Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes

2024-07-11 | Published By: Bold Himalaya

Why Climb Kilimanjaro?

It is an iconic mountain

Furthermore, Mount Kilimanjaro is not only the highest peak in Africa but also a single free-standing mountain on earth. It is also a part of the Seven Summits. With a summit rising to 5,895 meters above sea level that always has snow on it.

The magnificence of Kilimanjaro never fades, of three volcanic cones Mawenzi and Shira being dormant altars to Kibo. So two other major extinct volcanoes - Mawenzi and Shira collapsed, forming the beautiful caldera of the mountain. Kibo, the highest of these cones, is said to be an extinct cone thought likely not to shoot up again one day. This is an article When this super-volcano erupts (last eruption was 360,000 years ago) the human era will come to...

Easiest among the seven summits

They are the highest points on each of the seven continents. Oh, and these peaks are the Seven Summits. Quite a few of you want to climb the Seven Summit, but where do you begin? It includes Kilimanjaro which is the easiest of them all thus a great place to start. We do not even climb. No need for ropes or mountaineering experience. It is a walkable mountain.

Encounter Fascinating Wildlife

You then have the chance to see some of the word's most beautiful animals, as if having stunning views and an exhilarating experience was not enough! Being at an altitude level equal to that we find nearer the poles, Kilimanjaro hosts a number of life forms which is very unusual for so high up in equatorial atmosphere around 140 species of mammal exist on it over thirty percent coming down seasonally from Kenya and massive numbers of birds live there plus one unique type flora other than much grassland common elsewhere are adapted mountane heath area famous tree (see Mweka gate notes) If you are nature-enthusiast then for sure it is going to be a lifetime experience!

Proper Infrastructure for Tourism

Tanzania is a robust tourism country as well. It offers some breath-taking hotels you can camp in, ground transportation and gear rental units. This is another way that climbing Kilimanjaro differentiates itself from the Seven Summits of Mount Vinson and Denali (coming soon) in how logistically it makes things easier on you.

Kilimanjaro is situated in Tanzania close, to the Equator and in the hemisphere. It is conveniently located near the Serengeti plains and various safari parks. Due to its proximity to these attractions Kilimanjaro International Airport receives flights from Europe and the Middle East making it easily accessible, for travelers.

Clean mountain trail

With the number of visitors, on Kilimanjaro the mountain stays remarkably free of litter. Park rangers carefully check the weight of every bag brought up and, down the mountain as at each campsite. Trekking companies face penalties for underweight bags leading to a decrease, in littering along the trail. With seven trails leading to the summit and no roads Kilimanjaro has managed to preserve its beauty despite the high number of visitors. Additionally the use of water bottles is prohibited on the mountain.

One of the seven wonders of the world

Kilimanjaro is arguably one of the greatest natural wonders in the world. It is very close to the Equator and a mountain that is covered with snow. At its base are rich rainforests. Huge grasslands of exotic animals also surround it. Climbing Kilimanjaro is like walking from an equator down to North Pole within a few days. Everyday is an adventure as both a climb and dramatic changes in vegetation and animal life. Kilimanjaro is also, “An island in the sky.” Strange and unique life forms only found on few other peaks can be found at its high altitudes. These include delicate elephant flowers or weird groundsel trees. Additionally, it’s the tallest free-standing mountain in the World; not being part of a mountain range, instead, it rises like Olympus over the Serengeti.

Climate research location

Kilimanjaro is a great place to look at for climate change studies. An Inconvenient Truth featured pictures of rapidly receding glaciers in the country. Everything is fine for now, you can see how far the ice has retreated if you view from cores demonstrate glaciers at 11,700 years old—but they will not exist twenty or thirty years down the road. Scientists on the ice aim to capture what this phenomenon is and why it occurs. “Stand beside the ice-front and you see it turning into vapour in front of your eyes,” one scientist told me Xpedition Online provides youth with the chance to trek up Kilimanjaro, virtually guided by climate scientists.

Opportunities for good photography

Mount Kilimanjaro is a haven, for photography enthusiasts and nature admirers. It presents landscapes, plant life and captivating wildlife. Whether your goal is to photograph animals, flora or magnificent views Mount Kilimanjaro provides it all – no editing required.

