Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Crater Camp

Just shy of the summit, there is a little used campsite known as Crater Camp (18,800 feet/5,750 m). It is called Crater Camp because it is a short distance from the source of Kilimanjaro herself, Reusch Crater (19,140 ft/5,800 m). Additionally, the campsite is next to one of Kilimanjaro's last remaining glaciers, Furtwangler Glacier. Staying at Crater Camp gives climbers an opportunity to climb to the crater rim, and to get up close to the glaciers.

Crater Camp can be used the night before or preferably after a summit attempt. Kili Quests® operates private climbs using Crater Camp on the 9-day Lemosho route and 10-day Northern Circuit route.

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Lemosho Route**** (RECOMMENDED)

The Lemosho route is one of the newer routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. The route begins in the west and rather than simply intersecting Shira Plateau (like Machame), Lemosho crosses it from Shira Ridge to Shira Camp. Climbers encounter low traffic until the route joins the Machame route. Afterwards, Lemosho follows the same route through Lava Tower, Barranco and Barafu, known as the southern circuit.

The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, although eight days is ideal.

Lemosho is considered the most beautiful route on Kilimanjaro and grants panoramic vistas on various sides of the mountain. It is our favorite route because it offers a great balance of low traffic, scenic views and a high summit success rate. Thus, Lemosho comes highly recommended. Most of our clients use Lemosho.

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Machame ("Whiskey") Route

Known as the "Whiskey" route, the Machame route is now the most popular route on the mountain. Compared with Marangu, the days on Machame are longer and the walks are steeper. The Machame route is considered a difficult route and is better suited for more adventurous folks and those with some hiking or backpacking experience.

The route begins from the south, then heads east, traversing underneath Kilimanjaro's southern ice field before summiting. The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, although seven days is recommended.

The Machame route is scenically beautiful and varied. However, due to the heavy crowds, it loses some of its splendor.

Machame routes on Kilimanjaro


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Marangu ("Coca Cola") Route

Known as the "Coca-Cola" route, the Marangu route is a classic trek on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is the oldest, most well-established route. Many favors the Marangu route because it is the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route which offers sleeping huts in dormitory style accommodations.

The minimum days required for this route is five, although the probability of successfully reaching the top in that time period is quite low. Spending an extra acclimatization day on the mountain is highly recommended when climbing Kilimanjaro using the Marangu route.

However, despite its immense popularity, we avoid leading climbs on the Marangu route. The route has the least scenic variety of all the routes because the ascent and descent are done on the same path and it is the most crowded route for that reason. Marangu is favored only during the rainy season, where the hut accommodations are preferred over wet ground, or for those who only have five days to climb Kilimanjaro (which we do not recommend anyhow). Otherwise, the Marangu route is a poor choice.

Marangu routes on mt Kilimanjaro

 

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Northern Circuit Route **** (RECOMMENDED)

The Northern Circuit route is the newest, most exciting route on Kilimanjaro. The trek follows the Lemosho trail in the beginning, approaching Kilimanjaro from the west. However, instead of following the southern traverse like all the other west approaching routes, the Northern Circuit traverses the mountain around the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes.

The Northern Circuit route is a nine-day climb, which is the longest route in terms of time and distance travelled. The days spent at around 13,000 feet are great for acclimatizing, resulting in the highest success rates for all routes on Mount Kilimanjaro.

With a high success rate, incredible varied scenery and a very low number of visitors, the Northern Circuit route is certainly one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro.

Northern Circuit routes kilimanjaro

 

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Shira Route

The Shira route is another path that approaches Kilimanjaro from the west, and it is nearly identical to the Lemosho route. In fact, Shira was the original route and Lemosho is the improved variation. While Lemosho starts at Londorossi Gate and treks through the rain forest to Shira 1 Camp, the Shira route bypasses this walk by using a vehicle to transport climbers to Shira Gate, located near the Shira Ridge.

On the first day on the mountain, climbers begin their hike from 11,800 feet (3,600 m) and spend their first night at the same elevation at Simba Camp. Then, the route merges with Lemosho and follows the southern circuit route.

Although Shira is a varied and beautiful route, Lemosho is recommended over Shira due to the relatively high altitude of Shira's starting point, which is accessed quickly by vehicle. It is possible that climbers will experience some altitude related symptoms on the first day while camping at 11,800 feet.

Shira route mount kilimanjaro

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Rongai Route *** (GOOD)

The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, Rongai has low traffic. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation).

The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, and seven days are recommended.

Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for days before joining the Marangu route at Kibo camp. This route descends the Marangu route. Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.

Rongai route

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Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct route. It is very difficult and is the most challenging way up Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the quick ascent, Umbwe does not provide the necessary stages for altitude acclimatization. Although the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low.

The route is offered at a minimum of six days, though seven days is recommended when attempting this route.

The Umbwe route should only be attempted by those who are very strong hikers and are confident in their ability to acclimatize. However, overall, the Umbwe route is not recommended and we discourage its usage for our clients.

