Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Marangu Route

While we do not recommend you climb Mount Kilimanjaro via the Marangu Route unless you have very good reason to, we still offer it to climbers. The Marangu route is the only route on the mountain where climbers sleep in huts and not in tents. Because of this it has got the reputation of being the easiest route on the mountain (not so, there are no easy routes but if we had to chose, we would put Rongai as the easiest for a novice climber) and as such sees a lot of unprepared climbers each year. Please consider the route carefully before deciding to climb it. For some more advice, feel free to call Dave in our office on +44 (0)28 9073 6050.

Marangu Route: Overview

Often perceived as the easiest way to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the Marangu Route sees more climbers each year than any other. Unfortunately the Marangu is no easier to climb than the other routes on Mount Kilimanjaro for one simple fact – the summit is still at 19,340 feet and you still have to climb every step of the way. On the Marangu Route, climbers sleep in huts and not in tents, leading to people saying that this makes the climb easier. The thing is you still sleep in your sleeping bag in these huts so it has no bearing at all on the difficulty of the climb. Alas the urban legend of the ‘easy Marangu Route’ is rife amongst those climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and with many attempting this route in just 5 days (reaching the summit in just over 3), Marangu has the greatest failure rate of all the routes. On top of this the Marangu ascends and descends on the same trail meaning you don’t get to see another part of the mountain on the way back down. You do however get to pass lots of exhausted people on their way up in the knowledge that you have already (we hope!) had a successful climb.

At 4th Summit, we will organise a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro via the Marangu Route but only for a 6-day climb and not 5. The danger of serious illness caused by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in just 5 days is far too great. For many people climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime experience, we would hate to see it spoiled by choosing an ill-advised route on the mountain.

That said the Marangu route is relatively cheap, as fewer porters are needed because no tents are being carried. It also has some spectacular views on the descent and for those who love the opportunity to meet new people and share the climb with others, Marangu should fulfill this expectation due to the massive volume of climbers in the peak season.

Marangu Route: Day 1 - MARANGU GATE TO MANDARA HUTS

Start:Marangu Gate
6102ft / 1860m
Finish:Mandara Huts
8875ft / 2705m
Gain:2773ft / 845m
Distance:7.75km
Duration:3 hours

Day 1 of the climb, excitement is in the air! Thomas will pick you up from the hotel at 8.30am. We know it’s early but as darkness falls before 7 on the mountain folks tend not to stay up late. Remember to buy at least 3 litres of water from the hotel for today and pack your waterproofs as well as some warm gear in your daypack. You also need a photocopy of your passport for signing into camp each night. The drive to the gate takes of the Marangu Route takes less than 1 hour

Once you reach the Park Gate, Thomas has some paper work to do before you set off. The path is very well maintained and for most of the day it follows a steady uphill course. The gradient is shallow and will not tax you too much. The forest on this part of the mountain is impressive and there are a number of monkey troops in the trees overhead. Occasionally you will come across a small waterfall amongst the trees. After about 1 hour 30 minutes you come to a bridge on the right of the path leading to some picnic tables, your lunch stop for the day. After lunch you head off again, still following a northwesterly bearing. After 45 minutes you come to a bridge at which Mount Kilimanjaro’s famous giant heathers make their first appearance. From the bridge, a further 45-minute walk brings you to your first camp, the Mandara Huts. For those that feel up to a little more exploring, you can take a short, 15-minute walk from camp to see the parasitic cone known as the Maundi Crater from which you get a nice view of Mawenzi, Kibo’s sister peak. Back at camp tea, coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn and warm water to wash with awaits you, followed by dinner and bed.

Marangu Route: Day 2 - MANDARA HUTS TO HOROMBO HUTS

Start:Mandara Huts
8875ft / 2705m
Finish:Horombo Huts
12,200/3719m
Gain:3325ft / 1014m
Distance:11.5km
Duration:6-7 hours

You will be woken each day round 7.30am by one of the porters bearing hot water and soap so you can get a good wash before a large breakfast of porridge, toast, fresh fruit, boiled eggs and hot drinks. After packing up your sleeping bag and your large bag, Thomas will do your medical then lead off while the team of porters packs up camp.