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes

There are seven known routes, on Mount Kilimanjaro that take you to the top, Uhuru Peak. One of these routes begins on the mountains side while the others start on the side. 

They are:

Northern Circuit Route

Lemosho Route

Umbwe Route

Shira Route

Machame Route (“Whiskey” Route)

Rongai Route

Marangu Route (“Coca-Cola” Route)

Best route to climb Kilimanjaro

When planning your ascent of Kilimanjaro it's important to consider six factors to determine the best and most suitable route, for your climb, up the mountain.

  • Acclimatization
  • Difficulty of the summit night
  • Crowdedness of the route
  • Accommodation options
  • Safety perspective
  • Success rate

Based on Acclimatization

When ascending to altitudes it's crucial to remember the rule; hike, at higher elevations during the day and descend to lower levels for sleep. Adhering to this principle reduces the likelihood of altitude sickness. Enhances your chances of reaching the summit. For acclimatization on Kilimanjaro consider choosing routes, like Machame and Lemosho as they naturally facilitate a pattern of walking high during the day and sleeping low at night.

Based on the difficulty of the summit night

The only Grinder nights are on the Rongai and Marangu routes: must reach all night trail with summit of Kilimanjaro to North, very different party Uhuro ten times than 2 hours insane pettyfertherapy. To reach the crater at Stellar Point and avoid this, one hour trek from summit is best onlif Machame, Lemosho routes are used in climbing Kilimanjaro. One additional hour in a very long arse day is usually what breaks the camel´s back out.

Based on the crowdedness of the route

There are a lot of climbers that will be on the mountain depending on how busy it is during certain times in the year and even going into consideration for what day out of the week you climb, so yeah if Firost wanting to have ambition control over getting more alone time with air then your best bet In climbing Mt Kilimanjaro would definitely be when taking thd Rongai route. It is also the North upstarting route that less climbers take than very popular southern routes.

Based on the availability of accommodation

If you're not a fan of camping the Marangu route up Kilimanjaro is the option where you won't have to pitch a tent. Just keep in mind that the huts, along this route are quite basic and can get noisy.

Based on the safety of the route

For all routes, excluding the Arrow Point route, we assume that they are safe for anyone who takes them in a smart manner. On the other hand, climbing on the Arrow Point route is not allowed due to unmanageable risk of falling rocks . This is absolutely not the right path to ascend Mt.Kilimanjaro.

Based on the summit success rate

The effective way to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro with a success rate is, by taking the 9 day Northern Circuit route followed by the 8 day Lemosho route and then the 7 day Machame route. This sequence allows for acclimatization and a manageable summit night.

Detailed Explanation of Each Route

Marangu Route

The Marangu Route, a... so-called "Coca-Cola" route, is another standard path for those climbing Mount Kilimanjaro that because of its well-trodden track and huts used as accommodation. Climbers ascend through lush rainforest from Marangu Gate at 1,870 meters (6,135 feet) to Mandara Hut. The second day will be the climb to Horombo Hut - for acclimatization and views of Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. The hiking trail then heads through the alpine desert to Kibo Hut, where prospects will spend another evening before making their final ascent.

From midnight the summit push starts and heads up towards Gilman's Point on the crater rim, before reaching Uhuru Peak at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). From the summit, a descent continues via Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate where you have an opportunity of rest. Marangu Route (5-6 days) - best balance steep terrain and some of the most comfortable huts at night.

A typical itinerary of this route includes 

Day 1: Marangu Gate to Mandara Hut

Day 2: Mandara Hut to Horombo Hut

Day 3: Horombo Hut to Kibo Hut

Day 4: Kibo Hut (Summit night)

Day 5: Kibo Hut to Horombo Hut

Day 6: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate

How Challenging is Marangu Route?

This is one of the most common trekking routes and every year a lot of beginners try to climb it, because on this route there are beased live in comfortable lodges (as opposed to camps). As several people claimed, this trail is considered to be more easy than all other ways leading towards the top of Kilimanjaro.

