Kilimanjaro. The name itself is a mystery wreathed in clouds. It might mean Mountain of Light, Mountain of Greatness or Mountain of Caravans. Or it might not. The local people, the Wachagga, don't even have a name for the whole massif, only Kipoo (now known as Kibo) for the familiar snowy peak that stands imperious, overseer of the continent, the summit of Africa. Kilimanjaro, by any name, is a metaphor for the compelling beauty of East Africa. When you see it, you understand why. Not only is this the highest peak on the African continent; it is also the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, rising in breathtaking isolation from the surrounding coastal scrubland – elevation around 900 metres – to an imperious 5,895 metres (19,336 feet). ilimanjaro is one of the world's most accessible high summits, a beacon for visitors from around the world.
Most climbers reach the crater rim with little more than a walking stick, proper clothing and determination. And those who reach Uhuru Point, the actual summit, or Gillman's Point on the lip of the crater, will have earned their climbing certificates. And their memories. But there is so much more to Kili than her summit. The ascent of the slopes is a virtual climatic world tour, from the tropics to the Arctic. Even before you cross the national park boundary (at the 2,700m contour), the cultivated footslopes give way to lush montane forest, inhabited by elusive elephant, leopard, buffalo, the endangered Abbot’s duiker, and other small antelope and primates.
Higher still lies the moorland zone, where a cover of giant heather is studded with otherworldly giant lobelias. Above 4,000m, a surreal alpine desert supports little life other than a few hardy mosses and lichen. Then, finally, the last vestigial vegetation gives way to a winter wonderland of ice and snow – and the magnificent beauty of the roof of the continent.
Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was and great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street- Emmanuel
The Machame route is our most popular and successful route leading to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Hikers sleep in tents which are carried up the mountain by porters. The Machame route is a very scenic and beautiful route, which can be completed in 6 days, however we strongly recommend hiking the route in 7 days, allowing for more time to acclimatise. The key to the success of the Machame route is its topography, allowing hikers to climb high and sleep low, helping towards better acclimatisation.
Also known as the “Coca Cola route” – the Marangu route is one of the most popular routes leading to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Many hikers believe that the Marangu route is the easiest route to Uhuru peak, since it is the only route which can be hiked in 5 days (making it the cheapest option). It is also the only route offering accommodation on the mountain, in A-frame huts.
It is unfortunately a well-known fact, that the 5 day Marangu route has one of the lowest summit success rates of all the routes up mountain. If you choose the Marangu route, we strongly recommend hiking the route over 6 days, to increase your chance to reach the summit successfully. This is the only route, which provides comfortable communal sleeping huts, equipped with beds and mattresses at every overnight site. Mineral water, soft drinks, beer and chocolates are also sold at most sites. The Marangu route utilises the same route for the ascend and descend.
The Umbwe route is known for its caves. The first night you actually sleep at the Umbwe Cave Camp with two more caves that can be visited en route the following day. The Umbwe route is one of the shortest routes to the Southern Glaciers and the Western Breach. It is probably one of the most scenic, non-technical routes on Kilimanjaro. There are however higher risks involved when attempting to summit via the Western Breach / Arrow Glacier and overnight at the Arrow Glacier camp.
The Shira Plateau is one of the most scenic and most fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions you can drive by 4 wheel drive vehicles, to within a 1/2 hours walk of Shira Hut (4000m). Even this drive is very spectacular indeed and offers some magnificent views of Mt Meru and the Great Rift Valley in general. Game is often sighted and the road features some striking vegetation changes ranging from forest, grassland, heath to moorland. The fast ascend by vehicle to about 4000m will require additional acclimatisation, after which it will be possible to ascend Uhuru Peak either via the Western Breach or via the Barafu hut.
The Shira route is only offered to hikers who are already acclimatized to 4 000m, by hiking either Mt Meru or Mt Kenya a few days before attempting Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions you can drive by 4 wheel drive vehicle, to within a ½ hours walk of Shira Hut (3 850m).
The Lemosho Route is a very beautiful and unspoilt route and sightings of wild game in the forest section is possible. The Lemosho route is one of the quieter routes up Kilimanjaro, this advantage however disappears when the route combines with the Machame route on the 3rd day of the hike.
For those seeking a quiet route away from the crowds, the route is a superior option to the Rongai route. Unlike the Rongai the Lemosho route has the same excellent pro-acclimatization features of the Machame route, which it joins just before reaching Lava Tower.
We do not recommend hiking the Lemosho route during the rainy season as the start point of the Lemosho Route is particularly inaccessible during the wet season. Climbers should be prepared to walk the final 2-5 kilometers of the road following heavy rains.
The Rongai route ascents Kilimanjaro from the north-eastern side of the mountain, along the border between Tanzania and Kenya. This route retains a sense of unspoilt wilderness and offers a different perspective on Kilimanjaro by approaching it from the north.
The Rongai route’s premier advantage is that it is one of the quietest routes on the mountain.
A disadvantage is the long travel time to the starting point of the route. The route also becomes busier when it connects with the Marangu route just before reaching Kibo hut.The Rongai route descends along the Marangu route as well, however you still sleep in tents, and do not use the A-frame huts of the Marangu route.