Today’s climb is quite long and you will gain almost 1km in altitude before the day is out. For the most part, you will be climbing through the wilder scenery of Mount Kilimanjaro, namely the moorland and the lower reaches of the highland desert. Leaving camp you follow a gently climbing path for 15minutes through the last of the forest. You may well see some of the semi-tame monkeys that live in the trees as they forage for breakfast. After another q15 minutes you come so a small view-point where, if the weather is clear, you will get your first proper view of the twin peaks of Mount Kilimanjaro, Kibo and Mawenzi. For the rest of the morning you will be climbing through some impressive heather, unfortunately some sections still show signs of the fires that raged on the mountain a few years ago. By late morning you will come to a bridge, once you reach here you know you’re getting close to your lunch stop. A further 30minute climb up your one steep section of the day will being you to a green hut where you can take a good rest as you enjoy lunch.

After you have been well fed and rested, its time to head off. Thankfully the section after lunch is much shorter and with less of a gradient in the path. A 90 minute hike through some smaller heathers and over some dry streambeds will bring you to Horombo Huts, your camp for the night. Today has been a long day and by the end of it some folks may be feeling a headache coming on. Don’t worry this is normal. Drinking plenty before you go to bed and getting good nights sleep usually helps a lot.

Marangu Route: Day 3 - HOROMBO HUTS TO MAWENZI HUTS

Start:Horombo Huts
12,200/3719m
Finish:Mawenzi Huts
14,888ft/4538m
Gain:2688ft / 819m
Distance:9km
Duration:5-6 hours

Today you say goodbye to the poor people who have chosen to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 3 days. For acclimatization you get to climb across part of the saddle that connects Mount Kilimanjaro’s main peaks, Kibo and Mawenzi and spend a night at the Mawenzi Hut. As soon as you leave camp, the path splits in two, the left hand route heading for the Kibo Huts and the right hand route heading straight for Mawenzi. This is your route for the day. The path heads due north for about 2 hours 30 minutes before you come to a junction marked with a signpost and a large cairn. From here you take the northeasterly path (to the right!), following a set of steep switchbacks for about 1 hour 30minutes before reaching camp. Remember to keep your camera handy today as you get some amazing views during today’s climb.

There are some really impressive views of the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro from this campsite, never mind the countless rock climbs and walks on offer round Mawenzi itself. You have climbed very high today and it is the norm, not the exception to have a solid headache by the end of today. This is nothing to worry about as long as you take it easy, drink lots of water and don’t present any symptoms of AMS. Thomas will be keeping a close eye on you so you’re in safe hands.

Marangu Route: Day 4 - MAWENZI HUTs TO KIBO HUTS

Start:Mawenzi Huts
14,888ft/4538m
Finish:Kibo Huts
15,463/4713m
Gain:575ft / 175m
Distance:9km
Duration:4 hours

Today you cover quite a long distance but altogether you only gain about 575ft/170m, making it very useful for further acclimatization before your big summit push tonight. Leaving camp you head back down the switchbacks to the junction where you climbed through yesterday. Today you are cutting a direct line across the saddle towards Kibo. This is regarded by a lot of climbers as one of the nicest parts of the climb. For a lot of today’s hike the path is level and in some places it actually descends gently. The views are powerful and even if some cloud builds up and covers the saddle, it only serves to highlight the otherworldly feel of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Once you reach camp, its time to grab some food and sort out your pack for tonight before beading down and trying to get some rest. Believe us, you will need it! We recommend that you use earplugs as this is a busy campsite and some find it hard to get to sleep, especially as it is still the middle of the afternoon.

Marangu Route: Day 5 Ascent - KIBO HUTS TO SUMMIT

Start:Kibo Huts
15,463/4713m
Finish:Summit
19,340ft / 5895m
Gain:3877ft / 1182m
Distance:5.5km
Duration:7 hours

This is what it’s all been about, tonight. You will be woken about 11.30pm by one of the porters and after getting ready, hot drinks and snacks will be served. It’s important that you drink as much as you can, dehydration tonight will end your climb. Then strap on your headlamp, grab your bag and it’s time to make one final push on this mountain!

Your pre-summit goal is Gillman’s Point, the point at which your route reaches the crater rim. Leaving camp, you climb up a steep but relatively straight path for about 2 hours. It’s important to take this section slowly as you will feel the effects later on if you push too hard here. After about 1 hour 30 minutes you come to William’s point at 16,404ft/5000m. Hans Meyer Cave, the last signpost before the summit, lies 30 minutes ahead. From here it is a relentless uphill climb, zig-zagging between large rocks for about 3 hours before reaching Gillman’s Point at 18,711ft/5703m. You’ve now only about 500ft/150m to climb! If you have reached hear but can’t go further, console yourself with the fact you will get a nice green certificate stating that you reached Gillman’s Point and you should be proud as it’s no small achievement.

