Ascent Routes

Altogether, there are six established routes to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro:


  • the Marangu Route – also called Coca-Cola Route, often labeled the easiest route, one of the fastest routes at 5-6 days, steady uphill walk, huts available at campsites, <50% summit rate, descent along same route as ascent
  • the Machame Route – also called Whiskey Route (no one knows why), considered the most beautiful route, technically more challenging, excellent summit rate due to good acclimatisation opportunities, 6-7 days
  • the Lemosho Route – similar to Machame Route, western approach, merges with Machame Route at Shira Plateau, long hike through rainforest, wildlife viewing opportunities, longest route to summit with up to 8 days recommended, more expensive, long drive to starting point
  • the Rongai Route – northern approach from near the Kenyan border, remote and uncrowded, steady ascent without technical difficulties, less precipitation but trail head difficult to reach during rainy season
  • the Shira Route – remote starting point, transport through rainforest by vehicle, bad acclimatization, <50% summit rate, merges with Machame and Lemosho Routes at Shira Plateau
  • the Umbwe Route – most direct, steepest, most challenging, least crowded, high failure rate,

Plus two:

  • Descent only – the Mweka Route; for climbers ascending via Machame, Lemosho, Shira, and Umbwe, plus the occasional record-setter jogging up the mountain in 5 hours
  • Crazies only – the Western Breach; features a “point of no return,” deadly rockfalls, a beautiful sunset and sunrise, and, so I imagine, plenty of adrenaline to go around
Machame Route
Machame Route


Based on the travel memoir Kilimanjaro Diaries: Or, How I Spent a Week Dreaming of Toilets, Drinking Crappy Water, and Making Bad Jokes While Having the Time of My Life.

milestone (2)About the Author: Eva Melusine Thieme is the author of Kilimanjaro Diaries as well as the blog Joburg Expat, where she has been chronicling her family’s adventures while living in South Africa. She currently resides in Brentwood, Tennessee, with her husband and four children, where she is working on her next book about a road trip through Namibia with six people in a five-person car.

Find Eva Melusine Thieme online:

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