Climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest freestanding mountain, is a lifetime challenge!
Mt. Kilimanjaro is made up of 3 volcanic cones:
- The Shira (13,140 ft or 4,005 m).
- The Mawenzi (16,893 ft or 5,149 m).
- The Kibo (19,431 ft or 5,895 m). The Kibo volcanic cone encompasses the Uhuru peak, the ultimate destination for climbers.
Mt Kilimanjaro is quite a popular destination for hikers. Each year, there are between 15,000 to 20,000 hikers that attempt the climb of Kilimanjaro.
The overall success rate is about 65%, which at first glance seems to be quite low. Thus, preparation is paramount to improve your odds of reaching Africa’s roof!
Of course, getting physically and psychologically fit is crucial, but bear in mind that the selection of the climbing route also weighs heavily on your success rate.
I sifted through the different climbing routes on Mount Kilimanjaro and featured in this Kilimanjaro route review of the best routes for climbing the Kilimanjaro.
The Machame route is also known as the “Whiskey Route.”
Here are some of the highlights of the Machame Route:
- The Machame route is an 8-day trip.
- Climb Mount Kilimanjaro from the south.
- Travel through five ecosystems: rainforests, moorlands, alpine desert, Stone scree, and ice-capped summit.
- Your adventure begins at Moshi.
- Five campsites: Machame Camp, Shira 2 Camp, Barranco Camp, Karanga Camp, and the Barafu Camp.
- Descend by the Mweka route.
As you travel to the Shira 2 Camp, you will hike through a spectacular rainforest home to the black and white colobus monkeys and some exotic birds. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and camera to fully capture the wildlife!
Then, your next stop will be the Great Barranco Valley with its breathtaking Breach Wall. Enjoy the gorgeous landscape while you further continue to acclimate yourself to the high altitude.
The most scenic route.
Offer great opportunities for acclimatization since you hike high and sleep low.
Not a technical climb.
Success rate: 95%.
The steepest route of Kilimanjaro.
A high volume of traffic (2nd most popular).
The level of difficulty: High.
Only for the most experienced and fit climbers.
This trail is best suited for experienced hikers since the climb is quite steep! So, if you are looking for a challenge to test your limits, then the Machame Route is the path for you to the summit!
Where to Buy: G Adventures
My rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Rongai route has gained a reputation as being a real wilderness experience, particularly at the beginning of the climb.
Highlights of the Rongai Route:
- The Rongai route is an 8-day trip.
- The only trail allows you to climb Kilimanjaro from the mountain’s north side.
- The Rongai route crosses through the Saddle between the Kibo peak and the Mawenzi peak.
- Your journey starts at the Rongai Gate.
- Four campsites: the Simba Camp, Kikelelwa Camp, Mawenzi Tarn Camp, and the Kibo Huts Camp.
- Descend via the Marangu route.
On your way to the Simba Camp, you will travel through a pine forest where you might come face to face with white Colobus monkeys. So, keep your eyes peeled and your camera handy to capture your memorable encounters!
Ideal for people with little backpacking experience.
Very low volume of traffic.
See both sides of the Kilimanjaro since you descend via the Marangu route (south).
The level of difficulty: Medium.
Route of choice during the rainy seasons (April to May and from November to mid-December).
Success rate: 93%.
The least scenic route of Mount Kilimanjaro.
A lengthy travel time to get to the starting point.
No suitable opportunities for acclimatization. The hike high and sleep low principle cannot be applied to this route.
I listed as one of the Pros that the Rongai route is the preferred route during the wet seasons. But why? The answer is, its location! The Rongai route is on the north side of the mountain. It receives much less rainfall than the other routes during the rainy seasons. Thus, the trail is less muddy, slippery, and hence, less hazardous.
I highly recommend the Rongai route, especially if you have no backpacking experience or very little of it. It’s the easiest route on the Kilimanjaro!
Furthermore, if you are planning to hike on Kilimanjaro during one of the rainy seasons, the Rongai Route is the trail of choice for a more enjoyable adventure to Africa’s roof.
Where to Buy: G Adventures
My Rating: 5 out of 5
The Lemosho route is one of the newest trails for climbing Uhuru Peak.
As you travel toward the Mti Mkubwa Camp through the rainforest, you will come across diverse flora as well as abundant birdlife.
Thus, the Lemosho route is the ideal trail to hike to Africa’s roof for all nature and bird lovers. So, don’t forget to pack your binoculars!
Here is an overview of the Lemosho Route:
- The Lemosho route is a 10-day trip.
- Climb the Kilimanjaro from the west side of the mountain.
- Six ecosystems along the way range from rainforest to alpine desert.
- Your adventure begins at the Londorossi Gate.