Umbwe route

 

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Western Breach

An alternative route to the summit approaches Uhuru Peak from the west, called the Western Breach. The strenuous Western Breach ascends 2,800 ft (850 m) in about 1.25 miles (2 km) and requires some scrambling (climbing on hands and feet) at certain points. This path is very beautiful but also very challenging due to its rocky, steep slope. The Western Breach was gaining popularity by climbers using the Umbwe, Lemosho, Shira and Machame routes until rockfall claimed the lives of three climbers in January 2006. In response, Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) closed the Western Breach.

The Western Breach re-opened in December 2007. However, the route is still considered by prominent Kilimanjaro operators to be unsafe and to carry an unreasonable degree of risk. Kili Quests® no longer utilizes the Western Breach approach due to safety concerns for clients and staff.

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Mount Meru

Fifty miles (80 km) west of Mount Kilimanjaro lies is an often overlooked, but spectacular volcano. Mount Meru is 14,980 feet (4,565 m) high and serves as a great warm up before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft/5,895 m). In fact, it is ideal for altitude acclimatization and you may elect to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a lower number of days after climbing Meru.

On the mountain, there is a good chance of seeing wildlife, and the crowds that can be seen on Kilimanjaro are non-existent here. Many people who climb both mountains have a quiet preference for the humble Mount Meru.

Mount Meru



Mount Meru

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Crater Camp

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

 

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Crater Camp

Just shy of the summit, there is a little used campsite known as Crater Camp (18,800 feet/5,750 m). It is called Crater Camp because it is a short distance from the source of Kilimanjaro herself, Reusch Crater (19,140 ft/5,800 m). Additionally, the campsite is next to one of Kilimanjaro's last remaining glaciers, Furtwangler Glacier. Staying at Crater Camp gives climbers an opportunity to climb to the crater rim, and to get up close to the glaciers.

Crater Camp can be used the night before or preferably after a summit attempt. Kili Quests® operates private climbs using Crater Camp on the 9-day Lemosho route and 10-day Northern Circuit route.

Crater Camp Routes

Crater Camp is a unique place. At 18,865 feet above sea level, it is the highest campsite on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is located just 475 feet below the summit. We offer the opportunity to stay at Crater Camp on the Lemosho and Northern Circuit routes. This option will add one day to the standard itineraries making them the 9 Lemosho Crater Route and 10-day Northern Crater Route.

We leave for the summit during daylight hours and stay at Crater Camp after the summit for better acclimatization. On all other Kilimanjaro routes, only the guides and client’s summit while the rest of the mountain crew remains at high camp (i.e. Barafu). Using Crater Camp requires significantly more effort on our part as the entire mountain crew, along with all the expedition equipment, must ascend 4,000 feet higher than they normally would. Therefore, there is considerable added cost to do a Crater Camp route.

From Crater Camp, one can take an optional one-hour hike to Reusch Crater, or simply explore the areas around Furtwangler Glacier. Reusch Crater is a magnificent sight. It is almost perfectly circular and the ash pit measures 400 feet (120 m) deep and 1,300 feet (400 m) wide. This is rarely seen by tourists. The video below puts the size of the ash pit and crater into perspective.

We understand the attraction of staying at Crater Camp. However, the drawback of sleeping at this high altitude is that it is dangerous. Serious AMS can develop if adequate altitude acclimatization has not been achieved.

Due to safety concerns for clients and staff, the 9 Lemosho Crater Route and 10-day Northern Crater Route are done only by special request and are subject to approval by Kili Quests®.

9 DAY LEMOSHO CRATER ITINERARIES

Day 1

Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa
Elevation: 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

We depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours, where you will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival at trailhead, we begin hiking through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp site.

DAY 2

Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp
Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time 5-6 hours
Habitat: Health

We continue on the trail leading out of the rain forest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, we reach the Shira Ridge before dropping gently down to Shira 1 Camp. Here we catch our first glimpse of Kibo across the plateau.

DAY 3

Shira 1 Camp to Moir Hut
Elevation: 11,500 ft to 13,800 ft
Distance: 11 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Heath

We explore the Shira Plateau for a full day. It is a gentle walk east on moorland meadows towards Shira 2 Camp. Then we divert from the main trail to Moir Hut, a little used site on the base of Lent Hills. A variety of walks are available on Lent Hills making this an excellent acclimatization opportunity. Shira Plateau is one of the highest plateaus on earth.

DAY 4

Moir Hut to Lava Tower
Elevation: 13,800 ft to 15,190 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft
Distance: 3 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day climbing up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. We descend to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest to an altitude of 13,000 ft. Although you begin and end the day at the same elevation, the time spent at higher altitude is very beneficial for acclimatization.

DAY 5

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

DAY 6

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft
Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

DAY 7

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Crater Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 18,865 ft
Distance: 1 km/.6 miles
Hiking Time: 0.5-1 hours
Habitat: Artic

During normal morning hours, we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. We ascend for several hours at a slow but steady pace while taking frequent, but short, breaks. The trail turns into heavy scree as we make the steep climb to the crater rim. At Stella Point (18,900 ft), we see the summit sign in the distance. We continue the around the crater rim until finally we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

We then descend a short distance to Crater Camp, where the rest of the staff will join us to set up camp. There is an option to hike to Reusch Crater and the ash pit, or simply explore the areas around Furtwangler Glacier. Sleeping at this high altitude can be dangerous. Serious AMS can develop if adequate altitude acclimatization has not been achieved so the guides will monitor you very closely.

