Mount Kilimanjaro Routes: The Map, Distance & Comparison

Mount Kilimanjaro Routes: The Map, Distance & Comparison. Kilimanjaro, at an astounding 5895 meters in height, is Africa’s tallest mountain. Its snow-capped top can be seen from far away. Kilimanjaro is a mountain in Tanzania, East Africa, that is the pinnacle of many adventurers’ dreams. Climbing Kilimanjaro is an enormous undertaking, and reaching the summit will undoubtedly be one of your life’s greatest accomplishments. But what exactly is the top Kilimanjaro route?

The world’s highest free-standing mountain can be ascended through one of seven different ways, each with its own set of pros and cons. Which path you take depends on your level of mountaineering expertise, your interests, your budget, and your plans for acclimatization.

Here is a brief overview of the seven Mount Kilimanjaro Routes;

Climbing Kilimanjaro Routes – Which is the Best Route

Machame Route

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro | Machame Route

With its high success rate and stunning scenery, the Machame route is a top pick for any mountaineer.

Inexperienced hikers should avoid the six-day option.

Because of the third day’s climb high, sleep low, this Kilimanjaro route is ideal for acclimatization. Hikers start at Shira Camp 2, go to Lava Tower at 4,600 meters, and then descend to Barranco Camp at 3,900 meters for the night.

The Machame Route, like all Kilimanjaro treks, is a strenuous adventure across four distinctly different climate zones.

To ensure that hikers are well rested before reaching the summit, a seven-day journey offers the unique chance to spend an extra day at Karanga Camp.

However, the path has been increasingly popular in recent years, so it can get crowded, especially at Barranco, where hikers from the Lemosho, Shira, and Umbwe routes all meet together (for more information on Barranco Wall, see here).

There is only catered camping on the Machame route.

Lemosho Route

Climbing Mount. Kilimanjaro via Lemosho Route, Tanzania

From the western slopes of Kilimanjaro, the stunning Lemosho trail can be reached.

The Lemosho’s manageable route profile means that it can be finished in seven or eight days, with plenty of time to rest and get acclimated along the way. One of the best Kilimanjaro routes, thanks to its adaptable profile and excellent summit success rates.

It’s also highly suggested because the trailhead is so far away, giving hikers a taste of the raw, natural beauty that awaits them on Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s rare, but not impossible, to see enormous animals like antelope, buffalo, or even elephant.

The trail also offers amazing views of the steep gorges that define Kilimanjaro’s western side.

The Lemosho allows hikers to traverse the Shira Plateau, one of the world’s largest high altitude plateaus.

Lemosho trekkers traditionally meet up with Machame route hikers on day three at Barranco camp and take the Barafu camp route to the summit. However, it is becoming increasingly common for Lemosho hikers to divert north before Lava Tower and join the Northern Circuit (details below), which travels around the mountain’s northern side and takes the summit passage via Gilman’s Point.

Trekkers who intend to reach the peak via the Western Breach can also utilize the Lemosho route.

The Lemosho Route is, like the Machame, a camping-only trek.

Northern Circuit

MOST Successful Route on Kilimanjaro | Northern Circuit Route Part

Because it provides ample opportunity to climb high and sleep low and ample time to acclimate, the Northern Circuit, the longest route on Mount Kilimanjaro, has one of the highest summit success percentages.

The trail begins at the same place as the Lemosho route, but turns north near Lava Tower to join the Northern Circuit and continue up the mountain’s northern slopes.

Gilman’s Point provides access to the peak.

The trip can be finished in eight or nine days.

This is the way to go if you want to see the wild side of Kilimanjaro in peace.

Rongai Route

Kilimanjaro Rongai Route

Starting on the northeastern edge of Kilimanjaro National Park, the Rongai path provides the only northern access to the mountain.

It is possible to view large animals like buffalo, antelope, and elephant along the Rongai, as is the case along the Lemosho path.

Because the northern slopes are typically drier than the southern, the Rongai Route is one of the best ways to climb Kilimanjaro in the rainy season.

However, the northern slopes are less picturesque since they are drier. While unobstructed views of Kilimanjaro are not always guaranteed from the southern side, they are more usual on a northern approach.

The first few days of the Rongai are easier than average because to the route’s smoother terrain. As a result, acclimatization prospects are not as strong as on other Kilimanjaro routes, despite the fact that the route can typically be completed in a week.

The Rongai path typically takes you from School Hut, past Hans Meyer Cave and Gilman’s Point, and finally on to Uhuru Peak.

