Longer Acclimatization Routes:
- The Lemosho Route (Thomson’s Western Approach) is very scenic and far less traveled than many of the other routes, perhaps because it’s typically done as a longer, 8-9 day climb. This gives trekkers more acclimatization time, great views, and the opportunity for a daytime summit bid, all important factors in summit success.
- The Northern Circuit (Thomson’s Grand Traverse) is a very remote trail that circumnavigates the mountain, and which can be combined with treks originating from the western side of Kilimanjaro. Typically done as a 9-10 day climb (with a daytime summit bid), this route offers the best acclimatization opportunities and beautiful scenery throughout the trek, including views into Kenya.
- The Shira Route, like Lemosho, approaches from the west and offers climbers a very scenic path up the mountain. In fact, Shira and Lemosho are almost identical; Lemosho was originally an improvised “variation” of Shira. Shira can be done as either a long or a short climb, lasting from 7-10 days.
- The Umbwe Route is the best of the shorter trails, with far fewer trekkers, a recently redone trail, and truly stunning views. Usually done as a 6-7 day trek with a nighttime summit bid, Umbwe is a challenging, but ultimately rewarding route.
- The Marangu Route, also known as the Coca-Cola route (named after the shacks alongside the path that sell the beverage to trekkers), is the most popular on the mountain. That also means it’s the most crowded, with trekkers both ascending and descending this same route, sleeping in large communal huts…and sharing communal toilets. This route is usually done in 4-6 days with a night-time summit bid.
- The Machame Route is sometimes called the “whiskey route,” because it’s a significantly tougher climb than Marangu. Originally opened as an alternative to Marangu, in order to thin out the crowds, Machame has now become crowded in its own right, often with bottlenecking problems in the rainforest. This route typically takes 6-7 days, offers beautiful views, and ends in a nighttime summit bid; it is typically chosen by cost-conscious climbers.
- The Rongai Route is generally a 6-7 day trek (with nighttime summit bid) starting from the north. While it’s less crowded than Marangu and Machame on the ascent, it has relatively static views along the entire route, and descent is via the crowded Marangu route. Rongai might be a good option for hikers that must trek during the rainy season, as the northern side of Kilimanjaro stays a bit drier.
- The Mweka Route is a designated descent route for several trails on Kilimanjaro. This trail is a quick and direct way down from the summit.
- The Marangu Route is the descent route for trekkers on both the Marangu and Rongai trails