DAY 8

Crater Camp to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 18,865 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Artic

From Crater Camp, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 9

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

 

10 DAY NORTHERN CRATER ITINERARY

Day 1

Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa
Elevation: 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

We depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours, where you will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival at trailhead, we begin hiking through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp site.

DAY 2

Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp
Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time 5-6 hours
Habitat: Heath

We continue on the trail leading out of the rain forest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, we reach the Shira Ridge before dropping gently down to Shira 1 Camp. Here we catch our first glimpse of Kibo across the plateau.

DAY 3

Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Elevation: 11,500 ft to 12,500 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Heath

We explore the Shira Plateau. It is a gentle walk east on moorland meadows towards Shira 2 Camp. The heath zone displays abundant wildflowers and unique Senecio trees.

DAY 4

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Moir Hut
Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,580 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We continue to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. Then we divert from the main trail to Moir Hut, a little used site on the base of Lent Hills. A variety of walks are available on Lent Hills making this an excellent acclimatization opportunity. Shira Plateau is one of the highest plateaus on earth.

DAY 5

Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp
Elevation: 13,580 ft to 13,200 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We trek out of Moir Valley with a moderately steep climb, then hike to the summit of Lent Hills before returning to the main trail. The path crosses a rock field and gently undulates before reaching Buffalo Camp. This section of the trail offers great views across the plains that lie north of Kilimanjaro and stretch out to the Kenyan/Tanzanian border.

DAY 6

Buffalo Camp to Third Cave
Elevation: 13,200 ft to 12,700 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Heath

As we head up Buffalo Ridge, the terrain becomes increasingly sparse. This route is rarely travelled, and we will enjoy its mountain wilderness feel. We trek through remote valleys on to the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro until we arrive at Third Cave.

DAY 7

Third Cave to School Hut
Elevation: 12,700 ft to 15,600 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We climb steadily up and over the “Saddle,” which sits between Kibo and Mawenzi. We continue on to our camp, School Hut. Once here we rest, enjoy dinner and prepare for the summit day.

DAY 8

School Hut to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,600 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Crater Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 18,865 ft
Distance: 1 km/.6 miles
Hiking Time: 0.5-1 hours
Habitat: Artic

During normal morning hours, we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. We ascend for several hours at a slow but steady pace while taking frequent, but short, breaks. The trail turns into heavy scree as we make the steep climb to the crater rim. At Gilman’s Point (18,600 ft), we see the summit sign in the distance. We continue the around the crater rim until finally we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

We then descend a short distance to Crater Camp, where the rest of the staff will join us to set up camp. There is an option to hike to Reusch Crater and the ash pit, or simply explore the areas around Furtwangler Glacier. Sleeping at this high altitude can be dangerous. Serious AMS can develop if adequate altitude acclimatization has not been achieved so the guides will monitor you very closely.

DAY 9

Crater Camp to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 18,865 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Artic

From Crater Camp, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 10

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

Kilimanjaro Route

 

Kilimanjaro Route

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Lemosho

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Lemosho Route **** (RECOMMENDED)

The Lemosho route is one of the newer routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. The route begins in the west and rather than simply intersecting Shira Plateau (like Machame), Lemosho crosses it from Shira Ridge to Shira Camp. Climbers encounter low traffic until the route joins the Machame route. Afterwards, Lemosho follows the same route through Lava Tower, Barranco and Barafu, known as the southern circuit.

The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, although eight days is ideal.

Lemosho is considered the most beautiful route on Kilimanjaro and grants panoramic vistas on various sides of the mountain. It is our favorite route because it offers a great balance of low traffic, scenic views and a high summit success rate. Thus, Lemosho comes highly recommended. Most of our clients use Lemosho.

 

Lemosho Route

 

Lemosho Route

The Lemosho route is considered the most scenic trail on Kilimanjaro, granting panoramic vistas on various sides of the mountain. As one of the newer routes, Lemosho is a superb choice for your climb. It is our preferred route due to its ideal balance of low crowds, beautiful scenery and a high summit success rate. Kili Quests® specializes in guiding on the Lemosho route. Most of our clients climb Kilimanjaro using this route and they consistently report that they loved it. Thus, Lemosho is highly recommended.

The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west, beginning with a long drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate. From there, the first two days are spent trekking through the rain forest to Shira Ridge. The Lemosho route crosses the entire Shira Plateau from west to east in a pleasant, relatively flat hike. Crowds are low until the route joins the Machame route near Lava Tower. Then the route traverse’s underneath Kilimanjaro's Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. Descent is made via the Mweka route.

Kili Quests® offers Lemosho as an eight-day group climb or as a seven to eight-day private climb. The seven-day variation combines days five and six, going from Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp without staying at Karanga.A nine-day variation that includes an overnight at Crater Camp is available as a private climb by special request.

8 DAY LEMOSHO ITINERARIES

Day 1

Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa
Elevation: 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

We depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours, where you will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival at trailhead, we begin hiking through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp site.

