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Climbing mount kilimanjaro –routes available?

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The Mount Kilimanjaro climb is considered to be one of the most rewarding trekking expeditions that you can undertake on the entire planet. To climb the mountain, there are six Kilimanjaro routes to choose from- Marangu, Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Rongai and Umbwe. The Marangu, Machame, and Umbwe routes all approach from the south of the mountain (Mweka is used only for descent). The Lemosho and Shira routes approach from the west. The Rongai route approaches from the north. While selecting a route for your trek considerations should be taken for the route’s scenery, difficulty, traffic and its altitude acclimatization characteristics.

Marangu route

This is a classic trek on Mount Kilimanjaro but offers the least scenic variety of all the available routes. It is the oldest, most well established option and is favoured by many because it is considered to be the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route which offers sleeping huts in dormitory style accommodations.

Machame route

This route is now the most popular route on the mountain and is considered a difficult one for novice trekkers. It is better suited for more adventurous folks and those with some hiking or backpacking experience due to its steeper climbs and uneven terrain.

Lemosho route

This is a fairly newer route to the summit of Kilimanjaro and begins in the west. Rather than simply intersecting Shira Plateau (like Machame), Lemosho crosses it from Shira Ridge to Shira Camp. Afterwards, Lemosho follows the same route through Lava Tower, Barranco and Barafu, known as the southern circuit. On the route you can expect lesser crowds, scenic views and a higher summit success rate.

Shira route

This is nearly identical to the Lemosho route. In fact, Shira was the original route and Lemosho is the improved variation. Although Shira is a varied and beautiful route, Lemosho is recommended over Shira due to the high altitude of Shira’s starting point. You can expect some beautiful views while on this path to Kilimanjaro’s summit.

Rongai route

It is the preferred route for those looking for an alternative to the crowded Marangu route, for those who would like a more remote hike, and for those who are climbing during the rainy season as this is the only route that approaches the summit from the north side that receives less precipitation. Although this route does not offer views as good as its western counterparts, it pretty much makes up for it by passing through true wilderness areas for days.

Umbwe route

This is the most challenging route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. It is short, steep and direct and does not provide any stages for acclimatization. Although the traffic on this route is very low, the chances of success are also low. This route is best suited to the more seasoned adventurers and should only be attempted by those who are very strong hikers and are confident in their ability to acclimatize.



Authors Bio

Paul is a seasoned trekker who has conquered the summit of Kilimanjaro many times. In order to help others achieve the feat, he runs an organization called Private Kilimanjaro that organizes custom made treks to climb Kilimanjaro through many scenic routes.


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  • Posted On July 21, 2012
  • Published articles 10

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