We are spoiled for choice when it comes to climbing Kilimanjaro. There are six main routes, as well as a few less popular ones to help us reach the summit.
The traditional routes in order of popularity are: Machame, Marangu, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. Selecting which route to take is not easy, partly because it is so subjective and it depends upon your abilities and preferences.
In this article, we tell you what to keep in mind when selecting your best Kilimanjaro route.
What to consider when selecting the best route
Another consideration is your fitness and experience. If you are used to high altitude hiking and you are an experienced mountaineer, then you may choose to opt for a tougher route such as the Umbwe route, whereas if you are not used to high altitude climbing then an easier route would be the better option.
Some routes are more scenic, while others offer a more authentic wilderness experience, so this is definitely worth taking into consideration before you climb.
What are the main route options?
Below we give a brief description of the six traditional Kilimanjaro routes. For more information about some of the different routes, visit our Climb Kilimanjaro Experience page.
The Northern Circuit is the longest route on Kilimanjaro. It starts in the west along the Lemosho Route, then circumvents the peak on the northern slopes, approaches the summit from the east and descends in the south. As such, it offers 360° degree views of the peak and afar.
Together with the Grand Traverse, the Northern Circuit is the only route that circumvents the peak on the northern slopes, providing the most authentic wilderness experience away from the crowds.
The route offers plenty of opportunity to acclimatize to the high altitude and therefore also has a very high summit success chance. Even though it is the longest route, it might as well be one of the easiest!
How many days do I need to climb Kilimanjaro?
Which route should you take?
Climbing Kilimanjaro is the adventure of a lifetime and so you should definitely make sure that you take the route that matches your abilities and gives you the kind of experience you are looking for.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few of our own suggestions below to help you decide which route is going to be best for your circumstances.
Best route for altitude acclimatization
Which routes give you the ultimate challenge and adventure?
Best route to take during rainy season
Are there any routes I should avoid?
What routes does Fair Voyage recommend?
Finding the best route can take hours of painstaking research and reading, when you don’t have all of the information about the differences between each route.
The route you take can also affect your summit success, because some are more challenging than others, which is why it is so important to choose the right one for your circumstances.
Although it might be tempting to go for the shorter routes if you are not accustomed to camping or climbing for long periods of time, this is unlikely to give you the best experience if you are not used to high altitude climbing.
This is why we recommend that most climbers should opt for a 7-9 day route that allows them to hike high during the day and sleep low at night to help them acclimatize to the high altitude.
There are many routes that allow you to do just that, so then it is just a question of deciding what kind of scenery, surroundings and facilities you prefer.
We’ve covered the six traditional routes in this article, but there are several others which are more off the beaten track and will give you a more unique experience. We’ll be covering these ultimate Kilimanjaro itineraries in a separate article about.
For more guidance, feel free to contact one of our local Kilimanjaro experts.