DAY 2

Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp
Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft
Distance: 8 km/ 5miles
Hiking Time 5-6 hours
Habitat: Health

We continue the trail leading out of the rain forest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, we reach the Shira Ridge before dropping gently down to Shira 1 Camp. Here we catch our first glimpse of Kibo across the plateau.

 

DAY 3

Shira 1 Camp to Moir Hut
Elevation: 11,500 ft to 13,800 ft
Distance: 11 km/ 7 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Heath

We explore the Shira Plateau for a full day. It is a gentle walk east on moorland meadows towards Shira 2 Camp. Then we divert from the main trail to Moir Hut, a little used site on the base of Lent Hills. A variety of walks are available on Lent Hills making this an excellent acclimatization opportunity. Shira Plateau is one of the highest plateaus on earth.

DAY 4

Moir Hut to Lava Tower
Elevation: 13,800 ft to 15,190 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft
Distance: 3 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day climbing up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. We descend to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest to an altitude of 13,000 ft. Although you begin and end the day at the same elevation, the time spent at higher altitude is very beneficial for acclimatization.

DAY 5

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

DAY 6

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft
Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

DAY 7

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 8

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

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Machame

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

 

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Machame ("Whiskey") Route ***

Known as the "Whiskey" route, the Machame route is now the most popular route on the mountain. Compared with Marangu, the days on Machame are longer and the walks are steeper. The Machame route is considered a difficult route and is better suited for more adventurous folks and those with some hiking or backpacking experience.

The route begins from the south, then heads east, traversing underneath Kilimanjaro's southern ice field before summiting. The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, although seven days is recommended.

The Machame route is scenically beautiful and varied. However, due to the heavy crowds, it loses some of its splendor.

Machame Route

 

Machame Route

The Machame route, also known as the "Whiskey" route, is the most popular route on Kilimanjaro. Machame’s draw is in its scenic beauty. However, the trail is considered difficult, steep and challenging, particularly due to its shorter itinerary. Therefore, this route is better suited for more adventurous folks or those with some high altitude, hiking or backpacking experience.

The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the south, beginning with a short drive from Moshi to Machame Gate. The path leads hikers through the rain forest to Shira Plateau. Here, many of Kilimanjaro’s routes converge. Then the route turns east and traverse’s underneath Kilimanjaro's Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. Descent is made via the Mweka route.

Kili Quests® offers Machame as a seven-day group climb or as a six-day private climb. The six-day variation combines days four and five, going from Barranco Camp to Barafu Camp without staying at Karanga.

7 DAY MACHAME ITINERARIES

DAY 1

Machame Gate to Machame Camp
Elevation: 5,380 ft to 9,350 ft
Distance: 11 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

The drive from Moshi to the Machame Gate takes about 50 minutes. The journey passes through the village of Machame which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. As we leave the park gate, we walk through the dense rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge until we reach the Machame Camp.

DAY 2

Machame Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Elevation: 9,350 ft to 12,500 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Heath

We leave the glades of the rain forest and continue on an ascending path up to a steep, rocky ridge. On the Shira Plateau, we pass through heather and open moorlands, then cross a large river gorge to Shira 2 Camp.

DAY 3

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft
Distance: 3 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We continue to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. We descend down to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest to an altitude of 13,000 ft. Although you begin and end the day at the same elevation, the time spent at higher altitude is very beneficial for acclimatization.

DAY 4

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

DAY 5

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft
Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

DAY 6

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 7

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

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Marangu

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

 

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

 

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Marangu ("Coca Cola") Route**

Known as the "Coca-Cola" route, the Marangu route is a classic trek on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is the oldest, most well-established route. Many favors the Marangu route because it is the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route which offers sleeping huts in dormitory style accommodations.

The minimum days required for this route is five, although the probability of successfully reaching the top in that time period is quite low. Spending an extra acclimatization day on the mountain is highly recommended when climbing Kilimanjaro using the Marangu route.

However, despite its immense popularity, we avoid leading climbs on the Marangu route. The route has the least scenic variety of all the routes because the ascent and descent are done on the same path and it is the most crowded route for that reason. Marangu is favored only during the rainy season, where the hut accommodations are preferred over wet ground, or for those who only have five days to climb Kilimanjaro (which we do not recommend anyhow). Otherwise, the Marangu route is a poor choice.

Marangu Route

Marangu Route

The Marangu route, also known as the "Coca-Cola" route, is the oldest, most well-established route on Kilimanjaro. This is the only route which offers sleeping huts in dormitory style accommodations in lieu of camping. There are 60 bunk beds each at Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut. Guests are supplied with mattresses and pillows, but sleeping bags are still required. The huts have communal dining halls and basic washrooms, ranging from flushing toilets and running water at the lower huts to long drop toilets and buckets of water at Kibo Hut.

Many favor Marangu because it is the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope and direct path. However, the short time frame of the route makes altitude acclimatization difficult. The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the southeast. Marangu is unfortunately less scenic than the other routes because the ascent and descent are along the same path. It is also the most crowded route for that reason.

Kili Quests® offers Marangu as five- or six-day private climb. The five-day variation does not have an acclimatization day on day three at Horombo Hut.

