The Lemosho Route is a very scenic trail that starts from the west of Kilimanjaro and it is one of the less crowded treks. It offers trekkers more days on the lower slopes of the mountain making it the best route for altitude acclimatization. Lemosho can be completed in 7-8 days with a day-time or night-time summit push. The descent is down Mweka trail.
The Northern Circuit Route is the newest route and very remote trail on Kilimanjaro. It originates from the western side of Kilimanjaro, on the Lemosho trail but circumnavigates the mountain from the north. It is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, in distance and time, offering stunning scenery and the best acclimatization opportunities, therefore, it has the highest success rate. It is typically done in 9 days with a day-time summit push and it is best suited for those who enjoy backpacking for many days.
The Shira Route, like Lemosho, starts from the west of Kilimanjaro offering climbers spectacular scenery. In fact, Shira and Lemosho are almost identical; except the first part of the trail is not hiked, but driven in the car. Therefore, climbers using Shira will miss out on trekking in one of Kilimanjaro ecological zones, the rain forest. Shira can be completed in 7-8 days.
Shorter Acclimatization Routes
The Umbwe Route is the least crowded route on Kilimanjaro. It’s trail has been recently redone and the route enjoys stunning views. Umbwe is a steep, constant, ultimately rewarding climb to the top, usually done in 6-7 days with a night-time summit.
The Marangu Route also known as the “Coca-Cola Route” is the most “comfortable” in terms of facilities. Climbers are shielded in large wooden-huts dorms (offering beverages like Coca-Cola along the way), sharing the communal toilet facilities that can become overstretched. Marangu is very busy and “touristy” with trekkers both ascending and descending this same route, which can be done in 5-6 days with a night-time summit.
The Machame Route is known as the “Whiskey Route” in comparison to Marangu’s “Coca-Cola Route” because it is a more difficult climb that doesn’t offer sleeping huts. Because of its popularity, it gets crowded during the high season. The descent path for this route is the Mweka Route. This scenic route, with great vistas of Kilimanjaro can be accomplished in 6-7 days with a night-time summit bid.
The Rongai Route is the only route that originates from the north side of Kilimanjaro, near the Kenyan border. It is less crowded than Marangu and Machame but also less scenic. It begins on a relatively gentle gradient through wilderness areas before joining the Marangu Route and it is done in 6-7 days with a night-time summit push. The descent is via the Marangu route.