Kilimanjaro Routes: Choosing the right trekking experience for you

There are 7 Kilimanjaro routes going up the mountain. Choosing the right one for you can be tough, let me help make it easier. I’ve broken down the basics of each route to help you pick the trekking experience that will be the best for you.

Kilimanjaro Routes

Lemosho Route

Most of the Lemosho route has very little traffic and for several days you’ll see little to no other hikers. Once you get to Barranco Camp you’ll be joining the Machame Route and will see plenty of other hikers.

4 ladies on Kilimanjaro routes

Sometimes trekking companies add a night after the summit at High Crater Camp. While this is an amazing camp, to me it doesn’t make sense to sleep there because you’ll already have summited, but staying this high 18,500′ can be unsafe.

The Lemosho route takes 7 to 9 days depending on the stops you make along the way.

Read More: Kilimanjaro Packing List

Kilimanjaro Routes: Shira Route

The Shira Route uses many of the same camps as the Machame Route, but the major difference is the starting point. The downside of this route is that it begins at Shira Gate which is at 11,800’ above sea level. This can make for difficulty acclimatizing.

camps on routes up Kilimanjaro

This route takes 7 to 8 days to complete, which will help when acclimating. The slow and longer accent will allow your body to get used to the lower amount oxygen in the air.

Machame Route

The Machame Route is the most popular of all the trails up Mount Kilimanjaro. Around 15,000-20,000 people do this route each year, so depending on the season it can get a little crowded.

Hiking through some of the most scenic parts of the mountain, this is the first route I did when climbing Kilimanjaro. For this and many of the other routes base camp is at Barafu Camp, summit day begins at 12am hiking in the dark. Most climbers reach Stella Point at sunrise and hike another hour to Uhuru Peak (the summit).

Taking around 6 to 7 days, the Machame route is a good choice for first time trekkers, and you’ll meet plenty of people along the way.

Read More: Kilimanjaro Training Plan

Kilimanjaro Routes: Rongai Route

This is the other route that I hiked up Kilimanjaro the second time. The Rongai Route starts in the north from the Kenya side of the mountain. The first few days are a bit easier than the southern side of the mountain. However, summit night is much more challenging.

 lady on Kilimanjaro routes

For anyone that climbs the Rongai Route will hit all 3 peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, Gilman’s Point, Stella Point, and Uhuru Peak. However, once you get a Gilman’s Point it is another 2 hours to Uhuru Peak.

The Rongai route takes 6 to 7 days to climb, but can be extended depending on which way you go up or down. Going over the Mawenzi Tarn is a gorgeous, but rocky day. And my favorite part of this hike was getting to see the sun pop up from behind Mount Mawenzi on summit morning.

Umbwe Route

This route is only recommended for experienced climbers. Umbwe has an extremely steep assent making for challenges with altitude sickness. For those who do hike this route there are amazing views from the first few days that few hikers see.

The Umbwe route also summits from Barafu Camp, and takes about 6 to 7 days to complete. Book a trek on this route with caution and make sure you pick a local outfitter that is known for keeping track of the health of their clients and has safety measures in place for potential evacuation.

Marangu Route

The “Cocoa Cola” or the “Tourist” Route is the shortest route on the mountain. The Marangu Route isn’t scenic, it’s overcrowded, and pretty much the worst way to go up Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro at sunrise

Out of all the routes up Kili it has the lowest success rate. Most hikers suffer from altitude sickness as a result of the quick ascent which takes 4 to 6 days.

I do not recommend doing this route. At all.

Kilimanjaro Routes

No matter what route you choose, but seriously don’t choose Marangu route, you’re going to have an amazing experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Which of these Kilimanjaro Routes would you choose? Let me know in the comments.

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Looking for the best Kilimanjaro routes? Check out our guide to find the perfect Kilimanjaro trekking adventure. Climb Mount Kilimanjaro with confidence!

6 thoughts on “Kilimanjaro Routes: Choosing the right trekking experience for you”

    • Thank you! It’s still one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. I hope these help anyone whose dream it is to get to the summit.

    • AWESOME! Who are you going with? What route are you doing? Are you doing a safari afterward? I love this mountain, and hope you do too!

  1. The Rongai Route sounds epic! The Marangu Route sounds like a bit of a nightmare. I had no idea there were so many ways to climb Kili!

    My friends all did it a few years ago, but we were saving to get married that year so couldn’t afford to join them. I would looove to give it a go now we are more used to mountains. It sounds tough, but fun.

    • If you plan on doing it check out WHOA Travel. While I’m biased because I work for them, I think we have the most fun on the mountain!


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