6 DAY MARANGU ITINERARIES

DAY 1

Marangu Gate to Mandara Hut
Elevation (ft): 6,046 ft to 8,858 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

We depart Moshi for Marangu Gate for the necessary formalities before beginning our trek. The hiking trail begins by ascending a beautiful, tropical rain forest. At the upper edge of the forest line, we have the opportunity to see blue monkeys. The trail then widens to expose beautiful hillsides until we reach Mandara Hut.

DAY 2

Mandara Hut to Horombo Hut
Elevation (ft): 8,858 ft to 12,205 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Habitat: Heath

We start the day continuing through the forest until the trail opens into high moorland. We may get our first views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks - two of the three volcanic peaks that make up the summit of Kilimanjaro.

DAY 3

Horombo Hut to Mawenzi Ridge
Elevation (ft): 12,205 ft to 14,400 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Habitat: Heath

Mawenzi Ridge to Horombo Hut
Elevation (ft): 14,400 ft to 12,205
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Habitat: Heath

This is an extra day meant for acclimatization and can be spent day hiking on Mawenzi Ridge. The unique landscape offers motivating views of Kibo and Mawenzi. After spending a few moments exploring the area we head back to Horombo Hut.

DAY 4

Horombo Hut to Kibo Hut
Elevation (ft): 12,205 ft to 15,430 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We climb gradually, then cross the lunar desert of the “Saddle” between Mawenzi and Kibo. Our camp, Kibo Hut, sits at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. Once here we rest, enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

DAY 5

Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak
Elevation (ft): 15,430 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut
Elevation (ft): 19,341 ft to 12,250 ft
Distance: 16 km/10 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Heath

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. At Gilman’s point (18,600 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

After spending a few moments taking in the plains of Africa and your accomplishment, we descend to Horombo Hut. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 6

Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate
Elevation (ft): 12,205 ft to 6,046 ft
Distance: 20 km/12 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we have a long trek mostly downhill through the tropical rainforest. Once at the park headquarters at Marangu gate, we collect our summit certificates. A vehicle will meet us here and drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

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Northern Circuit

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Northern Circuit Route **** (RECOMMENDED)

The Northern Circuit route is the newest, most exciting route on Kilimanjaro. The trek follows the Lemosho trail in the beginning, approaching Kilimanjaro from the west. However, instead of following the southern traverse like all the other west approaching routes, the Northern Circuit traverses the mountain around the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes.

The Northern Circuit route is a nine-day climb, which is the longest route in terms of time and distance travelled. The days spent at around 13,000 feet are great for acclimatizing, resulting in the highest success rates for all routes on Mount Kilimanjaro.

With a high success rate, incredible varied scenery and a very low number of visitors, the Northern Circuit route is certainly one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro.

Testimonials

Northern Circuit Route

Northern Circuit Route

The Northern Circuit route is one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro, offering nearly 360 degrees of beautiful scenery including the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes. As the longest route on Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit also has the most acclimatization time and the highest summit success rate. Thus, the Northern Circuit route is highly recommended.

The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west, beginning with a long drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate. From there, the first two days are spent trekking through the rainforest to Shira Ridge, before crossing the Shira Plateau. The route then heads north and circles clockwise from Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp to School Hut, before summiting from the east. Descend is made via the Mweka route.

Kili Quests® offers the Northern Circuit as a nine-day group climb or private climb. A 10-day variation that includes an overnight at Crater Camp is available as a private climb by special request.

9 DAY NORTHERN CIRCUIT ITINERARY

Day 1

Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa
Elevation: 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

We depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours, where you will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival at trailhead, we begin hiking through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp site.

DAY 2

Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp
Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time 5-6 hours
Habitat: Heath

We continue the trail leading out of the rain forest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, we reach the Shira Ridge before dropping gently down to Shira 1 Camp. Here we catch our first glimpse of Kibo across the plateau.

DAY 3

Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Elevation: 11,500 ft to 12,500 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Heath

We explore the Shira Plateau. It is a gentle walk east on moorland meadows towards Shira 2 Camp. The heath zone displays abundant wildflowers and unique Senecio trees.

DAY 4

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Moir Hut
Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,580 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We continue to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. Then we divert from the main trail to Moir Hut, a little used site on the base of Lent Hills. A variety of walks are available on Lent Hills making this an excellent acclimatization opportunity. Shira Plateau is one of the highest plateaus on earth.

DAY 5

Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp
Elevation: 13,580 ft to 13,200 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We trek out of Moir Valley with a moderately steep climb, then hike to the summit of Lent Hills before returning to the main trail. The path crosses a rock field and gently undulates before reaching Buffalo Camp. This section of the trail offers great views across the plains that lie north of Kilimanjaro and stretch out to the Kenyan/Tanzanian border.

DAY 6

Buffalo Camp to Third Cave
Elevation: 13,200 ft to 12,700 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Heath

As we head up Buffalo Ridge, the terrain becomes increasingly sparse. This route is rarely travelled, and we will enjoy its mountain wilderness feel. We trek through remote valleys on to the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro until we arrive at Third Cave.

