Search Inside

Look inside our books using Google Book Search. Please note that this will take you to an external website. To search our website please use the search box at the top right of the screen.

25% OFF  ·  All printed guidebooks until 19th December 2017

Climb Kilimanjaro with a Cicerone guidebook - Sample Route

Cover of Kilimanjaro: A Complete Trekker's Guide
Available as eBook
11 Feb 2015
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.7cm
No. Maps
No. Photos
1st Published
1 Nov 2004
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Pinterest Share to Google+

Kilimanjaro: A Complete Trekker's Guide

Ascent preparations, practicalities and trekking routes to the 'Roof of Africa'

by Alex Stewart
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook containing descriptions of all the trekking routes on Kilimanjaro. It contains the mountain's 6 ascent routes, three summit ascents, the Circuit Path and the descent paths. Kilimanjaro towers 5km above the savannah but it is possible to reach the 5895m summit without any technical climbing ability.

Sorry, this title is currently unavailable in print form

Enter your email below to be notified when it is back in stock. Alternatively, please see below for availability of other formats.

Buy the complete book

Printed Book Unavailable  
Google Play (Android) Google Play
Kobo (App for iOS, Android, Windows & Desktop) Kobo
Kindle amazon
eBooks are also available from other Retailers
Cover: Paperback - PVC
Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.7cm
Weight: 350g

Prices include FREE UK First Class postage. We also ship internationally, please see our see our Price Guide for full details.

Windows and Mac OS X - you'll need to install the free Adobe Digital Editions software. eBooks can be printed, but only from the first computer that you download your eBook onto (Full list of supported devices).

Apple iPad - using the Cicerone Guides iPad App, available free from the App Store.

Read more information about eBook formats.

Cicerone guidebooks are now available as ePUBs. You'll need to install a free ePUB reader that supports Adobe DRM.

Read more information about eBook formats.

Want to start reading straight away? Buy both the printed version of a guidebook and get the eBook at 50% discount.

You can download this book direct from the Amazon Kindle store for use on their Kindle device. Amazon also have free Apps available for iPhone, PC, Mac, iPad and Android.

Unfortunately, it isn't possible to print pages with this format.

eBooks purchased from Google Play can be viewed on your computer, Android, or iOS device through the Google Play App.

eBooks purchased from Kobo can only be viewed and downloaded into the Kobo App which allows you to read your eBook on Apple and Android devices. Kobo Desktop is available for Windows and Mac.

Our ebooks are also available to buy through many eBook retailers including:

• Amazon
• Google Play
• iTunes
• Barnes and Noble


Kilimanjaro is not just a national park and a World Heritage Site; it’s Africa’s highest mountain, the world’s tallest freestanding massif and one of the world’s largest volcanoes. This snow-capped dormant volcano towers almost 5km above Tanzania’s savannah yet it is possible to reach the 5895m summit without any technical climbing ability.

This classic African trek passes through cloud forest, alpine moorland, high desert and a barren summit zone to reach Uhuru Peak. There are six official trekking routes on Kilimanjaro that provide a range of opportunities for experiencing the mountain, all of which are described in this guidebook. It also contains descriptions for the Circuit Path (which offers an alternative to ascending to the mountain’s top and circumnavigates Kibo at 4000m) and the three summit routes leading to Uhuru Peak. The descent routes are also detailed. Each of these routes will reward the visitor with stunning panoramas and an incredible variety of scenic wonders.

All walkers must follow one of these established paths. All of the ascents are quite difficult by virtue of the altitude, but some are harder than others.

The Marangu Route is a relatively easy five day trip that ascends Kilimanjaro from the southeast. The lower sections provide fine forest and moorland walking.

The Machame Route is a longer, six day climb that is harder and more spectacular. It climbs Kilimanjaro from the southwest and enjoys some of the finest forest and heath/moorland scenery on the mountain.

One of the more unusual ascent routes, the Rongai Route is the easiest. This six day climb is an excellent alternative for those who don’t feel capable of undertaking one of the more strenuous climbs. This is the only path that approaches the summit from the northeast.

Both the Shira and Lemosho Routes approach the mountain from the west. They are variations on the same trail and merge above the forest on the Shira Plateau.

For those who are fit and fully acclimatised, the Umbwe Route is the most dramatic way to climb Kilimanjaro and experience many of its finest vistas. It is the most direct and strenuous ascent route. Climbing stiffly through thick forest on the southern slopes of the mountain, it rapidly gains height and affords you little time to acclimatise properly. It must not be underestimated as it poses a very real challenge.

For those less concerned about claiming the summit’s scalp, the Circuit Path that circumnavigates Kibo at around 4000m is an outstanding way to enjoy the mountain and explore some of its least visited features. The South Circuit Path is a superb traverse that provides you with fine panoramas of the Southern Icefields, whilst the North Circuit Path is very remote and rarely used, allowing you to enjoy the mountain in peace.  

