• View of Mt Kilimanjaro from Amboseli, Kenya View of Mt Kilimanjaro from Amboseli, Kenya
  • The Crater Rim of Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania The Crater Rim of Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
  • Uhuru, the snow covered summit of Mt Kilimanjaro Uhuru, the snow covered summit of Mt Kilimanjaro
  • The roof of Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania The roof of Africa, Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Climb to the Roof of Africa: Mt Kilimanjaro

Mt Kilimanjaro holds many titles: it's the highest peak in Africa (5,895m above sea level), the highest free-standing mountain in the world (rising 4,600m from the surrounding plains), and the most accessible peak of the Seven Summits. So it's no wonder why Mt Kilimanjaro is becoming more and more popular with adventurous travellers.

The Routes

There are six approved routes on the mountain, all of varying difficulty and diversity. You can see how each of these routes meanders around the mountain on the map. The Highest point on the mountain is Uhuru Point (marked by green circle).

Mt Kilimanjaro Map

The Mweke route is used as the exit route for all but the Rongai and Marangu routes. It's much too short and steep for an ascent (except for the most experienced climbers).

Climb High, Sleep Low

To climb Mt Kilimanjaro doesn't require much technical skill or fancy equipment, but the journey shouldn't be taken lightly. It is a high-altitude pursuit that can catch novice trekkers off guard.

Mt Kilimanjaro

There are countless cases of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) every year on Mt Kilimanjaro. They tend to occur because climbers think of it as an easy trek. And it would be an easy trek, if it didn't climb to almost 6,000m. So more than ever, it's important to stick to the "climb high, sleep low" philosophy. 

In addition to the climb, a trip to "Kili" gives you the chance to join a wildlife safari to the nearby Serengeti, Masai Mara or Ngorongoro Crater. The climb also gives you the chance to live and interact with local Africans for anywhere up to 10 days. This is arguably the most rewarding facet of a Mt Kilimanjaro trip.

Detail | Routes

There are six approved routes on Mt Kilimanjaro. When choosing one, consider the level of adventure, physical difficulty, diversity of wildlife, and total costs. 

Marangu Route

Known as the "Coca-Cola" route, the Marangu route is the oldest, most established route, with about 90% of the mountain's traffic. Many favour the Marangu route because it's considered the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route which offers sleeping huts.

The days you need for this route is a minimum of five. However, spending an extra acclimatisation day on the mountain is highly recommended. The route has the least scenic variety of all the routes because the ascent and descent are done on the same path. 

Machame Route

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

The minimum number of days needed for this route is six, although seven days is recommended. The Machame route is scenically beautiful and varied as it passes through a variety of landscapes.

Lemosho Route

The Lemosho route begins in the west and crosses Shira Plateau from Shira Ridge. 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 number of days needed for this route is six at a minimum, although eight days is ideal. Lemosho is considered the most beautiful route on Kilimanjaro and grants panoramic views on various sides of the mountain.

Shira Route

The Shira route is another path that approaches Kilimanjaro from the west, and it is nearly identical to the Lemosho route. While Lemosho starts at Londorossi Gate and treks through the rainforest to Shira 1 Camp, the Shira route bypasses this walk by using a vehicle to transport climbers to Shira Gate.

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. Then, the route merges with Lemosho and follows the southern circuit route.

Although Shira is varied and beautiful, Lemosho is recommended over Shira due to the high altitude of Shira's starting point. It is possible that climbers will experience al3itude related symptoms on the first day due to failed acclimatisation. Climbers using Shira should be confident of their ability to acclimatise quickly.

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, 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 minimum number of days needed for this route is six, but seven days is recommended. Although the scenery is not as varied as the western routes, Rongai makes up for this by passing through remote wilderness areas for days before joining the Marangu route at Kibo camp. There's a greater chance of seeing animals on this route, and some tours even require an armed ranger to escort you through the wilderness area for protection. This route descends down the Marangu route. 

Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route is a short, steep and direct route. It is considered 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 acclimatisation. 

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 acclimatise.

 

This is just an idea for a Trip that you can either Create with your own specific dates and requirements, or you can Find a Trip created by another traveller and join them on an adventure.  

Vital Stats

Duration 5-8 days (avg)
When to go Feb - Apr
Alternative Period Jul - Nov
Alternative Period Jan - Jan
Highest Altitude 5,895 m
Uhuru Point 19,341 ft
Required Training 2 months

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Travel Trivia

Which mountain's summit is furthest from the Earth's core?

Trivia: Which mountain's summit is furthest from the Earth's core?

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Countries

Sub-Saharan Africa

Activities

  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking & Hiking
  • Wildlife & Ecology
  • Altitude 4000m+