Key information: Marangu Route
- The only hutted route and one of the most direct ways to the summit. As a result, a very popular route, with crowded huts and trails at busy times.
- Pass through varied and beautiful ecosystems, admire this amazing landscape. Catch the vast summit dawn views.
- This is a very tough walk, turning into an altitudinous slog at the end.
- Walkopedia rating82
- Natural interest19
- Human interest3
- Negative points10
- Total rating82
- Note: Negs: Extreme altitude, crowded huts and trails
- Length: 5/6 days
- Maximum Altitude: 5,896m
- Level of Difficulty: Very Difficult
The roof of Africa, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world: Kilimanjaro is spectacular, romantic and a famous “bag”; but huge numbers of climbers make for crowded huts, campsites and trails on the popular routes at busy times. You will feel triumph and exhilaration if you are one of those who reach the peak, which your altitude misery will not wholly ruin.
The Marangu (or “Coca Cola”) route from Marangu village and the Kilimajaro National Park headquarters to the east is the only all-hutted route and one of the most direct routes to the summit. As a result, it is one of the two most popular routes, which at busy times detracts from the spirit of this amazing place, with too little chance for quiet contemplation.
Walking on Kili costs a lot, which means many people choose short, direct routes. The hutted Marangu Route is a (relatively) cheap option, as you need far less kit, so less support, which adds to its popularity. You will need to pre-book, some way ahead at popular times. See more on cost at our Kilimanjaro Massif page. But you are most likely to suffer from altitude sickness if you take this or one of the other direct routes, with often dire consequences for acclimatization and thus enjoyment – and, indeed, safety – and a greater risk of not making it to the peak. This is one tough mother. Ie, our advice is to take a longer route if your time and finances allow.
You will climb through dense rain- then cloud- forest, damp giant heather, beautiful heath then sparse scrub moorland and alpine desert, and then to the rock and ice, cliffs and glaciers of the summit complex. As the trail climbs, you should catch spectacular views across a region of natural wonders and you should spot animals of interest - eagles and buzzards will soar above but bigger game is scarce, unlike on neighbouring Mt Meru.
The final night-time ascent to the summit, to catch the views at sunrise, will be tough and not much fun (a long arduous slog on steep scree), but should be fabulously rewarding if you make it, as you gaze across the sea of clouds covering the slumbering Tanzanian plains, toward the dim outline of Meru on the pre-dawn horizon. See our Kili Summit page for more on the summit area.
A downside of choosing this route is that you will have to return the way you came.
Day 1 – Marangu Gate (1,980m) to Mandara Hut (2,700m). (12km, 4 hrs). A beautiful steady climb through dense rain- then cloud- forest.
Day 2 – To Horombo Hut (3,700m) (15km, 5hrs). You leave the forest for a long climb through some of Walkopedia’s favourite vegetation – damp giant heather, beautiful heath then sparse scrub moorland. Pass the Maundi crater early on. Consider adding an acclimatization day at Horombu.
Day 3 – To Kibo Hut (4,700m) (15km, 5hrs). A climb through thinning moorland to the Alpine desert of the flat Saddle between the looming icy drama of Kibo, the central massif, and the elegant spires of stunning Mawenzi, Kili’s second summit, ending with a demanding, tedious slog to the Kibo huts.
Day 4 – To summit and back to Horombo Hut. (27km, 13-15hrs). An exhausting struggle, but with luck you will have an extraordinary experience up top. See our Kili Summit page for details of the summit day. Then, as if you haven’t done enough, a punishing 2,300m (ish) descent.
Day 5 – Horombo Hut - Marangu Gate. (27km, 6hrs). A long descent, losing 1,700+m height.
The altitude will be very tough, so physical fitness and mental preparation, as well as ample time for proper acclimatisation, will make for a more enjoyable trek and increase your chances of getting to the top. Remember: the slower you ascend, the less miserable it will be at the end. Consider adding an acclimatization day.
It is a requirement of the National Park to have a Tanzanian guide to ensure safety and to organise suitable accommodation, food and porters (you really won’t want to carry everything yourself to these heights).
Kili patriots will be shocked that the ascent of this famous mountain does not make our Top 100. In the end, however, drama and boasting rights do not compensate for the miseries of life at 19,000ft. (Our rating of this route assumes you will take it to the summit: if coming for the total experience of the massif, you would take a different route.)
Some good detailed information here: https://www.mountkilimanjaroguide.com/kilimanjaro-marangu.html.
See our Kilimanjaro Massif page for more on walking here, including attacking the Summit, and photos and further general information on Kili, including the altitude and how to deal with it!
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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