There are at least six different routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Thus, choosing the best route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro might be a tough choice. Especially because this can be your only trip to Tanzania in this lifetime. And what is best to you may not be the best for others! Keeping things in mind, we have prepared a detailed description of each of the routes to climb Kilimanjaro.
|Lemosho Route – 8 Days||High||Low||90%||Highly Recommended|
|Marangu Route – 8 Days||Moderate||High||95%||Not Recommended|
|Northern Circuit Route – 10 Days||High||Low||90%||Highly Recommended|
|Machame Route – 8 days||High||High||95%||Good To Explore|
|Rongai Route||Moderate||Low||95%||Okay To Explore|
All routes to Mount Kilimanjaro have different starting point, but every trail eventually converges as you reach closer to the Uhuru Peak. But, you decide which route on Kilimanjaro is best for you! Choosing the best route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is vital for a gratifying adventure trip.
Choosing the Best Route to Climb Kilimanjaro
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And choosing the best route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is crucial to making the most of your experience. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time climber, there is one best route that will suit your needs and abilities. So in this article, we will explore the different routes to climb to the summit of Africa’s highest peak, and help choosing the best route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro climb. The following are the six different routes you wish to choose to climb to the top of Africa’s highest mountain peak:
1. Lemosho Route
The most recommended trail for Kilimanjaro Climb
Distance: 42 miles/ 68km
Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route is one of the newest trails that obviously lead hikers to climb to the top. In fact, this path has been derived from the Kilimanjaro Shira route. Lemosho starts from the west at Londorossi Gate and treks through the rain forest to Shira 1 Camp, while in Shira route trekkers take a bus to Shira Gate, bypassing this walk. The trail then crosses Shira Ridge to Shira Camp and finally merges with the Machame route near Lava Tower. Lemosho circuit can however be effective to avoid crowds from the Machame route for the initial phase of the climb.
After starting from Londorossi Gate, you will initially spend your first night at Big Tree Camp gaining less altitude. So, the Kilimanjaro Lemosho route offers better acclimatization. And also, the descent is made from the Mweka route.
On the first two days, you will be initially walking through the remote rainforest with spectacular views of mystifying gorges and have a chance of seeing the exotic wildlife. Nevertheless, the Lemosho route, with its best panoramic views, is considered one of the best routes to climb Kilimanjaro, in terms of beauty.
Before you decide: Lemosho can be demanding due to the nature of the terrain and the short duration of the climb. With less traffic, beautiful views, and higher success rates, Himalayan Glacier ultimately recommends the Kilimanjaro Lemosho route.
2. Marangu Route
The easiest path to climb Kilimanjaro
Distance: 38 miles / 61 km
The Mt. Kilimanjaro Marangu Route, popularly known as the Coca-Cola route, is the oldest and considered the easiest path for Kilimanjaro hike. It is trendy among trekkers and also gets the name ‘Tourist Route’. In terms of difficulty, it is definitely the best route to climb Kilimanjaro because it is the easiest one. Most hikers feel Marangu is the best route, especially because it is an easy walk and climb.
This course approaches the mountain from the southeast, with a direct path and gradual slope. There are permanent sleeping huts available at campsites and travelers are supplied with a mattress and pillow. Owing to the ease of travel and comfort, the path is well established and considered to be one of the best!
Before you decide: Marangu route has a less scenic path because the climb and descent are done via the same trail. So, this is also the most crowded route.
Due to high traffic and less diversity of scenery, we normally do not recommend this route. However, Marangu Circuit can be your choice if you are traveling in the rainy season to avoid crowds during Mount Kilimanjaro Climb. Sleeping in huts can help you avoid wet ground at least during the night.
Due to high traffic and less diversity of scenery, we normally do not recommend this route; it is definitely not the best route. However, Marangu Circuit can be your best choice if you are traveling in the rainy season to avoid crowds during Mount Kilimanjaro Climb. Sleeping in huts can help you avoid wet ground at least during the night.
3. Northern Circuit
One of the best and the newest official route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Distance: 60 miles / 97 km
The Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route is the newest official route to summit Uhuru Peak. Offering almost 360 degrees of scenic vistas, the path ventures into the remote northern slopes.
The Northern Circuit initially follows the Lemosho Route but deviates north before the Lava Tower, into the quiet and rarely visited northern parts of the mountain. Finally, it approaches Uhuru Peak via Gilman’s Point. The length of the tour offers the best acclimatization.
The trail is relatively difficult, but the best route to climb Kilimanjaro for regular trekkers and adventure seekers. The remote path means fewer travelers and exotic views.
Before you decide: Hiking via Northern Circuit route takes more days than other routes due to hard climb in the remote trail.
