Climbing Kilimanjaro: Marangu Route

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Marangu Route

By Alex ToddDestinations

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About the Marangu Route

The most well-established and oldest trail leading up to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the Marangu Route is a classic adventure that remains wildly popular, despite the creation of newer trails. Nicknamed the “Coca-Cola Route”, the Marangu Route features a different level of comfort when compared to other Mount Kilimanjaro summit adventures, mainly due to the fact that guests sleep in permanent huts rather than tents and have other luxuries (such as snacks and soft drinks) available.

The relatively slow pace of this climb has resulted in the Marangu Route being perceived as an easy excursion, but it is still a challenging route that should be respected and certainly not underestimated, especially due to its short acclimatization period. Approaching the summit from a southeast direction, some adventurers have stated that the Marangu Route is less scenic than others, largely because it follows an out-and-back pattern along the exact same route, resulting in less diversity of scenery.

Even still, climbing up to the top of the African continent along the Marangu Route is an exceptional experience, particularly for those who are dealing with time constraints. For anyone who wants to tackle this direct (and slightly more comfortable) route up the mountain, but wants to add an extra day to acclimatize, there is also a 6-day Marangu Route Tour on offer.

Whether you are simply curious to learn more about this excursion or are in the initial stages of planning a summit trek, be sure to check out our guide to trekking Mount Kilimanjaro in order to learn the ins and outs of this spectacular mountain adventure.

Marangu Route Map

Marangu Route Itinerary

Day 1 Rainforest Trek and Maundi Crater

The first day of your Mount Kilimanjaro summit trek will see you climb uphill through the vibrant rainforest that is home to countless species of wildlife, including monkeys. You will also have the option of hiking up to the Maundi Crater or simply relaxing at your camp for the evening.

Elevation Change: 840 m Ascent
Distance: 8.0 km
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Rainforest
Overnight Location: Mandara Hut

Day 1. Rainforest Trek and Maundi Crater

In the rainforest by Demetrius John Kessy, CC-BY 2.0

Day 2 Trek Across the Moor to Horombo Hut

Today you will leave the rainforest behind in favor of the heather covered moorland. Here, you will experience some beautiful views of the mountains, including the Kibo and Mawenzi peaks. After a long day of trekking, you will arrive at the Horombo Hut for the evening.

Elevation Change: 1,000 m Ascent
Distance: 12.0 km
Time: 5-6h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Horombo Hut

Day 2. Trek Across the Moor to Horombo Hut

Horombo Huts by Christoph Strässler, CC BY-SA 2.0

Day 3 Climb Through the Alpine Desert to Kibo Hut

Climbing even further up the mountainside, on day 3 you will notice a decline in the surrounding plantlife as you make your way into the alpine desert. The rocky terrain here seems otherworldly, and you will have some great views of the surrounding landscape. You will also need to settle in for an early night, as the following summit day will require a very early start.

Elevation Change: 1,000 m Ascent
Distance: 9.0 km
Time: 5-6h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Kibo Hut

Kilimanjaro. Marangu Route

Kilimanjaro seen from Marangu route by Christoph Strässler, CC BY-SA 2.0

Day 4 Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Day

After waking up around midnight, you will begin the final push up to Uhuru Peak. On the way you will experience a breathtaking sunrise at Gillman’s Point, before pushing on to the prized summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. After taking in the views and reveling at the top of the African continent, you will begin the long descent back to Horombo Camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 1,192 m Ascent/2,175 m Descent
Distance: 21.0 km
Time: 10-13h
Terrain: Alpine Desert/Arctic
Overnight Location: Horombo Hut

Day 4. Mount Kilimanjaro Summit Day

Dawn at Gillman's Point, Kilimanjaro by Christoph Strässler, CC BY-SA 2.0

Day 5 Descent and Return to Moshi

The final day of your Mount Kilimanjaro adventure will see you descend further towards the Kilimanjaro Park Gate. Here, you will collect your summit certificate before meeting up with your driver to head back into Moshi.

Elevation Change: 2,000 m
Distance: 20.0 km
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Alpine Desert/Rainforest
Overnight Location: Hotel in Moshi

Kilimanjaro. Marangu Route

Mawenzi by Lindsey Nicholson, CC-BY 2.0

Additional Resources for Planning Your Kilimanjaro Summit

Although there is a bit of information within this itinerary, there are plenty of other things that you will need to take into consideration when planning a trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. A good place to start are the Tanzanian Embassy and Center for Disease Control (or the equivalent institutions in your country). They will be able to inform you about any current regulations or guidelines when it comes to public health and travel to Tanzania.

Mount Meru Trek

Mount Meru Trek

After settling on climbing to the “roof of Africa”, you should begin looking into how feasible such an adventure will be for you personally. To help you along, we’ve put together a series of articles that cover topics like how hard it is to climb Kilimanjaro and what you can do to best prepare yourself for the journey.

Lastly, you should do your research on the logistics of summiting Kili by looking into what you will need to pack and what time of year is best to summit. There are plenty of resources available online to inspire an unforgettable Mount Kilimanjaro summit trek, but hopefully this guide to the Marangu Route has at least helped you whittle down which trail up the mountain is best for you!

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