How long is the Marangu Route?

Distance: 82km or For Marangu Route, it is approximately 50 miles.

What is the success rate?

The success rate of 6-day rolling average is at 90%. Success rate 60%, if you do it in 5 days.

Machame Route

The Machame Route, also known as the Whiskey route is considered one of the picturesque and occasionally demanding paths on Mount Kilimanjaro. Your journey commences, at Machame Gate (1,800 meters). Meanders through a tropical rainforest before reaching the captivating Shira Plateau. On the day climbers advance towards Shira Camp crossing the Shira Plateau. A high altitude desert offering views. Subsequently the trail descends to Barranco Camp via Lava Tower serving as an acclimatization stop. Climbers then tackle the Barranco Wall, a scramble offering vistas. Following Karanga Camp hikers traverse rugged terrain to reach Barafu Hut – a starting point for their push, towards Uhuru Peak.

The summit push begins around midnight, taking hikers to Stella Point on the crater rim to then Uhuru Peak - Africa's highest point at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). Climbers then descend down to Barafu Camp, where they can rest before heading further downhill to Mweka Camp and ultimately ending at Mweka Gate. The Machame Route (6-7 days) offers a rich landscape to the mountain and often recommend by professionals.

A typical itinerary of this route includes

Day 1: Start from Machame Gate and hike to Machame Camp

Day 2: Hike to Shira Camp

Day 3: Hike to Barranco Camp

Day 4: Hike to Karanga Camp

Day 5: Hike to Barafu Camp

Day 6: Drop to Mweka Camp

Day 7: Hike back to Mweka Gate

How challenging is the Machame Route?

The Machame route is known to be a hike featuring diverse terrain and changes, in elevation along the way. Its considered one of the paths to Mount Kilimanjaro because of its rocky sections and the climb up the Barranco Wall.

What is the length of the Machame Route?

The total distance covered on the Machame Route is 62 km or 37 miles from start to finish including both the ascent to the summit and descent to Mweka gate.

What is the typical success rate of reaching the peak using the Machame Route? While exact numbers are not available guides generally mention an 85% success rate, for a 7 day hike and a 73% success rate, for a 6 day hike.

Lemosho Route

Because of its longer acclimatization period, the Lemosho Route is famous for stunning scenery and higher success rates. It begins at Londorossi Gate (2,200 meters/7,218 feet) and goes through the dense rainforest to Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) Camp. The next day climbers hike up to Shira Plateau where they spend the night in Shira 1 Camp and continue to Shira 2 Camp for panoramic views of the mountain. Then it proceeds to Lava Tower which is a crucial point for acclimatization before descending down to Barranco Camp. Next comes the crossing of Barranco Wall that offers dramatic views leading into Karanga Camp. From there, hikers go straight towards Barafu camp, which is their base camp for this final ascent.

The summit attempt starts around midnight with a climb up to Stella Point on the crater rim and then on to Uhuru Peak – Africa’s highest point, elevated at approximately 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). After reaching the summit climbers descend back down to Barafu Camp where they rest before descending further down to Mweka Camp and ultimately Mweka Gate. Normally taking between seven and eight days for completion, the Lemosho route provides an extensive scenic journey with various landscapes ensuring appropriate time for acclimatization by all members of a climbing party.

A typical itinerary of this route includes

Day 1: Start from Londorossi Gate and hike to Mti Mkubwa Camp

Day 2: Hike to Shira 1 Camp

Day 3: Hike to Shira 2 Camp

Day 4: Hike to Barranco Camp

Day 5: Hike to Karanga Camp

Day 6: Hike to Barafu Camp

Day 7: Drop to Mweka Camp

Day 8: Return to Mweka Gate

How Hard Is the Lemosho Route

This is one of the easier routes up Kilimanjaro, with a longer itinerary than normal which allows for better acclimatization. However, hikers still must climb the Barranco Wall and steeply up summit night. While no technical climbing is necessary, a very high level of fitness will be needed.

How long is the Lemosho Route?

The total trekking distance of and the Lemosho route comes exactly to 71km or 43 miles.

Summit Success Rate of Lemosho Route?