Since this route follows the Marangu down the mountain, it features fully catered camping right up until the final night — beers at Horombo Hut, anyone?

Easiest route up Kilimanjaro

Although there is no “easy” way up Kilimanjaro, the Marangu Route (also known as the Coca-Cola Route) is widely regarded as the most manageable.

Marangu Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Marangu Route

Because Coke could be purchased at many tea shacks along the Marangu road, it became known as the “Coca-Cola route.”

Due to its reputation as the “easiest” Kilimanjaro route, rookie climbers often choose it despite their lack of preparation.

One of the main reasons the Marangu has such a low success rate is that while being the shortest Kilimanjaro route, it has a rather poor acclimatization profile.

There is a chance for climb high, sleep low over the six day itinerary, but the height gain is minor, making it less effective than similar opportunities on other Kilimanjaro itineraries.

The Marangu Route is the only one of Kilimanjaro’s routes that offers dorm-style huts for the entirety of the trek. The huts’ inclusion of mattresses and other basic comforts has made them a go-to for low-cost tour groups who lack the resources to take on Kilimanjaro’s more challenging paths.

Although the views from the Saddle on the Marangu Route are stunning, the trail itself is not as attractive as those on other Kilimanjaro routes.

Kilimanjaro Routes I Don’t Recommend

Shira Route

  • Same as Lemosho, except Shira route offers higher start point and therefore poorer acclimatisation
  • It is a route that we wouldn’t recommend because of it’s high start point

Umbwe Route

  • Climbers on the Lemosho, Shira, and Machame routes join those on the Umbwe Route for the last ascent into Barranco camp.
  • Not all hikers who take the Umbwe path turn south at Barranco; some go on to the Lava Tower and Western Breach farther north.
  • Success rates on the Umbwe can be low because of the little time available for acclimation.
  • All camping will be catered.

Western Breach

  • The Western Breach is the route up Kilimanjaro that has the most technical challenge, but also the greatest potential reward.
  • The Western Breach is typically approached through the Umbwe Route, which heads north and then ascends from Lava Tower.
  • After a deadly rockfall in 2006, the Western Breach was blocked until 2007, when it reopened with a new and safer route arrangement. But the Western Breach isn’t on the itinerary roster of many travel agencies.
  • Only seasoned hikers should attempt the Western Breach; sub-surface ice and rain make helmets a necessity, and we recommend that everyone who attempts the route wear one.
  • As the path is often only attempted by very experienced high altitude hikers, the success rate is usually moderate to high.

Kilimanjaro Summit Routes (Passages)

As was hinted from up above, Kilimanjaro has three different routes to the peak.

Stella Point

The first involves ascending Kibo’s southern slopes to Stella Point and then continuing west along the crater rim until you reach Uhuru Peak. Trekkers on the Lemosho, Shira, Machame, and Umbwe Routes take this strategy. From Stella Point to Uhuru Peak is the quickest and most direct route to the top.

Gilman’s Point

The other route begins on the eastern side of Kibo, ascends to Gilman’s Point, and then loops westward around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak. The Rongai and Marangu Route, as well as the Northern Circuit, both use this route to reach the peak. This is a more difficult route because it takes around two hours to reach the actual peak from Gilman’s Point.

Crater Camp (Western Breach)

Third, the Western Breach offers an alternative, more difficult route to the peak. In order to reach Crater Camp and Uhuru Peak via the Western Breach, trekkers must first ascend the Umbwe Route to Lava Tower, where they can begin the hard journey past Arrow’s Glacier. The Machame, Shira, and Lemosho Route is an alternative access point to the Western Breach.

Kilimanjaro Trail Routes FAQ

What is the best Kilimanjaro route?

The Lemosho route takes eight days while the Machame route takes seven. There is a low rate of altitude sickness because of the excellent acclimatization possibilities provided by both routes. These routes have excellent summit success rates and are also both visually stunning.

What is the easiest Kilimanjaro route?

The Marangu way up Kilimanjaro is widely considered the most straightforward. The fact that it has huts and is the shortest distance makes it the best option. However, many individuals who attempt to climb Kilimanjaro through the Marangu route don’t make it to the peak because of altitude sickness. Be careful to choose for the longer (6-day) Marangu route rather than the shorter (5-day journey).

Which Kilimanjaro route has the highest summit success rates?

Since it is the longest route and allows for a great deal of acclimatization time, the Northern Circuit has the greatest summit success rates. Also having very high summit success rates are the 8-day Lemosho and 7-day Machame routes.

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