Which Climb Route Is The Best?


Advantages and Disadvantage of All Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Routes

Choosing the right Kilimanjaro route for your climb is an important decision.

Which climb route is the the best? There are seven Mount Kilimanjaro routes: six routes up Kilimanjaro and two down.
(Yes, that sounds like there are eight routes. But one of the ascent routes can also be used for descent, so there are in fact only seven routes.)

Marangu Route

For many years Marangu used to be the most popular Kilimanjaro route. It has now been delegated to number two by the Machame route (see below).

Duration: 5 days, acclimatization day can be added


  • Low cost.
  • Accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed.
  • Supposedly the easiest route. (I beg to differ.)


  • Lowest success rate. (See? Not that easy after all!)
  • Very crowded.
  • Camping is not allowed.
  • The only route that uses the same way up and down.

5 days marangu route | 6 days marangu route

Machame Route

The Machame route is one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro. Once the budget operators discovered it, Machame quickly became the most popular Kilimanjaro route.

Duration: 6 or 7 days


  • Relatively low cost.
  • Very scenic.
  • Higher success rate than Marangu.


  • Higher level of difficulty.
  • Very crowded.

6 days machame route | 7 days machame route

Rongai Route

The Rongai route is the easiest route up Kilimanjaro. It has a reputation as a remote wilderness trail. Rongai is the only route to approach Kilimanjaro from the north.

Duration: 5 or 6 days


  • The easiest Kilimanjaro route.
  • One of the quieter routes on Kilimanjaro.
  • Approaches the mountain from the driest side, best chances of good weather.
  • Ascent and descent are on opposite sides, you see both sides of Kilimanjaro. (You descend on the Marangu route.)


  • Higher cost due to additional travel to reach other side.
  • Considered somewhat less scenic.

Shira Route

The route over the Shira Plateau has several possible variations.

Duration: 6 – 8 days


  • Less crowded on the first days.
  • Very scenic.


  • Higher cost.
  • Higher difficulty level.
  • Meets the Machame trail, hence very busy on the later days.

Lemosho Route

Remote and beautiful, but long and expensive, this route also approaches Kilimanjaro across the Shira plateau.

Duration: 7 – 8 days


  • Very scenic route.
  • Very low number of climbers during the first days.
  • Plenty of time for acclimatization.


  • High cost.
  • Higher difficulty level.
  • Meets the Machame and Shira trail, hence very crowded on the later days.

Umbwe Route

The steepest Kilimanjaro route. Steep with a big capital S.

Duration: 5 – 6 days.

This route is not used much. The Umbwe route is only suitable for people with mountain climbing experience and who are already well adapted to the altitude.
Mweka Route

This is not a climb route, it is only used for descent. You will follow it if climbing Kilimanjaro on the Machame, Shira, Lemosho or Umbwe route.

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