by trekkers on Lemosho, Shira, Machame, and Umbwe Routes. The easiest passage, taking about one hour to Uhuru Peak.
- Gilman’s Point: Trekkers on Rongai, Marangu, and Northern Circuit use this passage. It’s harder and takes around two hours.
- Crater Camp (Western Breach): A more challenging approach through the Western Breach, suitable for experienced trekkers.
Kilimanjaro Trail Routes FAQ
- Best Kilimanjaro route: The 8-day Lemosho or the 7-day Machame routes are recommended for good acclimatization and high success rates.
- Easiest Kilimanjaro route: The Marangu route is often considered the easiest, but choose the 6-day option for better chances of success.
- Highest summit success rates: The Northern Circuit has the highest success rates due to its longer duration and acclimatization opportunities. The 8-day Lemosho and 7-day Machame routes also have high success rates.