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:

  1. Machame
  2. Lemosho
  3. Shira
  4. Rongai
  5. Marangu
  6. Umbwe.
  7. Northern Circuit
  8. 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 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.

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The Marangu route is unique because Marangu used to be the most popular route because it is the only one that offers sleeping huts on the way. This is no longer the case as camping now provides better accommodation than the old huts.

Marangu is the shortest route, measuring 22 miles to the top but only about 35% of the people successfully climb Mount Kilimanjaro via this route due to the quickness of the ascent and the inability to acclimatize well.

The trek begins in the south-east area of the mountain at Marangu Gate. The route takes five days minimum to complete, although six days is more practical and recommended. The sleeping huts along the route have a dining hall and bunk beds, equipped with mattresses and pillows. The descent is done on the same path, contributing to Marangu’s overcrowded feeling. It is a cheaper Kilimanjaro climb due to the close proximity of the gate to Moshi, the gateway town, and because it is a shorter route.

Scenically, Marangu is not a desirable route compared to all the other routes because it confines climbers to one area of the mountain, thus limiting the variety. Of course, there are still great views of the rain forest, Mawenzi, and it’s equally spectacular for everyone at Uhuru Peak.

The Machame to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is also known as the “Whiskey Route”. This is because Machame is a more difficult route, and does not have sleeping huts for accommodation. Machame is the most popular route on the mountain and has the highest success rates.

The climb begins in the south-west area of Mt Kilimanjaro at Machame Gate. The route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down Mweka, on the south-east side of the mountain. Because of the ascent in the west and descent down the north, Machame offers great vistas of Kilimanjaro. Additionally, Machame visits stunning places such as Shira Plateau, Barranco, and Lava Tower.

Machame is ideal for those who want a more difficult climb, and are confident in their ability to hike over extended periods of time on sometimes steep terrain. Climbers using Machame place a premium on varied scenery, but also accept heavy traffic.

The Rongai Route up Mt Kilimanjaro is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, near the Kenyan border. Rongai seems an easier route but it does not allow climbers to “walk high, sleep low” and the summit night is particularly long. This route has low traffic and walks through remote wilderness areas. It is probably the only route where seeing wildlife on Kilimanjaro in the first days is possible.

The route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down Mweka, on the southeast side of the mountain. Because the starting point is far from Moshi, it is more expensive to climb this route due to the added transportation cost of getting climbers to the gate. Scenically, Rongai is beautiful because it travels through an unspoiled rain forest and remote wilderness area. However, it is not as scenically varied as Machame, Lemosho, and Shira.

The Shira Route to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro is a beautiful route that begins in the west, at Shira Gate. What is unique about Shira is that the first section of the trail is not hiked, but rather driven. Therefore, climbers using Shira will miss out on hiking through one of Kilimanjaro’s ecological zones, the rainforest. The gate is located at 11,500 feet, which is a hefty altitude gain for someone who slept at Moshi, at 2,500 feet, on the previous night.

The route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down Mweka, in the south-east. Because the starting point is far from Moshi, it is more expensive to climb this route due to the added transportation cost of getting climbers to the gate. Scenically, Shira is beautiful because it crosses the spectacular Shira Plateau, and then combines with the Machame route to share its viewpoints around the southern circuit. Shira has low traffic until it combines with Machame.

Shira is ideal for those who are confident in their ability to acclimatize to the altitude, and to walk over steeper paths for extended periods.

The Lemosho Route is nearly identical to the Shira route described above, but with one notable difference – the first section of the trail is hiked. Instead of being dropped off at Shira Gate, Lemosho users will trek through the rainforest on day one and exit the rainforest on day two. This schedule means that the Lemosho Route is a longer route, usually taking seven to eight days to complete.

Lemosho is a longer route, but the added days on the lower slopes of the mountain make this an ideal route for altitude acclimatization. The descent is down Mweka, in the south-east. Because the starting point is far from Moshi, it is more expensive to climb this route due to the added transportation cost of getting climbers to the gate. Scenically, Lemosho is considered the most varied and most beautiful because it begins in the rainforest, crosses the spectacular Shira Plateau, and then combines with the Machame route to share its viewpoints around the southern circuit. Lemosho has low traffic until it combines with Machame.

Lemosho is ideal for those who place a premium on proper altitude acclimatization, who are confident in their ability to walk over steeper paths for extended periods and want a lesser-used route. However, Lemosho is also more expensive than other routes.

The Umbwe Route is the least used route on Kilimanjaro. For good reason; it is the most difficult route on the mountain. Umbwe is a steep, constant, straight climb to the top but does not give climbers much time to adjust to the altitude and the success rate is very low.

The route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down Mweka, on the southeast side of the mountain. Umbwe is not as scenically varied as Machame, Lemosho, and Shira, because the path up and down is nearby.

Umbwe is for those who are experienced at altitude and thus are confident that the punishing schedule of Umbwe will not impede their ability to adjust to the altitude. Umbwe Route is also for those who want a secluded hike.

Choose your Kilimanjaro Package

We operate both private and group climbs starting every week through the year with different routes each week. If you are looking for a particular route you can see when we are running that route below.

8 days Lemosho Route
Best seller!

8 days Lemosho Route

The 8-day Lemosho route itinerary gives you an extra day advantage for acclimatization purposes on Mount Kilimanjaro. This 8-day Mount
8 days Lemosho Route
Popular!

7 days Machame Route

The Machame route which goes by the popular nickname, the "Whiskey" route, is probably the most popular route used to

7 days Lemosho Route

The shorter 7-day Lemosho route variant does not include the extra acclimatization day as the 8-day Lemosho route itinerary. The

6 days Machame Route

The 6 days Machame route does not include the extra day for acclimatization and is therefore recommended for mountain climbers

9 days Northern Circuit Route

The 9 days Northern Circuit Route is one of the easiest routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a recently introduced

7 Days Rongai Route

This is a 7-day Rongai route itinerary variation with an extra day for acclimatization. Gradually sloping towards the summit, Uhuru

6 Days Rongai Route

This 6-day itinerary takes you to the summit of Kilimanjaro using the Rongai Route. Tranquil Kilimanjaro offers treks up the

6 Days Umbwe Route

The 6 days Umbwe Route itinerary on Kilimanjaro is unpopular with many climbers especially first-time climbers for many reasons. First

9 Days Crater Camp via Lemosho Route

This 9-day crater camp trek combined with the 8-day Lemosho route climb is a uniques experience. Crater Camp is a

11 Days Western Breach Route

The 11 days Western Breach route itinerary is rarely or barely used at all due to the risks that come
Shira Route 7 Days

7 Days Shira Route

The 7 days Shira route package is seldom used mostly because Shira is an ancient route that does not follow