Snow capped and towering at 5892m above sea level, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest in Africa and the world’s tallest free standing mountain, attracting over forty thousand climbers annually. It is also one of the most sought after mountains in the world.
Kilimanjaro’s different routes all take you to the summit, Kibo, through varying landscape and scenery. Getting there does not require any special mountaineering skills, or oxygen cylinder usage but it is a challenging endeavor nonetheless. Fascinating and amazing, the mountain’s ecological zones include rain forest cover, open moorland, alpine desert and glaciers.
Kilimanjaro Trekking Routes Highlights:
MARANGU ROUTE (5 days) is the most popular of all routes in terms of access, offering some comfortable facilities. In this regard it is the preferred route by climbers without mountaineering experience.
MACHAME ROUTE (7days) is the second most accessible trailhead and one of the most scenic routes, with sweeping views across the Maasai Steppe to Mount Meru and over the impressive Barranco Valley. It is infinitely quieter than the Marangu route.
The advantages of the Machame route are its accessibility (the trailhead is on the western side of the mountain and close to a good tarmac road), the descent is by a different trail (Mweka) which allows climbers to see more of the mountain; and avoid upcoming trekkers.
SHIRA & LEMOSHO ROUTE (9 days) has several variations in the start of the climb to the final day to the summit. Shira is one of the 3 peaks of Kilimanjaro (the others are Kibo & Mawenzi) and the plateau allows acclimatization walks and even technical climbs to the Shira Needles before continuing with the ascent to the summit. The last camp is the highest of all camps on the mountain and a short two hours from the summit, so that with a slow approach, climbers who have reached this camp will almost certainly reach the summit successfully and without sickness.
RONGAI ROUTE (5 days). With its position in the rain shadow of Kilimanjaro, the Rongai route has a completely different landscape from the other routes. Being drier and more open, it allows for spectacular views over Tsavo and Amboseli parks. The advantage of this route is its very gentle ascent with daily long walks on moderate gradients, unique scenery and its being the last remaining “wilderness route”.
UMBWE ROUTE (5 days) is generally considered too steep for most climbers, making it a little used route. However, this is a perfect trail for already acclimatized and very fit trekkers.
The Umbwe-Western breach is an exclusive but a very tough way to tackle Kilimanjaro. The advantage of the route is its closeness to Moshi town and the main road and the fact that it is unexploited, little-used and therefore an attraction to seasoned climbers.