Description of the Routes on Mount Kilimanjaro

Once you have decided you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the next step is to pick the route you want to climb. There are 6 routes on the mountain and each has advantages and disadvantages. However some routes such as the Machame route stand out from the others as being especially beautiful and fun to climb. The six routes are the Machame Route, Shira Route, Lemosho Route, Umbwe Route, Rongai Route and the Marangu Route. Below is a short description of each. To read a full description of each route, including descriptions of the trail from day to day, select the route from the list to the left.

Machame Route

Climb length:7 days
Trip length:9 days
Cost:£970/$1940
Extra night:£90/$180

Cost includes all ground fees, 1 night's hotel before and one night's hotel after your climb. No extra local payments need to be made.

Along with the Marangu route, the Machame Route is the most popular on the mountain. Climbers spend good time in each of the vegetation zones on the mountain, seeing some impressive sights along the way such as the Shira Cathedral on the Shira Plateau, the Lava Tower at the foot of the Western Breach and the Barranco Valley on the southern slopes. A climb takes approx 7 days and there is plenty of opportunity to extend this. Traditionally the summit is reached from Stella Point but it can also be reached via the difficult Western Breach should you wish. The route is moderate with a few sections that will get the heart pumping a bit more. During the peak climbing season in July and August this route can get very busy.

7-day Machame Route Itinerary

DayDetails
1Machame park gate - Machame Camp
2Machame Camp - Shira Camp
3Shira Camp - Barranco Camp
4Barranco Camp - Karanga Camp
5Karanga Camp - Barafu Camp
6Barafu Camp - Summit - Millennium Camp
7Millennium Camp - park gate

Shira Route

Climb length:7 days
Trip length:9 days
Cost:£970/$1940
Extra night:£90/$180

Cost includes all ground fees, 1 night's hotel before and one night's hotel after your climb. No extra local payments need to be made.

The Shira Route is one of 2 that approach Kibo from the west. The route begins by following a 4 wheel drive track up to the Shira Plateau, then a full day is spend crossing the plateau, the most beautiful part of the whole mountain. You will get to see the massive lava structure of the Shira Cathedral up close, something few get to see. A climb takes approx 7 days but there are a number of secluded, remote camps on the Shira Plateau so you can easily extend this. Once you leave the Shira Plateau the path merges with the Machame Route, past the Lava Tower, through the Barranco Valley and on the Stella Point. Summiting via the Western Breach is also an option on this route. This route is moderate throughout apart from a few short, steep sections. When you merge with the Machame Route the volume of climbers can increase dramatically if your climbing peak season.

7-day Shira Route Itinerary

DayDetails
1Shira park gate - River Camp
2River Camp - Shira Camp
3Shira Camp - Barranco Camp
4Barranco Camp - Karanga Camp
5Karanga Camp - Barafu Camp
6Barafu Camp - Summit - Millennium Camp
7Millennium Camp - park gate

Lemosho Route

Climb length:8 days
Trip length:10 days
Cost:£1050/$2100
Extra night:£90/$180

Cost includes all ground fees, 1 night's hotel before and one night's hotel after your climb. No extra local payments need to be made.

The Lemosho Route is the other route that approaches Kibo from the west. Since it was opened, it has become the 3rd most popular route on the mountain and a lot of climbers have shifted from the Shira Route to the Lemosho Route (meaning that the Shira Route is now a more peaceful climb). After climbing through the forest and across the Shira Plateau, the Lemosho Route also merges with the Machame Route and so can get busy during the peak season. The western routes were originally the ones from which climbers would summit via the western breach and while this is still a great option, most now loop round the southern slopes and summit via Stella Point. As the forest section on this route is quite long, a climb takes approx 7-8 days.

8-day Lemosho Route Itinerary

DayDetails
1Londorossi park gate - Big Tree Camp
2Big Tree Camp - Shira Camp 1
3Shira Camp 1 - Shira Camp 2
4Shira Camp 2 - Barranco Camp
5Barranco Camp - Karanga Camp
6Karanga Camp - Barafu Camp
7Barafu Camp - Summit - Millennium Camp
8Millennium Camp - park gate

Umbwe Route

Climb length:7 days
Trip length:9 days
Cost:£970/$1940
Extra night:£90/$180

Cost includes all ground fees, 1 night's hotel before and one night's hotel after your climb. No extra local payments need to be made.

