There are four principal Kilimanjaro Routes in common use today. These are:
This is usually regarded as the easiest of all the Kilimanjaro Routes, although this can sometimes be deceptive. It is certainly the shortest route, and without doubt the most even and direct, but it is also too short sometimes to effectively allow for the body to adjust to the rapid change in altitude. The longer Kilimanjaro routes are often the more successful in terms of the number of achieved summits thanks to a few extra days for the body to get used to the increases in altitude and the decreases in oxygen and pressure.
- Scenic Rating: Very Average
- Popularity Rating: Way too crowded
- Comfort Rating: Huts all the way and excellent ablution facilities
Machame is widely considered as the intermediate Kilimanjaro route, which is true, besides which it does offer a couple of signature advantages. The main advantage of this Kilimanjaro route is a rapid increase in altitude at the early phases followed by a level phase of a few days for recovery. This is vital for the average person to experience the necessary physical adjustments necessary to attempt the push at higher altitude.
Lemosho is the longest of all the main Kilimanjaro routes in terms of time spent and distance traveled. It begins in the west and moves through all the signature phases of Kilimanjaro’s mixed ecologies. Some of the best of the forests, the heather and moorland belt and the high desert can be found on this route. It merges with Machame in the middle though, and follows the busy Southern Circuit to the summit.
- Scenic Rating: Comparable to Machame and in places better. Of all the Kilimanjaro routes this one offers the most scenic diversity and is often a quiet route, at least in the early phases
- Popularity Rating: Usually quite relaxed, particularly during the first few days
- Comfort Rating: Tented accommodation all the way and reasonable ablution facilities.
This is the new outfield route and is marketed by a few companies trying to keep ahead of the pack. In the nature of things it is gradually increasing in popularity. It uses the dry northern quadrant of the mountain and as a consequence lacks some of the scenic diversity of the main southern routes. It also links up with Marangu Route after two days and as a consequence what isolation was sought is immediately lost. It can also at times be too short for effective altitude adjustment
- Scenic Rating: Not by any means the most attractive of the Kilimanjaro routes, but it does have subtle appeal. Look out for the diversity of wildflowers along the edge of the trail
- Popularity Rating: The most quiet Kilimanjaro route available before Kibo Huts, after which it is a zoo
- Comfort Rating: Very average all the way