MOUNT KILIMANJARO NATIONAL PARK

Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

“The free standing Highest Mountain in Africa”

About Mount Kilimanjaro National Park

With the size of over 1500sq km (575 sq miles), Mount Kilimanjaro National Park is located in the Northern part of Tanzania, near the town of Moshi and Arusha. It was established in 1973.

Getting there – It is 128 km (80miles) from Arusha.  About 1 hour drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Activities – Six usual trekking routes to the summit and other more demanding mountaineering routes. Day or overnight hikes on the Shira plateau. Nature trails on the lower reaches. Visit the beautiful Chala Crater Lake on the mountain’s south eastern slopes.

Best time – From December – February is the clearest and warmest conditions but also from July – September is dry (and colder).

Once you have decided you want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the next step is to pick the route you want to climb. There are 6 routes on the mountain and each has advantages and disadvantages.

However, some routes such as the Lemosho and Machame routes stand out from the others as being especially beautiful and fun to climb. The six routes are the Machame, Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe, Rongai  and Marangu.

To read a full description of each route, including the short descriptions of each of the trail from day to day, here are as per below.

MARANGU ROUTE

The Marangu Route is the most popular route on the mountain yet it also has the poorest summit rate. The problem is that instead of camping, climbers sleep in huts, which gives people the impression that it makes the climb easier. Because of this the route has been nicknamed the Coca Cola route because it is so “easy”. This has led to many trying to climb the route in 5 days instead of 6. Now for the facts. The Marangu Route starts at approximately 6000ft, just like every other route and finishes at the summit, also like every other route. The difficulty lies in making the trek in 5 days; this makes the climb much harder! That said, the route is a nice one albeit very busy year round. The major disadvantage is that you descend by the exact same path as you summited so you don’t get to see more of the mountain. We pride ourselves in looking after our clients and as such, we would strongly recommend the 6 day itinerary instead to allow an extra day to acclimatize.

DIFFICULTY: Easy

LENGTH: 6 Days

CHECKPOINTS

Day
1 Marangu Park Gate – Mandara Huts
2 Mandara Huts – Horombo Huts
3 Horombo Huts – Saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi for acclimatization; return to Horombo Huts
4 Horombo Huts – Kibo Huts
5 Kibo Huts – Summit – Horombo Huts
6 Horombo Huts – Marangu Park Gate
Machame Route

Along with the Marangu route, the Machame Route is the most popular on the mountain. Climbers spend good time in each of the vegetation zones on the mountain, seeing some impressive sights along the way such as the Shira Cathedral on the Shira Plateau, the Lava Tower at the foot of the Western Breach and the Barranco Valley on the southern slopes. This climb takes approximately 7 days and there is plenty of opportunity to extend this. Traditionally the summit is reached from Stella Point but it can also be reached via the difficult Western Breach should you wish. The route is moderate with a few sections that will get the heart pumping a bit more. During the peak climbing season in July and August this route can get very busy.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

LENGTH: 7 Days

CHECKPOINTS

Day
1 Machame Park Gate – Machame Camp
2 Machame Camp – Shira Camp
3 Shira Camp – Barranco Camp
4 Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp
5 Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp
6 Barafu Camp – Summit – Millennium Camp
7 Millennium Camp – Mweka Park Gate
Shira Route

The Shira Route is one of 2 that approach Kibo from the west. The route begins by following a 4 wheel drive track up to the Shira Plateau, then a full day is spend crossing the plateau, the most beautiful part of the whole mountain. You will get to see the massive lava structure of the Shira Cathedral up close, something few get to see. A climb takes approximately 7 days but there are a number of secluded, remote camps on the Shira Plateau so you can easily extend this. Once you leave the Shira Plateau the path merges with the Machame Route, past the Lava Tower, through the Barranco Valley and on the Stella Point. This route is moderate throughout apart from a few short, steep sections. When you merge with the Machame Route the volume of climbers can increase dramatically if you’re climbing peak season.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

LENGTH: 7 Days

CHECKPOINTS

Day
1 Shira Park Gate – River Camp
2 River Camp – Shira Camp
3 Shira Camp – Barranco Camp
4 Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp
5 Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp
6 Barafu Camp – Summit – Millennium Camp
7 Millennium Camp – Mweka Park Gate
Lemosho Route

The Lemosho Route is the other route that approaches Kibo from the west. Since it was opened, it has become the 3rd most popular route on the mountain and a lot of climbers have shifted from the Shira Route to the Lemosho Route (meaning that the Shira Route is now a more peaceful climb). After climbing through the forest and across the Shira Plateau, the Lemosho Route also merges with the Machame Route and so can get busy during the peak season. The western routes are originally the ones loop round the southern slopes and summit via Stella Point. As the forest section on this route is quite long, a climb takes approximately 8 days.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

LENGTH: 8 Days

CHECKPOINTS

Day
1 Londorossi Park Gate – Big Tree Camp
2 Big Tree Camp – Shira Camp 1
3 Shira Camp 1 – Shira Camp 2
4 Shira Camp 2 – Barranco Camp
5 Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp
6 Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp
7 Barafu Camp – Summit – Millennium Camp
8 Millennium Camp – Mweka Park Gate
Rongai Route

The Rongai Route is the only one that approaches Kibo from the north, starting right on the Kenyan Border. For those who want to truly get away from the crowds of climbers, Rongai is the route for you. Take the year 2000 for example. That year, just over 20,0000 people climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and only 130 of those climbed the Rongai Route! Because of the low volume of climbers, your best chance of seeing wildlife on Mount Kilimanjaro is on this route. The climb will take you approximately 7 days and we build in an acclimatization day hike to the foot of Mawenzi into our itinerary, where you will have some truly breathtaking views of Kibo that few ever see. The route summits via Gillman’s Point, just before Stella point. The Marangu Route is the designated descent for Rongai.

DIFFICULTY: Moderate

LENGTH: 7 Days

CHECKPOINTS

Day
1 Nalemoru (Rongai) Gate – First Cave Camp
2 First Cave Camp – Kikelewa Caves
3 Kikelewa Caves – Mawenzi Tarn Hut
4 Rest day to explore Mawenzi
5 Mawenzi Tarn Hut – Kibo Huts
6 Kibo Huts – Summit – Horombo Huts
7 Horombo Huts – Marangu Park Gate
Umbwe Route

Without a doubt the toughest way to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro is the Umbwe Route. Approaching from due south, climbers face an opening day of some serious climbing through a very steep section of forest, often climbing over huge tree roots where it is too steep for any real trail. However this is also the most rewarding route on the mountain and offers the climber some of the best views not only of Kibo, but also of Mount Meru to the southwest and the plains below. The route works straight up the Barranco Valley where you need to spend a full day acclimatizing due to the height you will have gained on day 1 and 2. From here you can climb east with the Machame, Shira and Lemosho climbers and summit via Stella Point. Those who opt for this and reach the summit have truly climbed the hardest route on the mountain. The climb takes 7 days, including a day for acclimatizing in the Barranco Valley.

DIFFICULTY: Advanced

LENGTH: 7 Days

CHECKPOINTS

Day
1 Umbwe Park Gate – Umbwe Camp
2 Umbwe Camp – Barranco Camp
3 Barranco Camp – Lava Tower for acclimatization – Barranco Camp
4 Barranco Camp – Karanga Camp
5 Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp
6 Barafu Camp – Summit – Millennium Camp
7 Millennium Camp – Mweka Park Gate