Without a doubt the toughest way to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is the Umbwe Route. Approaching from due south, climbers face an opening day of some serious climbing through a very steep section of forest, often climbing over huge tree roots where it’s too steep for any real trail. However this is also the most rewarding route on the mountain and offers the climber some of the best views not only of Kibo but also of Mount Meru to the southwest and the plains below. The route works straight up the Barranco Valley where you need to spend a full day acclimatizing due to the height you’ll have gained on day 1 and 2. From here you can climb east with the Machame, Shira and Lemosho climbers and summit via Stella Point or for the true hardcore climbers you can continue your northerly climb straight up the Western Breach. Those who opt for this and reach the summit have truly climbed the hardest route on the mountain. The climb takes 6-7 days, including a day for acclimatizing in the Barranco Valley.

7-day Umbwe Route Itinerary

DayDetails
1Umbwe park gate - Umbwe Camp
2Umbwe Camp - Barranco Camp
3Barranco Camp - Rest day
4Barranco Camp - Karanga Camp
5Karanga Camp - Barafu Camp
6Barafu Camp - Summit - Millennium Camp
7Millennium Camp - park gate

Rongai Route

Climb length:7 days
Trip length:9 days
Cost:£950/$1900
Extra night:£90/$180

Cost includes all ground fees, 1 night's hotel before and one night's hotel after your climb. No extra local payments need to be made.

The Rongai Route is the only one that approaches Kibo from the north, starting right on the Kenyan Border. For those who want to truly get away from the crowds of climbers, Rongai is the route for you. Take the year 2000 for example. That year, just over 20,0000 people climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and only 130 of those climbed the Rongai Route! Because of the low volume of climbers, your best chance of seeing wildlife on Mount Kilimanjaro is on this route. The climb will take you approx 7 days and we build in an acclimatization day hike to the foot of Mawenzi into our itinerary, where you will have some truly breathtaking views of Kibo that few ever see. The route summits via Gillman’s Point, just before Stella point. The Marangu Route is the designated descent for Rongai.

7-day Rongai Route Itinerary

DayDetails
1Loitokitok - First Cave Camp
2First Cave Camp - Kikelewa Caves
3Kikelewa Caves - Mawenzi Tarn Hut
4Rest day to explore Mawenzi
5Mawenzi Tarn Hut - School Huts
6School Huts - Summit - Horombo Huts
7Horombo Huts - park gate

Marangu Route

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

Cost includes all ground fees, 1 night's hotel before and one night's hotel after your climb. No extra local payments need to be made.

The Marangu Route is the most popular route on the mountain yet it also has the poorest summit rate. The problem is that instead of camping, climbers sleep in huts, which gives people the impression that it makes the climb easier. Because of this the route has been nicknamed the Coca Cola route because it is so "easy". This has led to many trying to climb the route in 5 days instead of 6 or 7. Now for the facts. The Marangu Route starts at approx 6000ft, just like every other route. It also finishes at the summit just like every other route so all people achieve by climbing in 5 days is making their climb much harder! That said the route is a nice one albeit very busy most of the year round. The major disadvantage is that you descend by the exact same path as you summited so you don’t get to see more of the mountain. At 4th Summit we pride ourselves in looking after our clients and as such, we don’t offer this route as a set departure and would strongly recommend you consider routes other than this one. If you have your heart set on climbing this route we ask that you contact us for a quick chat before booking as well as considering an extra day to acclimatize.

6-day Marangu Route Itinerary

DayDetails
1Marangu park gate - Mandara Huts
2Mandara Huts - Horombo Huts
3Horombo Huts - Mawenzi Huts
4Mawenzi Huts - Kibo Huts
5Kibo Huts - Summit - Horombo Huts
6Horombo Huts - Marangu park gate

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