Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes Overview

Marangu Route Overview

It is named to be “The oldest route for Kilimanjaro Treks”. However, people call it “the Tourist Route” or “Coca Cola Route “. Of all routes up Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Marangu is said to be the easiest, cheapest and by far the most popular. Well, this may be justified by frequent trekkers. but as professionals, we wouldn’t advise you to slightly take it as an easy route. Every hiking needs hard work to get to the summit. Only one statement many trekkers would consider true: climbing Kilimanjaro on the Marangu route is the cheapest option. The Marangu route is not the most popular route any more. It has been out shined by the Machame Route and I disagree that the Marangu Route is the easiest. It can be the easiest trip to organise, have the widest, most relaxed path to walk-on and offers hut accommodation, but with all that said, it does NOT make it easier to reach the summit.

Machame Route Overview

To climb Mount Kilimanjaro on the Machame route could mean trekking in large group for Kiliventure Safaris. Since budget clients knew Machame, the traffic on the route has been ever growing. It soon overtook the Marangu Route as the most severely trafficked climb route on Mount Kilimanjaro.

The reason is not only the prices but, The Machame route is considered the most scenic route up Kilimanjaro. From our research in 2018, scenic facts may not be the reasons for popularity because both Shira Route and Lemosho route share the same path at some points. But it is correct to say Machame is the most beautiful Kilimanjaro route that you can climb on a budget. It facilitates the camping accommodation option other than Huts as compared to the Marangu Route. It is however considered a bit more difficult than the Marangu Route and Rongai Route, hence called “Whiskey Route”. It’s longer and frequently steeper on its hikes. It covers more ground and includes more ups and downs. It wears you out more, takes more energy, not more skill. But it offers great acclimatisation and a record of higher success rate than all.

Rongai Route Overview

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro through the Rongai route used to guarantee you and at some point, still is a quiet trek away from the crowds. The Rongai route is promoted as a remote wilderness experience and for much of the year it still is.

But watch out: over the last years Rongai has acquired a great popularity. If you climb Kilimanjaro using the Rongai route during the main season and your climb starts on the normal group departure day, you may find yourself in the middle of a big population. 

For that said, still, Rongai remains much softer than the common Machame/ Marangu paths. It also has numerous advantages that should make it one of your first picks:

  • Rongai is the easiest route up Kilimanjaro, in certain respects easier than Marangu. Rongai has excellent peak success rates.
  • Rongai is the single route that approaches Kilimanjaro starting from the north. You will descend via the Marangu Route on the southern side, so you get to see both sides of the Kilimanjaro mountain.
  • The northern side of Kilimanjaro is a lot drier. You are so unlikely to have gush through mud and drizzle on the first 2 days.

A disadvantage is that to get to the other side of Kilimanjaro you have to drive for a couple of hours, and that costs extra dollars. So, Rongai is more expensive than a 6 days trek on Machame or Marangu. On the first day, you will be trekking through fairly open country instead of the dense rainforest. But you’ll see the rainforest on your way down. Sure enough, you will not miss out anything.

Lemosho Route Overview

Kilimanjaro climbs via the Lemosho Route is a rather newer option, that quickly became popular once established. It has no difference of the Shira route. At some point in 2018, we even called it the Lemosho-Shira Route, because you walk across the Shira Plateau from both routes. The difference is on the first two to three days of the hike between the two routes.

The Lemosho Route is the most attractive Kilimanjaro route, from the first day to the last. The trek begins north of Shira, far on the western side of the mountain. Unlike the Shira Route, where for the first day you walk on a wide 4 WD road to start your trek other that starting with a direct walk from the gates.

Lemosho is a narrow wilderness trail right from the beginning, passing through perfect and remote rainforest with good chances of seeing wildlife. It then passes the Shira Plateau before joining the Machame Route near the Lava Tower.

Despite its growing popularity, mostly for our second time Kilimanjaro hikers, Lemosho sees a very low number of people. There is still a huge gap between Marangu Route and the Machame Route, the two being really crowded routes than all the rest. Lemosho is also a fairly demanding route as well, due to both the nature of the land and the duration of the trail however, it offers the best chances of any route to become accustomed to the altitude and with that much better summit chances for our clients.

Shira Route Overview

Hiking via the Shira Route needs time and money. The Shira trail start on the western side. (The other route beginning here is the Lemosho Route). These routes pass the Shira Plateau before meeting the Machame Route close to the “Lava Tower”.

An advantage of a longer route means a better chance to acclimatize to the altitude and better summit rate. The fact that you will climb this route with Kiliventure Safaris means your success chances are much higher than average.

The Shira Route is a bit different from all other Kilimanjaro Routes because it has a 4WD track elevation to 3500meters where you will drive up and begin your trek at a considerable altitude. The route surely has enough time to acclimatise during the later stages, though some people can develop altitude sickness symptoms at the lower altitudes but that shouldn’t scare you. It is an obvious symptom and many experience the same on the early days and our experienced guides know how to bring the conditions to normal.

We wouldn’t however advise our clients driving from sea level to a height above 3500 meters or 11500 feet the day after arriving in Tanzania. It is not the smartest thing to do, it’s better having a day off before taking this hike.


Umbwe Route Overview

The Umbwe Route is widely regarded as the hardest trail, a tough vertical slog through the jungle, the least used and the least crowded route on the Mount Kilimanjaro. For good reasons, it is also the most difficult route on the mountain. Umbwe is a steep, constant, straight climb to the top. Despite its reputation as the toughest trek, the Route is still a non-technical climb. All you need are an iron will and calves of steel because it is truly a trek to test your mettle.

Umbwe is mostly avoided because the ascent profile does not give climbers much time to acclimatise and adjust to the altitude. The success rate via this route is very low.

This route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is what we recommend. Having reached the Southern Circular Route, trekkers can continue north-west to tackle Kibo from the west and the difficult Arrow Glacier Route; or you can follow the Southern Circular Route east round to Barafu and approach the summit from there. The descent is down via Mweka, on the south-east side of the mountain. What interests many of our clients is that, Umbwe is not as scenically varied to Machame, Lemosho and Shira, because all the paths up and down are nearby.

The Umbwe is ideal for those who want a challenging climb, and are very confident in their ability trek over consistently steep slopes. Also, Umbwe is for those who are experienced at altitude and thus are confident that the punishing schedule of Umbwe will not impede their ability to adjust to altitude and acclimatization. Umbwe is also for those who want a private, quite and secluded hike to the summit of the African top.

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