4. Machame Route
The most popular trail amongst all other Kilimanjaro Routes
Distance: 38 miles / 61 km
The Kilimanjaro Machame Route is the most popular trail amongst trekkers, and some consider it to be the best climb. The trail is often referred to as the ‘Whiskey Route’. Machame circuit also falls as one of the difficult routes and is best suitable for adventurous people who love to climb; and yes, with some backpacking experience.
The Kilimanjaro Machame route is not technically hard, but it is more strenuous. It requires climbing steeper ridges while crossing many valleys. So, the walks are longer as compared to other routes.
The trip starts at Machame Gate, on the southern side, and follows through rain forests to the Shira Plateau. Many of the trails to Kilimanjaro converges at this plateau. The Machame circuit then traverses to Southern Ice Fields maintaining best scenic views throughout. The summit is done from Barafu Point.
Before you decide: Popular for its wonderful trails, the Machame circuit attracts a huge crowd every year which might dampen your experience. The course is relatively difficult as well.
5. Rongai Route
The least crowded route to summit Uhuru Peak
Distance: 45 miles / 72 km
The Kilimanjaro Rongai Route is one of the few paths to Uhuru Peak recommended to travelers with less trekking or backpacking experience. Rongai Circuit starts from the northern side maintaining a view of the wonderful plains of Kenya for the initial part of the trip. In terms of wonderful views and beginner-hikes, this is perhaps the best route to climb Kilimanjaro.
The route passes from the unexploited wilderness, but the scene is not varied, so not probably the best for beautiful landscapes. However, the descent is made from the Marangu trail, so the travelers get to see both sides of the mountain.
The camps are well-positioned in this course. On the day before the summit, you only trek for a couple of hours and gain less altitude. This allows you an entire afternoon to rest and acclimatize. Due to better acclimatization and a low number of trekkers, you can use the Rongai route as the best alternative to the Marangu route.
The mountain receives low precipitation to the northern side. The Rongai Circuit can also be your optimal choice if you plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro during the rainy season.
Before you decide: Rongai route, as compared to other trails, does not provide diversity in habitats and scenery during the summit. The descent is made from the Marangu route so you are likely to encounter crowds during your descent.
6. Umbwe Route
The shortest and most challenging path to Mount Kilimanjaro
Distance: 32 miles/ 51 km
The Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route is the most difficult trail to ascent the Uhuru Peak. The path is a short and direct climb uphill. The route passes through the forests and a steep trail that ascends directly up a narrow valley to the Barranco Camp.
Since the path is very steep, it requires the trekkers to gain a lot of altitude in a short amount of time. Umbwe circuit does not provide adequate time for acclimatization. This route is only recommended for regular adventure travelers. It is perhaps the best route for them up to the summit of Kilimanjaro.
This route on Kilimanjaro is ideally used by native guides, porters, and medical team to deliver supplies to Barranco Camp or to rescue sick travelers and get them to lower altitude quickly. And it could be the best route to climb Kilimanjaro for the adventure extremists.
Before you decide: Challenging path means very low traffic. So, if you do have previous experience of mountain climbing or backpacking, this path will offer you the zeal of climbing Kilimanjaro. Do keep in mind that the route has a comparatively low success rate.
Choosing the Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro
The best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is during the dry seasons of January to February and June to October when the weather is clear, dry and the trails are less crowded. The shoulder seasons of March to May and November can also be a good time to climb, but it’s important to note that these months can be more prone to rain and storms.
The best time to climb Mount Kilimanjaro also depends on the route you plan to take. It is always recommended to check the current weather conditions and trail conditions before planning the trip.
Ultimately, with the right preparation, planning and timing, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be an unforgettable experience. Choose the best time to climb that suits your preferences and plan accordingly.
Word of advice
for choosing the best route to climb Kilimanjaro
You will need to consider your:
- Physical and mental conditions
- Previous trekking experiences
- Travel schedule
- Travel budget
….. and pick the route on Kilimanjaro that best suits your need.
Each circuit has its advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right route can be a baffling task for you. Apart from selecting the best route to climb Kilimanjaro, there are various things you need to consider during Mount Kilimanjaro, such as deciding on the duration of the climb, getting medication, and vaccinations.
So, if you feel like your travel itinerary is getting out of hand, you can always contact Himalayan Glacier Adventure Travel’s specialists, who can help plan a tailored-made Kilimanjaro trip for you.
Amedeus Cyril Maro is dedicated to his work as a trekking guide having good communication, interpretation and leadership skills. He is a great entertainer and has led trekkers from around the world to Mt. Kilimanjaro and Tanzania’s other peaks numerous times.