Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most exciting hikes in the world, putting you at an elevation of 19,341 feet on Uhuru Peak where you will be at the tallest point in Africa and also atop the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

There are seven different routes you can use to get to the top of Kilimanjaro with each offering different lengths, elevation gains, and technical levels. The three most popular, which are all non-technical, are Marangu, Rongai, and Lemosho, but there are also four other routes which can offer different views, be enjoyed with fewer crowds, and provide additional challenges.

Mount Kilimanjaro Routes from Easiest to Difficult

All routes up Kilimanjaro start from within Tanzania, although one route starts in the north at the Kenyan border. When you are planning a trip to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, taking into account your past hiking experience, fitness level, and comfort with altitude will be important factors in choosing your route. Since all hikers on Kilimanjaro must be accompanied by a guide, you will also need to find a guide who is familiar with your route.

These are the seven route options on Kilimanjaro from easiest to most challenging:

  • Marangu Route – This route is 48 miles, has 13,300 feet of elevation gain, and takes about 6 days. It is unique in that it has wooden A-frame huts along the way to provide comfortable sleeping accommodations during your ascent.
  • Rongai Route – This Rongai path is 45 miles round trip with 13,000 square feet of elevation gain and takes 7 days. It is the only trail that starts in the north of Kilimanjaro near Kenya. It has lower traffic for a more peaceful ascent.
  • Lemosho Route – This route is 47.5 miles round trip with 12,300 feet of elevation gain. It takes approximately 8 days, has medium traffic, and excellent scenery that traverses many different settings.
  • Machame Route – This route is 37 miles, goes up 16,000 feet, and is a 7 day trip. It is currently the most popular route on Kilimanjaro and is more difficult than the Marangu Route, the second most popular trail. The scenery on the Machame Route is varied and stunning.
  • Shira Route – The Shira Route is 35 miles round trip and takes 7 days. It is very similar to the Lemosho Route since Lemosho was created as a newer alternative. It starts off much higher than Lemosho, however, with the first night of camping at 11,800 feet. This means later days are not as steep, but there is no time to adjust to altitude.
  • Northern Circuit – The longest and newest route, the Northern Circuit is 60 miles long and takes at least 9 days to climb. It has low traffic and fantastic scenery, and the more gradual elevation gain provides time to acclimate to elevation.
  • Umbwe Route – This route is 28 miles and takes about 7 days. It is the most difficult trail because it is short and steep, offering no altitude acclimatization, but it can be an exciting trail for experienced mountaineers.

Whichever method you use to get to the top of Kilimanjaro, the scenery along the way and views of Africa around you will make for a memorable trip and with every route providing challenges, you will return to Tanzania with a fantastic sense of accomplishment.

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