All operators combined have an average success rate of at 90% for the 8 day trek and a slightly lower, though still quite good (85%) on the standard length route.

Shira Route

For the reason that Shira Route is not often used by climbers, it is a very beautiful and adventurous route. The trek starts from Londorossi Gate (2,200 meters/7,218 feet) with a drive to Morum gate (3,400 meters/11,154 feet), which marks the actual starting point. Passers follow the Shira Plateau through Shira 1 Camp where they are presented breathtaking view of Mount Meru and Savannah in a distance. On the next day trekkers go to Shira 2 Camp as they cross desert-like land at high altitude that gives panoramic views of Western Breach and Kibo Peak. From Shira 2, hikers take an upward climb towards Lava Tower which sits at 4,630 meters (15,190 feet) above sea level before dropping down to Barranco Camp. Also among rock features on this journey is the imposing Barranco Wall which provides magnificent views across Karanga Camps. Finally from here we head to Barafu Camp which serves as our base for summiting Mt Kilimanjaro. Starting at midnight and up to Stella Point located on the crater rim climbing proceeds up until Uhuru Peak that is Africa’s highest peak rising at an elevation of 5,895meters (19,345feet). Once climbers reach the top they make their way back, to Barafu Camp for a deserved rest before heading down to Mweka Camp and eventually reaching Mweka Gate. The Shira Route usually spans over 7 8 days allowing time for acclimatization and enjoying the landscapes, along the trek.

A typical itinerary of this route includes

Day 1: Start from Shira Gate and hike to Shira 1 Camp

Day 2: Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp

Day 3: Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp (Summit night)

Day 6: Barafu Camp to Mweka Camp

Day 7: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Can you trek the Shira Route on your own?

Once known as the Lemosho Route, then changes to Shira again in 2006 because one of their airstrips was moved out to western Tanzania and also due that with so many tour operators running on this route put a lot pressure onto it and too much traffic flow.

How long is the Shira Route?

Shira Route_length 56 km (35 miles).

Shira Route - Average Success Rate?

Shira Route success rate in summiting is about 85%

Rongai Route

With the Rongai Route, this is your gateway to trek Mount Kilimanjaro from the north side near Kenyan border providing an off-the-beaten-path with fewer people and a different feel of climbing Mt. This trek starts at the Rongai Gate (1,950 meters/6,398 feet) and wanders through forest for 5 hours to Simba camp. After breakfast, the one-day ascent takes you to Second Cave Camp with views of Kibo and the Eastern Ice fields on Kilimanjaro summit crater rim. And from there it goes to Kikelewa Camp through moorland with giant heather & lobelias. The route now enters the "Saddle," a grey and blurred lunar landscape between Kibo and Mawenzi peaks, climbing one of Kili's crowning glacial spires shouts to us not all is at it seems.

After a day of rest to get used to the altitude the trail leads across the Saddle, a landscape, between Mawenzi and Kibo towards Kibo Hut where climbers prepare for their push to the summit. The climb kicks off at midnight guiding hikers to Gilmans Point on the rim of the crater before reaching Uhuru Peak, which stands as Africas point at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). After conquering the summit climbers retrace their steps back to Kibo Hut. Then descend to Horombo Hut for a stay before heading towards Marangu Gate. The Rongai Route typically spans 6 7 days allowing for an ascent through ecosystems, along the way.

A typical itinerary of this route includes

Day 1: Start from Rongai Gate and hike to Simba Camp

Day 2: Simba Camp to Second Cave

Day 3: Second Cave to Kikelewa Camp

Day 4: Kikelewa Camp to Mawenzi Tarn Camp

Day 5: Mawenzi Tarn Camp to Kibo Hut (Summit night)

Day 6: Kibo Hut to Horombo Hut

Day 7: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate

Rongai Route is the simplest path to achieve Kilimanjaro?

Rongai Route - Easiest route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro The climb is gradual but consistently uphill. That said, the Rongai route does not have a very good climb high sleep low profile thus it can actually be more challenging than both Machame or Lemosho.

How long is the Rongai Route?

So, the Rongai Route goes 79km for a trekking distance or it is about 49 miles.

