THE BEST ROUTE TO CLIMB MOUNT KILIMANJARO:
Tips from Acanela Mount Kilimanjaro Artisan, Abdul
You are planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and you don't know which is the best route? As the popularity of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro continues to increase, potential climbers are often uncertain as to which route to take. There are seven major routes used to climb Kilimanjaro. Each route has its own advantages and disadvantages. When selecting the route, make sure it is the appropriate route for your desires, physical ability, altitude and comfort level.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING THE KILIMANJARO ROUTE: To choose the best Kilimanjaro route for you, there are plenty of variables to be mindful of.
WHO: Who is climbing? The whole group's abilities must be factored into choosing a route. Are there novices in your group? Are there people who have never been to high altitudes? Pick a route that best fits everyone.
WHAT: What limitations surround your climb? Are you bound by a budget? Or the number of days on your trip? There are cheaper and more expensive routes, and shorter and longer itineraries. Get an idea of how much money and how many days people are willing to spend on the mountain.
HOW: How do you see your trek? Do you want the most challenging route or a less strenuous one? Kilimanjaro can bring out a lot of discomfort and suffering. Some people don't want to be pushed too hard. These answers will affect which route is for you.
WHERE: Where do you want to begin your climb? The routes start from all sides of the mountain. Where you begin affects cost, scenery and scenic variety. For instance, the western routes are more scenic because they cover more of the mountain.
WHY: Why are you climbing? Is it very important to summit? Then choose a route with a high success rate. Do you want to take the best photos? Then pick a scenic route. Do you just want to be there? Then choose a quick, inexpensive route.
WHEN: When are you climbing? If you are climbing during the dry season, great. But if you are climbing during the rainy season or the shoulder seasons, then the route you select can play into the climb's difficulty. Climbs around holidays and full moons are especially crowded.
KILIMANJARO ROUTES OVERVIEW: Below are brief descriptions of the climbing routes on Mount Kilimanjaro.
Cost: $ = low, $$ = mid, $$$ = high, $$$$ = very high
Difficulty: ^ = low, ^^ = mid, ^^^ = high, ^^^^ = very high
MARANGU ROUTE: $/^
Popular tourist route, approaches from southeast, easy, gentle gradients, beautiful rain forest section and moorlands, comfortable and basic hut shelter which makes this route a perfect choice during the rain season, ascend and descent on same trail. 72 km in 5-6 days.
MACHAME ROUTE: $$/^^
Most popular route, approaches from south, very scenic route with southern traverse, difficult route but very good for acclimatization, camping. 62 km in 6-7 days.
RONGAI ROUTE: $$/^
Long access drive to trailhead, approaches from north, remote, less frequented, easy, gentle gradients, beautiful alpine desert section, good alternative to Marangu, camping, fair acclimatization profile, camping. 73 km in 6-7 days.
LEMOSHO ROUTE: $$$/^^^
Long access drive to trailhead, approaches from west, remote, less frequented, beautiful heath section, very scenic with southern traverse, camping, difficult route but excellent for acclimatization, camping. 70 km in 7-8 days.
AMONG THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THESE ROUTES:
-The routes have starting points located on multiple sides of the mountain.
-The routes vary distance and accordingly so do the completion times.
-There are relatively easy trails, difficult routes, and even dangerous ones.
-Certain routes are favorable for altitude acclimatisation due to their route profile.
-There are routes that are better when climbing during the rainy season.
-One route offers hut accommodations while the rest are camping routes.
Machame is the most popular route on the mountain, with an estimated 45% of all climbers using this route. Next is the Marangu route, with an estimated 40% of all climbers opting for this route. Lemosho and Rongai see far less use, but are thep referred routes for the more reputable (expensive) Kilimanjaro outfitters, and are thus growing in popularity. Picking the wrong route can mean a unnecessarily difficult trek, a failed summit, or getting sick and/or injured. So it is necessary to compare the different elements that makes each route unique.
So pick the Kilimanjaro route that is right for YOU!
2. KILIMANJARO PACKING LIST:
To assist in shopping and packing it is helpful to print out a copy of this recommended Kilimanjaro kit list and tick off boxes as each item is acquired or packed!
