If you want the highest chance of summiting the best route to climb Kilimanjaro is the Lemosho route, Northern Circuit and Machame route over 7 or 8 days – excellent acclimatization and an easier summit night make these winners by a long way. And as reaching the top is the most important thing for most of our climbers we make this our overall winners as best route to climb Kilimanjaro.
There are seven established routes that lead to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. They are: Lemosho, Machame, Marangu, Rongai, Northern Circuit, Shira and Umbwe.
There’s also a descent-only route called the Mweka route.
Each of the seven Kilimanjaro routes has its own pros and cons, like cost, how varied the scenery is, and summit success rate. It’s therefore a good idea to look at each to help you make a smart choice about which is the best route for you to climb.
Here are the seven established routes:
- Lemosho route – The most beautiful Kilimanjaro route
- Machame route – The most popular Kilimanjaro route.
- Marangu route – Only route to offer hut accommodation
- Rongai route – Approaches the summit from the north.
- Shira route – The Shira has the highest starting elevation.
- Northern Circuit – The Northern Circuit is the newest
- Umbwe route – The shortest, steepest and hardest route
Which is the best Kilimanjaro route?
In our opinion, the best Kilimanjaro routes are the Lemosho, Machame and Northern Circuit. We think most operators would agree with us here.
We like these routes because they’re beautiful and varied, and don’t require you to descend along the same path. They also enjoy high summit success rates, and of course we want all of our climbers to enjoy standing at the summit!
If we had to choose just one Kilimanjaro route, it would be a toss up between the Lemosho and the Northern Circuit, because they’re less crowded than the Machame.
Our goal is not to send as many climbers to Kilimanjaro as possible. Instead, we want to have happy clients returning with memories to last a lifetime and a successful summit under their belt.
We therefore regularly promote and recommend three Kilimanjaro routes to our clients:
- Machame route (the seven-day itinerary)
- Lemosho route (the eight-day itinerary)
- Northern Circuit route (a nine-day climb)
These are the most scenic routes overall, whilst also being offering the greatest variety. In addition, all three offer great opportunities to acclimatise.
What to consider when Picking the route?
When you are planning your Kilimanjaro climb there are 6 factors that you need to take into consideration in deciding which is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro for you.
When climbing to altitude the golden rule is walk high and sleep low. Following this rule minimizes the risk of altitude sickness and improves you chance of summiting. The best routes to climb Kilimanjaro for acclimatization are the Machame and Lemosho routes as these naturally allow you to walk high and sleep low.
The toughest summit nights are on the Rongai route and the Marangu route: they reach the crater rim of Kilimanjaro on the North, opposite Uhuru Peak and more than 2 hours from the summit itself. The best routes to climb Kilimanjaro to avoid this are the Machame and Lemosho routes as they reach the crater at Stellar point less than an hour’s walk from the summit. An extra hour on what is already a very long day is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The amount of climbers on the mountain varies a lot depending on the season and on the day of the week but even taking this into account if you want to have the mountain more to yourself the best route to climb Kilimanjaro is the Rongai route. This route starts in the North and is used by a lot less climbers than the very popular southern routes.
The only route that you do not have to camp on is the Marangu route so if you hate tents this is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro for you. Be warned though the huts are very basic and noisy.
We consider all of the routes except the Arrow Point route to be relatively safe if walked sensibly. We do not offer climbs on the Arrow Point route as the risk of falling rock is unmanageable . This is definitely not the best route to climb Kilimanjaro.
As a result of the better acclimatization offered and the easier summit night the best route to climb Kilimanjaro in terms of summit success rate is the 9 Day Northern Circuit route ,Lemosho route over 8 days followed by the Machame route over 7 days.
We operate group climbs starting every week through the year with different routes each week. If you are looking for a particular route you can see when we are running that route below.
Most Famous routes Compared
Kilimanjaro FAQ's & Map
We have put together a short documentary to show you what it’s really like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Find out what it’s really like to summit the roof of Africa at 5,895 m (19,341 ft) above sea level. No matter where you are in the planning stages, it’s an extremely useful watch as you:
- Meet the mountain crew who make this magnificent once-in-a-lifetime experience possible.
