ROUTES - Mt. Kilimanjaro is divided into two halves by a line running north/south between Barafu Camp and Kibo Hut. The four main ascent routes are: Marangu, Rongai, Machame, and Shira.
Rongai route can be done in 5 days or 6 days. Most gradual gradient and shortest distance to the summit. Less traveled than the alternative Marangu route.
Shira route is a 7 day climb and a good alternative to the Machame route. Only 3% of trekkers take this route compared to 20% on the alternative Machame. 6 or 7 day programs are offered.
Climbs begin on a Saturday (depart USA on Friday) and depart weekly.
All climbers who ascend the Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Umbwe routes must descend Mweka route. All climbers ascending Rongai and Marangu routes must descend on the Marangu Route.
The Marangu Route is the only two-way route; all other routes are one way only. Climbers from the Rongai and Marangu routes only meet climbers from the other routes on the Kibo Crater rim. This system is effective in reducing the impact of large numbers of climbers on all routes except the Marangu Route.
Climbers on Machame, Shira, Lemosho, and Umbwe routes may approach the summit via the Western Breach or to skirt around to Barafu and climb up to Stella Point.
Climbing Kibo Peak via the routes described below requires no mountaineering skills. A guide for each climbing party is required. Porters are highly recommended. The Marangu and the Machame routes are the most popular, carrying 85% of all climbers, while the Shira Plateau, Lemosho, Rongai and Umbwe routes are much less used.
Climbers stay in basic mountain huts on the Marangu Route and in small portable mountain tents carried by porters on the other routes. Your porters will bring fuel (kerosene or gas) for cooking and heating as cooking with firewood has been banned. The national park guides are not qualified to lead glacier- or ice-climbing routes. The services of a professional guide must be arranged in advance.
The park has a rescue teams based at the Park Headquarters, on the eastern edge of the Shira Plateau and another beneath Barafu Campsite, and a ranger post at Rongai Camp 1.
This unspoilt route with panoramic views of Amboseli and the Chuyulu Hills (Kenya) is also the easiest ascent route because of the steady gradient and the short distance to reach Kibo Hut for the summit attempt. It can be climbed in 5 days, however, six days are recommended to aid acclimatization and increase your chances for success. If coming from Kenya, meet your Tanzanian operator cross the border at Tarakea.
This route is also accessable from Kenya via the border crossing at Tarakea. Some climbers spend a few nights at camps in private reserves such as Ol Donyo Waus or Camp ya Khanzi in the Chyulu Hills, or in Tsavo West National Park, before beginning the climb. All park fees and arrangements must be made at the Marangu gate, Tanzania. The Rongai route may only be used for ascend and the Marangu route must be used for descend. There are several big caves along the route, which are used by the porters to overnight for the first two nights.
If coming from Arusha, drive to Marangu gate (1 ½ hrs) and onwards to the village of Nale Moru (6,396 feet/1950 m) where you will hike on a path through maize (corn) fields before climbing through a forest sheltering a variety of wildlife, including the Kilimanjaro colobus monkey. The hike takes 3-4 hours. The campsite is on the edge of the moorland zone (8,530 ft./2600 m) with views of the Kenyan plains.
The next morning ascend for 6-7 hours to the "Second Cave” towards the peaks of Mawenzi, and camp in a sheltered valley near Kikelewa Caves (11,320 feet/ 3450 m).
On the third day, take a short but steep 3-4 hour hike to Mawenzi Tarn (14,210 feet/4330 m), situated beneath the towering spires of Mawenzi. This afternoon you will have a chance to hike up to 15,088 feet (4600 m)to further help your body acclimatize.
This is the most popular and one of the most beautiful routes up the mountain. It is also one of the steepest routes. The park gate is located a few miles above Machame village.
The 6-day route is however physically more challenging than the Marangu route. The day walks are longer and steeper, however the summit night is one hour shorter. The scenic traverse of the Western Breach offers some stunning views! Only tented accommodation which can be less comfortable and requires a good sleeping bag and hiking mattress.
Hike four to six hours through rain forest to Machame Huts (9843 feet/3000 m). The following day hike five to seven hours to the defunct Shira Hut (12,467 feet/3800 m) on the Shira Plateau (see Shira Plateau Route for description of the area). Continue hiking about four hours to Lava Tower Hut. From Lava Tower Hut there are two choices to reach Uhuru Peak.
One route is via the Western Breach with an overnight at Arrow Glacier (15,744 feet4800 m) before reaching the Inner Crater and onward to Uhuru Peak, and then descending on the Mweka Route to Mweka Hut. The other route option is to continue along the Southern Summit Circuit path to Barranco and Barafu before climbing to Uhuru via Stella Point (18,811 feet/5735 m).
This is an excellent alternative to the Machame route. Similar to Machame in difficulty, the Shira route has been modified to allow climbers one extra day to improve acclimatization. This route can be done in 7 or 8 days.
The Shira Plateau is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions you can drive by 4 wheel drive vehicles, to within a 1/2 hours walk of Shira Hut (4000m). Even this drive is very spectacular indeed and offers some magnificent views of Mt Meru and the Great Rift Valley in general. Game is often sighted and the road features some striking vegetation changes ranging from forest, grassland, heath to moorland. The fast ascend by vehicle to about 4000m will require additional acclimatization, after which it will be possible to ascend Uhuru Peak either via the Western Breach or via the Barafu hut. Hike 4-5 hours through giant heather to Shira Plateau. Next day, hike 4-5 hours through moorland to Shira Camp. 4-8 hour hike exploring the Northern Icefields or climbing he ridge to Moir Hut. Hike 3-6 hours along lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach to Lava Tower Camp. Hike 5-7 hours through Great Barranco Valley to Karanga Camp. Hike 3-5 hours to your last campsite before summit. Hike 11-15 hours first to summit and then back to camp and onward to your final campsite at Mweka. Final day is a descent through the rainforest to the Mweka National Park gate.
It is a remote, unspoiled and very beautiful route to the Roof of Africa. The forest around the Lemosho Glades is rich in big game animals such as elephant and buffalo, which may sometimes require a game ranger to accompany climbers on the first day. This route is however a long route which requires 7-days for a comfortable completion, which also makes it more expensive.
An alternative final ascend route which can be taken from all of the western routes, sleeping at magnificent Arrow Glacier on your summit night. The western Breach poses a very difficult walk up steep scree with some rock scrambling occasionally required. Snow cover makes scree easier but an ice axe is then required. It is also possible to sleep an extra night inside the Kibo Crater!
No Technical climbs or adventure activities such as paragliding, cycling or skiing are allowed on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Climbing during a full moon can be a great way to enhance your climb. Ideally, timing your midnight summit hike during a full moon can provide some spectacular scenery. For more information on this option please discuss with your Consultant.