An initial google search of routes for summiting Kilimanjaro will give you an indication of 7 different tracks and long lists of pros & cons for each. So, how can you really figure out what is the best route for hikinh Kilimanjaro for you?
Let us break this down as simply as we can –
The easiest route to the top but also the least scenic. The only route with dorm style huts along the way.
Recommendation: Only recommended during rainy season when it is too wet for camping and for inexperienced backpackers.
One of the most scenic routes taking you through a variety of climactic zones. Also, one of the more difficult routes (no pain, no gain). Still relatively crowded due to the scenery.
Recommendation: For adventurous and experienced backpackers who want the scenic way to the top without breaking the bank. We did this hike in 5 days but don’t recommend it. Take an extra day at the base camp, you will see why in the hike experience section.
One of the newer and most scenic routes. Encounter lower traffic until the trail joins the Machame route.
Recommendation: Another route recommended for adventurous backpackers who want the scenic way to the top, fewer crowds but slightly longer and more expensive than Machame.
Only route that approaches the mountain from north making it a good choice for entering from Kenya. It is a good alternative to Marungu – like Marungu the hike is less difficult but it is also less crowded. However, the scenery is neither as varied nor spectacular.
Recommendation: Recommended for less experienced backpackers (due to relative ease of trail) but who prefer a less crowded experience while considering the trade-offs related to the scenery. This is also a good alternative for rainy season since the northern slope receives less precipitation.
Approaches from the west, similar to Lemosho. The hike starts at a higher altitude of 11,800 ft which seems like a good idea and feels like a leg up but can be very problematic for acclimatization and camping the first night at this altitude.
Recommendation: Another route recommended for adventurous backpackers who want the scenic way to the top, with fewer crowds, as short as Machame, and a similar price to Lemosho. For experienced individuals or those comfortable with higher altitudes and acclimatization, this route is ideal.
Northern circuit Route
The northern circuit is the newest route and approaches the mountain from the west, similar to Lemosho but instead of following the southern route and joining Machame, it approaches the summit form the northern slope.
Recommendation: This longer route is great for acclimatization and provides a high success rate for summiting. Recommended for adventurous and experienced backpackers who want the best of all worlds such as scenic hike, lowest crowds, highest chances of summiting and those who may be comfortable camping for 8 nights and paying extra for this incredible experience.
This is a steepest and most direct route to the summit and hence provides low acclimatization and fewer crowds.
Recommendation: Only recommended for strong and extremely experienced hikers who are not only confident in their hiking capabilities but also extremely confident in their acclimatization abilities. Even though the route is scenic, some other routes like Machame, Lemosho and Northern circuit provide better scenery.