Is climbing Kilimanjaro on your bucket list? Not sure which route you should choose? Did you know that there are 7 established routes to take you to the summit? I've created a brief overview for each one, including how many days it takes and the success rate of each route. People choose different routes for different reasons. I hope this guide helps you choose which route is best for you!
Machame is one of the most popular routes taken to ascend Kilimanjaro; about 50% of climbers choose this route. The Machame route has an 85% success rate if completed in 7 days. The route takes you up the south-west side of the mountain and part of the reason why it's so popular is because of it's scenic views and varying landscapes you will experience along the way. This is the route I took, and I'm glad I did because the views really were unbeatable! Check out Complete Guide to Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: The Roof of Africa to read all about my experience climbing Kilimanjaro via the Machame route.
- You can complete the Machame route in 6-7 days
- The Machame route is a little more difficult because you will have to ascend the Barraco Wall on day four as well as a steep ascent up Kibo the night you summit
- The route consists of a climb high, sleep low acclimation day before you summit
Marangu, also known as the coca-cola route, is another popular route mostly because it is the oldest route leading to the summit. It is also the only route with hut accommodations verse tent sleeping.
- This route can get very crowded at times because the ascent and descent paths are the same
- Marangu can be completed in as little as 5 days but the success rate is one of the lowest due to not having enough time to acclimatize. If completed in 5 days the success rate is only 50%
Rongai is the only route that goes up the northern side, or Kenyan side, of Kilimanjaro. Because this route is a little bit more remote trekkers have a better chance of seeing wildlife as well as fewer people on trail. If completed in 7 days the success rate of reaching Uhuri peak is 80%.
- The trail is flatter than other Kili routes. Which actually causes a lot of problems because there is no "climb high - sleep low" acclimatize areas
- The route can be completed in 6-8 days and it is highly recommended that you choose 7-8 days to give yourself time to acclimatize
Lemosho is a relatively new route and is offered as an alternate route to the Shira which starts at a higher altitude- making it more difficult for trekkers.
- Lemosho ascends up the western side of Kilimanjaro and is also (typically speaking) less populated, and so there is a higher chance of spotting wildlife on this trail
- The trek can be completed in 6-8 days and merges with the Machame route at Lava tower. If completed in 8 days the success rate is around 90%
The Northern Circuit is the newest route and it is quickly becoming the most popular due to its’ 95% success rate.
- The northern circuit is the longest route (taking 9 days to reach the summit and trek back down) but the length of days for the trek contributes to the high success rate as more time on the mountain equals more time to acclimatize which in turn gives you a better chance of summiting successfully!
- The route starts on the west side of the mountain and follows along the Lemosho route for the first two days and then veers north at Lava towers rather than following the more popular southern circuit towards the Barranco valley
Umbwe has a reputation as the most difficult route on Kilimanjaro. Starting in the south, the Umbwe route is a short and steep direct climb to Kilimanjaro’s summit.
- Due to being such a direct route, Umbwe does not offer climbers the proper acclimatization that other routes do. Hikers should only choose this route if they are positive in their abilities to acclimatize quickly
- The Umbwe route can be completed in 6-7 days and has a very low success rate
- Due to a tragic rock fall in 2006 that killed 3 climbers the western breach to the summit was closed and then reopened again in 2007. Currently the Umbwe route meets up with the Machame route on the second day and follows the southern circuit to the summit
The Shira is almost identical to the Lemosho route except for a different starting point on the first day.
- The Shira route can be completed in 6-7 days and is not very popular due to the fact that Lemosho offers a better starting point at a lower altitude
Do you have a favorite route for trekking Kilimanjaro? Wanting to know more information about a specific route? Leave us a comment!