There are seven known routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and each route has its list of pros and cons. So it is a good idea to conduct some research before selecting the right direction for you and embarking on your climb. Some of them are delightful, offering abundantly beautiful landscapes and scenery, while others are tricky and dangerous, risking both life and limb.
However, all the routes are known to thrill most climbers as the chances of reaching the top are as varied as the climbers themselves. Here are the seven main routes:
The Marangu Route
This is one of the most popular since most climbers use the same path while going up and coming down. It also has a reputation for being one of the easiest. Unlike the other routes, it is not as punishing to climb. It’s said to be a comfortable walking path with very gradual, but steady slopes. No heavy camping equipment is needed, and you can reach the top in five to six days.
The Machame Route
Also known as the “Whiskey Route,” the Machame route has a reputation for being tough and rough. However, about 60 percent of climbers reach the top using this route. This is a challenging route that requires acclimatization. The trail is steep and involves many ups and downs, crossing many valleys and ridges. It can take up to seven days to reach the top. The Machame route features the Barranco Wall, which is extremely steep and demanding as it will require you to use your hands to retain your balance.
The Rongai route
Climbing Kilimanjaro easily can be accomplished on the Rongai route. The course features magnificent scenery and fantastic flora. This is the only route that approaches the peak from the north, so it’s possible to see both sides of the mountain. The Rongai route is expensive since there is less demand and there a few budget operators. If you’re looking for a drier route, then the Rongai route is for you. You can avoid getting soaked during the first few days.
The Shira route
The Shira route approaches the mountain from the west and at some point joins the Machame route. You can reach the top in six days if you use the Shira route but some operators offer a more extended version. Part of the Shira route is covered by four wheel drive vehicles.
The Lemosho route
The Lemosho route also approaches the mountain from the west and at some point joins the Machame route. During the first two days, you encounter beautiful and remote rainforest, with good chances of meeting wildlife. This is a long trek that takes seven days to reach the peak. Lemosho route is known for its steep terrain and attracts climbers who want to test their skills and stamina.
The Umbwe route is the most difficult of all Kilimanjaro climbing routes. You are advised to avoid it unless you’re extremely experienced in climbing mountains.
The northern circuit is one of the most popular as it offers almost 360 degrees of great scenery including the rarely seen northern slopes of the mountain. It is also the longest route. It demands a more extended acclimatization period and offers the highest summit success rate. It is highly recommended of all the seven courses.