Climbing Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, and so it is essential that you do it right! You need to find a reputable climbing company with years of experience, you need to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the expedition ahead of you, but perhaps most importantly of all, you need to decide which route is right for you.
There are seven main routes to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, namely, Marangu, Machame, Rongai, Umbwe, Lemosho, Shira, and the Northern Circuit. All routes vary in terms of duration and level of difficulty, although many of them meet up with other routes along the way, and so there is much to consider before booking your Kilimanjaro climb.
Until recently, the Marangu Route was one of the most popular routes on Kilimanjaro as it is the shortest and therefore the cheapest. However, it is also the route with the lowest success rate, and over the years, travellers have become wise to this. Today, the 7 Day Machame Route and the 8 Day Lemosho Route are the most popular choices, and with fabulous scenery and a very high success rate, it is no wonder that people are choosing these routes for their Kili expedition.
If you are undecided about the Lemosho Route or the Machame Route, here are the basic differences between the two…
While you can climb the Machame Route in 6 days, it is not recommended. Take the 7-day / 6-night option and double your chances of reaching Uhuru Peak. During your seven-day climb, you will stay at the following camps:
- 1: Machame Camp
- 2: Shira Camp
- 3: Barranco Camp
- 4: Karanga Camp
- 5: Barafu Camp (or if you book with a top operator – Karanga Camp) Summit Night
- 6: Mweka Camp
You can climb the Lemosho Route over 8 or 9 days, but most people find 8 days sufficient. The Lemosho Route joins up with the Machame Route on day 4, and so from then on the routes are identical, but that extra night at the beginning of the climb makes all the difference when it comes to acclimatisation, and to date, the Lemosho Route has the highest success rate of all. Here’s where you will stay during your 8-day / 7-night Lemosho Route expedition:
- 1: Forest (Big Tree) Camp
- 2: Shira 1 Camp
- 3: Moir Hut
- 4: Barranco Camp
- 5: Karanga Camp
- 6: Barafu Camp (or if you book with a top operator – Karanga Camp) Summit Night
- 7: Mweka Camp
Of course, the Lemosho Route is one night longer than the Machame Route, and it is therefore more expensive, but the truth is, the longer you spend on Kilimanjaro, the more likely you are to reach the summit…
And so the question is, do I want to save a couple of hundred dollars for a cheaper, shorter climb… or do I want to make it to the Roof of Africa?!