The peak of Kilimanjaro stands at a towering 5,895 meters, making it Africa’s tallest mountain. It is a dormant volcano located in East Africa’s Tanzania, and its snow-capped peak can be seen from miles away. The mountain draws adventurers, climbers, and trekkers from across the globe to fulfill their goal of reaching the summit.

There are seven distinct routes available to reach the top of Kilimanjaro, but the one that suits you best will depend on your preferences, knowledge, and experience. This article will assist you in identifying the most appropriate route for you based on the following factors:

Acclimatization period and difficulty level


Accommodations available en route

Time taken to reach the summit


Success rate

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a significant challenge and one of the most rewarding goals you can achieve. Let’s help you get there by exploring the seven routes:

Marangu Route – The Tourist Route:

Distance: 70 km/5 – 6 days Difficulty: Moderate Scenery: Good Traffic: High Success rate: Low

The Marangu Route is the oldest and most popular route to the top of the mountain, also known as the Coca-Cola Route or the Tourist Route due to its popularity. It follows a steady, gradual slope until the last day, where the incline significantly increases. The route has a low success rate because the five-day climb does not allow for enough acclimatization time. The Marangu Route is the only one where the same path is used to go up and down, resulting in it being busier than the others. Dormitory-style huts are available along the way, and camping is not allowed.

Machame Route – The Popular Route:

Distance: 61 km/6 – 7 days Difficulty: High Scenery: Stunning Traffic: High Success rate: High

The Machame Route is also known as the Whiskey Route, and it is one of the more scenic routes to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. It has a higher success rate than the Marangu Route, despite being more challenging, with steep sections and numerous ups and downs, including the challenging Barranco Wall. The six and seven-day itinerary options are available, with the seven-day option providing an additional day for altitude acclimatization. The route goes through four climate zones and offers views of the Shira Plateau and the Lava Tower.

Lemosho Route – The Most Scenic (But Most Expensive) Route:

Distance: 67 km/7 – 8 days Difficulty: High Scenery: Stunning Traffic: Medium Success rate: Second-highest among all routes

The Lemosho Route begins from the west side of the mountain, providing magnificent views of Kilimanjaro’s dramatic gorges. It starts by crossing the remote rainforest before joining the Machame Route. This route has a high success rate, panoramic views, and low traffic, making it popular among climbers. The Lemosho Route can take seven or eight days, offering plenty of time for altitude acclimatization, but it is more expensive than other routes.

Shira Route – The Poor Acclimatization Route:

Distance: 58 km/6 – 7 days Difficulty: High Scenery: Stunning Traffic: Medium Success rate: High

The Shira Route starts on the west side of Kilimanjaro, but at a higher starting point than the Lemosho Route. The first day follows a four-wheel-drive path and can either be trekked or driven. However, driving reduces the time available for altitude acclimatization, as the trek starts at a Northern Circuit Route – The Longest Route Distance: 98km / 9 – 10 Days

Difficulty: High Scenery: Stunning Traffic: Low Success rate: High

The Northern Circuit Route is the newest and longest route to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. This route is for those who want to take it slow and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way. It takes nine or ten days to complete, making it one of the longest routes.

This route starts on the western side of the mountain, and it follows the Lemosho Route for the first two days before veering off into a northern direction. It passes through Kilimanjaro’s remote northern slopes, where you will encounter fewer climbers and more wildlife, such as buffalos and elephants.

The Northern Circuit Route is known for its high success rate, which is due to the longer acclimatization period. This route offers the best chance of reaching the summit while minimizing the risk of altitude sickness. It’s also the least crowded route, which allows for a more peaceful and serene experience.

Umbwe Route – The Steepest and Most Direct Route Distance: 53km / 5 – 6 Days

Difficulty: Very high Scenery: Average Traffic: Very low Success rate: Low

The Umbwe Route is the steepest and most direct route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. It’s not for the faint-hearted and is recommended for experienced climbers only. This route is the shortest, but also the most challenging, taking only five or six days to complete.

The Umbwe Route is not recommended for climbers who have not previously trekked at high altitude or for those who are not confident in their ability to ascend steep terrain. The route requires a high level of fitness, and climbers should be prepared for steep ascents and descents.

Although the route is the most direct, it has a low success rate due to the lack of time for acclimatization. The route is also not recommended during the rainy season, as the steep terrain can become slippery and treacherous.


In summary, Kilimanjaro has seven unique routes to choose from, each offering different experiences, challenges and stunning scenery. When choosing the right route, consider your experience level, fitness level, acclimation needs, and personal preferences.

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The Mount Kilimanjaro Climb