Kilimanjaro attracts a great number of trekkers who have never undertaken a multi-day walk, and certainly haven’t contemplated doing so at altitude. The mountain’s environment is regularly underestimated and the result can be fatal. Although many hundreds of people reach the summit without incident, many more don’t make it because they fail to prepare and ascend too quickly and suffer from altitude sickness. Uhuru Peak is several hundred metres higher than Everest Base Camp and so needs physical preparation to achieve.

  • Seasons
    Two dry seasons - mid-December to March and July to early October. Possible at rainy times, but who wants to climb in clouds and downpours on a hill like Kilimanjaro?
  • Centres
    Flights into Nairobi in Kenya, Dar es Salaam or Kili airport. Outfitter normally based in Arusha or Moshi.
  • Difficulty
    Kilimanjaro is a big mountain, but the normal trekking routes are not technically difficult. Altitude and acclimatisation are the main problems and AMS can kill if not taken seriously.
  • Must See
    Dawn over Africa from the summit, the natural environment, the Crater.

August 2014

Since the latest printing of this guide the following websites have changed as follows:

In the Introduction >

In Appendix B: Accommodation > >

In Appendix C: Useful addresses

Kilimanjaro Mountain Club:

In Appendix D: Bibliography and Further Reading >


Choosing a Route
Kilimanjaro’s Routes
Costs and Budgeting
When to Go
Pre-Departure Preparation
Getting There
By Air
By Land
Permits and Visas
Tanzanian Visas
Kenyan Visas
Health Considerations
Pre-Trek Health
On-Trek Health and Safety
Mountain Sickness (AMS
Acclimitisation Trek – Mt Meru
Momela Route
Selecting an Outfitter
Guides and Porters
Environmental and Cultural Considerations
Using this Guide

People of the Region
The Chagga
The Maasai
Origin of the Mountain’s Name

Geology and Vulcanology
Glacial Recession
Animal and Plant Life
Lower Slopes
Forest Zone
Heath/Moorland Zone
Highland Desert Zone
Summit Zone


Ascent Routes
A: Marangu Route
B: Umbwe Route
C: Machame Route
D: Lemosho Route
E: Shira Route
F: Rongai Route
Alternative Five-day Rongai Route

Circuit Paths
G: South Circuit Path
H: North Circuit Path

Summit Ascent Routes
I: Normal/Marangu Route
J: Barafu Route
K: Western Breach Route

The Summit

Descent Routes
L: Marangu Route
M: Mweka Route
N: Alternative Mweka Route

Appendix A – Ascent Route Comparison Chart
Appendix B – Accommodation
Appendix C – Useful Addresses
Appendix D – Bibliography and Further Reading
Appendix E – Language Glossary

Sample Route

View Sample Route Map


There are a number of ways to approach and climb Kilimanjaro. Six forest and heath/moorland routes begin on the lower slopes and ascend to 3500–4000m. These routes then usually merge with the South Circuit Path before linking to one of three final summit ascent routes. From the summit there are three separate descent routes that are affiliated to each of the earlier climbs. The easiest way to make sense of this jumble is to study the Kilimanjaro Region Map.

Typically, when you sign up with an outfitter to tackle Kilimanjaro, you sign up for a particular combination of routes; the most common uses the Marangu Route as both an ascent and descent route. If you sign up for one of the other paths, you will agree to tackle a particular combination of ascent and descent routes in advance of your departure. Thus you might wish to undertake the Machame-Mweka Route, which would climb the mountain along the Machame Route and then return to its foot along the Mweka Route.

Each of the six initial ascent routes, the Marangu, Umbwe, Machame, Lemosho, Shira and Rongai Routes are all detailed below (please see Appendix A for the route comparison chart). In addition, there are full descriptions of the three final ascent routes to the crater rim; the Normal/Marangu Route, Barafu Route and Western Breach Route are all outlined. Furthermore, there is a description of the Summit Circuit Paths that circle Kibo at around 4000m.

After a full description of the summit, there follow explanations of the three descent routes on Kilimanjaro: the Marangu, Mweka and Alternative Mweka Routes.

Ascent Routes - A: Marangu Route

Time: 5 days
Length: 65km
Altitude gain: 2903m
Grade: Moderate/hard
Start: Marangu Gate
Finish: Kibo Hut
Summit ascent route: Normal/Marangu Route
Optional extra days: 1 at Horombo Hut
Descent route: Marangu Route
End trek: Marangu Gate

The Marangu Route is the oldest and one of the quickest methods of ascending Kilimanjaro. It’s also one of the easiest and most popular routes on the mountain, at one time drawing over 80% of trekkers on Kilimanjaro. As a consequence of its mass appeal and accessibility, it came to be known as the ‘Coca-Cola route’. It is also somewhat unfairly referred to as the ‘tourist route’.

Numbers on the Marangu Route have fallen with the improvement and promotion of alternative routes on the mountain. However, because it is also used as a means of descending the mountain, you are unlikely to ever feel truly alone or isolated in the huts or campsites along the track.

