Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes
There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent).
Each route has it’s own beauty. This quick summary may
help you decide which route to select!
The Marangu Route
The Marangu route is commonly known as the coca cola route as
it was the most popular route for several years. It has now been
relegated to number two by the Machame route. Its popularity stems
from the fact that it is the least expensive option, but more
so, perhaps because accomodation is in huts.
Low cost, accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed,
often considered the easiest route (we beg to differ!)
Lowest success rate (only about 65% of climbers on this route
reach the top), more crowded, camping is not allowed and a very
high increase in elevation on each day - increasing risk of succumbing
to altitude sickness.It’s the only route that uses the same
way up and down.
The Machame Route
The Machame route is one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro.
Machame is now the most popular Kilimanjaro route. This is a popular
route up steep paths through magnificent forests up to a ridge
which leads through the moorland zones to the Shira Plateau. It
then traverses beneath the glaciated precipices of the southern
ice fields to join the Barafu route to the summit.
Relatively low cost, a very scenic path and a higher success rate
Higher level of difficulty and quite busy in peak season.
The Rongai Route
The Rongai route is a relatively easy route up Kilimanjaro. It
has a reputation as a remote wilderness trail. Rongai is the only
route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north. The Rongai Route
is one of the least frequented routes and is the second easiest
route up 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; we take a longer route taking in
A relatively easy Kilimanjaro route and one of the quieter routes
on Kilimanjaro.You approach the mountain from the driest side
giving you the best chances of good weather.The ascent and descent
are on opposite sides so you experience both sides of Kilimanjaro.
Higher cost due to additional travel to reach other side,considered
less scenic than Machame.
The Shira Route
The Shira route, approaches Kilimanjaro from the west and crosses
the caldera of Shira Volcano before heading beneath the southern
ice fields of Kibo. The route is seldom used by other trekkers
and so your initial two days on the mountain are less crowded
than on most other routes.
Less crowded and very scenic
Higher cost, higher difficulty level and when it meets the Machame
trail it can get busy during the high season
The Lemosho Route
Remote and beautiful, but long and expensive, this route also
approaches Kilimanjaro across the Shira plateau. After beautiful
forests and moorlands it crosses the Shira Plateau to meet up
with the Machame Route. 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.
Extremely scenic route with very few other climbers during the
first few days. There is plenty of time for acclimatization and
consequently a high likelihood of reaching the summit.
High cost and a slightly higher difficulty level than the
Machame route.When the the route meets the Machame and Shira trails,
it may become crowded on the last few days during peak season.
The Umbwe Route
The steepest Kilimanjaro route with scenic views, the Umbwe route
is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the
Western Breach. It is probably the most scenic, non-technical
route on Kilimanjaro. It is quite taxing, primarily due to the
relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are
plentiful. This route is rarely used. The Umbwe route is only
suitable for people with mountain climbing experience.