What is the success rate of reaching the summit via the Rongai Route?

On a 7 day trek the average success rate, for all operators is 80% while it stands at 65%, for a 6 day trek.

Northern Circuit Route

The longest and the most attractive, but least crowded of all Mount Kilimanjaro routes is Northern Circuit route. It is good for acclimatization and has different landscapes. The trek starts at Londorossi Gate (2,200 meters/7,218 feet) with a drive to the starting point at Lemosho Glades (2,200 meters/7,218 feet). From there, climbers ascend through a lively forest to Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) Camp. After that the course proceeds across Shira Plateau to Shira 1 and Shira 2 Camps which offer panoramic views of the mountain. From Shira2, the trail heads to Lava Tower for acclimatization before descending down to Moir Hut.

From this point, the track traverses the desolate northern slopes to Buffalo Camp and proceeds on up to Third Cave Camp that is scenically positioned. Hereon climbers will climb upon School Hut which is their base for the ultimate summit push. The process begins at around midnight and leads walkers towards Gilman’s Point on the crater rim before it continues down to Uhuru Peak, which is Africa’s highest point at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). After summiting, climbers descend directly down to Mweka Camp for an overnight stay before continuing down through Mweka Gate. On average Northern Circuit Route takes 9-10 days allowing for plenty of time for acclimatization and a lower population density making Kilimanjaro ecosystems more private.

A typical itinerary of this route includes

Day 1: Start from Londorossi Gate and hike to Mti Mkubwa Camp

Day 2: Mti Mkubwa Camp to Shira 1 Camp

Day 3: Shira 1 Camp to Moir Hut

Day 4: Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp

Day 5: Buffalo Camp to Third Cave Camp

Day 6: Third Cave Camp to School Hut (Summit night)

Day 7: School Hut to Mweka Camp

Day 8: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

How Hard is the Northern Circuit Route?

With its gentle gradient and lots of time to acclimatize, the Northern Circuit Route is one that might be done by those with moderate levels of fitness.

How Long is the Northern Circuit Route?

The Northern Circuit Route will cover about 90 km (56 miles).

Northern Circuit Route Summit Success Rate?

The Success Rate on Marangu is 85% of our climbers who attempt summit at Kibo.

Umbwe Route

For having one of the steeper and difficult ascents, Umbwe Route ranks among the toughest routes for climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro. From 1600 meters (5249 ft) at Umbwe Gate, climbers start with a steep uphill walk through dense rainforest to Umbwe Camps. The following day takes you to Barranco camp via the Southern Circuit here trekkers are awarded with magnificent sights of Breach Wall and Western Breach. From Barranco camp, the path follows the Barranco wall which is a challenging rock scramble providing panoramic views on reaching its top. Above Karanga Camp heights, Machame Route combines with it resulting in a gentle climb towards Barafu Camp where ascent begins from. Around Midnight people usually begin their final push ascending up to Stella Point at crater rim then Uhuru Peak which is highest point in Africa i.e., 5895 meters (19, 341 feet). Climbers descend back to Barafu camp for an overnight rest before descending down Mweka route to Mweka Camp and finally down to Mweka Gate. This trail generally takes around five or six days since it is shorter but more demanding than others in terms of physical endurance towards Kilimanjaro summit.

A typical itinerary of this route includes

Day 1: Start from Umbwe Gate and hike to Umbwe Camp

Day 2: Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp

Day 3: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Day 4: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp (Summit night)

Day 5: Barafu Camp to Mweka Camp

Day 6: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

How Hard is The Umbwe Route?.

INTRODUCTION: The Umbwe route is known for its caves, with mountaineers singing in the rain (which often surprises them!) and cascading waterfalls. This is quite hard work, mainly due to the rapid gain in height but there are rewards a plenty.

How long is the Umbwe Route?

Umber Route - Tiredness leads to THE END The actual trekking distance of the Umber route is 53 kms or 32 miles.

Umbwe Route Summit Success Rate

While exact statistics are not provided, the average success rate for all operators is 70%. But still, we climb to the summit at over 90% of attempts for Umbwe Route!