How many days?

Choosing the Best Kilimanjaro Climb Duration

How long does it take to climb mount Kilimanjaro on each route?

The Kilimanjaro Climb Duration Depends on the Route

When planning your Kilimanjaro climb, one of the most important decisions is choosing the duration. Kilimanjaro climb duration typically ranges from 5 to 9 days depending on which route you take.

The shortest Kilimanjaro climb durations are 5 days on the Marangu or Umbwe routes. However, most experts do not recommend this timeframe as it provides less time to acclimatize to the altitude.

For proper acclimatization to increase your chances of summiting, the longer routes are better options:

  • Lemosho route: 6-8 day Kilimanjaro climb duration
  • Machame route: 6-7 days
  • Rongai route: 6-7 days
  • Northern Circuit: 8-9 days

The longer Kilimanjaro climb duration allows more days to acclimatize and lowers your risk of altitude sickness. It also gives you more time to enjoy the unique scenery and wildlife on the way up Kilimanjaro.

How to Choose the Ideal Kilimanjaro Climb Duration

When choosing your climb duration, consider your fitness level, previous hiking experience, and tolerance to high altitude. Less fit hikers or those new to altitude will benefit from a longer timeline.

Discuss options with your guide to pick the optimal Kilimanjaro climb duration for your needs. With the right preparation and pacing, you’ll have the best chance to successfully and safely summit Kilimanjaro.

Machame route – from USD 2,540

  • Highly recommended, best success rate.
  • Allows “walk high, sleep low” for better acclimatization.
  • Stunning scenery climbing through five diverse climatic zones.
  • Ascent and descent is via different routes.
  • Fully catered camping.

 Lemosho Route – from USD 2,590

  • An excellent route to climb Kilimanjaro by with a high success rate.
  • Allows climbers to “walk high, sleep low” enabling better acclimatization.
  • Remote and spectacular approach with dramatic gorges and views of west Kilimanjaro.
  • Shira route offers higher start point therefore is less good for acclimatization.
    Fully catered camping.

Marangu Route – from USD 2,350

  • Shortest route to the summit which means less time to acclimatize.
  • Much lower success rate.
  • Dormitory style accommodation which can be noisy.
  • Less scenic due to ascent and descent on same route.

Rongai – Route from USD 2630

  • Only northern approach route to Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit.
  • Offers a true wilderness experience on the early stages of the climb.
  • Very tough final summit night.
  • Less natural acclimatization with no opportunities to “walk high, sleep low”.
  • Fully catered camping.

Umbwe Route – from USD 2590

  • Steep, short route with very low success rate.
  • Poor acclimatization due to rapid ascent.
  • Very remote and quiet for the first two days.
  • Fully catered camping.

Which route is best to climb Kilimanjaro?

When you are planning your Kilimanjaro climb there are 6 factors that you need to take into consideration in deciding which is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro for you.

  • Acclimatization
  • Difficulty of the summit night
  • How busy the route is
  • What are the accommodation options
  • Safety
  • What is the success rate

Acclimatization on Kilimanjaro

When climbing to altitude the golden rule is walk high and sleep low. Following this rule minimizes the risk of altitude sickness and improves you chance of summiting. The best routes to climb Kilimanjaro for acclimatization are the Machame and Lemosho routes as these naturally allow you to walk high and sleep low.

Difficulty of the summit night

The toughest summit nights are on the Rongai route and the Marangu route: they reach the crater rim of Kilimanjaro on the North, opposite Uhuru Peak and more than 2 hours from the summit itself. The best routes to climb Kilimanjaro to avoid this are the Machame and Lemosho routes as they reach the crater at Stellar point less than an hour’s walk from the summit. An extra hour on what is already a very long day is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

How busy the route is

The amount of climbers on the mountain varies a lot depending on the season and on the day of the week but even taking this into account if you want to have the mountain more to yourself the best route to climb Kilimanjaro is the Rongai route. This route starts in the North and is used by a lot less climbers than the very popular southern routes.

Accommodation on the climb

The only route that you do not have to camp on is the Marangu route so if you hate tents this is the best route to climb Kilimanjaro for you. Be warned though the huts are very basic and noisy.

Kilimanjaro Routes Safety

We consider all of the routes except the Arrow Point route to be relatively safe if walked sensibly. We do not offer climbs on the Arrow Point route as the risk of falling rock is unmanageable . This is definitely not the best route to climb Kilimanjaro.

Which route has the highest Summit Success rate

As a result of the better acclimatization offered and the easier summit night the best route to climb Kilimanjaro in terms of summit success rate is the 9 Day Northern Circuit route ,Lemosho route over 8 days followed by the Machame route over 7 days.

We operate group climbs starting every week through the year with different routes each week. If you are looking for a particular route you can see when we are running that route below.

Importnat Links

  • The Marangu route is one of the most popular options. It is outlined in detail on the National Park’s website here.
  • According to research from the High Altitude Medicine Guide, taking more time to acclimatize can significantly reduce your risk of altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro…..
  • This advice from the American Hiking Society on preparing for a high-altitude climb has useful tips to get you ready for the trek.
  • According to a study published in Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, climbers who took 6 or more days to summit Kilimanjaro they had a higher success rate than those going faster.

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    The Marangu route is one of only two Kilimanjaro routes sanctioned by the Kilimanjaro National Park that allow hikers to sleep in huts instead of tents.
  • The Machame route is very scenic, passing through distinct climate zones described by the Kilimanjaro National Park guide.

  • The Wilderness Medical Society recommends minimum acclimatization periods at various altitudes when climbing Kilimanjaro.

  • For more tips, read this Kilimanjaro climbing guide from Backpacker Guide NZ.