Kilimanjaro climbing routes
There are seven established routes that lead to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. They are: Lemosho, Machame, Marangu, Rongai, Northern Circuit, Shira and Umbwe. There’s also a descent-only route called the Mweka route.
Each of the seven Kilimanjaro routes has its own pros and cons, like cost, scenic variety and summit success rate. Each should therefore be thoroughly researched in order to make an informed and educated choice.
Which is the best Kilimanjaro route?
Kilipeak Adventure we prefer the quieter, lesser-traveled camping routes of Rongai, Lemosho, Machame and the newer Northern Circuit. We like these routes because they’re beautiful and varied, and don’t require you to descend along the same path. They also enjoy high summit success rates, and of course we want our climbers to enjoy standing at the summit! We believe these are the best routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. However, we do offer climbs on all main routes on the mountain.
We recommend taking longer duration climbs such as the 8 days Lemosho or 9 days Northern Circuit as these routes will give you the highest chance of successfully summiting. In addition to the additional time spent acclimatizing, the added days shorten the daily hiking distances reserving more of your energy for the summit hike.
The seven Kilimanjaro routes.
What are the best routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro? whether it is your first time climbing Kilimanjaro or whether you have climbed many other mountains, we have the best climbing route for you. We encourage you to select the route that best suits you- and make the most of your comfort and increase the chance of success to the top.
Kilimanjaro Rongai Route.
The Rongai route is the only route that approaches the summit from the northern side of the mountain, near the Kenyan border. It’s one of the least crowded of the seven Kilimanjaro routes.
It’s recommended to do the seven-day itinerary (as opposed to the six-day itinerary) as the topography of this trail doesn’t afford many opportunities to ‘climb high, sleep low. The seven-day itinerary includes an acclimatization day at Mawenzi Tarn Camp, which gives your body time to adjust to the higher elevation. Acclimatization is important in allowing you to reach the summit.
Kilimanjaro Shira Route.
The Shira route is one of the older Kilimanjaro routes and is very similar to the Lemosho route. The only differences between them are the trail walked on the first couple of days, and that the starting point of the Shira is higher. In fact, the Lemosho route can be considered the ‘new-and-improved version of the Shira route.
The Shira route approaches the summit of Kilimanjaro from the west, starting at Morum Barrier. It starts relatively high above sea level and is, therefore, a less frequented route as it offers a poorer acclimatization profile. The route requires you to camp. The trek through Shira is available from a Six, Seven, and Eight days program.
Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route.
The Lemosho route is one of the newest Kilimanjaro routes. It was introduced as an alternative to the Shira route, which starts at a higher and therefore more challenging altitude. In light of its versatility, gorgeous scenery, and rather untouched, wild start to the climb, the Lemosho is considered the route with the most variety. This route can be completed in seven or eight days
Kilimanjaro Machame Route.
The second most popular option among the climbers is the Machame route, also known as “the Whiskey Route”. This route offers a wide variety of views, landscapes, and experiences. Located on the southern slope of Mt Kilimanjaro, Machame Gate will lead you to the top of Kilimanjaro along the exciting footpath which starts at the tropical forest, then runs through all the climate zones and finishes with the Arctic desert in the summit area.
Camps along the trek are favorably located for a smooth and gradual acclimatization transition process. On the 3rd day, Machame Route converges with Lemosho and Umbwe at Barranco camp.
You can choose between a six or seven-day climb. The latter one is highly preferred for a better acclimatization transition.
Kilimanjaro Marangu Route.
Marangu is one of the oldest and most popular Kilimanjaro routes. It’s sometimes called the Coca-Cola route because you stay in huts. The Marangu route approaches the summit from the southeast of the mountain. Overall it’s a relatively easy route, having very few steep climbs. But its acclimatization profile is mediocre, as it doesn’t allow much time for acclimatization. Fewer people, therefore, make it to the top when you look at its summit success rate compared with those of the other routes. This route can be completed in Five or Six days
Kilimanjaro Umbwe Route.
The Umbwe route has a reputation for being the most challenging route on Kilimanjaro. And rightly so. It’s the shortest and steepest of the Kilimanjaro routes and accordingly has a poor acclimatization profile. For this reason, its summit success rate is low and it’s one of the least used trails on the mountain. The Umbwe approaches the summit from the south and camping is the only available accommodation option. Pre-acclimatisation is recommended for those who choose to trek this route.
The trek through Umbwe is available only as a 6-day program. Recommended only to experienced hikers in good physical shape.
Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit Route.
The Northern Circuit route is the longest and newest of the seven established Kilimanjaro routes. It’s one of the best routes because of its great acclimatization profile, high summit success rate, stunning views, and comparatively relaxed pace. It’s also much less crowded than the other Kilimanjaro routes. Simply put, it’s one of the best ways to experience the roof of Africa.
It takes at least nine days to climb Kilimanjaro through the Northern Circuit which is why the route boasts a very high success rate.