- The Lemosho Route merges with the Machame route on day 4 of the excursion.
- Six campsites: the Mti Mkubwa Camp, Shira 1 and Shira 2 Camps, Barranco Camp, Karanga Camp, and the Barafu Camp.
- Descend via the Mweka route.
Low traffic volume, yes, but… only for the first 3-4 days. Afterward, you will encounter more traffic since the path merges with the Machame Route.
Scenic route with spectacular views of the gorges on the west side.
Extra days are included in the package for acclimatization.
Success rate: 95%.
The level of difficulty: High.
Not the best option during the rainy seasons.
Even though the Lemosho route has an impressive success rate, I strongly urge you NOT TO USE this route during the rainy seasons. The reason for this is simple.
The first section of the trail crosses through the rainforest, which receives a tremendous amount of rain, making the route quite slippery and hazardous. So, steer clear of the Lemosho route from April to May and from November to mid-December!
Where to Buy: G Adventures
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Some Extras to Indulge Yourself…
No matter if you are an experienced or novice hiker, climbing the Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so why not indulge yourself a little…
G Adventures offer with their different packages the following extras:
• Your own room/tent. If you travel solo, you can get a single room or your own tent for an affordable price (under $500).
• A Massage at the Lala Salam Spa (in Moshi).
Mount Kilimanjaro is quite an undertaking, to say the least. So, why not pamper your sore muscles with a 30 or 60-minute massage after the climb?
Not only your muscles will thank you but also Tanzania’s women cooperative, which is the project funded through this initiative.
My Final Thoughts
So, when selecting a package for climbing Kilimanjaro, you ought to consider the length of the trip, the level of difficulty of the route as well as the cost.
Furthermore, it is well worth it to take a couple of extra days for better acclimatization to increase your odds of reaching the summit.
Yes, it might be more expensive to book an excursion of 9-10 days, but don’t forget this is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure where failure is not an option!
If you are climbing the Kilimanjaro for a charity, you should put achieving success first. You need to choose a route that has a high success rate and allows ample time for acclimatization.
Thus, it’s a no-brainer. By clicking here, you should opt for the Lemosho Route, a 10-day trip.
If climbing Kilimanjaro is on your bucket list, then the Rongai Route is your ticket to reaching the summit! The Rongai trail, with its impressive success rate, is considered one of the easiest routes of Mount Kilimanjaro. So, are you ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime?
Please comment below if you have questions about my Kilimanjaro routes review or want to add your personal review. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
10 thoughts on “Kilimanjaro Routes Review — Best Routes for Success!”
Good Stuff!! Very nice information for me because I have a company in Tanzania for the people who love mountain climbing. I want to suggest one more route i.e. the Umbwe Route which is also a good route.
Thanks for sharing your input. I am glad that you found value in my post
I must be honest, I have no desire to climb any mountains literally.. instead, figuratively climbing them is enough for me. I’m afraid of heights! However, this site is Superb!
If I were into mountains, I would definitely come here for recommendations! It’s very informative. I’ve never heard of this location before, but you have made it come alive with the video you have here. I love the pros and cons. You make it easy to make a wise decision to travel and find new adventures.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Very informative post, I live in South Africa, and because of that, if I ever decide one day to climb a mountain, Kilimanjaro would be at the top of my list.
I did not realize there were three different routes to choose from. I really like the way you have broken them down and pointed out there pros and cons. Great article, good read.
There are seven climbing routes available to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, the Uhuru Peak. I only review the three best ones, in my opinion.
If you are interested in learning more about Mount Kilimanjaro, such as the other climbing routes available, read my post here.
Wow, Mount Kilimanjaro is for sure a beautiful mountain. That would be quite an adventure, thanks for your review.
The Lemosho route is the trail I would pick to reach the summit. The scenery along that trail is breathtaking. I will definitely put on my bucket list the Kilimanjaro. Hopefully, I will be able to travel to Africa one day.
I will bookmark your review, for future references.
The Lemosho Route is a great pick for climbing the Kilimanjaro. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars to observe the spectacular views while hiking to the summit!
I’m just aching to go on this trip! I’d LOVE to climb Kilimanjaro someday! Probably when my kids are older, though. I think I’d take your recommendation and do the one with the best success rates. 😉
Just wanted to add that I’ve done two trips with G Adventures, the company you recommend, and I’d also VERY HIGHLY recommend them. They are reputable, organized… I did the Inca Trail trek with them, and they certainly did their best to make it a great experience for me.
No doubt hiking the Kili with them would be similar. To anyone reading the comments here, G Adventures is a GREAT travel company!
I hope that you add climbing the Kilimanjaro to your bucket list! Maybe you can bring your kids along when they are older! Thank you for sharing your views about G Adventures, as you said G Adventures rocks!