DAY 7

Third Cave to School Hut
Elevation: 12,700 ft to 15,600 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We climb steadily up and over the “Saddle,” which sits between Kibo and Mawenzi. We continue to our camp, School Hut. Once here we rest, enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

DAY 8

School Hut to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,600 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Artic

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. At Gilman’s point (18,600 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 9

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

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Kilimanjaro

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Shira

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Shira Route **

The Shira route is another path that approaches Kilimanjaro from the west, and it is nearly identical to the Lemosho route. In fact, Shira was the original route and Lemosho is the improved variation. While Lemosho starts at Londorossi Gate and treks through the rain forest to Shira 1 Camp, the Shira route bypasses this walk by using a vehicle to transport climbers to Shira Gate, located near the Shira Ridge.

On the first day on the mountain, climbers begin their hike from 11,800 feet (3,600 m) and spend their first night at the same elevation at Simba Camp. Then, the route merges with Lemosho and follows the southern circuit route.

Although Shira is a varied and beautiful route, Lemosho is recommended over Shira due to the relatively high altitude of Shira's starting point, which is accessed quickly by vehicle. It is possible that climbers will experience some altitude related symptoms on the first day while camping at 11,800 feet.

Shira Route

The Shira Route is a little used trail that begins near Shira Ridge. It is nearly identical to the Lemosho route. In fact, Shira was the original route and Lemosho is the improved variation. Although Shira is a varied and beautiful route, it is less favorable than its successor due to the relatively high altitude of Shira's starting point, which is accessed quickly by vehicle. It is possible that climbers will experience some altitude related symptoms on the first day while camping at 11,800 feet.

The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west, beginning with a long drive from Moshi to Shira Ridge. The vehicle bypasses the rain forest zone and the hiking trail begins on Shira Ridge. The Shira route crosses the entire Shira Plateau from west to east in a pleasant, relatively flat hike. Then the route traverse’s underneath Kilimanjaro's Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. Descent is made via the Mweka route.

Kili Quests® offers Shira as a seven- or eight-day private climb. The eight-day variation adds a stay at Moir Hut on day three before going to Barranco Camp on day four.

8 DAY SHIRA ITINERARIES

Day 1

Shira Gate to Simba Camp
Elevation: 11,800 ft to 11,800 ft
Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Habitat: Heath

We depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours; here we will complete entry formalities while guides and porters prepare equipment. We then continue to drive up a steep path to the Shira Gate where we will begin the hike. The trek starts through shrubs and giant heather until we reach Simba Camp.

Day 2

Simba Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Elevation: 11,800 ft to 12,500 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Habitat: Heath

Today is an easy day to help with acclimatization. We begin by exploring the grassy moorland and volcanic rock formations on the plateau. Then we take a scenic path to the Shira Cathedral, a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles, before settling at Shira 2 Camp.

DAY 3

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft
Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,044 ft
Distance: 3 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We continue to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower – a 300 ft tall volcanic rock formation. We descend to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest to an altitude of 13,000 ft. Although you begin and end the day at the same elevation, the time spent at higher altitude is very beneficial for acclimatization.

DAY 4

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

DAY 5

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft
Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

DAY 6

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 7

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro

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Rongai

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

 

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Rongai Route *** (GOOD)

The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, Rongai has low traffic. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation).

The minimum number of days required for this route is six days, and seven days are recommended.

Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for days before joining the Marangu route at Kibo camp. This route descends the Marangu route. Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.

Rongai Route

Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, close to the Kenyan border. Though gaining popularity amongst climbers, this route still experiences low crowds. Rongai has a more gradual slope than the mountain’s other routes. It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the popular Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season (the north side receives less precipitation). Rongai is a moderately difficult route, and is highly recommended, especially for those with less backpacking experience.

Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through true wilderness areas for nearly the entire way. Descent is made via the Marangu route.

Kili Quests® offers Rongai as a seven-day group climb or a six or seven private climb. The six-day variation does not have an acclimatization day on day four at Mawenzi Tarn.

7 DAY RONGAI ITINERARIES

DAY 1

Rongai Gate to Rongai Cave
Elevation: 6,398 ft to 9,300 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

We drive from Moshi to Marangu Gate for permits before taking a short transfer to the Rongai Gate trailhead. The path winds through corn and potato fields and then climbs gently through the forest which is home to a variety of wildlife, including the black and white colobus monkey.

DAY 2

Rongai Cave to Second Cave
Elevation: 9,300 ft to 11,300 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Heath

Second Cave to Kikelewa Cave
Elevation: 11,300 ft to 11,811 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Heath

We begin this morning with a steady incline up to Second Cave. We continue trekking though moorland, leaving the main trail for a smaller path towards the jagged peaks of Mawenzi, before finally arriving at Kikelewa Cave for the night.

DAY 3

Kikelewa Cave to Mawenzi Tarn
Elevation: 11,811 ft to 14,160 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

The hike today is short and steep up a grassy slope. Views of the wilderness area are stunning. As we exit the heath zone and emerge into the Alpine Desert zone, the landscape changes dramatically. Our camp is situated beneath the jagged spires of Mawenzi, at Mawenzi Tarn. The remainder of the day can be spent relaxing or exploring the area.

