The traffic strategy around Kilimanjaro aims to provide climbers with routes suited for both acclimatization as well as rescue. For this reason, climbers are required to follow one of the established routes. We suggest climbing Kilimanjaro by one of three routes: Marangu, Rongai or Shira/ Lemosho.
The Marangu Route is most direct and shortest. Most people require five days and four nights on the mountain. Accommodation is in small, park bungalows rather than tents. This a good route for the wetter months as you do not have to worry about getting wet in your tent or in camp and the trail is less likely to be muddy than on the other routes. This is a very popular route. You will see other climbers. Also, you ascend and descend by exactly the same route, although the views and scenery are excellent. The trail is smooth and wide much of the way.
The Rongai Route is possible to climb in five days, but we recommend six to offer excellent acclimatization. This is one of the least traveled routes and because it is not described in many guidebooks, you have more of a wilderness experience during the first three days of the trip before it joins the main route to the rim at Kibo Hut. This route begins on the north side of the mountain quite near the Kenya border and requires driving about 3 hours on rugged roads to reach the trail head. The start can be muddy or dusty, but quickly ascends to the drier plateau which receives less precipitation overall than the rest of the mountain. This route offers excellent views and, if taken as a six day climb, includes a diversion to the base of Mawenzi and Mawenzi tarn offering superb views of the main Kibo massif. You will camp in tents at approved sites with simple toilet facilities and good water resources. There are good chances to see wildlife. Overall this route is not much more difficult than Marangu, but there are more rocky sections of the trail. The final pre-dawn ascent on this route is on the same path as the Marangu Route from Kibo Hut. The route finishes at Marangu Gate following the Marangu trail down on the last day and a half. This traverse path maximizes the scenery and allows a finishing day without dust or mud.
The Shira/Lemosho Route starts on the west side of the mountain and takes 7 days. Again, the trail head is quite distant and remote requiring a long 4X4 drive to reach the starting point. This route offers the most varying terrain. The first two days include gently rolling trails across the ancient lava flows of the collapsed Shira Volcano. You have excellent views of the main peak. The first three days you are likely to see few other climbers or campers though you may see wildlife. The route merges with the Machame and Mweka paths to the summit via Baranco and Barafu. These higher camps are quite rocky. The trail to the rim arrives at Stella Point quite close to Uhuru Peak, which means that virtually everyone who makes it to the rim also makes it to the very top at Uhuru. The descent is via the Mweka Route.