The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro; Uhuru Peak can be reached through seven (7) main routes (Kilimanjaro hiking trails). Each of these differs in the level of difficulty, scenic beauty as well as human traffic (number of people using it); so choosing the right suiting route is very important during your hike planning process. The duration of you hike will be dictated by the Mt Kilimanjaro route you will take, however it takes between five (5) to ten (10) days. The highest success rates have been registered on the routes that include longer days as these give the climbers enough time to acclimatize their bodies with the changing altitude. So when choose a route to use, always opt for that which will give you ample time for your bodies to acclimatize.
Below are the different Hiking Routes on Mountain Kilimanjaro:
The Marangu Route
Marangu route is also referred to as the ‘coca cola route’ and it is the most commonly used route. It is generally considered the easiest because of its gradual slopes and shared accommodation huts which are strategically located along its course. At a minimum it takes just five days to reach the summit, although this duration registers lower success rates. Although it is a much loved Kilimanjaro trail, it is not recommended by experts since it has the highest number of hikers compared to other routes making it the most crowded.
The Machame Route
Also known as the Whiskey route, was established as a more challenging option to the Marangu route and today has become actually more popular than the Marangu. It is very popular among adventurous climbers and normally becomes very crowded especially at the lower sections within the rainforest area. Although it is steeper, it offers a more scenic view and registers a higher success rate when compared to the Marangu Route. Although it can be done in six (6) days, the most preferred duration is seven days program of 7 days Machame Route.
The Lemosho Route
This is a fairly new route on the mountain and it is greatly recommended by operators. It receives fewer crowded as compared to the Machame and Marangu, and it offers very breathtaking views from all sides. It can be done in a minimum of six (6) days although even in eight and nine days it can be completed. It offers adequate time for climbers to acclimatize a reason which best explains why the success level on this route is very high.
Have a look here at our 6 days Umbwe Route in Mt Kilimanjaro.
The Northern Circuit
Climbers having ample time for this trek should actually think of taking the Northern circuit. This new route takes nine days and nearly circles the mountain which makes it the longest route to the summit. It offers additional days at the mid-altitude with plenty of room for acclimatization and this as a results offers a high success rate to the mountain summit. Although it is the most remote route, it offers views into Kenya the neighboring country.
The Rongai Route
This is the only route that approached the summit from the north, close to the border of Kenya. It receives fairly fewer climbers and a better choice in case you hike during the wet season since the northern part of the mountain receives the least amount of rainfall. On a negative side, the views are not as breathtaking as on the other routes, and the descent takes you along the crowded route of Marangu. It can be completed in six (6) to seven (7) days
The Shira Route
This approaches the mountain from the western side, and it’s very similar to the Lemosho route. The biggest difference is that instead of beginning at the Londorossi Gate, climbers are driven to Shira Gate found at 11,800 feet or 3,600 meters. That way they skip the first section of the climb, though exposes them to a higher risk of altitude-sickness since the route begins at a higher altitude. The route can be completed in ten (10) days.
The Umbwe Route
This is the most challenging route on mountain Kilimanjaro. It is only recommend for expert and well experienced climbers whose bodies have a fast ability to acclimatize. The route can be completed in just six (6) days and it involves hiking very steep and challenging slopes. The summit is reached in darkness along this route a thing that greatly reduced the success rate on this less crowded route.