Mt Kilimanjaro routes – choosing the best Kilimanjaro route to climb
Choosing the best Kilimanjaro route to climb up Mt Kilimanjaro could make the difference between summiting or not. There is no easy route climbing Kilimanjaro, however not all Mt Kilimanjaro routes are equal. Some routes are more challenging than others and some routes are more successful than others.
Please click on the Kilimanjaro map to see an enlarged Kilimanjaro route map.
Hiking Kilimanjaro is very popular. The most successful Kilimanjaro routes are unfortunately also the most popular Kilimanjaro routes, where you can expect the highest number of hikers.
In total there are seven Mt Kilimanjaro routes leading to the roof of Africa: the Shira route, Lemosho route, Machame route, Umbwe route, Rongai route, Marangu route and the Northern Circuit route. Please refer to our detailed Kilimanjaro map.
The following Mt Kilimanjaro route comparison chart is a summary of the Kilimanjaro routes:
Route Price Range Overnight Difficulty Scenery Traffic Success Rate Ascent / Descent
5 Days Marangu route Low A-Frame huts High to Very High Good Medium Low Marangu / Marangu
6 Days Marangu route Low A-Frame huts Medium to High Good Medium Medium Marangu / Marangu
6 Days Machame route Low Tents Medium to High Very good High Medium Machame / Mweka
7 Days Machame route Medium Tents Medium to High Very good High High Machame / Mweka
6 Days Lemosho route Medium Tents Medium to High Very good Medium to High Medium Lemosha / Mweka
7 Days Lemosho route High Tents Medium to High Very good Medium to High High Lemosho / Mweka
8 Days Lemosho route Very High Tents Medium to High Very good Medium to High High Lemosho / Mweka
6 Days Rongai route Medium Tents High Very good Low to Medium Medium Rongai / Marangu
7 Days Rongai route High Tents Medium to High Very good Low to Medium High Rongai / Marangu
8 Days Rongai route Very High Tents Medium to High Very good Low to Medium High Rongai / Marangu
6 Days Umbwe route Medium Tents High to Medium Very good Medium to High Medium Umbwe / Mweka
7 Days Umbwe route High Tents High to Medium Very good Medium to High High Umbwe / Mweka
6 Days Shira route Medium Tents High Very good Medium to High Medium Shira / Mweka
7 Days Shira route High Tents Medium to High Very good Medium to High High Shira / Mweka
8 Days Northern Circuit route Very High Tents High Very good Low to Medium High Lemosho / Mweka
9 Days Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit route Very High Tents High Very good Low to Medium High Lemosho / Mweka
Below is a brief Kilimanjaro route description of all the Kilimanjaro routes. For more detailed information regarding each of the Kilimanjaro routes, including routes distances and route summit success rates. Please refer to our detailed and comprehensive Kilimanjaro route descriptions under the main routes link bar above. This should enable you to choosing the best Kilimanjaro route to climb.
The Marangu Route
Also known as the “Coca Cola route” – the Marangu route is one of the oldest Kilimanjaro routes leading to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Marangu route can be completed in 5 or 6 days and is a popular Kilimanjaro route option. Since it is the only route offering accommodation in communal A-frame huts and meals are served in comfortable dining halls. The route is mistakenly chosen by many hikers, as the easiest Kilimanjaro route. The actual hiking trail from the Marangu gate to Kibo hut, is one of the easiest trails up Mt Kilimanjaro. Daily hiking distances are relatively short and there are no major obstacles en-route
However from Kibo hut to the Kilimanjaro summit and back down to the Marangu gate, the Marangu route is longer, more strenuous and challenging than other Kilimanjaro routes. For more information on the Marangu route, please click here. Marangu route
The Machame Route
The Machame route is one of our most popular and successful Kilimanjaro routes leading to Uhuru peak. Hikers sleep in tents which are carried up the mountain by porters and pitched at campsites along the way. The Machame route is a beautiful and scenic Kilimanjaro route, which can be completed in 6 or 7 days. The key to the success of the Machame route is its topography. This allows hikers to climb high and sleep low, helping towards better acclimatization.
There are however two drawbacks on this route:
Ø Baranco wall can be a potential problem for hikers with a fear of heights.
Ø The route has a lot of traffic due the Machame route’s high success rate
Descend is via the Mweka route. For more information on the Machame route, please click here. Machame route
The Lemosho Route
The Lemosho route is one the most scenic Kilimanjaro routes and a very beautiful Kilimanjaro route. In addition sightings of wild game in the forest section is possible. Lemosho route can be completed in 6, 7 or 8 days and share the same pro-acclimatization features of the Machame route, which it joins just before reaching Lava Tower. The Lemosho route used to be one of the quiet Kilimanjaro routes. However in recent times has become busier due to its popularity and being one of the successful Kilimanjaro routes.
We do not recommend hiking the Lemosho route during the rainy season. The starting point of the Lemosho route can be particularly inaccessible during the wet season. Descent is via the Mweka route. For more information on the Lemosho route, please click here. Lemosho route
The Rongai Route
The Rongai route ascends Mt Kilimanjaro from the north-eastern side of the mountain and can be completed in 6, 7 or 8 days. Rongai route retains a sense of unspoiled wilderness and offers a different perspective on Mount Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the North. A premier advantage to the Rongai route is that it is a quiet Kilimanjaro route. One disadvantage is the long travel time to the starting point of the Rongai route. When connecting with the Marangu Route just before reaching Kibo hut the Rongai route does become busy.
The summit path, shared with the Marangu route, is also longer, more strenuous and challenging than the summit path used by the Machame route, Lemosho route and Umbwe route. For more information on the Rongai route, please click here. Rongai route
The Umbwe Route
Umbwe route is known for its caves and can be completed over 6 or 7 days. On the first night, you actually sleep at the Umbwe Cave Camp with two more caves that can be visited en-route the following day. Umbwe route is one of Mt Kilimanjaro shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably one of the most scenic, non-technical routes. The Route is very steep and fast ascending, probably the most challenging Kilimanjaro routes.
Due to higher risks involved when attempting to summit via the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier and to overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp, all our Umbwe route hikes are currently re-routed, to merge with Mt Kilimanjaro southern circuit from night 2 onwards and summit via Barafu camp. Descend is via the Mweka route. For more information on the Umbwe route, please click here. Umbwe route
The Shira Route
Shira Plateau is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Mt Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions, you can drive by 4 wheel drive vehicle to the Morrum Barrier, which is within a couple of hours walk to Shira 1 Camp. Driving is spectacular indeed and offers some magnificent views of Mt Meru and the Great Rift Valley in general. The fast ascend by vehicle to about 3 400m / 11 154ft will require additional acclimatization, after which it will be possible to ascend Uhuru Peak via Barafu camp. Descent is via the Mweka route.
The Shira route is only offered to hikers who are already acclimatized to 3 500m / 11 482ft, by either hiking Mt Meru or Mt Kenya a few days before attempting Kilimanjaro. For more information on the Shira route, please click here. Shira route
The Northern Circuit route
Northern circuit route is the longest Kilimanjaro route and Kilimanjaro’s most scenic route, which can be completed over 8 or 9 days. Northern circuit shares the Lemosho route for the first couple of days and then heads north, just before reaching Lava tower. Circling around Kilimanjaro’s northern slopes, offering incredibly varied scenery with very few hikers on the route. The northern circuit route then finally connects with the Rongai route, ascending via Kibo hut and descending via the Mweka route. For more information on the northern circuit route, one of the quiet Kilimanjaro routes, please click here. Kilimanjaro Northern circuit route