From Gillman’s Point the path turns southwest and after about 1 hour of steady but shallow incline you approach that iconic sign, marking the summit and the roof of Africa. We’ve seen grown men break down in tears at the top through joy mixed with the relief that it’s finally over – words just can’t describe the emotions that flow through you as you realize what you have achieved. Looking east, you see the sun rising over Africa, Mawenzi silhouetted against it and the Icefields and glaciers sparkling orange and pink in the early morning glow. Congratulations, you made it.

Marangu Route: Day 5 Descent - SUMMIT TO HOROMBO HUTS

Start:Summit
19,340ft / 5895m
Finish:Horombo Huts
12,201ft / 3719m
Drop:7139ft / 2176m
Distance:12km
Duration:6 hours

After reveling in the elation caused by your triumph, its time to get out of Dodge. The route of descent follows the same path you climbed to reach the summit. Trekking poles come in useful here; going down is always toughest on the knees. It is possible to use the loose scree like a ski slope but we really don’t recommend this – it pushes the scree down the slope causing all sorts of mountain erosion so it’s best to avoid this if you can. Depending on your physical state, the descent to Kibo Huts can take anywhere from 2-4 hours.

Once back at Kibo Huts, you can expect genuine congratulations all round from the porters, after all their job satisfaction is in getting you to the summit and back in one piece! If you’re feeling up to it, food will be provided and then it’s into the tents for an hour or 2 of much needed sleep while the porters start packing up and heading on to Horombo Huts. After you wake and grab some food, it’s time to head off again. The route takes a fairly due south course as is descends down the mountain taking about 3-4 hours to complete. Tonight you can really relax, knowing you will never have to go through that again (unless like us you’re a little strange), enjoy a slap-up feed and share stories of your climb. It’s not a bad idea to give tips to Thomas for distribution now, as tomorrow you may not see all the porters.

Marangu Route: Day 6 - HOROMBO HUTS TO PARK GATE

Start:Horombo Huts
12,201ft / 3719m
Finish:Park Gate
6102ft / 1860m
Drop:6099ft / 1859m
Distance:19.5km
Duration:5-6 hours

Today marks the end of what we hope will have been the experience of a lifetime for you. The descent is uneventful and while it’s nice to get down as quick as possible, there is no need to rush and miss taking in all the sights. The path drops at a steady gradient and can be quite sore on the knees so we recommend you keep your trekking poles handy if you have them.

Leaving camp you descend for about 2 hours 30 minutes before coming to the Mandara Huts. Depending on the time you have made you may stop here for lunch or keep on going. Leaving the Mandara Huts, you descend for a further 2 hours before reaching the park gate; the end of your journey.

At the park office you are presented with your certificate if you reached Gillman’s Point (green) or better yet, the summit (gold). Finally you sign one last registration book, marking the end of your climb. You can buy souvenirs from the locals before being picked up and driven back to the hotel in Moshi for a hot shower, big feed and a few cold ones. Now it’s time to kick back and relax. All that’s left to do now is get a good nights rest before your transfer onwards or to the airport tomorrow.

Marangu Route: CLIMB ITINERARY AND COST

Climb length:6 days
Trip length:8 days
Cost:£800/$1600
Extra night:£90/$180

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro by the Marangu Route in 2008 and 2009

Because of it's poor summit rate, we do not run organised climbs of the Marangu route.

How to Book

To organise your own climb of Mount Kilimanjaro by the Marangu route, either call our office on +44 (0)28 9073 6050 (UK telephone number) or fill in your details online by clicking the link below

6-day Marangu Route Itinerary

DayDetails
1Arrive in Kilimanjaro International Airport, transfer to hotel in Moshi (approx 1 hour) for night. Receive climb briefing.
2Marangu park gate - Mandara Huts
3Mandara Huts - Horombo Huts
4Horombo Huts - Mawenzi Huts
5Mawenzi Huts - Kibo Huts
6Kibo Huts - Summit - Horombo Huts
7Horombo Huts - Marangu park gate
8Transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport for onward flight or departure

What's included

  • 1 night in hotel before climb and 1 after (B&B)
  • All transfers to and from Moshi and to and from Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Park fees, guide fees and mountain rescue fees
  • 2/3 porters per person
  • Food and water while on the mountain
  • There is NO local payment on any of our climbs!

What's not included

  • International flights
  • Tanzania visa (approx $50)
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips for porters (we recommed $80-120 per climber)

UK