Tanzania Trekking - Mount Kilimanjaro

Image - Marangu Route

Mount Kilimanjaro

There are several routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro but the most commonly used are Marangu, Machame and Shira Plateau. The most popular is the Marangu route which is described below along with the other routes.

Marangu Route

Gillman's point in Marangu route This is the most popular and easiest way to the summit. The trail has huts along its route with all the basic necessities. No technical skills are required for this five day trek.
The trek can also be taken in 6 days/5 nights to aid acclimatisation with an extra day at Horombo Hut.

Day 1
From the gate, you ascend a cleared ridge trail, formerly a vehicle track to Mandara Hut. The cleared trail is the fastest way to Mandara, but pportunities to see wildlife or enjoy the forest are limited due to the heavy foot traffic. An alternative is to ascend along the parallel forest trail and descend on the main trail. The forest trail branches off to the left, a few minutes after the gate, and follows the edge of a stream through the undergrowth.About halfway (1½ hrs from the gate) you can choose to cross the stream and rejoin the main trail, or continue on the forest trail. Both trails continue on opposite sides of the stream, merging about one hour before Mandara Hut Marangu-Mandara Hut. 1830m-2700m. 3-4 hours trek. Transfer to Marangu Gate at an altitude of 1,860m. The path to Mandara Hut, the first overnight s, passes through rain forest and takes up to four hours.

Day 2
Mandara-Horombo Hut. 2700m-3720m. 5-7 hours trek. From Mandara Hut the trail passes through a short stretch of forest and skirts the base of Maundi Crater, crosses a meadow and a wooded stream, then emerges into grassland. It is well worth the short detour to scramble up to the rim of Maundi Crater for a superb view of the mountain and its surroundings. The trail crosses numerous moorland ravines before ending at Horombo Hut, which is set in a rocky valley with a fine stand of giant senecios or groundsels.Leaving behind the forest and following the ascending path through alpine meadows on to the slopes of Mawenzi. Horombo Hut is reached after about six hours and is 11km from Mandara.

Day 3
Horombo Hut-Kibo Hut. 3720m-4703m. 5-6 hours trek. From Horombo Hut there are two trails to the Saddle. The right fork is very stony and eroded and is the most direct route to the Saddle and Mawenzi. From the Saddle (about 2 hrs from Horombo), there are trails to Mawenzi Hut (½ hr) or Mawenzi Tarn Hut (2½ hrs) and across the length of the Saddle to Kibo Hut (3 hrs). The left fork from Horombo Hut is an easier trail and emerges on the Saddle much closer to Kibo and about one kilometre from Kibo Hut.The landscape now becomes more rocky and rugged until the Saddle is reached. Kibo Hut is the overnight stay.

Day 4
Kibo Hut-Gillman's Point (5680m)-Uhuru Peak (5892m)-Horombo Hut. 10-12 hours trek. The trail to the summit lies directly behind Kibo Hut, to the west. It is normal to start this days climb at 2 am or earlier. (The reasons for this are to see the sun rise over Mawenzi from the of Kibo, the loose stone scree is frozen- making it easier to climb, and you can get back in good time). The first part is an uneven trail which leads to the Hans Meyer Cave, a good restpoint. After that, the trail makes more regular switchbacks most of the way to the , with a last scramble over rocks to Johannes Notch and Gillmans Point. From there, the trail continues along the rim past Stella Point to Uhuru Peak.An early (2.00am) start to make the steep and demanding final ascent through the snow. By daybreak you should be at the rim of the crater at 5,685m. Time and weather permitting the final push to Uhuru Peak should take about 45 minutes. At the there are stunning views of the ice walls offset by rugged rocks. After a fast descent to Kibo Hut for a meal and rest continue to descend to Horombo Hut

Day 5
Horombo Hut-Marangu. 10-12 hours trek. An easy descent to Marangu Gate then transfer to Moshi.

Huts - Marangu Route

Mandara hut 2700m. This is a group of comfortable, wooden A-frame huts. The largest cabin has a downstairs dining area and an upstairs dormitory with bunk beds and mattresses; smaller huts sleep 8 each. The total capacity is 60. Water is piped into site from springs above and flush toilets are behind the main cabin.

Horombo Hut
3720m. The buildings are similar to Mandara, but total capacity is 120. Water is piped from the stream behind the huts. There are platform toilets south-east of the main hut, about 80 m down the slope and new flush toilets have been built within the complex of small huts.

Kibo Hut:
4700m This stonebuilt block house with a small dining-room and a number of dormitory rooms leading off a main corridor has bunk beds and mattresses for 60 people.

NONE so bring an adequate supply from the Last Water stream above Horombo Hut Platform toilets are behind the hut (to the south-west).

Mweka Route

Kibo crate rim From these lower huts continue up the ridge to the west of the lovely south-east valley to Barafu Huts. From Barafu you ascend directly to the rim of Kibo. The trail is very steep and leads towards the Rebmann Glacier (4870) where you pass a cliff and go into the gap between the Rebmann and Ratzel Glaciers.
You arrive at the rim just west of Stella Point. It is about 1 hour onward to Uhuru Peak. Be careful in your descent to follow the same route down.This route is steep and very rough but it is the most direct route to the Rebman Glacier.

