Mount Kilimanjaro has several routes to the summit. Depending on which route you choose can make or break your summit attempt. Kilimanjaro Sunrise offers group climbs on only the best most successful routes. We want to make sure you achieve your ultimate goal—to summit Kilimanjaro.
What is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro?
We recommend two routes over the rest of them. This is for a few reasons. One, the views and scenery. Two of the routes we recommend have fewer people. And three, the success rate is over 90% for these two routes.
In addition to the two we recommend, there are a few we recommend avoiding, especially if this is your first time climbing Kilimanjaro.
First of all, what are the names and the trails that get you to the summit and back?
The common routes are the
- Northern Circuit
Additionally, there are variations or combinations of these routes such as the Spiral route or the Northern Crater route. Some companies call routes by other names. Like the Northern Circuit route which is sometimes referred to as the Grand Traverse.
Then there are alternate trails like the Western Breach. Kilimanjaro Sunrise does not guide the Western Breach because of the danger of rock slides. Kilimanjaro is a volcano and tremors can cause unstable areas. Melting snow can also make the terrain unstable. Climbing Kilimanjaro is already dangerous, why make it worse by going through treacherous terrain?
What Kilimanjaro routes do we not guide? Keep reading to find out.
SHIRA AND UMBWE ROUTES
Kilimanjaro Sunrise does not guide the Shira and Umbwe routes. Why not?
Let’s start with the Shira route. Which is also known as the Shira Plateau route. The Shira route has trekkers start by riding in a vehicle to the Shira gate. It is above the rainforest. The trailhead begins at 11,800 ft. This is more than 3,000 feet higher than the Lemosho Gate. So you are already starting with less time to acclimate to the elevation.
Secondly, by starting that high, you also miss out on the beautiful rainforest.
Moving along, the Umbwe route is the most difficult route to the summit. The route is very steep. You’ll gain altitude very quickly. This also does not allow your body time to acclimate. Some say it is the best-kept secret on the mountain. But we disagree. Isn’t making the summit the reason you traveled to Africa? Why make your odds of making the summit less than 50% by climbing the Umbwe route?
The Marangu route, nicknamed the Coca-Cola route, is the only route that goes up and down on the same trail. This makes it the most crowded trail.
It is six days on the mountain. But just because it isn’t our favorite route, doesn’t mean it isn’t a route you should ignore. It does have its benefits. We recommend climbing this route if you do not want to sleep in a tent on an inflatable pad. Or if you can only climb during the rainy season. Why is that? Because the Marangu Route is the only route where you’ll sleep in huts.
Keep in mind the huts can hold up to 30 people. So if you are a light sleeper, we recommend earplugs.
The Rongai route is popular . You can book a 6-day group or private climb. It receives less rainfall being on the Northeast side. It is an alternative to the Marangu route during the rainy season and is a good route for those who don’t have as much time.
The Rongai route is a more gradual ascent. Thus, those with little or no backpacking experience prefer it. Yet, it is still enjoyable for even veteran trekkers.
The Machame, or Whiskey route, is the most popular route on Mount Kilimanjaro. The trek begins at Machame Gate, located at the southern base of the mountain. Then continues through the rainforest.
The total time on the mountain is 7 days. All companies guide it. It is also a more aggressive route. The start has you rapidly gain elevation. Not as quickly as the Umbwe route. We offer a 7-day group or private climb. The Machame route joins the Lemosho route near Lava Tower.
The Northern Circuit Route, also known as the Grand Traverse, is the most amazing journey on Kilimanjaro.
On this route, you’ll enjoy the Northern Circuit’s tranquility and stunning panoramic scenery. The route starts from the west, with the Lemosho route. Near Lava Tower, it departs the Lemosho route and circles clockwise around the north side of Kilimanjaro. This is the only route that goes along the north side. It traverses nearly the entire mountain before summiting from the east. This is the most scenic path available and has almost no traffic on its northern face. We offer the Northern Circuit as both a 9-day group and private climb.
The Lemosho route is our most popular route. It starts along with the Northern Circiut route at the Lemosho gate then joins the Machame route at Lava Tower. It also has the infamous Barranco wall. We offer an 8-day Private and group climb.
The Lemosho route is the prettiest route on Kilimanjaro in our opinion.
It starts from the west side of the mountain. You will trek through the lush rainforest until you reach the wildflowers of the Heath ecosystem.
After the rainforest, you will cross one of the most beautiful areas on Kilimanjaro, the Shira Plateau.
You’ll summit from the South East.
The total time on the mountain is 8 days. We recommend hiking the 8-day Lemosho route. It provides plenty of time for acclimatization and it also keeps the daily hiking distances very reasonable.
All the routes have their pros and cons. Yet, we mention two that are our favorites. We hinted at them above, but if you still aren’t sure what best route to climb Kilimanjaro is, we recommend the Northern Circuit and the Lemosho routes. As we said earlier, they have amazing views, fewer people, and a more than 90% success rate.
In the end, whatever route you choose is up to you. Just make sure you pick the right operator to get you safely to the summit and back down .