Mount Kilimanjaro, located in northern Tanzania, is the tallest mountain on the continent of Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Kilimanjaro rises approximately 4,877 m from its southern base in the plains to its summit at 5,895 m. It is a dormant volcano with three volcanic cones: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Although Mawenzi and Shira are extinct, Kibo, the highest peak, is dormant and could erupt in the future. The most recent geological activity on Kilimanjaro was about 200 years ago.

Rising high above the endless flat plains of east Africa, Kilimanjaro is an unmissable sight. It sits there looking irresistible to anyone who is even slightly adventurous. This view probably explains why every year 25,000 people attempt climbing Kilimanjaro of which most people reach its summit. Climbers have the option to take one of several routes to get to the highest point at Uhuru Peak. Popular routes from west to east are Lemosho/Shira, Rongai, Marangu, Mweka, Umbwe and finally the most popular Kilimanjaro Machame Route. A new route from the northern side has recently been open as well.

Each of these routes have their own distinctive characteristic and trekkers choose one of these routes based on their ability and time available when climbing Kilimanjaro.

Machame Route

  • Length: 6-7 days, 49 kilometers
  • Good for acclimatization; climbers get rest time before summiting
  • Excellent views through 5 diverse climatic zones
  • Also known as the ‘Whiskey Route’
  • Physically demanding, better for the more experienced and physically fit climbers

Lemosho Route

  • Length: 7 days, 56 kilometers
  • High summit success rate
  • Good for acclimatization (several walk high, sleep low opportunities)
  • Great views of the gorges and west Kilimanjaro

Rongai Route

  • Length: 5-7 days, 65 kilometers
  • Less acclimatization, difficult final summit
  • Less scenic and flatter than other routes but passes through true wilderness
  • Fairly difficult route recommended for experienced backpackers

Marangu Route

  • Length: 5-6 days, 64 kilometers
  • Easiest and the cheapest route; good for inexperienced climbers
  • Also known as the “Coca-Cola” route because in the past trekkers used to buy Coca-Cola from tea huts along the way
  • Less time to acclimatize resulting in lower success rate
  • Less scenic due because the same route is taken up and back

Umbwe Route

  • Length: 5-6 days, 37 kilometers
  • Shortest and steepest route
  • Less time for acclimatization, physically demanding route
  • Remote and less crowded
  • The most scenic of all the routes

Northern Circuit Route

  • Length: 8-9 days, 90 kilometers
  • Newest route up to the summit and the highest success rate of all the routes
  • Good for acclimatization, the longest route to the summit
  • Only route to circumnavigate the mountain
  • Great scenery from the western approach

Climbing Kilimanjaro is something most people would contemplate when they see this gorgeous mountain rise from the flat savannah of Tanzania. With so many different routes available, it is easy to find a path that is just right for you depending on your physical ability, available time and/or budgetary constraints. You can check out the various Kilimanjaro routes at Bookmundi. You are sure to find a route that matches your preference whether it is the easy Marangu route or the demanding Umbwe route.