DAY 4

Mawenzi Tarn to Mawenzi Ridge
Elevation (ft): 14,160 ft -14,400 ft
Distance: 2 km/1 mile
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Mawenzi Ridge to Mawenzi Tarn
Elevation (ft): 14,400 ft -14,160 ft
Distance: 2 km/1 mile
Hiking Time: 1-2 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

This is an extra day meant for acclimatization and can be spent day hiking on Mawenzi Ridge. The unique landscape offers motivating views of Kibo and Mawenzi. After spending a few moments exploring the area we head back to Mawenzi Tarn for camp.

DAY 5

Marwenzi Tarn to Kibo Hut
Elevation (ft): 14,160 ft to 15,430 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We climb gradually, then cross the lunar desert of the “Saddle” between Mawenzi and Kibo. Our camp, Kibo Hut, sits at the bottom of the Kibo crater wall. Once here we rest, enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

DAY 6

Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak
Elevation (ft): 15,430 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 6-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut
Elevation (ft): 19,341 ft to 12,250 ft
Distance: 16 km/10 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Heath

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. At Gilman’s point (18,600 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

After spending a few moments taking in the plains of Africa and your accomplishment, we descend to Horombo Hut. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 7

Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate
Elevation (ft): 12,205 ft to 6,046 ft
Distance: 20 km/12 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we have a long trek mostly downhill through the tropical rainforest. Once at the park headquarters at Marangu gate, we collect our summit certificates. A vehicle will meet us here and drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro

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Umbwe

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Umbwe Route**

The Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct route. It is very difficult and is the most challenging way up Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the quick ascent, Umbwe does not provide the necessary stages for altitude acclimatization. Although the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low.

The route is offered at a minimum of six days, though seven days is recommended when attempting this route.

The Umbwe route should only be attempted by those who are very strong hikers and are confident in their ability to acclimatize. However, overall, the Umbwe route is not recommended and we discourage its usage for our clients.

Umbwe Route

Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route has a well-deserved reputation of being the most challenging route on Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to the fast ascent to high altitude, this route does not provide the necessary stages for acclimatization. Although the number of people on this trail is very low, the chances of success are also low. Umbwe is very difficult, taxing route - one that should only be attempted by strong hikers who are confident in their ability to acclimatize quickly to altitude.

Approaching from the south, the Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct climb. After reaching Barranco Camp, the trail turns east and traverse’s underneath Kilimanjaro's Southern Ice Field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. Descent is made via the Mweka route.

Kili Quests® offers Umbwe as a six- or seven-day private climb. The seven-day variation adds an acclimatization day on day three at Barranco Camp.

6 DAY UMBWE ITINERARIES

DAY 1


Umbwe Gate to Umbwe Camp
Elevation: 5,249 ft to 9,514 ft
Distance: 11 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
Habitat: Heath

The day begins with a 50-minute drive to Machame Gate where registration formalities will be completed. We then transfer through villages and coffee and banana plantations to Umbwe Gate. The trail ascends sharply on a forestry track which winds up the dense rain forest. The path narrows and steepens as we climb the ridge between two rivers surrounded by huge trees. Umbwe Camp is perched between trees and thick undergrowth.

DAY 2


Umbwe Camp to Barranco Camp
Elevation: 9,514 ft to 13,044 ft
Distance: 6 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Heath

The second day of the trek follows rockier terrain with sparse undergrowth and straggly, moss-covered trees. As we gain elevation, glimpses of Kilimanjaro can be seen. The path flattens as we approach Barranco Valley. From Umbwe ridge, the route descends to Barranco Camp through the strange but beautiful Senecio Forest.

DAY 3

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
Elevation: 13,044 ft to 13,106 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.

DAY 4

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
Elevation: 13,106 ft to 15,331 ft
Distance: 4 km/2 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.

DAY 5

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak
Elevation: 15,331 ft to 19,341 ft
Distance: 5 km/3 miles
Hiking Time: 7-8 hours
Habitat: Arctic

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft
Distance: 12 km/7 miles
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

DAY 6

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.

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Western Breach

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

 

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

 

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Western Breach

An alternative route to the summit approaches Uhuru Peak from the west, called the Western Breach. The strenuous Western Breach ascends 2,800 ft (850 m) in about 1.25 miles (2 km) and requires some scrambling (climbing on hands and feet) at certain points. This path is very beautiful but also very challenging due to its rocky, steep slope. The Western Breach was gaining popularity by climbers using the Umbwe, Lemosho, Shira and Machame routes until rockfall claimed the lives of three climbers in January 2006. In response, Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) closed the Western Breach.

The Western Breach re-opened in December 2007. However, the route is still considered by prominent Kilimanjaro operators to be unsafe and to carry an unreasonable degree of risk. Kili Quests® no longer utilizes the Western Breach approach due to safety concerns for clients and staff.

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Mount Meru

Which Route Should I Use to Climb Kilimanjaro?

 

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho, Shira and Northern Circuit routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. The illustrations below depict a three-dimensional view of Kilimanjaro's climbing routes and a close of the approaches to the summit.