The Marangu Route ascends up the south-east side of Kilimanjaro through fine forest and moorland scenery. Though it is often harshly criticised for being overcrowded, and although this is far from a genuine wilderness experience, the route is still very beautiful and the forest sections in particular are attractive. The route passes to the south of Mawenzi before it crosses the desolate Saddle heading towards Kibo Hut. The summit ascent is then conducted via the Normal/Marangu Route on an arduous scree slope that culminates in the arrival at Gilman’s Point on the crater rim. Uhuru Peak can then be reached from here.

The descent route for this particular trail is traditionally back along the Marangu Route. Steps are retraced from the summit to Horombo Hut, before you eventually walk off the mountain via the Marangu Gate.

Most people complete the route in only five days and as a consequence it has a surprisingly low success rate for getting trekkers to the top. Many people fail to acclimatise properly on the way up the mountain and as a result succumb to the debilitating effects of altitude on the final haul to the crater rim, or simply peak at Gillman’s Point. In order to increase your chances of reaching Uhuru Peak, you should try to factor in an extra day for acclimatisation purposes. Ideally this should be taken at Horombo Hut, from where you can enjoy a number of fascinating side trips to explore various features of the mountain.
To the trailhead
The Marangu Route begins from the Kilimanjaro National Park Headquarters at the Marangu Gate. This is best accessed from the town of Marangu, on the south-east side of Kilimanjaro, some 40km from the town of Moshi. Most trekking companies will ensure that you are transported to the trailhead from where you are staying.

From Moshi, follow the sealed Arusha–Taveta road towards Dar es Salam for just over 20km. At the small, bustling town of Himo, the road turns left and heads north for 13km to arrive at the sprawling, unkempt Marangu village. The fact that the road is paved all of the way to the village is a reflection of the economic impact that Kilimanjaro has had on the region in general and on Marangu in particular. In the centre of town, at the main junction, turn left again and follow the track uphill for 6km to the park gate. The journey from Moshi to the trailhead takes 45 minutes to an hour and represents a gain in altitude of almost 1000m.

At the park gate all of the formalities for entering the national park can be completed. This can be a laborious process and you should expect to spend up to an hour registering and paying the requisite park fees.

Huts and accommodation
The Marangu Route is the only route on the mountain to have sleeping huts provided at every night stop. A-frame buildings house communal dormitories, where basic bunks and sponge mattresses are supplied. The huts have solar powered lights and cold running water. Basic toilet facilities are also present at each hut. Groups dine together in a large communal hut, resulting in a jovial, lively atmosphere and a great deal of interaction. It is often possible to purchase soft drinks, bottled water and even beer at the huts, although the prices increase as you climb higher up the mountain. Make sure that you carry small Tanzanian notes to pay for things bought along the route.

During the peak season, huts can sometimes be over full as a result of large groups altering their itineraries. As a result the facilities can become overstretched.

Each hut has a number of tent pitches in the immediate vicinity and it is possible to camp at each site. Those camping can take advantage of the toilet and water facilities provided but are forbidden from using the hut dining or communal areas.

The first night stop is at Mandara Hut. The lowest hut on the Marangu Route was originally constructed before World War I. It was christened Bismarck Hut, after the Iron Chancellor of Prussia, in recognition of his significant role in the construction of the German Empire. The original stone hut has since been replaced by a series of comfortable wooden A-frame huts, built by a group of Norwegians as part of an aid programme. The largest hut comprises a communal dining area and an upstairs bunkroom. Smaller huts sleep up to eight people each. In total some 60 walkers can be accommodated here. There are flush toilets behind the main cabin. Water is retrieved from springs above the hut and is piped to the toilet block.

The second and fourth nights are spent at Horombo Hut. This was originally named Peter’s Hut, after Karl Peters, the German explorer and arch-imperialist. Similar to Mandara Hut, this vast complex comprises a number of wooden A-frame huts and resembles a small village. Horombo is designed to support up to 120 people, making it the busiest overnight stop on the entire mountain. Groups both ascending and descending the mountain use the site. There are flush toilets to the south-east of the main hut, down the slope a short distance. Water is piped from a stream to the north of the huts. It is forbidden to access the valley that contains the stream in a bid to ensure that the water supply remains clean and uncontaminated.

Kibo Hut, the third hut visited, is set at the foot of the final push to the summit. The original hut was built in 1932 and contained four bunks and a small stove. This has been replaced by a larger stone blockhouse that contains a small dining area and a number of dorm rooms that lead off a main corridor. A series of long-drop toilets are set to the south-west, behind the hut. There is no water available at Kibo Hut and all supplies must be carried here from the last water point on the ascent.

Stage 1: Marangu Gate (1800m) to Mandara Hut (2700m) 7km/ 3–4hrs/ +900m
Stage 2: Mandara Hut (2700m) to Horombo Hut (3720m) 11km/ 5–6hrs/ +1020m
Stage 3: Horombo Hut (3720m) to Kibo Hut (4703m) 11km/ 5–6hrs/ +983m

© Cicerone, 2017 | Terms & Conditions | Site Map | Contact Us