Baggage and Sleeping Kit for Climbing Kilimanjaro:
-Large Rucksack or Holdall, 70-90 litres capacity (for kit carried by porter)
-Daysack, 25-35 litres (for personal use on mountain; ready-access items)
-Sleeping Bag (minus 10 degrees Centigrade rating or colder)
-Waterproof rucksack liner or heavy duty plastic sack
-Elasticated waterproof rucksack cover
- Note that sleeping mattresses are not required as we provide these for you
Clothing for Climbing Kilimanjaro:
-Sweat-wicking T-shirts / vests
-Insulated down jacket or similar
-Down mittens or similar
-Thermal long-johns for summit night
-Lightweight walking trousers (avoid jeans or heavy cotton as they chafe and dry slowly)
-Underwear (briefs are usually better than boxer shorts which gather and chafe)
-Very good quality hiking socks and thin liner socks. (We advise that socks should be at least a size too small otherwise they stretch and bunch causing blisters)
-Breathable lightweight waterproofs (jacket and trousers)
-Waterproof walking boots, sturdy and worn-in. A Gore-Tex membrane or similar is advised. While Alpine or C3 boots are not required for Kilimanjaro it is important that your boots have good ankle and arch support and good deep read patterns.
-Goretex Mountain Cap or Woollen Hat
-Wide brimmed sun hat to protect face, ears and neck
Hygiene related gear for use on Kilimanjaro:
-Toothbrush, toothpaste & deodorant
-Flat packed Wet Ones, travel wipes, or similar for personal hygiene
-Kleenex tissues in plastic travel pouches or toilet paper
-Hairbrush / comb
-Lip salve with UV protection
-Vaseline, to prevent chafing skin and heel friction blisters
Health Related Items for Kilimanjaro:
-Malaria Tablets (Consult with doctor before taking. Note that some anti-malarial courses need to commence several weeks before departure)
-Factor 30+ sun cream
-Sun barrier cream white / blue for nose and ears
Personal Small First Aid Kit to be Carried by Each Climber on Kilimanjaro:
-Pain Killers (Ibuprofen)
-Zinc oxide tape and small scissors
-Compeed Blister Pads
-Loperamide Diarrhea Tablets
-Any medication you normally use
-Dioralyte sachets or similar rehydration packs
-Note that your guide will carry a more comprehensive medical kit containing additional Acetazolamide, Ibuprofen, Anti-inflammatory gel, bandages, Loperamide, Amoxycilin, Oral Dexamethasone, and several other items.
-Where a climber has specific health concerns that they or their doctor anticipate being exacerbated by exposure to high altitude, or if he has a history of heart disease in the family, we would advise that he requests that we carry an additional canister of emergency oxygen.
Documents Needed when Travelling to Kilimanjaro:
-Passport (with additional 6 months’ validity after proposed expedition return date)
-Tanzanian Entry Visa (If flying to Nairobi and taking the bus to Arusha Kenyan visas can be bought on arrival at Nairobi airport.)
-Air Travel Documents
-Cash in US dollars in denominations of $10 and $20 and $1 (tipping allowance and local purchases, taxis, meals, etc)
-Credit Card (recommended for eventualities only)
-Travel Insurance Documents
-Vaccination Certificates (Yellow Fever, if visiting a ‘risk zone’ prior to entering Tanzania)
-Traveller’s Cheques are not recommend as they are subject to very poor conversion rates in Moshi or Arusha
Other (optional but recommended) things to be carried when climbing Kilimanjaro:
-Mountain Fuel (inter-meal energy supplements and recovery drinks)
-Camera and film or Digital Camera and spare memory cards
-Sunglasses with UV-filter lenses
-High energy snacks (Cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts)
-Spare Contact Lenses and fluid, if worn
-Head torch with spare batteries and bulb for summit night & tent admin
-Water bottles & Camelbak (3 litres carrying capacity)
-Nuun hydration aids (portable electrolyte replacement tablets)
-Water Purification Tablets / Iodine drops although we have them
-Ear Plugs and blindfold (to aid sleep on afternoon before summit night)
-Plastic bags (for dirty washing, wrappings, etc.)
-Telescopic walking poles (optional)
-Mobile phone. There is signal reception on most parts of the mountain. It is a good idea to unlock your phone before you come out so that a local sim card can be used.
A good, strong, thermally efficient blizzard survival bag. We strongly recommend that all climbers possess one of these, especially when training alone or in small groups while preparing for Kilimanjaro. On Kilimanjaro, perhaps 10 – 15% of climbers complain to their guides of being cold in their sleeping bags, despite using a bag that is rated for minus 20 degrees C or lower. This is because the body generates less heat when there is relatively little oxygen available. Having one of these bags will reflect much of that precious heat back to where it’s needed.