Selecting the best hiking route on Kilimanjaro is a subjective question as there is no single best hiking route that works for every climber. In this article, we hope to help you choose the best hiking route for you and will make recommendations depending on your preferences.
Generally speaking, routes vary by length, difficulty, scenery, altitude profile, accessibility and (lack of) facilities. The better a route scores on all these criteria, the more popular it is. Popularity is great if you like to share your experience with many other climbers and make lots of new friends. If solitude and wilderness is what you’re looking for, then the most popular routes may not be your best choice.
To choose the best hiking route for your Kilimanjaro climb, it is important to assess your personal priorities: Do you prefer stunning scenery or authentic wilderness away from the crowds? Do you prefer a climb with least amount of walking and easy slopes, or are you looking for a bigger physical challenge?
- If scenery is most important to you and you don’t mind the crowds, then the Machame or Lemosho Route will be the clear winners.
- If you are looking for the easiest possible route with the least amount of climbing uphill, then the Grand Traverse will be the way to go.
- If you want the maximize your summit success chance, then the Grand Traverse, Lemosho Route and Northern Circuit will be your best choice.
- If time or budget limits you to no more then 6 or 7 climbing days, then either the Shira or Machame Routes will be a good compromise for those prioritizing scenery over solitude, and Rongai for those in search of wilderness.
- If you have no choice but to climb during rainy season, then the huts along the Marangu Route will provide shelter from the rain, and the Rongai Route has a lower chance of rain overall.
- If you are confident of your physical abilities, and you either have considerable experience in high altitudes or are planning to pre-acclimatized on another mountain, then you may prefer a more challenging and direct summit approach via the shorter 5-day Marangu, Rongai or Umbwe Routes.
For most climbers who prefer to scale the mountain when the weather is sunny and dry, and to maximize your summit success chance without having had prior high altitude experience, our special top picks are:
- 8-day Lemosho Route: Best scenery as long as you don’t mind the crowds
- 8-day Grand Traverse: Easiest route and authentic wilderness, as long as you don’t mind missing some scenic highlights
- 9-day Northern Circuit: A somewhat more difficult alternative to the Grand Traverse (similar to Lemosho), yet with more opportunity to acclimatize and more scenic variety compared to the Grand Traverse
Arguably, 8 or 9 days on the mountain may sound just a bit too long. If you prefer a group climb, you will also be somewhat limited in choice of affordable options for the above routes. So if either time or budget is a constraint, then we recommend: