The Mt. Kilimanjaro climb takes trekkers on a journey through five distinct climate zones, each with very different landscapes and temperatures. The first zone on the lower parts of Kilimanjaro is dominated by evergreen forests. At approximately 3,000m, the forest gives way to the heath and moreland zone, sprinkled with grasses and low shrubs. At around 4,000m, Kilimanjaro trekkers enter the alpine desert and experience an arid and rocky landscape, which resembles the surface of the moon. The final zone, at approximately 5000 m, consists of a very fine glacial scree. Climbers who summit Mt. Kilimanjaro are treated to a spectacular view of ice glaciers interspersed between the volcanic craters.
The Kilimanjaro Lemosho route is the longest, the most scenic, and the best for acclimatization and summit success. The route begins in the west, and instead of intersecting Shira Plateau (like the Machame Route), Lemosho crosses it from Shira Ridge to Shira Camp. Climbers encounter low traffic until the route joins the Kilimanjaro Machame route. Afterwards, Lemosho follows the same route through Lava Tower, Barranco, Karanga and Barafu, known as the southern circuit.
Kilimanjaro's Machame route, also known as the "whiskey route," is one of Kilimanjaro's most popular routes, because it takes climbers through stunning scenery, while also providing ample opportunity for acclimatization. Like the Lemosho route, the Machame route allows trekkers to climb high and sleep low beginning on Day 3, as they travel from Shira Camp (3,847 m) to Lava Tower (4,642 m) and then down to Barranco Camp. After climbers tackle the great Barranco Wall, they make their way to the rocky Karanga camp, and finally, Barafu base camp, the summit launching point.
The Marangu Route, also known as the "Coca-Cola" route, is the most popular and also the most crowded of the routes. While any Mt. Kilimanjaro climb is a challenge, the Marangu route is the least difficult path to the summit because its ascension profile is gradual and steady. This route is unique because it is the only one which offers sleeping huts, and sometimes beverages (which explains the nickname).
If you are a risk-taker, Kilimanjaro's Umbwe route is the one for you. Due to its rapid gain in altitude the first two days, it is one of the toughest and riskiest Kilimanjaro routes. Climbers are rewarded with rare and stunning views, fewer people, and shorter distances. Plus, you will enjoy seeing the surprised look on the faces of locals when you tell them that you ascended via the Umbwe route. This route traditionally joined the Western Breach route to the summit, but due to recent rockfalls and dangers on the Western Breach, our Umbwe route meets up with the Machame and Lemosho routes at Barranco Camp. If you take advantage of a private trek, you can add another day or two if necessary for acclimatization.