Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, is only the single-standing peak in the world. Having an elevation of 5,895 meters, it is one of the natural-gifted landmarks. It is an ancient volcanic mountain, now famous for several adventurous tours and expeditions. But how can we reach the top of it? What are the possible routes?
There are seven different routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. Those who want to summit the highest peak in Africa must be acknowledged about all the existing routes to Kilimanjaro. Choosing the route might differ, but keeping records of them will make climbers easy to choose. Here, we present the seven different routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. Let’s explore them in detail:
Marangu (Coca Cola) Route
The Marangcu Route of Mount Kilimanjaro is also known as Coca Cola Route. It is the oldest trail to reach the top of the tallest peak in Africa and hence, is considered the classic route. Undoubtedly, the Marangu route carries a long-standing history and established reputation. This simple trail makes it one of the most used routes while embarking on Mount Kilimanjaro Trek/Expedition. Similarly, this route features convenient logistics and accommodation facilities, including dormitory-style sleeping huts for trekkers and mountaineers.
If you are looking forward to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via Marangu Route, it is essential to learn that it takes multiple days. The average time to reach the mountain’s top via this route is five days. Nevertheless, it is recommended to allocate much time for the climb since the weather conditions and physical fitness of climbers heavily impact the climb. We advise climbers to acclimatize properly and focus on hydration, nutrition, and enough rest to eliminate any physical issues. If you do not want to encounter extreme weather conditions, it is wise to go through the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
Despite being one of the easy and most used routes, the Marangu route boasts fewer thrills and adventures for sightseeing and adventurous activities. Since the ascending and descending process goes through the same trail, climbers are less likely to enjoy scenic vistas than other routes. Most climbers prefer the rainy season when they choose this route to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Many climbers and mountaineering scholars suggest that Marangu Route should be used only if you have less time to go through the Mount Kilimanjaro Expedition or are on a tight budget.
Machame (Whiskey) Route
The Machame route of Mount Kilimanjaro is also called the Whiskey route. It is the only recommended route to scale the tallest peak in Africa; however, the difficulty level is a bit harsh than the Marangu Route.The Machame route is one of the most popular pathways for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Compared to other routes, climbing the mountain via the Machame trail is lengthy and challenging since it features steeper inclines and ridges, making the climb more technical and complicated. With this, it is easy to learn that it is a challenging trail that needs proper preparation, acclimatization, and technical climbing skills. So, do not lag in a single point while preparing to scale Mount Kilimanjaro via Machame Route.
The hike starts from the southern region while climbers embark on the Kilimanjaro Expedition via Machame Route. The trail stretches eastward and then passes beneath the mountain’s southern ice field.
From there, climbers push to their final summit before reaching Kilimanjaro’s top. The climb duration from Machame Route is around 6 to 7 days. Unlike Marangu Route, this trail offers scenic vistas of the surroundings, including the deep and green gorges and the plateau below it.
The Lemosho route is the highly recommended route for climbers to embark on their journey from. It is the newly discovered/opened route to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The trail takes climbers through the traditional pathways and immerses them in the picturesque vistas of the alpine environment. The Lemosho route begins from the western side and then crosses through the Shira Ridge and Shira Camp. Interestingly, it does not pass through Shira Plateau like the Machame route.
Initially, the route is solely available in the option, but later, it joins the Machame Route. The crowd starts getting heavy after the trail intersects with the Machame route. Similarly, the route also follows the Southern Circuit trail and passes through popular landmarks, such as Lava Tower, Barranco, and Barafu.
The average time climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via this route is one week [7 days]. But it is recommended to have more days in your itinerary since climbers need additional days for acclimatization. Last but not least, this route has the highest rate of successful summits.
The Shira route is another trail that leads climbers to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. It starts from the western side, the same as the Lemosho route. If you see the climbing trends of Mount Kilimanjaro, it comes to our acknowledgment that the Shira route is the original while the Lemosho is the enhanced variation. This trail also offers a convenient start as climbers can reach the Shira Gate near the Shira Ridge via vehicle. So there will not be any hassles of traversing through the Londorossi Gate and trekking through the rainforest to reach Shira Camp 1.
As climbers gradually hike uphill through the steep ridges, they reach Simba Camp at 3600 meters above sea level. There, climbers will make their camp and spend their first night. After that, the trail joins the Lemosho route and continues towards the Southern Circuit. The important thing to notice, this trail offers breathtaking views same as the Lemosho Route. But it is also prone to altitude-related issues like AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), and HACE (High Altitude Celebral Edema). So prepare accordingly as you be concerned about altitude, weather conditions, and the trail situation.
Northern Circuit Route
Another highly recommended trail of Mount Kilimanjaro. Undoubtedly, this route offers one of the most captivating and novel experiences while climbing the tallest peak in Africa. To get to the starting point of the Northern Circuit Route, climbers must follow the Lemosho trail first. The journey begins from the western side of the mighty peak and then commences through remote locations. The mountaineers opt for the trail that traverses through the westward routes, where the Northern Circuit diverges. Then the trail goes around the mountain, following the off-beaten trail from the northern slopes.
If you follow the Northern Circuit route, you must allocate nine days. As climbers mostly stop at 13,000 feet above sea level, there should be enough time for acclimatization and rest, as altitude sickness is a real concern. While many climbers opt for this option, this route has one of the most success rates compared to other routes.
The Rongai route is also one of the recommended routes that take climbers from the base camp to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. If you are looking forward to scaling up the highest peak in Africa from the northern side, the Rongai route is only your option. If you see the records of Mount Kilimanjaro, you will find very few climbers opting for this route though it has gained the most popularity in recent years. But it is considered one of the best alternatives for the crowded Marangu route. So if you are looking for a secluded journey to Kilimanjaro, this is probably the best option. The best time to climb Kilimanjaro from this route is during the rainy season, as it features less precipitation.
You can reach the top of Kilimanjaro in six days from the Rongai route. However, it is necessary to have additional days in your itinerary. This route differs from the western trails as it takes climbers through the true wilderness before joining the Marangu route at Kibo Camp. While descending from the top, this route follows the Marangu trail.
The Umbwe route is the shortest trail to Mount Kilimanjaro – it is steep and features some technical ridges in between, making the climb more complicated and challenging. The important thing while choosing this route is this trail does not offer enough stops and camps for altitude acclimatization. So, it is one of the less crowded trails of Mount Kilimanjaro, and the success rate is relatively lower compared to other routes.
The average duration of reaching the summit is around 6 to 7 days. There should be proper preparations for your physical fitness, mentality, and gear as this is one of the arduous routes.
Crater Camp Routes
The Crater Camp lies below the Kilimanjaro summit at 5750 meters (18,800 feet) above sea level. The route was named the ‘Crater Camp’ as it sits near to the source of Kilimanjaro, Reusch Crater (19,140 ft/5,800 m). Similarly, it sits alongside the Furtwangler Glacier. So while embarking on the Kilimanjaro hike/expedition, mountaineers will get to ascend to the rim of the crater and have scenic views of the glaciers as well.
The average duration of the climb from this route is around 10 days. Climbers must be well-prepared with the physical and technical demands of the mountain.
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