- Watch the team trek through five unique ecosystems.
- And find out what it really takes to conquer one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
Tanzania has three major international airports:
- Dar es Salaam (DAR)
- Zanzibar (ZNZ)
- Kilimanjaro Airport (JRO)
The latter is the most convenient for Kilimanjaro, sitting only 42 km away from the mountain town of Moshi and 50 km from Arusha.
In addition to flights to Tanzania, you may consider flights to Nairobi in Kenya, which is only a five-hour shuttle bus ride to Arusha or a one-hour plane ride to JRO. Note, however, that by choosing to fly to Kenya you may need a multiple-entry Kenya visa (if you’re flying out of Kenya, too, for example, and spend longer than a fortnight in Tanzania), which can cost as much as $122. This would reduce or even eliminate any saving you may have made in airfares.
In deciding which flights to book, you should take the full trip into consideration. For example, if you’d like to spend a couple of days in Zanzibar after the climb, it might be best to book one-way tickets from your home to Kilimanjaro Airport for the climb, from there to Zanzibar after the climb, and then from Zanzibar back home.
We recommend arriving one day early (what we refer to as “arrival day”). This will give you time to relax, meet your fellow trekkers, and get a proper briefing before the climb starts. More importantly, if there’s any delay to your flight or your luggage goes AWOL, there’s enough wiggle room so that this delay doesn’t derail your climb. Seriously – this extra day really is a good idea, especially with post-pandemic airlines being in a little bit of a pickle right now.
All that said, we understand that travelling to Kilimanjaro can be a challenge. So we’ll accommodate your arrival time as best we can (for example, if you only arrive late at night the day before the climb starts, we’ll still be there to collect you!).
Yes, most foreigners need a Tanzanian visa to visit the country. US, Canadian, British and most European citizens can simply obtain a visa upon arrival at the airport. The cost is $100 for US passport holders and $50 for others. US citizens do get a longer visa, however.
If you’re a citizen of a different country, please check with your embassy if you can obtain a visa upon arrival – of if you even need one. Certain African nationals, for instance, can enter Tanzania without a visa.
Please also note that you need a passport that’s valid for at least six months after your departure date.
There are no specific vaccine requirements for entry into Tanzania. However, be aware that the Government of Tanzania requires proof of yellow fever vaccination upon arrival if you are travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever.
While it’s not mandatory by any means, we suggest you talk to your doctor about getting the following vaccinations (which are standard in developed countries): Hepatitis A & B, typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and meningococcal meningitis (Africa and Asia).
There are seven different Kilimanjaro routes up the mountain. We recommend the eight-day Lemosho, seven-day Machame and nine-day Northern Circuit routes. These routes offer the best balance of a high success rate and beautiful scenery.
Kilimanjaro requires no technical climbing experience nor climbing equipment. This makes it the most accessible of the Seven Summits in many ways.
Any decently fit person can summit the mountain. That said, for most people, it will be one of the most difficult things they ever do in their lives!
You’ll be provided with locally sourced, healthy and nutritious meals cooked fresh every day by your cook and his assistant.
Our menus have been carefully designed to ensure the food is delicious, easy to digest, and provides plenty of energy. Expect fresh veg, fruits, meat, nuts and snacks along the way, as well as clean water throughout.
The primary carbohydrates of the meals are rice, potatoes and pasta, as well as some meat. Fresh fruit and vegetables accompany every meal. Most meals will also have a selection of hot drinks like instant coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
You may want to bring some supplementary comfort foods, such as candy, gum, chocolate, health bars and powdered energy drinks.
Can you cater for special diets?
Any special requests regarding your menu? No worries. We can accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets as well as gluten-free diets. For those with special diets, please contact us to discuss what we can or cannot do.
This is an outdoor adventure trip in the African wild. There are no showers on the mountain. Warm water will be supplied in a bowl and you will be able to wash your face and hands. For the rest you can bring wet wipes.
