Mt Kilimanjaro Trekking Routes

Mount Kilimanjaro is not only the gem of Tanzania, but it is also Africa’s badge. At 5895 metres (19,340 ft) asl, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and one of the highest volcano mountains in the world.

The allure of climbing Kili, as it is popularly called, attracts trekkers and climbers from every corner of the world all year round. Most routes up Kili are non-technical, meaning any relatively fit person can trek up the mountain to the summit without technical mountaineering equipment or experience.

Kilimanjaro has two main peak areas: Kibo, the flat-topped, Ice capped dome and Mawenzi a group of jagged rocks and protrusions on the eastern side. At the top of Kibo is a huge crater which cannot be seen from below.

The highest point on Kibo is Uhuru Peak followed by Gilman’s point and then Stella point. Mawenzi is dangerous and open to technical mountaineers only.

Mt Kilimanjaro Trekking Routes

There are seven routes on Mount Kilimanjaro.  Of the seven, six – Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe are for ascending and descending. The seventh, Mweka is descent only. There is also the Northern circuit, although this is yet to be officially designated as a route. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe route all approach from the south of the mountain. The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north.

Marangu Route

It is Christened the Coca Cola route or the Tourist route because it offers accommodation in huts. Most day hikers with little intent of reaching the summit use this route. As such it can get crowded. The summit can be reached in 4 days on this route.
See Itinerary for details

Machame Route

The Machame route is the most popular and successful route leading to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Accommodation is in tents that are carried up the mountain by porters. The Machame route is scenic and one can see the mountain all the way. It can be completed in 6 days. A 7th the day may be added just before the base camp to all allows time to acclimatise adequate time to recover before the summit night. The key to the success of the Machame route is its topography, allowing hikers to climb high and sleep low, helping towards better acclimatisation. There are however two drawbacks on this route:
Firstly hikers will need to pass an area just before the Shira ridge and hike the Barranco Wall, both of which are physically demanding and also present a potential problem for hikers with a fear of heights.
The second problem relates to the route’s high success rate, compounded by the fact that other routes join the Machame route from day 3 onwards – higher numbers of hikers can be therefore be encountered on this route.
Trekkers on this route descend through the Mweka route.
See Itinerary for details

Lemosho Route

Lemosho Route is a very beautiful and unspoilt route and sightings of wild game in the forest section is possible. The route is relatively new compared to the others but the number of climbers on this route has increased rapidly. We now consider this a busy route especially after joining Machame route at Shira2 on the 3rd day of the hike.

The route is suitable for those seeking a longer and scenic route Typically this route is done as a 7 or 8-day trek. Lemosho route has the same excellent pro-acclimatization features of the Machame route, which it joins just before reaching Lava Tower.
See Itinerary for details

Shira Route

Shira Plateau is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions you can drive by 4 wheel drive vehicles, to within a 2 hours walk of Shira Hut (3840masl).

The drive is spectacular and offers a magnificent view of Mt Meru and the Great Rift Valley. Game is often sighted and the trail features some striking vegetation changes ranging from forest, grassland, heath to moorland.

Driving up is only advisable to hikers who are already acclimatized to 4 000m, by hiking either Mt Meru or Mt Kenya a few days before attempting Kilimanjaro. The fast rate of ascending by vehicle requires this acclimatisation if one is to ascend to Uhuru Peak either via the Western Breach or via the Barafu campsite 4600Mt.
See Itinerary for details

Rongai route ascents Kilimanjaro from the north-eastern side of the mountain, along the border of Tanzania and Kenya. This route retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north.

Rongai route’s premier advantage is that it is one of the quietest routes on the mountain. A disadvantage is the long travel time to the starting point of the route. The route also becomes busier when it connects with the Marangu route just before reaching Kibo hut.

Climbers through the Rongai route descends through the Marangu route. However, they sleep in tents. They do not use the Marangu route huts.
See Itinerary for details

Umbwe Route

Umbwe route is known for its caves. The first night you actually sleep at the Umbwe Cave Camp with two more caves that can be visited en route the following day. Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably one of the most scenic, non-technical routes on Kilimanjaro. There are however higher risks involved when attempting to summit via the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier and overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp, which include:

Safety on the Western Breach – nobody can guarantee your absolute safety, as the area is unstable and rock falls may occur at any time

During a normal summit of Kilimanjaro, you will sleep at Barafu camp (4 600mt) or Kibo Hut (4 650m) before attempting the summit. By sleeping at Arrow Glacier camp (4 800) the risks for severe altitude sickness are considerably higher.

On the Umbwe route hikers can attempt to summit through the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier path and stay overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp (and the Crater camp).
See Itinerary for details

Western Breach

The Western Breach offers one of the shortest climbing routes to the summit. The core of this route, stretching from Arrow Glacier Camp to Crater Camp, involves sections of relative steepness and a high degree of exposure.

Despite its moderate inherent risks, (it was temporarily closed after a rock slide accident in January 2006 killed three people and in September 2015, a San Francisco resident Scott Dinsmore was killed by a boulder while hiking up from Arrow Glacier Camp),  among experienced climbers, the Western Breach is still a popular ascent route because it is very direct and more interesting than the other heavily frequented standard routes on the southeast face of Kibo.

Alternatively, it is possible for trekkers on most other routes to stay one night in the crater at the Crater Camp, allowing for extended time to explore the peak without the added risk of an assault via the Western Breach.

It may be advisable to spend an additional night at Lava Tower Camp (4600m) to aid acclimatization before positioning to Arrow Glacier Camp (4800m) the day after, in preparation for the final night-time push to the summit.

Avoid being in the breach in windy conditions, as well as daylight hours, which may both increase the probability of rockfall. Ensure sufficient acclimatization and rest before entering the breach, so as to be able to move through it swiftly, minimizing exposure time to rockfall.

The Northern Circuit

The Northern circuit is the area that connects the northern side of Kilimanjaro with the western side. The area is pristine with great views and very few hikers. On special request, can we arrange to include the Northern circuit in your hike. There are actually two options, starting with Rongai route and moving west and south (counter-clockwise) or starting with Lemosho route and moving north and east (clockwise):

Counterclockwise option: Start the hike on the Rongai route and instead of heading east towards Mawenzi peak, head west towards the Shira plateau where you connect with the Machame route, attempt the summit from the Barafu camp and descend via Mweka route.

Clockwise option: Start the hike on the Lemosho route and on day 3 instead of heading east towards Lava tower, head north where you will connect with the Rongai route, attempt the summit from the Kibo hut and descend via Mweka route.

Please take note that you will need to arrange between 8 to 9 days hiking to include the Northern circuit to your hike and it can only be arranged through extra Package.
See Itinerary for details

Mweka Route

The route is only be used for descending

Having outdoor fun in Kenya