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Kilimanjaro Treks

The Climb Kilimanjaro Guide provides all you need to know to get to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Prepare for summit success and live the dream!

About Mountain KILIMANJARO

Mount Kilimanjaro or just Kilimanjaro with its three volcanic cones, "Kibo", "Mawenzi", and "Shira", is a dormant volcano in Tanzania. At 5896m from its base, Mt Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest mountain and one of the continent's magnificent sights. The mountain is part of Kilimanjaro National Park and is a major climbing destination. The mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields.

The name itself "Kilimanjaro" is not known, but a number of theories exist that explore in the late ’80s adopted the name and reported that Kilimanjaro was the mountain's Kiswahili name. The term Kilima-Njaro "has generally been understood to mean" the mountain (kilima) of greatness (njaro).

Kilimanjaro is located near the town of Moshi and is a protected area, carefully regulated for climbers to enjoy. The mountain’s ecosystems are as strikingly beautiful as they are varied and diverse. On the lowland slopes, much of the mountain is farmland, with coffee, banana, cassava, and maize crops grown for subsistence and cash sale. A few larger coffee farms still exist on the lower slopes, but much of the area outside the national park has been subdivided into small plots. Once inside the park, thick lowland forest covers the lower altitudes and breaks into alpine meadows once the air begins to thin. Near the peak, the landscape is harsh and barren, with rocks and ice the predominant features above a breathtaking African view.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the adventure of a lifetime, Though the climb is technically not as challenging as the Himalayas or Andes, the high elevation, low temperature, and occasional high winds can make Kilimanjaro a difficult trek. Acclimatization is required, and even experienced and physically fit trekkers may suffer some degree of altitude sickness.

Kilimanjaro is the compelling beauty of East Africa, it is not is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 meters – to an imperious 5,895 meters (19,336 feet).

Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing, and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman’s Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates.

And their memories.

The ascent of the slope is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic in Kilimanjaro. The mountain forest is rich in life and serves as a habitat for elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates. Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias.

Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes overview.

There are several routes by which to reach Kibo, or Uhuru Peak, the highest summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, namely, Marangu, Rongai, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe, Northern circuit, western breach and Machame. Choosing the right Kilimanjaro route for your climb is an important decision.

Climbing description

The trek to Uhuru Peak is considered to be a relatively straightforward endeavor; however, ample time must still be provided for proper acclimatization to prevent altitude sickness. The three shortest routes, Marangu, Rongai, and Machame are less challenging and are often trekked by individuals with limited mountaineering experience.

Route travel times range from five to nine days to summit and return to the base of the mountain. Huts with cooking facilities, bathrooms, and electricity are available on the Marangu route, and camps with fewer facilities are available on many other routes. All huts and many camps have rangers stationed at them with rescue facilities.

Climbing routes

Machame Route


This is the most popular Kilimanjaro route and one of the best routes to take, both in terms of acclimatization and cost.In certain sections this route is steeper than the Marangu and Rongai routes and physically more demanding but is easier overall. It is fully catered camping only.

Duration: 6 or 7 days

Advantages:

  • Relatively low cost.

  • Very scenic.

  • Higher success rate than Marangu.

Disadvantages:

  • Higher level of difficulty.

  • Very crowded.

Marangu Route


This route is popularized as easy and cheap. however, is a misconception as the route is more difficult due to the 'not as good acclimatization profile' as Machame/Rongai/Lemosho routes.Often selected by unprepared, inexperienced climbers because of its reputation for being the "easiest" route, attributing to the lower success rate.

Duration: 5 days, acclimatization day can be added

Advantages:

  • Low cost.

  • Accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed.

  • Supposedly the easiest route. (I beg to differ.)

Disadvantages:

  • Lowest success rate. (See? Not that easy after all!)

  • Very crowded.

  • Camping is not allowed.

  • Less scenic due to ascent and descent on same route

Lemosho Route


The Lemosho route approaches Kilimanjaro from the west. Rather than simply intersecting Shira Plateau (like Machame), Lemosho crosses it from Shira Ridge to Shira 2 Camp, in a pleasant hike. Climbers encounter low traffic until the route joins the Machame route. Afterwards, Lemosho follows the same route through Lava Tower, Barranco and Barafu, known as the southern circuit. It is fully catered camping only

Duration:6- 8 days based on experience

Advantages:

  • Less crowded on the first days.

  • Very scenic.

  • High summit success rate

  • Good for acclimatization, especially on the longer itineraries

Disadvantages:

  • Higher cost.

  • Higher difficulty level.

  • Meets the Machame trail, hence very busy on the later days.

Rongai Route


Also known as the Nalemuru route. Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for days before joining the Marangu route at Kibo camp. Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.Rongai is the only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north.

Duration: 5 or 6 days

Advantages:

  • The easiest Kilimanjaro route.

  • One of the quieter routes on Kilimanjaro.

  • Approaches the mountain from the driest side, best chances of good weather.

  • Ascent and descent are on opposite sides, you see both sides of Kilimanjaro. (You descend on the Marangu route.)

  • Offers a true wilderness experience on the early stages of the climb

Disadvantages:

  • Higher cost due to additional travel to reach the other side.

  • Considered somewhat less scenic.

  • Very tough final summit night from the north

Umbwe Route


Of all the routes, Umbwe is by far the most scenic albeit steeper route up the mountain.This route is not used much. Umbwe route is only suitable for people with mountain climbing experience and who are already well adapted to the altitude.

Duration: 5 - 6 days.

Advantages:

  • Very  quiet

  • Very short route

Disadvantages:

  • Very Steep

  • lower success rate

  • Poor acclimatization because of rapid ascent

Northern Circuit Route


The Northern Circuit is the newest route up Kilimanjaro and also the longest. It takes a minimum of 8 days to complete but most operators offer the 9 day option. Because of its length, the Northern Circuit has the highest summit success rate. The route follows the same as the Lemosho Route for the first two days and then veers off to circle around the quieter northern slopes to the east side of the mountain.Northern Circuit approaches the summit via Gilman's Point before descending on the same route as the Machame and Lemosho.

Duration: 8-9 Days

Advantages:

  • Good for acclimatization

  • Beautiful scenery from the western approach

Disadvantages:

  • Longest route up Kilimanjaro

Mweka Route


This is not a climb route, it is only used for descent. You will follow it if climbing Kilimanjaro on the Machame, Shira, Lemosho or Umbwe route.

Kilimanjaro Climbing Itineraries