Currently there are 7 main routes used to climb Kilimanjaro. There are several variations of each route, including the number of days and the camps used. Below we list the absolute best routes for climbing Kilimanjaro, with regards to the following four considerations: success rate, beauty, crowds and cost.
1. 9 DAY NORTHERN CIRCUIT
**The 9 day Northern route is the best route for climbing Kilimanjaro in terms of summit success, scenic beauty and crowds. But it has a high cost.**
The Northern Circuit is the newest route on Kilimanjaro. This route offers the most diverse views, which makes it the most scenic route available. Very few guide companies operate on this path at this time, but it is starting to get noticed by operators and customers alike.
The Northern Circuit route follows the scenic Lemosho route in the first few days, then traverses the remote northern side of the mountain. The route then converges with other routes at Kibo Hut, before summiting. The descent is by Mweka.
The Northern circuit route is a truly special route. No other route uses the northern path, making this area the least trafficked route on the mountain. It would not be unusual for your party to be the only ones here.
2. 8 DAY LEMOSHO
**The 8 day Lemosho route is the second best route in terms of summit success, scenic beauty and crowds. But it has a high cost.**
The Lemosho route is one of lesser used paths, which makes for an unspoiled and beautiful way to the top. The Lemosho route is one of the longest and most remote routes on Kilimanjaro. The preferred itinerary takes 8 day round trip, though shorter variations are offered.
The route begins from Londorossi Gate to the West, then ascends the forest and moorland ecosystems to Shira Plateau. It crosses the Shira Plateau to meet up with the Machame Route. Thereafter, the path can climb using the direct Western Breach route or take the round about Southern Circuit. The Southern Circuit grants superb views of the Southern Ice Fields, past the Barranco Hut then on to Barafu and the summit. Descent is by the Mweka Route.
The route is one of the few where groups may be accompanied on the first day by an armed ranger, as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo, elephant and other big game animals.
3. 7 DAY RONGAI
**The 7 day Rongai route is the third best route in terms of summit success and crowds. But the scenery is not as good as the western approach routes.**
For those who choose to climb Mount Kilimanjaro by the Rongai Route, you’re about to discover the mountain’s best kept secret. So few people climb this route each year that you are unlikely to see anyone an your entire ascent. Because most of the rain on Mount Kilimanjaro falls on the southwest slopes, there is little rain forest to climb through, rather you will find that the heather and moorland stretches further down the Rongai Route compared to others.
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro via the Rongai route begins on the northern side of the mountain and one of the least traveled routes. It is a long drive to the starting point but you are rewarded by fantastic views and the likelihood that you will be the only climbers around. If you take this route up the mountain you are obliged to descend via the Marangu Route that is the most popular and well-used route.
4. 7 DAY MACHAME
**The 7 day Machame route is the fourth best route in terms of summit success, scenic beauty and cost. But it has large crowds.**
The Machame route is regarded as one of the best routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It is a very popular route and sees a lot of crowds, especially during high season. This fact alone can turn off many people but it is still a very worthy consideration despite all of this.
The preferred Machame Route itinerary is 7 days, including an acclimatization day in the Karanga Valley before the summit attempt. The Machame route starts from Machame village at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. On day 2 the Machame Route skirts the spectacular Shira Plateau and an extra day can be added here letting you explore the plateau and visit the giant lava towers of the Shira Cathedral.
Those climbing the Machame Route and summiting via the Western Breach spend more time on the plateau for acclimatization. Those climbing the standard summit route from Barafu Camp climb east from the plateau, merging with other routes on the Southern Circuit.
5. 7 DAY UMBWE
**The 7 day Umbwe route is the fifth best route in terms of scenic beauty, crowds and cost. But it has a lower success rate.**
The Umbwe route has the reputation of being the hardest path on the mountain. As a result it is the least climbed route, making it a decent choice for those wanting a quiet trip, for at the least the first two days. First time trekkers should not attempt this route; it is only for experienced backpackers experienced with high altitude.
Umbwe ascends quickly and steeply, making acclimatization difficult. It is so steep that in places you use tree roots to haul yourself from one ledge on the forest trail to the next. Once climbers reach the Barranco Camp on the second day, they can join the Southern Circuit, summiting via Barafu Camp. For an even tougher challenge, try summiting via the Western Breach.