Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes

There are seven established routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro – Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai, Northern Circuit and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent).

Each route has it’s own beauty. This quick summary may help you decide which route to select!

The Marangu Route

The Marangu route is commonly known as the coca cola route as it was the most popular route for several years. It has now been relegated to number two by the Machame route. Its popularity stems from the fact that it is the least expensive option, but more so, perhaps because accomodation is in huts.


Low cost, accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed, often considered the easiest route (we beg to differ!)


Lowest success rate (only about 65% of climbers on this route reach the top), more crowded, camping is not allowed and a very high increase in elevation on each day – increasing risk of succumbing to altitude sickness.It’s the only route that uses the same way up and down.

The Machame Route

The Machame route is one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro. Machame is now the most popular Kilimanjaro route. This is a popular route up steep paths through magnificent forests up to a ridge which leads through the moorland zones to the Shira Plateau. It then traverses beneath the glaciated precipices of the southern ice fields to join the Barafu route to the summit.


Relatively low cost, a very scenic path and a higher success rate than Marangu


Higher level of difficulty and quite busy in peak season.

The Rongai Route

The Rongai route is a relatively easy route up Kilimanjaro. It has a reputation as a remote wilderness trail. Rongai is the only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north. The Rongai Route is one of the least frequented routes and is the second easiest route up Kilimanjaro. The approach to the mountain is from the less-forested north side and the descent is by the Marangu Route. There are several variations; we take a longer route taking in Mawenzi Tarn.


A relatively easy Kilimanjaro route and one of the quieter routes on Kilimanjaro.You approach the mountain from the driest side giving you the best chances of good weather.The ascent and descent are on opposite sides so you experience both sides of Kilimanjaro.


Higher cost due to additional travel to reach other side,considered less scenic than Machame.

The Shira Route

The Shira route, approaches Kilimanjaro from the west and crosses the caldera of Shira Volcano before heading beneath the southern ice fields of Kibo. The route is seldom used by other trekkers and so your initial two days on the mountain are less crowded than on most other routes.


Less crowded and very scenic


Higher cost, higher difficulty level and when it meets the Machame trail it can get busy during the high season

The Lemosho Route

Remote and beautiful, but long and expensive, this route also approaches Kilimanjaro across the Shira plateau. After beautiful forests and moorlands it crosses the Shira Plateau to meet up with the Machame Route. Groups may be accompanied on the first day by an armed ranger as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo, elephant and other game.


Extremely scenic route with very few other climbers during the first few days. There is plenty of time for acclimatization and consequently a high likelihood of reaching the summit.


High cost and a slightly higher difficulty level than the Machame route.When the the route meets the Machame and Shira trails, it may become crowded on the last few days during peak season.

The Umbwe Route

The steepest Kilimanjaro route with scenic views, the Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably the most scenic, non-technical route on Kilimanjaro. It is quite taxing, primarily due to the relatively fast ascent to higher altitude, but the rewards are plentiful. This route is rarely used. The Umbwe route is only suitable for people with mountain climbing experience.