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Mount Kilimanjaro Routes Information
There are 6 official Kilimanjaro routes to choose from; Lemosho, Rongai, Machame, Marangu, Shira and Umbwe. Each route has its own distinct features and offers a different perspective of Kilimanjaro. The Lemosho and Shira route start on the West of the mountain.

Kilimanjaro Trekking Routes Ittineraries

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Kilimanjaro trekking The Rongai route starts from the North, close to the Kenyan border and the Machame, Marangu and Umbwe all begin on the Southern side of the mountain. One of the main considerations when choosing a route is the amount of time you have to acclimatise.

If you have no experience of climbing or walking at altitude, we would recommend that you to choose a trek that lasts a minimum of seven days to give your body time to adjust to the effects of being at altitude. You will find below a route comparison table and a summary of each of the six routes available on Kilimanjaro.

If you still have any questions or are unsure of what route would be right for you then please get in touch with the Absolute Kilimanjaro team.
Kilimanjaro Route Map

Routes Summary

Route Name Route Start No. of days Popularity Difficulty Success Rate*
Lemosho West 8 Low Moderate High
Machame South West 7 High Hard Good
Rongai North 7 Low Moderate High
Marangu South East 6 High Moderate Good
Shira West 7 Low Moderate Good
Umbwe South 6 Low Hard Poor

The Lemosho route is an unspoiled and tranquil route that approaches Kibo from the West. The first two days are spent in the rainforest enjoying the peace and quiet of this less populated route. On the second day you will emerge out of the forest and onto the Shira Plateau.

Once across the Plateau the route then follows the Southern Circuit, through Barranco, Lava Tower and Barafu Hut, before the final ascent to the summit. The descent is via the Mweka route. This is one of the longest routes in the mountain and utilizes its additional day’s to assist with acclimatisation.

The Lemosho route is also one of the quietest routes on the mountain and has some of the most spectacular scenery of all the routes. Descent is via the Mweka route on the southern side of the mountain. This route is typically completed in 8 days allowing for excellent acclimatisation.
Machame Route

The Machame route is slightly more challenging than the other routes. It is also known as the whiskey route as it is considered to be more difficult and more intoxicating than the Marangu (coca-cola) route. The route begins at Machame Gate and ascends through the thick forest on the western side of Kilimanjaro to the Shira Plateau.

From the plateau you will then follow the southern circuit route via the Barranco wall and Karanga camp to the summit. Descent is via the Mweka route; this route is typically completed in 7 days allowing for good acclimatisation.
Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the only trail to approach Kibo from the North, on the Kenyan side of the mountain. The Rongai route is considered more scenic than the Marangu route and easier than the Machame route, it also has a high success rate for summiting. The Rongai route is also one of the quietest routes as it doesn’t converge with any other route until it joins the Marangu route for the ascent on the summit. Descent is via the Mweka route on the mountain’s southeast side. This route is typically completed in 7 days allowing for good acclimatisation.
Marangu Route

The Maragu route is the oldest, quickest, easiest and one of the most popular. Known as the coca-cola route due to its mass appeal and accessibility it is unlikely that you will ever feel completed alone or isolated. It has the most luxurious accommodation and is the only route where you sleep in huts. The huts contain bunk bed, mattresses, solar powered lights and cold running water.

Your ascent begins at Marangu Gate up the south east side of Kilimanjaro through the beautiful forest and moorland before passing to the south of Mawenzi and crossing the desulate saddle on route to Kibo Hut. You will then ascend the summit on scree slopes to Gilmans Point and then onto Uhuru Peak.

Descent is back to Marangu Gate; this route is typically completed in 6 days allowing for good acclimatisation.
Shira Route

The Shira route, like the Lemosho route approaches Kibo from the West. The route is identical to the Lemosho route, but it starts at a higher altitude. Instead of starting at the Londorossi Gate and ascending through the rainforest, your trek begins at the Shira Gate, near the Shira Ridge.

The road to Shira Gate is only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicles and can become impassable during wet periods. We would recommend the Lemosho route over the Shira route due to the additional aclimatisation day and the beautiful rainforest trek at the start. Descent is via the Mweka Route, this route is typically completed in 7 days allowing for good acclimatisation.
Umbwe Route

The Umbwe route is the most demanding route due to the direct approach, although some say it is the most beautiful route on Kilimanjaro. This little climbed route begins at Umbwe Gate and ascends the Western side of the mountain until it reaches Barranco camp.

From there it joins the southern circuit and the summit ascent is via the Barafu hut route. Descent is via the Mweka route. This is the most physically demanding of all the routes and should be attempted in no less than 6 days.

*These statistics are based on the average summit success rate on Kilimanjaro. Although some routes have a better success rate than others; there is still no guarantee that you will summit Mount Kilimanjaro.

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