Planning a climb on world-famous Mt. Kilimanjaro? There are quite a few routes up the highest mountain in Africa, some easier than others, some more scenic, and some just an incredible challenge only the most experienced would attempt.
But let’s assume this is your first trek up the big hill, you’ll want a route that will give you the best chances of success… that is, making it to the top of the 5,895 m/19,340 ft peak. Today, we’ll talk about two of the most popular routes, tried and true trails that have led many determined climbers to reach their goal, the roof of Africa.
This route may be the most popular of all because the ascent is somewhat gradual and it features mountain huts – no need to set up tents. Also known as the “Coca-Cola Route” because the classic soft drink is available at the huts, and maybe because it’s considered an easier route.
Guests are provided with pillows, and mattresses, though you’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag. The huts also have basic washrooms and communal dining halls.
This popular route takes five to six days for the ascent and we recommend taking that sixth day to help you get used to the high elevations. The more you acclimatize, the greater your chances you’ll make it to the top.
This Is The Way Up
Each day’s hike will be from about four to eight hours, depending on that particular stage of the route. Along the way, you’ll ascend from rainforest at the base, climbing to moorland, and finally, up to a rocky and snow-laden moonscape up at Uhuru Peak.
All along the route, you’ll be physically and mentally preparing for that last day’s climb which will take about ten to fifteen hours. But if you make it, you’ll take in the sunrise across Africa, far below, a golden moment in any climber’s life.
You’ll soon descend and your journey back to the base will take about one day.
The Machame Route
On this popular route, you’ll be sleeping in tents, set up each night by your porters and guides. It should be mentioned that you cannot attempt to scale Kilimanjaro on your own. Although not a technical climb, Kili does present some serious weather and elevation challenges. For your safety, you will have to sign on with an experienced touring company, that is licensed to conduct climbs.
The Machame is considered the most scenic route up the mountain. Because its views and foliage are so impressive about half of Kili’s climbers choose this path. The trek up, however, is more strenuous and the Machame is called the “Whiskey Route” because it’s tougher than the Marangu’s “Coca-Cola”.
Still, it offers great opportunities to acclimatize and your journey will take at least six days and five nights to complete, although you can add an additional day.
Like the Marangu, you’ll start in the rainforest and eventually ascend to ice fields before summitting at Uhuru Peak. Then, it’s another day for your descent down the mountain.
Though it’s a tougher climb, the Machame provides time to acclimatize and so enjoys a high success rate.
Either of these two popular routes will take you to the top of the world if you prepare yourself mentally and physically. So come join us for a life-changing journey up the flanks of legendary Mt. Kilimanjaro.