The Marangu Route is the easiest and shortest route to Kilimanjaro’s summit and is known as the “Coca Cola” or “tourist” route. This is the only route on Kilimanjaro with the comforts of solar-powered sleeping huts and comfortable beds at every camp. The huts are communal, and each bunk has a sponge mattress and pillow. There are 60 beds at both Mandara and Kibo Huts and 120 beds at Horombo Hut. Bathrooms and running water are available at the two lower huts. Basic men’s and ladies’ latrines are available at the last camp.
All climbing groups, often from several countries around the world, share meals in dining huts providing a jovial and energetic atmosphere. Soft drinks, bottled water, and beer may be for sale at the huts. Bring small Tanzanian bills to purchase these items.
This route is usually done in 5 days, but you can do it in 6 days for better acclimatization. You can spend your extra day resting at Horombo or climbing to a base camp below Kibo’s sub peak Mawenzi
Marangu Gate (1,830 m) to Mandara Huts (2,740 m) Hiking time: 4-5h
After a briefing from your guide drive to the Marangu Gate on the eastern side of Kilimanjaro, register with the national park, and begin hiking around 10:30 AM. In the rainforest, look for towering Eucalyptus trees, bird life, and Colobus monkeys. At these lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy, so gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts should be sufficient, but keep your rain gear and warmer clothing handy. Stop halfway for lunch, and reach the Mandara Huts at 2 or 3 PM. Unpack, rest, and have some tea or coffee. A 15 minute side trip to Maundi Crater is a good way to see the surroundings including Northern Tanzania and Kenya. Dinner is served during the early evening around 7 PM. Bathrooms with running water are available.
Mandara Huts (2,740 m) to Horombo Huts (3,690 m) Hiking time: 6-8h
Wake to a 7:30 AM breakfast, and pack for your next trek. Break camp by 8:30 AM, hike for an hour through rainforest glades, and then follow an ascending path through heath land where you can look for giant lobelias and groundsels. Continue up into open moorlands where small shrubs are the main vegetation. Stop halfway for lunch, where you can enjoy amazing views of Mawenzi. Arrive at the Horombo Huts by 3 PM, where you can see Kibo’s summit. Rest, unpack, and prepare for dinner. Bathrooms with running water are available. You may start to feel the effects of altitude here, and to aid your acclimatization, you can choose to spend an extra day resting at Horombo or climbing to a base camp below Kibo’s sub peak Mawenzi.
Horombo Huts (3,690 m) to Kibo Huts (4,695 m) Hiking time: 6-8h
Wake to breakfast as usual, but if you wake early you can get some great photos of the sunrise. The first part of the day’s hike climbs through the dwindling heath land that blends into a moonscape as you enter the sweeping saddle connecting Mawenzi and Kibo. When you stop for lunch, and later when you cross this surprisingly large saddle, you can examine the summit climb up Kibo that you will be starting in just a few hours. Be careful to notice any signs of altitude sickness. There is no running water at the Kibo Huts but your guide and porters will prepare water for you.
Day 4 – Summit Day!
Kibo Huts (4,695 m) to Uhuru Peak (5,895 m) to Horombo Huts (3,690 m) Hiking time: 10-15h
Wake at midnight for a light breakfast, then prepare for your summit ascent. The goal is to climb before dawn so that you can reach Uhuru Peak shortly after sunrise. Leave at 1 AM, switchback up steep scree or possibly snow, and reach Gilman’s Point on the crater rim at 5,861 m between 5 and 7 AM. Here, views of the fabled crater and its icecaps greet you. Another 2 hours of hiking along the crater rim near the celebrated snows takes you to Kilimanjaro’s true summit, Uhuru Peak, by 9 AM. This is Africa’s highest point, and you would have to travel 900 kilometers toward the Himalayas to find a higher peak! Be sure to have your picture taken at the summit to show your friends. After your summit stay, descend back to the Kibo Huts, have lunch, rest, collect your things, and re cross the saddle to the Horombo Huts. Eat dinner and get some well-deserved sleep!
You do the beginning of this climb in the dark with headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is, by far, the most difficult part of the trek. Slowly slowly, or, “pole pole,” and an optimistic attitude will get you there!
Horombo Huts (3,690 m) to Marangu Gate (1,830 m) Hiking time: 5-7h
Wake as usual, pack, and descend through the moorland to the Mandara Huts. Have lunch there then continue your triumphant recessional down through lush forest to the park gate, which you should reach around 2 or 3 PM. Remember to tip your guides, cooks, and porters, since you will be leaving them here. A vehicle will take you back to your accommodation, where it is definitely time for celebration!
Extra Day for Acclimatization
You can add an extra day at the Horombo Huts (3,690 m). You can spend a full day and a second night at Horombo. On this day, you can either rest at the huts or take a stroll up to the Mawenzi base camp then return to the Horombo Huts. This extra day will help your acclimatization, and further your understanding of the mountain’s weather and altitude. After your pause, you will continue up to the Kibo Huts on your fourth day for your midnight start to the summit.