What is the Best Route to Climb Kilimanjaro?

Wondering which is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro? Whether you’re a total climbing newbie or an experienced mountaineer, these are the best Kilimanjaro routes you need to consider.

As one of the best mountains for beginners, deciding on a route when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is absolutely crucial. There are six established routes and two used for descents, so picking the right one is no easy feat.

We’ll be honest, our journey up Mount Kilimanjaro was plain sailing. And we strongly believe that this was to do with the route we took (and as a result of the training we undertook beforehand).

Let’s dive into the different Kilimanjaro routes and the ones you should consider.

The Best Route to Climb Kilimanjaro

Rongai Route – Best for Rainy Season

Kilimanjaro View

Length: 49 miles

This is the route we took up Kilimanjaro (and you can read all about our experience here), so we might be a little bit biased when we say it’s the best route to climb Kilimanjaro. But stick with us here…

As the only northern route (which starts near the Kenyan border), it’s a particularly great path for the rainy season as it spans the drier side of the mountain. As well as this, it’s one of the quieter routes, as many people opt for the Machame route instead.

While it’s moderately difficult (but totally manageable if you’re prepared for the climb), it’s a 6-7 day trek – though we highly recommend taking the full seven days if you need/want to make sure you acclimatise as best as you can.

The scenery is pretty on this route – at times – but not as good as other routes. This, like many of other best Kilimanjaro routes, descends down the Marangu route.

Rongai Route ProsRongai Route Cons
• Great for rainy season
• Quieter route
• The only northern route
• Moderately difficult
• Scenery not as good as other routes

Marangu – Best Camping Alternative

Marangu Route Kilimanjaro

Length: 45 miles

Another option that might just take the title of best route to climb Kilimanjaro is the Marangu route. This is the most established route and it winds up the eastern side of the mountain.

Out of all the routes, this is the easiest path with a gradual slope – however, it usually takes five days to complete, so altitude sickness is pretty common here (which means it has a low success rate). 

This is the only route that has sleeping huts, so it’s ideal if you don’t want to rough it completely by camping outside on the ground.

Marangu Route ProsMarangu Route Cons
• Most established
• Only route that has sleeping huts
• Quickest route
• Low success rate
• Lots of crowds

Machame – Best for Climbing in a Group

Kilimanjaro hiking trail

Length: 37 miles

Without a doubt, the most popular route is Machame. This is a southern route that descends along the Mweka route, a very busy option. 

This is the route that around 50% of climbers take, which means it’s often more crowded than the likes of Rongai. Despite being so popular, it’s considered one of the more difficult routes, though the gorgeous scenery and epic views definitely make up for that. 

This route usually takes around six or seven days, though the longer option gives you a better chance of acclimatisation.

Machame Route ProsMachame Route Cons
• Most popular route
• One of the shorter routes
• One of the more difficult routes
• Can be very crowded

Lemosho – Best for Scenic Treks

Rainforest Lemosho Route Kilimanjaro

Length: 42 miles

If you’re after a scenic route up Mount Kilimanjaro, look no further than the Lemosho trail. This is another western route that descends down Mweka route, so you’ll be in great company once you’ve summited.

It’s a longer route, so treks can be up to eight days long, though it’s also more expensive than some of the other routes. This is worth it for ease of acclimatisation and a higher summit success rate. The lower traffic levels are a bonus.

Lemosho Route ProsLemosho Route Cons
• Very scenic
• Great for beginners
• Low crowds
• Great for acclimatisation and high success rate
• More expensive route
• Longer route

Shira – Best for Avoiding Crowds

Tent, Kilimanjaro

Length: 33 miles

Want to avoid the crowds? The best route to climb Kilimanjaro is Shira. This is a gorgeous route that is very similar to Lemosho (it’s a western route that descends down the Mweka trail) but begins at higher elevation.

The only thing to note about this route is that it’s pretty terrible for acclimatisation, so for anyone worried about this, we would recommend Lemosho since they’re very similar.

Shira Route ProsShira Route Cons
• Very scenic
• Low crowds
• Begins at a higher elevation, which can be bad for altitude sickness
• Not great for beginners

Northern Circuit – Best for Acclimatisation

Northern Circuit Route Kilimanjaro

Length: 61 miles

If you’re a nervous beginner looking for a (slightly) easier route up Mount Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit is best for you. 

While this is the longest route – taking around 9 days to complete the summit, it is the best for acclimatising. This is ideal if you are worried about suffering altitude sickness throughout the trek.

One of the main draws to this route is that it usually has low crowds. It actually uses the Lemosho route in the beginning before heading around the quieter northern side of the mountain. It finishes up with a descent down the Mweka route, combining multiple quieter routes on the mountain.

This route is also incredibly scenic (especially compared to Rongai, another “easy” Kilimanjaro route) which makes it ideal for first-timers looking for a rewarding climb to the peak.

Northern Circuit ProsNorthern Circuit Cons
• Great for beginners
• Lower chance of altitude sickness
• Very scenic
• Low crowds
• One of the longer routes
• More expensive due to length

Best Kilimanjaro Route: What to Know Before You Go

Kilimanjaro Summit Sign

Which Kilimanjaro route has the highest success rate?

If in doubt, we recommend picking the Northern Circuit or Lemosho route. While they are definitely more expensive than some of the other routes to climb Kilimanjaro, they’ve got some of the highest success rates for beginners.

Which is the easiest route to Kilimanjaro?

Alongside Lemosho, another brilliant route for first-timers is the Rongai route. It’s a moderate length which reduces the risk of altitude sickness, plus there are lower crowds to contend with.

Which is the toughest route to Kilimanjaro?

Machame, although popular, is one of the more difficult Kilimanjaro routes. As well as this, Shira is another trail that can test even the most experienced of hikers with its quick acclimatisation. We recommend avoiding these if you’re new to climbing or tend to suffer severely with altitude sickness.

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