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The Best Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes – Stepping Stones Of Ascension!


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There are in total seven Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes that you can make use of for Climbing Kilimanjaro. Each of them has their unique identity as well as pros and cons. Landing on which route to take for your hiking adventure depends upon certain considerations.

This includes aspects such as your mountain climbing experience, acclimatization considerations, and what you’d like to experience overall. This post will shed light on the major Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes so that you can decide which one is suitable for your climb.

Marangu Route – Classic Path to Kilimanjaro

Marangu Route

Also referred to as the tourist or Coca-Cola Route, because of its popularity and the fact that Coca-Cola used to be sold in the huts along the trail. This is one of the easiest Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes, following a steady and gradual terrain until the last night when the incline increases significantly.

  • One major drawback that most will notice about Kilimanjaro Marangu Route is that it has a low success rate.
  • This is because the five-day itinerary doesn’t allow for adequate acclimatisation.
  • It’s also the only Kilimanjaro route that uses the same trail both up and down the mountain. Thus, you should expect it to be busier than the other routes.
  • Moreover, the Marangu Route is also the only route with dormitory huts along the way and camping is not permitted.

Hence, if you don’t want to camp for a whole week on Kilimanjaro, then going for the Marangu Route is the best choice.

Distance: 70 km/ 5-6 Days

Machame Route – Scenic and Adventurous Trail

Machame Route

The Mt Kilimanjaro Machame Route is widely regarded to be the most beautiful with scenic surroundings and a rich varied terrain. Thus, it comes as no surprise that it is a very popular Kilimanjaro Route. Some figures show that over 20,000 people climb Kilimanjaro via the Machame Route.

  • The only downfall of the Machame Route is its popularity – as it can get crowded during the peak climbing season.
  • The acclimatisation profile of this route is also ideal, utilising the concept known as the climb high sleep low most effectively.
  • Machame Route approaches the mountain from the south and has a relatively high success rate. This is especially true for climbers who pick the seven-day climbing itinerary.
  • There are no huts along the route so camping is the only option.’

Note – There’s also a 6-day itinerary for the Machame Route though it’s not advised for first-time climbers due to the reduced amount of time for acclimatisation.

Distance: 61 km/6-7 Days

Lemosho Route – Remote and Serene Journey

The Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route is often labelled as the Kilimanjaro Climbing Route possessing the most variety. One of the most unique things about this route is that it offers the experience of Climbing Kilimanjaro across the Shira Plateau, one of the largest high-altitude plateaus on the globe.

  • This route approaches the mountain from the western side.
  • The acclimatisation profile of the Lemosho Route is great as well, with an important focus on the climb high sleep low chance during the middle of the ascent.
  • In terms of accommodation, camping is your only choice on the Lemosho Route.

Most climbers complete the Lemosho Route in seven days, though if the need comes the trek can be extended by one day to give you a little longer to acclimatise.

Distance: 67 km/7-8 Days

Rongai Route – Tranquil and Less Crowded

Rongai Route

The Rongai Route on Kilimanjaro is essentially one long hike with a very gentle slope and a low difficulty level. It’s the only Kilimanjaro Route that approaches the mountain from the south and is less frequently climbed. Only around 4,000 people use this route to climb Kilimanjaro each year.

  • During the ascent, you will get to witness beautiful sights to the north.
  • Plus, you can also see some large animals from a distance in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, which dominates the northern plain of the mountain.
  • The moorland and rainforest climatic zones are very beautiful and you can also camp directly below the Mawenzi Peak for one night.

Key Note – The Rongai Route is similar to the Marangu Route in that any climb high sleep low opportunities are absent. Thus, it is advised to choose the seven-day itinerary than the six-day one. This is because it will give you a vital extra day to get accustomed to the increasing altitude.

Distance – 74 km/ 6-7 Days

Shira Route – High Starting Ascension Point

Shira Route

The Shira Route is kind of similar to the Lemosho Route except that its starting point is much higher. To reach the starting point of the trail, you will have to endure a lengthy drive that lasts about half a day. Plus, you’ll also sleep up at 3,500 metres on the very first night too.

  • Starting your climb at this high of an altitude means that you’ll inadvertently increase the risk of developing altitude sickness because you didn’t ease your body into the gain in elevation.
  • But, if you plan on taking the Shira Route a pre-acclimatisation trek is recommended (Mount Meru is a great choice for this).
  • Like most of the other Routes up Kilimanjaro the Shira Route also involves camping accommodations throughout.

Distance – 58 km/6-7 Days

Final Look at Kilimanjaro’s Routes

Now that we’ve gone over each of the major Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes, let’s have a refresher and see the different characteristics of each route again.

MaranguModerateForests, Moorlands, Rocky PathsHigh5-6 DaysComfortable Huts, Scenic Views
MachameChallengingRainforests, Shira PlateauHigh6-7 DaysVaried Landscapes
LemoshoModerateRainforests, Shira PlateauMedium7-8 DaysRemote and less crowded, Diverse Flora
RongaiModerateRugged Terrains, Alpine DesertMedium6-7 DaysOffers Panoramic Views, Wildlife Sightings
ShiraChallengingRainforests, Shira PlateauLow6-7 DaysGreat Acclimatisation, Diverse Landscapes

Unforgettable Steps to Summit Success!

The best Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes serve as stepping stones of ascension, leading adventurers to the pinnacle of Africa’s highest peak. From the picturesque Machame Route to the challenging Lemosho Route, each trail has its set of rewards. Kilimanjaro’s routes are waiting to test your courage and reward you with some distinctive vistas.

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