Selecting a route is a tough choice for most. To find the best Kilimanjaro route for you, considerations should be taken for the route's scenery, difficulty, foot traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics, as depicted in the table below. Kili Quests® has assigned overall ratings to each route.

Kilimanjaro Route

Min. Days

Rec. Days

Difficulty

Scenery

Traffic

Rating

Northern Circuit

9

9

high

excellent

very low

****

Lemosho Route

6

8

high

excellent

medium

****

Rongai Route

6

7

medium

very good

Low

****

Machame Route

6

7

high

excellent

High

***

Shira Route

6

7

high

excellent

medium

**

Marangu Route

5

6

medium

good

High

**

Umbwe Route

5

7

very high

very good

very low

**

 

It is estimated that tourists climb Kilimanjaro using the routes in the following percentages: Machame (45%), Marangu (40%), Lemosho (8%), Rongai (5%), Shira (1%), Northern Circuit (0%), Umbwe (0%). In contrast, Kili Quests® clients use Lemosho (77%), Northern (10%), Rongai (6%), Machame (6%) and Marangu (1%). The reason for the difference in route popularity is that we favor the best Kilimanjaro routes - those with the most favorable combination of high success rates, excellent scenery, and low foot traffic.

Detailed route descriptions, assessments, and profiles can be found below, along with a map of each of the Kilimanjaro routes.

Mount Meru

Fifty miles (80 km) west of Mount Kilimanjaro lies is an often overlooked, but spectacular volcano. Mount Meru is 14,980 feet (4,565 m) high and serves as a great warm up before climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft/5,895 m). In fact, it is ideal for altitude acclimatization and you may elect to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a lower number of days after climbing Meru.

On the mountain, there is a good chance of seeing wildlife, and the crowds that can be seen on Kilimanjaro are non-existent here. Many people who climb both mountains have a quiet preference for the humble Mount Meru.

Mount Meru

Mount Meru is an often overlooked, but spectacular volcano located in the center of Arusha National Park. At 14,980 feet high, Meru serves as a great warm up to Mount Kilimanjaro or a complete standalone hike in it of itself. The crowds that can plague Kilimanjaro are non-existent here, allowing for a solitary, peaceful trek. Accommodations are in wood huts.

On the lower slopes of the mountain and inside the park, there is a good chance of spotting animals. An armed ranger will accompany your party on the first stage to protect against any wildlife threats.The trail follows the north rim of the crater, along a dramatic ridgeline. Once at the summit, the views of Mount Kilimanjaro and down into Meru crater are unforgettable.

Kili Quests® offers Mount Meru as a four-day private climb. However, clients from different parties and operators are often combined to walk with the armed ranger on the lower slopes.

 climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Meru is ideal for altitude acclimatization and you may elect to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with a lower number of days after climbing Meru. Many people who climb both mountains have a quiet preference for the humble Mount Meru. Although about 4,000 feet lower than Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru is still a very tall mountain. Do not underestimate Mount Meru. Altitude acclimatization is still the key to a successful summit Meru.

Kili Quests® offers Mount Meru as four private climbs. However, clients from different parties and operators are often combined to walk with the armed ranger on the lower slopes.

 climb Mount Kilimanjaro climb Mount Kilimanjaro

4 DAY MOUNT MERU ITINERARIES

DAY 1

Momella Gate to Miriakamba Huts
Elevation: 4,921 ft to 8,250 ft
Distance: 10 km
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

We depart Moshi or Arusha for Momella Gate in Arusha National Park for the necessary formalities before beginning our trek. The hiking trail begins in open grassland with an armed ranger as the possibility of seeing wildlife – giraffe, zebras, antelope, elephant and buffalo – is high. We climb steadily through the rain forest until the reach Miriakamba Huts, situated in a grassy glade.

DAY 2

Miriakamba Huts to Saddle Huts
Elevation: 8,250 ft to 11,712 ft
Distance: 8 km
Hiking Time: 3-5 hours
Habitat: Heath

We continue climbing through the rain forest until we enter the heath zone accompanied by giant heather and other moorland vegetation. Along the ridge of the saddle, we have views of Mount Meru Crater and the Ash Tray. After arriving at Saddle Huts, there is an option to hike to the top of Little Mount Meru for superb views and to further aid acclimatization.

DAY 3

Saddle Huts to Summit
Elevation: 11,712 ft to 14,977 ft
Distance: 5 km
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

Summit to Miriakamba Huts
Elevation: 14,977 ft to 8,250 ft
Distance: 13 km
Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
Habitat: Heath

Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our climb to the summit. The trail is steep to Rhino Point and then Cobra Point. The path continues along the ridge of ash and rock to the summit - Socialist Peak. Here we enjoy magnificent views of Kilimanjaro and the sunrise before returning to Miriakamba Huts.

DAY 4

Miriakamba Huts to Momella Gate
Elevation: 11,712 ft to 4,921 ft
Distance: 10 km
Hiking Time: 2-4 hours
Habitat: Rain Forest

On our last day, we descend quickly through the tropical rainforest to Momella Gate. At the base of the mountain, our vehicle will meet us and drive us back to the hotel in Arusha or Moshi.

 climb Mount Kilimanjaro

 climb Mount Kilimanjaro

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