Mt. Climbing

Mt. Kilimanjaro Routes – Overview

Advantages and Disadvantage of All Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes

Choosing the right Kilimanjaro route for your climb is an important decision.

There are seven Mount Kilimanjaro routes: six routes up Kilimanjaro and two down.
(Yes, that sounds like there are eight routes. But one of the ascent routes can also be used for descent, so there are in fact only seven routes.)

Several of these trails meet after a few days climbing and share the same path over the last days.

As a result there are only three dedicated routes from the base of Kibo—the main peak—to the Kilimanjaro crater rim.
(One of them, the Western Breach route, is a challenging and dangerous route and not used much. Which leaves only two.)

The routes to climb Kilimanjaro approach the mountain from different sides and they vary considerably in length, difficulty, traffic levels and other aspects.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Different Kilimanjaro Climb Routes

Marangu | Machame | Rongai | Shira | Lemosho | Umbwe | Mweka

Marangu Route

For many years Marangu used to be the most popular Kilimanjaro route. It has now been delegated to number two by the Machame route (see below).

Duration: 5 days, acclimatization day can be added


  • Low cost.
  • Accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed.
  • Supposedly the easiest route. (I beg to differ.)


  • Lowest success rate. (See? Not that easy after all!)
  • Very crowded.
  • Camping is not allowed.
  • The only route that uses the same way up and down.

Climbing Kilimanjaro on the Marangu Route | Marangu Route Pictures

Machame Route

The Machame route is one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro. Once the budget operators discovered it, Machame quickly became the most popular Kilimanjaro route.

Duration: 6 or 7 days


  • Relatively low cost.
  • Very scenic.
  • Higher success rate than Marangu.


  • Higher level of difficulty.
  • Very crowded.

Climbing Kilimanjaro on the Machame Route |

Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the easiest route up Kilimanjaro. It has a reputation as a remote wilderness trail. Rongai is the only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north.

Duration: 5 or 6 days


  • The easiest Kilimanjaro route.
  • One of the quieter routes on Kilimanjaro.
  • Approaches the mountain from the driest side, best chances of good weather.
  • Ascent and descent are on opposite sides, you see both sides of Kilimanjaro. (You descend on the Marangu route.)


  • Higher cost due to additional travel to reach other side.
  • Considered somewhat less scenic.