There is a lot to consider when planning your Kilimanjaro Climb, but the most important decision you are going to have to make, is which route to climb.
Kilimanjaro has six official climbing routes, Marangu, Machame, Umbwe, Rongai, Lemosho and Shira, although some companies now offer a 7th Route – the Northern Circuit. While most of the routes involve camping, some routes overnight in shared huts, but don’t let that lead you into a false sense of security. There is no electricity, no computer docs, no telephone charging points and no shower facilities on Kilimanjaro, regardless of the route you take!
While there are no official statistics to confirm which Kilimanjaro Route has the highest success rate, the length of your climb will have a huge impact on the outcome of your expedition.
The Marangu Route: Otherwise referred to as the Coca Cola Route, the Marangu Routes is one of the shortest routes on the mountain, with some operators offering 5 day expedition to budget travellers. While it can be tempting to save a few dollars, this route is widely believed to have the lowest success rate, with some reports suggesting that it has a success rate of less than 40%.
The Machame Route: One of the most popular routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, the Machame Route or Whisky Route is a great all-rounder in terms of scenery, length of trek and success rate. Most tour operators claim a success rate of 80% – 95% on this 7-day route, and I have yet to meet anyone that didn’t reach the summit on the Machame.
The Umbwe Route: Described by many as Kilimanjaro’s toughest route, the Umbwe Route starts with a steep climb, and so it is only really recommended for experienced trekkers. Altitude sickness is common on this route, and so this could affect your success. While not all operators offer this route, those that do state a success rate of around 70%.
The Rongai Route: The only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north (near the Kenyan Border), the Rongai Route is widely considered to be one of the easier routes on the mountain. Most operators offer 6 and 7 day expeditions, and estimate the success rate at around 85%.
The Lemosho Route: A route that is growing in popularity, the Lemosho Route is one of the longest routes to the Roof of Africa, with most expeditions ranging from 8 to 10 days. As climbers have more time to acclimatize to the altitude, this route had a high success rate of around 90%, and is much less crowded than the Marangu and Machame routes.
The Shira Route: Almost identical to the Lemosho, the Shira Route approaches the mountain from the west, but climbers are driven to an elevated starting point at 3,600m. This can cause all kinds of altitude related problems, and thus, the success rate is lower than the Lemosho route, at around 65%.
Ultimately, there is no right and wrong route on Kilimanjaro, they all lead to victory, but if you have zero hiking experience, it is worth doing some research before booking your climb.
*All stats have been sourced from the internet.