The Marangu Route is one of the most favored trails to Mount Kilimanjaro. The journey begins at the Marangu Gate, where trekkers register and start their adventure through a dense rainforest, where you can spot wildlife such as colobus monkeys and various bird species. Mandara Hut serves as the first resting point.
As the trek continues to Horombo Hut, the landscape changes to heath and moorland, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks, including Mawenzi Peak. Trekkers get an extra acclimatization day at Horombo Hut, preparing for the more challenging stages ahead.
The next destination is Kibo Hut, located at the base of the Kibo summit cone. The trail enters the Alpine desert zone, characterized by rocky and barren terrain. As trekkers approach Kibo Hut, they can feel the excitement and anticipation building for the ultimate challenge: summiting the Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa at 5,895 meters.
Summit day commences well before dawn. This demanding 7–9 hour journey through steep scree slopes and switchbacks requires mental determination and physical strength. Witnessing the sunrise from the summit is a truly spiritual moment.
After conquering the veritable “Roof of Africa,” trekkers descend back to Horombo Hut for a well-deserved rest. The final stretch involves descending through the moorland and rainforest zones, passing through different ecological zones once again. Finally, at the Marangu Gate, trekkers will receive a certificate of successful ascent.
|Trek difficulty:||Moderate to difficult|
|Trek duration:||5 to 6 days|
|Max altitude:||5,895 meters|
|Accommodation:||Dormitory-style sleeping huts|
|Best season:||July to September|
|Success rate:||80% (six-day hike), 50% (five-day hike)|
The Marangu Route is marketed as the shortest route to Kilimanjaro, so most climbers prefer the five-day itinerary for this route, even though the acclimatization can be difficult.
- Day 1: Trek to Mandara Hut (4–6 hours)
Your journey begins at the Marangu Gate (1,870 meters), located an hour’s drive from Moshi (two hours from Arusha). The day is relatively easy as you walk through the Kilimanjaro rainforest all the way to Mandara Huts (2,700 meters), which boasts solar lighting, bunk beds, and flush toilets.
- Day 2: Trek to Horombo Hut (4–6 hours)
An early start takes you to the Maundi Crater, and you see the dense rainforest finally giving way to low alpine moorlands. If the weather is clear, do not miss out on the Maundi Crater climb for the first full view of Mount Kibo. Your journey to Horombo Hut (3,720 meters) is also full of giant lobelias, which can be seen scattered all over the alpine landscape.
- Day 3: Trek to Kibo Hut (7–9 hours)
There are two routes to Kibo Hut. The Upper Route forks to the right and is mostly used by five-day trekkers. The one that forks to the left is for six-day trekkers. The day ends early at Kibo Hut in preparation for an early summit climb, which usually begins at around midnight. The last water point can be found at 4,130 meters, so don’t forget to stock up on your reserves.
- Day 4: Trek to Summit, back to Horombo Hut (11–14 hours)
Today is the day you summit Mount Kilimanjaro. You embark along a rocky path at midnight, reaching the first checkpoint at 5,150 meters (Hans Meyer Cave). The path continues for another two hours till you reach Gilman’s Point. This is where you take a break, rest those aching limbs and refuel your body. After adequate rest, you push toward Uhuru Peak (5,985 meters), the highest point in Africa.
Once you are at the top, you can enjoy the views and click some of the most stunning pictures before returning to Kibo Hut and finally to Horombo Hut. This will surely be the longest day of your life, but it’s also bound to be the most enriching one so far.
- Day 5: Back to Marangu Gate (1–3 hours)
End your journey at Marangu Gate. You will likely be exhausted now, and a long hot shower is in order. Do not forget to collect your certificate for your successful ascent to Uhuru Peak or Gilman’s Point (depending on how strong you were mentally during the trek).
Note: The duration mentioned for each day is approximated and will vary according to your trekking pace, weather conditions, and group dynamics.
- The Marangu Route covers an 82-kilometer-long distance.
- Although Marangu Route can be completed in 5 days, taking an extra day to acclimate at the Horombo Hut is recommended.
- The Marangu Route has the lowest summit success rates compared to other routes to Kilimanjaro.
- If you are a novice climber, then this route is perfect for you, given the ample dormitory-style lodges and availability of refreshments at many stops along the trail.
- You will need a licensed guide to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, so using a tour operator (like us) is recommended.
Planning a Marangu Route trek? Go through the above-listed tours or complete the customized Tanzania trip form to tailor your trip from scratch.