At each campsite, we set up a private toilet tent which contains a plastic toilet. There are also simple, hole-in-the-ground public toilets (usually very dirty and not recommended).
If you need to use the bathroom on the trail, you’ll find a spot behind a tree or rock. But you’ll need to have a little baggie for putting used toilet paper in that you then carry to camp and dispose of in a bin.
On the day before the trek (arrival day) and the day after the trek (departure day), we stay in a comfortable lodge in Moshi. It has lovely views as well as lovely rooms and facilities to match.
During the climb, you sleep in three-person, four-season dome-style mountain tents, two people per tent. If you’d like a tent of your own, you’ll need to pay a single-person supplement.
Our tents are modern and have an outer flysheet and large vestibules where you can store your equipment during the night.
On our Kilimanjaro climbs, we aim to build groups of 6 to 10 fellow travellers, with 12 people usually being the limit. Follow Alice groups are typically made up of sociable people from around the world looking to share an unforgettable adventure with you.
Yes, we love it when solo travellers to sign up for a trip with us! We’ll put you in a group and your fellow travellers will soon become your new friends. There’s little that’s more bonding than being ‘stuck’ with each other for a week on a mountain in Africa!
If you’d like your own tent, you’ll need to pay a single supplement of US$200. Or we’ll try to put you with another person in a tent if you wish and there’s someone available to share with you in your climb group.
Don’t underestimate how tough Kilimanjaro is. Too many people do, and don’t make it to the top!
Depending on your current fitness, we suggest that you start your physical training at least two or three months prior to the climb. Please read How should I train for Kilimanjaro? to learn more.
Remember, the fitter you are, the more enjoyable the whole experience will be for you.
In our detailed Kilimanjaro packing list we identify a variety of mountaineering clothing and gear you need for your climb.
The two most critical pieces of equipment that you might need to buy are:
- hiking boots
- a winter jacket
You might like to learn about bringing the right sort of boots in The best hiking boots for Kilimanjaro.
Most of the other clothing that you need is part of many people’s winter or skiing wardrobe already (like long underwear and a fleece jacket).
When climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you will need to bring at least two bags:
- One is the backpack that you carry yourself each.
- The second bag is your duffel bag which a porter carries for you.
The backpack, which you can think of as your carry-on luggage, will contain your water and lunch for each day, as well as other items like snacks, rain gear and camera. This backpack should have a capacity of around 30 to 50 litres. You can learn all you need to know on this topic in How to choose a backpack for high-altitude trekking.
Your duffel bag will contain all your other clothing, equipment and toiletries.
It might be a good idea to bring a third, small bag that you can use to store anything you don’t want to take on the mountain. This can be left securely at your hotel.
You should limit your duffel bag to 14 kg (31 lb) when full, as this will ease the burden on the porters.
Baggage should be of the round, squashy type rather than a hard suitcase.
Note that luggage restrictions on domestic flights are often 15 to 20 kg (33 to 44 lb) per person, so be mindful when packing your bags.
For your own backpack that you carry each day, try to keep it under 9 kg (20 lb) for your own benefit.
If you’d like advice on choosing the backpack itself, please read How to choose a backpack for high-altitude trekking.
Your Kilimanjaro guides and porters are your greatest asset on the mountain. Quality guides and porters make for a wonderful time on the mountain, while a mediocre staff can put your life in danger.
Each of our experienced guides is licensed by the Kilimanjaro National Park, trained as a wilderness first responder (WFR), and speaks fluent English.
Typically, each of our groups has one guide per two climbers, and each climber has three porters. Porters carry all gear, tents, cooking supplies and water. You will come to respect these guys greatly by the end of Day 1 of your climb – each porter carries about 20 kg (44 lb) of kit on their back up the mountain!
Our guides are highly experienced to manage altitude sickness, which is the biggest obstacle on the mountain. They also have an intimate knowledge of the network of shortcuts to escort climbers to safety, and they’re trained to react quickly and calmly under any circumstances.