Day 1.
As Marangu Route

Day 2.
Transfer to Mweka Gate at an altitude of 1,500m. The route follows an old logging road before narrowing to a track, which can be uneven and slippery. At 3,100m you reach Mweka hut for the overnight rest.

Day 3.
The trail continues to ascend until reaching the alpine desert followed by the South circuit path. Continue Barafu Hut at 4,600m.

Day 4.
The Barafu route to the summit is steep but not difficult taking up to 7 hours to reach Uhuru Peak at 5,895m. You need to wake at about 2.00 am for the final ascent and return to Barafu Hut Overnight.

Day 5.
Descend to Mweka Gate and transfer to Moshi.

Mweka College to Mweka Huts: 6-8 hrs Mweka Huts to Barafu Huts: 6-8 hrs Barafu Huts to Kibo Rim: 6 hrs, 1 hr more to Uhuru Peak.

Huts - Mweka Route

Mweka Huts 3000 m. 2 unfurnished round metal huts sleep 8 each. Water is below the huts but there are no toilets.

Barafu Huts:
4600m. 2 furnished round metal huts sleep 8 each. No water nor toilets.

Umbwe Route

This is the most spectacular route with breathtaking views. It is often steep and rough but displays Kilimanjaros geological formations at their best.It is a relatively short, steep, scenic route. Better to descend it (from Machame or Mweka routes) than to climb.

Day 1.
As Marangu route.

Day 2.
Transfer to Umbwe gate at 1,410m. The trail winds through forest and in many places it is necessary to pull yourself up using branches.The first night camp is usually at a small clearing with cave at about 3,000m. Camping sites are avail able at this point.

Day 3.
Continue to ascend reaching 3,910m after about 7km. The path is steep but interesting with spectacular 600metre drops on either side in places. Although there is a short rock cliff to climb at about 3,200 m it should be no more than a scramble. Barranco Hut is the overnight resting-place.

Day 4-5.
See Mweka route – Barafu section.

Umbwe (about 1400 m) to Bivouac I: 4-6 hrs Bivouac I to Bivouac II: about 3 hrs Bivouac II to Barranco Hut: about hrs Barranco Hut to Lava Tower Hut: allow 3 hrs Barranco Hut to Shira Hut: 5-6 hrs

Huts - Umbwe Route

Bivouac I 2800 m. This is an all-weather rock shelter with water 15m below.

Bivouac II:
3780 m. This shelter is a rock overhang. Water is from a spring 15 mins down the ravine to the west or on the east side of the ridge, 300m down.

Barranco or Umbwe Hut :
3900m. There is an unfurnished round metal hut with a wooden floor, sleeps 5-6. Water is from streams nearby and there is a platform toilet. A ½ hour walk from Barranco Hut brings you to some caves at the foot of the Barranco wall, which are used as they are more spacious than the hut.

There are splendid views of Kibo, the Great Western Breach, and the Barranco.

Machame Route

Stella point at machame route This route is renowned for its beautiful views and combines both tropical forest and moorland.
To reach upper routes and huts, you cross the valley at Machame Huts and continue up the steep ridge. After 3-4 hours the trail goes west into a gorge and ascends to Shira Hut on the Shira Plateau. From Shira Hut you can then go on to the Barranco Hut (5-6 hrs), Moir Hut (2 hrs) or Lava Tower Hut (4 hrs).

Day 1.
As Marangu route

Day 2.
Transfer to Machame Gate at 1,800m. The trail follows a road for several kilometres before narrowing to a track along a ridge. Overnight spent at Machame.

Day 3.
The trail enters moorland but after about 2 hours a rock wall must be undertaken which is not more than a scramble and is about 8m long. The average person will have no problem. At the of the wall is a resting point with spectacular view. The night is spent at Shira Hut.

Day 4.
From Shira Hut to Barranco Hut is a distance of about 10km and will take up to 6 hours. The route however is very scenic and helps achieve acclimatisation ready for the summit the following day.

Day 5.
See Mweka Route – Barafu Section.

Machame village to park gate: 2 hrs Park gate to trailhead: 2 hrs Trailhead to Machame Huts: 4-5 hrs Machame Huts to Shira Hut: 5 hrs.

Huts - Machame Route

Machame Huts: 3000m. These are 2 unfurnished round metal huts, which each sleep 6. Water can be found in a stream about 5 min down valley below the huts and there are platform toilets. Shira Hut: 3800m. An unfurnished round metal hut sleeping 8. Water is in the stream approx. 50m from the hut. No toilets.

Rongai Route

This route is very different from those on the South West Side of Kilimanjaro. It is much drier and is savannah as opposed to forests. There are very good views over the Maasai Mara across the Border in Kenya.

Day 1
Transfer to Park Gate at Rongai then transfer to 'Trail Start'. Spend the night at First Cave at 2,880m with beautiful views over the plains.

Day 2.
The trail continues to ascend and you reach Third Cave at 3,875m by evening.

