For many travellers, climbing Kilimanjaro is the trip of a lifetime, and if you are in the midst of planning your expedition to the Roof of Africa, you have probably figured out by now that you need to invest a great deal of time, money, and motivation if you are to reach the welcoming sign of Uhuru Peak.
While some websites will have you believe that climbing Kilimanjaro is a walk in the park, the reality is very different! Hiking Africa’s highest mountain is tough, really tough, but it is also one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do, and if you take time to choose the right route and the right climbing company, you’ll have a good chance of success.
So, how do you choose the right route on Kilimanjaro? Well, it all comes down to time and budget. There are seven established hiking routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, namely the Marangu Route (also called the Coca-Cola Route), the Machame Route (referred to as the Whisky Route), the Lemosho Route, the Rongai Route, the Umbwe Route, and Shira Route (sometimes called the Londorosi Route), and the Northern Circuit.
While all routes start at different gates, some join up along the way, such as the Lemosho Route and the Machame Route, and so you need to study each itinerary carefully to find out which one is right for you.
Are some routes easier than others? Well, yes and no. The Umbwe Route is considered to be one of the most challenging routes on Kilimanjaro with steep climbs from day one. Hiking high allows little time for acclimatisation, and so unless you are super-duper fit and used to hiking at altitude, you might want to give this route a miss.
When it comes to the easiest route on Kilimanjaro, the Marangu Route and the Rongai Route are leading contenders for the title, but easy doesn’t necessarily mean successful. The Marangu Route is the shortest and most established route on the mountain, and it’s possible to hike it in just 5-days, but the success rate is believed to be less than 40% on this route… so is it really worth it?
The Rongai Route is the only route to start on the northern side of Kili, near the Kenyan border. The terrain is relatively flat here and there are no steep climbs to worry about, and so it’s a good choice for those who are worried about their fitness levels. That said, you do not have the opportunity to ‘hike high and sleep low’ on this route, as you do with the Machame and the Lemosho Route, and so you need to spend at least 6-days (preferably 7), on this particular route.
If there is one route to be recommended above all others, it would have to be the 8-Day Lemosho Route Expedition. Why? Well, with 8 days on the mountain, you have plenty of time to acclimatise, you can hike at a gentle pace, and the success rate speaks for itself – 96%!!