We cover each of the things to consider about Kilimanjaro safety in-depth in How we keep you safe on Kilimanjaro.
Please remember that the purpose of this article is not to scare you, but to keep you well informed. At Follow Alice, our top priority is your safety. We want you to know how to climb Kilimanjaro and how to do it in the safest way possible.
It is safe to climb Kilimanjaro, but only when you are educated on the risks. It’s a challenge, but that’s what it’s all about, right!?
Some climbers may fall short of reaching the summit. But even for those who never reach the top, the climb is almost always still an incredible and rewarding experience.
When one or more people in the group decide (in conjunction with their guide’s advice) they cannot continue on the ascent, they’re escorted to the most convenient campsite and wait for the others to return.
Note that nobody fit and healthy enough to make a go for the summit will be denied the chance because of the condition of another climber! We always have enough guides on every climb to ensure all climbers are accompanied, even if the group must temporarily split up.
There are always deaths on these big mountains. And Kilimanjaro is no different.
The most common cause of death on Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. This comes about when you to ascend the mountain too quickly, not giving your body enough time to acclimatise. (But more on that just in a just moment …)
That said, Kilimanjaro is a safe climb if you travel with a good tour operator and you follow one of the routes we recommend.
Our local guides and staff are trained to keep you safe and have the ability to treat climbers who become ill or injured. Your health and well-being really are our top priority on every Kilimanjaro climb. If you’d like to know more on this score, please read How we keep you safe on Kilimanjaro.
Altitude sickness arises when your body struggles to adapt quickly enough to the lower intake of oxygen per breath caused by the reduced air pressure of a higher altitude. Often climbers make the mistake of ascending Kilimanjaro too high too quickly.
But don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal to get mild altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro. It’s therefore more than likely that you’ll experience some form of altitude sickness when climbing Kilimanjaro. It’s only when someone develops moderate to severe altitude sickness that you have a real issue on your hands.
Note that age, sex or physical fitness have no effect on your likelihood of getting altitude sickness. And just because you haven’t had it before, doesn’t mean you won’t develop it on another trip.
This is why we always advise clients to take as many precautions against developing altitude sickness as possible.
Tanzania has a moderate risk for malaria. Malaria occurs in all areas below 1,800 m (5,900 ft) and we recommend that you take precautions against malaria prior to the commencement of your trip.
Avoiding altitude sickness is also key. Here are our top tips for avoiding the dreaded altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro:
- Go on all optional acclimatisation hikes before your Kili climb.
- Choose a longer route that gives you more time to acclimatise.
- Walk slowly. Pole, pole, as Tanzanians always say. Slowly, slowly.
- Drink lots of water, as this mitigates the effects of altitude sickness.
- Consider taking a preventative altitude sickness medicine like Diamox. Your doctor will prescribe this.
- Read our blog post The best acclimatisation for climbing Kilimanjaro.
Prevent other possible illnesses by disinfecting your hands every time after you use the bathroom as well as before any meals.
All climbers pay a rescue fee to the Kilimanjaro National Park (included in our package price). If you cannot continue the climb because you get injured or sick, the guides and porters will gladly assist you on the way down.
There is no extra charge for coming down and being taken back to the lodge early, but we will not be able to refund you for the days you missed on the mountain. Moreover, we ask all of our travellers to purchase a special adventure travel insurance that covers any possible medical expenses and evacuation costs – just to be safe!
You can learn more on this topic in How we keep you safe on Kilimanjaro.
As of June 2023, you can connect to the internet up until almost 4,000 m above sea level! And the Government of Tanzania says there will be connectivity all the way to Uhuru Peak (5,895 m) by the end of the year.
Whether or not you wish to WhatsApp, Instagram your trip and so on is up to you. For many, the chance to disconnect from the world while on a Kilimanjaro climb is part of the adventure’s appeal.
That said, the new high-speed internet available on the mountain offers certain safety benefits, and we like that those who wish – mountain crew included – can stay in touch with their families when on their climbs if they wish.