Marangu Route is the Mt Kilimanjaro granny route, or so they say. It is the shortest option with the easiest overall gradient and as forgiving a summit route as anyone has a right to expect on Mount Kilimanjaro. It does, however, have a nasty sting in its tail, and it is this:
The key to a successful summit of Kilimanjaro is effective altitude adjustment, and there is no other way to achieve this than time. We rarely advocate an ascent taking less than five days, and even this is not enough for some people. Marangu Route offers a three days summit, and although that might work for those in a hurry, expect by about 17000ft to be in severe distress or have already turned back.
Yes Marangu Route offers comfortable hut accommodation all the way, and yes it has an easier gradient and generally forgiving conditions, but if you want to make a success of It, linger for an extra day at Kibo Hut to give yourself the best chance of a successful summit.
Watch out for pirate operators
A number of tour operators offer Marangu Route as an easy, cut price option, but remember that they, in particular the cheaper ones, have no particular interest in whether you achieve the summit or not. In fact having members turn back early makes it easier on them, and actually saves them money since porter fees and parks fees are reduced.
The oldies option
A lot of older people are tempted by Marangu Route thanks to all the above advantages, but in fact this again is deceptive. Older people need a moderate pace and a longer time. So if you want the best of the comfort and limited challenge of Marangu Route, once again stay longer at Kibo Huts and enjoy what is without doubt one of the most beautiful views in the world.
What to expect
The nuts and bolts of Marangu are: Sign in at Marangu Gate, the main KINAPA HQ, and then enjoy a long and slow climb through arguably the most beautiful sections of the Kilimanjaro Forest. First nights stay is usually in one of the Mandara Huts, although sometimes these are full so tents are pitched in the vicinity. The next day the trails leads south of Mount Mawenzi through the Heather Zone before things start to dry out underfoot. The next stop is Horombo Huts. Kibo Huts in the shadow of Kibo Crater is the last stop before the alpine summit via Gilman’s point and the summit.
The return journey is a bit rushed usually, as it is on most routes, and on this occasion the first night on the downward trail is spent at Horombo Hut before exiting the Marangu Gate the next day.
A last word of advice…
Cheap is not always better, and trust your vendor! Kilimanjaro is full of bottom feeding outfitters who have their own best interests at heart.