There are eight popular ascent routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Even though these eight trails were established to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, about six of them are more popular and are regularly used. These routes are listed below:
- Northern Circuit
- Western Breach
Each of these routes eventually meets with a path circling the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro known as either the Northern Circuit or the Southern Circuit. Three trails then lead up from this circular path to Mt Kilimanjaro’s crater rim: the Western Breach Route (also known as Arrow Glacier Route), Barafu Route, and the Rongai route. The Shira, Lemosho, Machame, and Umbwe routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro can use either the difficult Arrow Glacier Route or the easier (but longer) Barafu Route. The Marangu and Rongai trail make their way to the summit via the Rongai Route. You can deviate from these routes and design your own combination of Mt Kilimanjaro climb with special permission from KINAPA but these routes are not authorised and are not serviced by the rescue team.
In an attempt to control the number of people walking on each route up Kilimanjaro, KINAPA introduced regulations regarding the descent routes on Kilimanjaro and which ones you are allowed to take. In general, the main rule is that those ascending Kilimanjaro from the south or south-west (ie by taking the Machame, Umbwe, Lemosho, or Shira routes) must descend by the Mweka trail and if you have climbed the mountain from the south-east or north (ie on the Marangu or Rongai/Loitokitok trails) you must descend by the Marangu Route. Those trekkers who wish to deviate from these rules again should first seek permission from KINAPA.
Choosing the best route for trekking Kilimanjaro
The six Mount Kilimanjaro climbing routes differ not just in duration, price, and scenery, but also in difficulty. They also have varying degrees of complexity and success rates.
One of the most crucial decisions you’ll have to make is the Kilimanjaro climb route to take.
There is no single ideal way to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Several variables influence which path up Kilimanjaro is best for you:
The amount of time and money you have available, your past experience and fitness, the time of year, and your personal preferences are all factors to consider.