Day 3.
Continue to ascend to Kibo Hut - a fairly straightforward trek.

Day 4.
See Marangu Route – normal route section.

Shira Plateau Route

Shira plateau The road to Shira is only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles and can become impassable during wet periods.
Ascend 13 kms to the park gate at Londorossi Glades. Continue on through about 3 kms of forest plantation, then natural forest, heath and moor. About 19 kms from the gate is a good campsite with a rock shelter by a stream.

The track continues another 3 kms across the saddle between Shira Dome and Kibo’s western slope at 3740m. From the end of the track, it is about ½ hour walk to Shira Hut, following a marked trail. From Shira Hut, one trail leads directly up the ridge to the Lava Tower Hut.
About 1 hour along this trail, a side path leads north (left) to the Northern Circuit, reaching Moir Hut after another hour. The trail to the Southern Circuit currently branches south from the Shira to Lava Tower Hut trail, about 20 mins below Lava Tower. Another trail goes southeast from Shira Hut to join the Machame Route.

End of road to Shira Hut: ½ hr Shira Hut to Lava Tower Hut: 4 hrs Shira Hut to junction with North Circuit: 1 hr Shira Hut to Moir Hut: 2 hrs Shira Hut to junction with South Circuit: 3½ hrs Shira Hut to Machame Huts: 3 hrs.

Huts - Shira Plateau Route

Shira Hut: 3800 m. This is an unfurnished round metal hut, which sleeps 8.
Water is in the streambed approximately 50 m north of the hut. There are no toilets.

The drive to and from Shira offers magnificent views of the Great Rift Valley, which is studded with mountains, Mt. Meru and Longido are especially prominent.

Great Western Breach Route To Kibo Crater

The base for ascent from this side of Kibo is the Lava Tower Hut. It can be reached from the Shira Plateau, the Machame or Umbwe routes, or the Southern Circuit. This route is very steep and is recommended only for very fit and capable groups as exertion is necessary. An ice-axe is useful. You can go around the glaciers but sometimes snow covers the entire breach and makes passage difficult.

From Lava Tower Hut you climb the slope behind the hut that leads past the former Arrow Glacier Hut (now buried under an avalanche). Continue up its slope through the cliffs of rotten rock. In the middle is a rock ridge like a staircase that requires a scramble. You arrive on the floor of the Crater just north of Furtwangler Glacier at the western foot of the central Ash Cone.

Brranco Hut to Lava Tower Hut: 3 hrs Shira Hut to Lava Tower Hut: 3-4 hrs Lava Tower Hut to the Crater floor: 7-9hrs From entering the Crater it is about 1½ hrs to ascend to Uhuru Peak, and 1 hr on to the inner crater and Ash Cone.

Huts - Greate Western Breach Route To Kibo Crater
Lava Tower Hut: 4600 m. This is an unfurnished round metal hut which sleeps 8. Water is in the stream near the hut. There are no toilets.

Summit Crucuit

There is a circuit that contours around the base of Kibo. The trail varies in altitude from about 3700 m to 4600 m. The circuit connects the following huts: Horombo (3700 m), Barranco (3900 m), Shira (3800 m) and Moir (4200 m). Side trails lead to Kibo Hut (4700 m), Lava Tower Hut (4600m), Mawenzi Tarn Hut (4330 m) or Mawenzi Hut (4600 m).

Many hikers like to take the southern part of the circuit only, which is spectacular. You travel across moorland, cutting in and out of valleys and under the southern glaciers. You can climb to the summit from Kibo, Barafu or Lava Tower huts and return to the circuit by crossing the Crater floor and descending another rout. Allow 6-7 days on the mountain.

Mawenzi and The Saddle.

The Saddle between Kibo and Mawenzi peaks can be reached by the Marangu Route or the Summit Circuit routes.
Access to Mawenzi Peak is mainly from the Saddle. Only experienced rock climbers should attempt the various and many difficult routes up

Explorations of the Peak and Saddle
Are conveniently made from either Mawenzi Hut or Mawenzi Tarn Hut. They can also be sping places on the Summit Circuit

From Horombo Hut, take the Zebra Rock trail to the Saddle. Follow the signs bearing right to the base of the West Corrie for Mawenzi Hut. For Mawenzi Tarn Hut, continue north past the buttresses and over the north-west ridge to where the hut sits in the valley between the north and north-west ridges, beside the small lake or tarn. This is the only permanent tarn on Kilimanjaro. When you reach the Saddle, head for Mawenzi you can pick up the trail for either hut.

Horombo Hut to Mawenzi Hut: 3 hrs Horombo Hut to Mawenzi Tarn Hut: 3½ hrs Kibo Hut to Mawenzi Hut: 3 hrs

Huts-Mawenzi and Saddle
Mawenzi Hut: 4600 m. This hut sleep 5. Water can be collected at the stream coming from the West Corrie. There are no toilets. Mawenzi Tarn Hut: 4330 m. This is a metal and wooden hut with bunk beds, mattresses and a small dining room with tables and benches, which can sleep 6. There is also a small hut which sleeps 6.

Last Updated on Thursday 26th November 2009