The Marango route is often considered the easiest route to Mount Kilimanjaro, but do not be fooled, as no route in Kilimanjaro is “easy”. Every day you travel more distances, you get this rank, which means that the ascent is more gradual during the day. Unlike other mountain trails, Marango can be completed in five days and is one of the shortest trails. Compared to all other tents that use tents, accommodation in mountain cottages is a common dormitory style.
Marango’s disadvantage is that it offers little chance of adapting to the “climb, sleep less” principle. Also, because of the “easier route” status, it is often chosen by people who are less fit and consider it an easy option to climb. Unfortunately, the result is that the number of people who reach the summit is less than most other routes. Another factor to consider is that the ascent and descent are from the same route and limit the variety of landscapes.
To succeed on the Marango route, it is recommended to add a day walk from Hormbo huts to the zebra cliffs and overnight to Horumbo huts.
The Rongai Route is also known as the “Loitokok Route” or what was formerly known as the “Outside Route”. This route starts near the Kenyan border and climbs in a northerly direction. Rongi climbing characteristics are similar to the Marango route and is considered as the second easiest route. This trail meets the Marango Trail at Kibo Huts, where the trails meet and lead to the summit.
It also does not use the principle of “climbing, sleeping less”, so if you want to increase your chances of success, it is useful to add an extra day to this trip.
One of the advantages of this route is a very quiet and sparsely populated route. The accommodation is in a tent and descends from the summit to the Marango route.
The Machame route starts from the Machame forest on the opposite side of the mountain from the Rongai route. This route goes through a thick forest in a southwesterly direction and takes a total of 6 days to reach the summit. The beauty of Machameh is that after the forest area, the path moves east and offers you amazing views across the Shira volcano. It is considered as one of the steepest routes to the summit, but it is very spectacular. The third night is spent at Camp Baranco, which is less than the second night camp, ensuring better accommodation. Accommodation on the Machame route is in a tent.
The starting point for both Shira and Lamushu routes is in the western part of the mountain. Like Machame, both routes are highly rated. However, the climbing characteristics for the Shira route are sloping on the first day, as you climb from 2200 meters to 3500 meters. The route then crosses the Shira Plateau and eventually joins the Lemosho and Machame routes near the lava tower. The rest of the route is the same as the Machameh route and the accommodation is in a tent.
Unlike Shira and Machame, the Lemushu route travels longer in the first two days and spends more time in the rainforest. So it is better to do this route for seven to eight days. Like Rongi, it is a slower route during the first few days until it joins the Shira and Machameh routes. Accommodation is in a tent.
The Ambo route is the most difficult and steepest route to the summit and should not be done by someone who is not suitable for walking or is not used to walking. This route goes directly upwards in a northerly direction towards the Baranco wall, where it is accompanied by the Shira, Lemoshu and Machame routes. It has a steep ascending profile and offers less opportunity for proper adjustment.
The North Circuit is the newest route in Kilimanjaro and is often referred to as the “360 Track” or “Grand Traverse”. Like Shira and Lemushu, it starts from the west side of the mountain at a distance of about 3000 meters.
This walk can be done in seven days but it is better to finish in eight days. Of all the routes, it offers good compatibility because the altitude increase is very small every day. It is also very quiet because the route is rarely used and often your only companions in the rat camp. Only when you attend the Third Cave Camp on Rongai Route and later on Kibo Huts do you see other people. The last way to reach the summit joins the Marango route and then descends from the Moka route.
Choosing the right route for you depends on what you get from the trip, such as fitness, scenery, time, cost and whether you are happy sleeping in a tent. As the saying goes, “All roads lead to Rome” and in this case, all routes lead to the summit of Kilimanjaro. Which route you choose is up to you.