There are seven official routes to use if you are considering Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
These routes are located within the Kilimanjaro region and involve different six villages. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain, the Rongai route approaches from the north while Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. Out of these seven routes, Marangu route is the only route that uses huts for accommodation, this route also uses the same track for ascending and descending.
The other routes which are all camping routes are Machame , Rongai, Lemosho , Northern circuit, Umbwe and Shira. Kilimanjaro Park Authorities have reserved Mweka route for descent only for climbers who to take the camping routes.
The two routes that do not use Mweka for descending are Marangu and Rongai routes. For most, selecting a route is a tough choice.
While deciding on Mount Kilimanjaro route that is best for you, considerations should be taken for the route’s scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics. Kilitop has assigned overall ratings to each route. More detailed descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below.
Trekking Mount Kilimanjaro Marangu Route affectionately known as the “Coca-Cola route”, Marangu used to be the most popular route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, however it has been overtaken by Machame route in terms of popularity . Marangu popularity is partly due to the fact that the Marangu is the least expensive route, but more so, perhaps the fact that it is possible to do the Marangu route in 5 days, but to maximize your chance of summiting we recommend an extra day for acclimatization.
Machame route is currently the most popular Mount Kilimanjaro route after overtaking Marangu route. The route is sometimes referred to us as the Whisky Route. Machame is a popular route up steep paths through magnificent forests to gain a ridge leading through the moorland zones to the Shira Plateau. The route then traverses beneath the glaciated precipices of the Southern Ice fields to join the Barafu Route to the summit.
On all the official Mount Kilimanjaro routes, Umbwe is the least used and attracts fewer climbers. And it is also for good reason, the most difficult route on the mountain. The route is a steep, constant, straight climb to the top. Umbwe is probably the most scenic route on Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is also one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. This route is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are plentiful. The climb on the first two days is very steep and as a result it is best suited to experienced trekkers.
The Lemosho Route is widely considered to be the best route on Mount Kilimanjaro. The route is the longest, remote, an unspoilt, less-used, and above all, the most beautiful way up to the legendary Shira Plateau. After beautiful forests and moorlands it crosses the Shira Plateau to meet up with the Machame Route. The climb starts in a forested area and groups may be accompanied on the first day by an armed ranger as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo, elephant and other game.
Identical to Lemsoho, Shira route is one of the two Kilimanjaro routes that approaches the Mountain ’s summit from the west. It crosses the caldera of Shira Volcano before heading beneath the southern ice fields of Kibo. The route is rarely used by other trekkers and so your initial two days on the mountain are less crowded than on most other routes. Shira was the original route on the westen side of the Mountain and Lemosho is a variation, the climb on this route starts at Shira gate at an altitude of 3,600m, this is a disadvantage as this means you start the climb at a higher altitude denying you the opportunity to acclimatize.
The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. The Rongai Route’s premier advantage has been that it is the quietest route on the mountain, this route is remote and less frequently. It is also the second easiest route to Mt. Kilimanjaro. The approach to the mountain is from the less-forested north side and the descent is by the Marangu Route. There are several variations; the one described is a longer route taking in Mawenzi Tarn.
Northern Circuit Route
The Northern Circuit Route on Mt. Kilimanjaro is relatively new. This is an incredible, unique itinerary which is the only route that visits the northern slopes, while traversing around nearly the entire mountain. The route is also the longest on the mountain, in distance and time, making it a difficult route. However, it has the best acclimatization profile which makes it the route with the highest success rate as well.