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Mount Kilimanjaro Shira Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Shira Route this one catapults you to some serious altitude on the first day.

Kilimanjara Shira Route Map1 Mount Kilimanjaro Shira Route

The Shira route approaches Kilimanjaro from the west and then joins the Machame route. Hence everything that has been said about the Machame climb route also applies to the Shira route.

There are several variations to the Shira route. It can be done in six days but most operators also offer a longer version of it. (A really good operator will also time their departure and stagger their camps in a way that avoids the heaviest traffic on the Machame trail.)

  • That and the added transport cost can make Shira a more expensive option.
  • The first day on the Shira route is different to other climb routes:
  • It follows a four wheel drive route. So you either walk on the road for most of the day (not very attractive) or you opt to drive as far as possible.
  • The latter not only means you skip the first stage of the climb, the rainforest zone. It also means that you catapult your body to a height of over 3500 m/11500 ft without time for proper acclimatization.
  • If you live near sea level and you only flew into Tanzania the day before, this may hurt.

Overall, Shira has excellent success rates if the schedule involves a night at Karanga Valley (making for a short and easy day before the summit day). However, the good success rate is partly due to the operators on this route being higher level than on the more crowded routes.

Like the Machame route, the Shira route is for people who are confident in their ability to hike in difficult terrain and camp out for extended periods. It has less traffic but it is a more expensive option. You should also be confident about the way you will react to the altitude on the first day.

Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai Route the easiest route on Kilimanjaro

kilimanjaro map rongai route Mount Kilimanjaro Rongai Route

The six day version of the Rongai route (via Mawenzi Tarn) is the route of choice for those looking for an easy climb with excellent success rates, but away from the crowds, with great scenery and a wilderness feel to it. It is slightly more expensive.

The Rongai route is the only climb route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north. The descent is in the south-east via the Marangu route, so you get to see both sides of the mountain.

The extra transport cost makes a Rongai route climb more expensive. It is also more expensive because there is less demand and fewer budget operators.

The Rongai route has a reputation of being less scenic, but even if there is not quite as much variety as on Machame, it is still a spectacular route, especially on the later days. The camp beneath Mawenzi Peak is one of the most scenic on the mountain.

Rongai is also one of the routes where seeing wildlife on Kilimanjaro is still possible.

The Rongai climb has the same easy, gradual climb profile as the Marangu route. It rises very steadily, there aren’t any steep climbs involved, no major ups and downs.

However, the camps are staggered a lot better than on Marangu. On your last day before the summit attempt you only ascend a few hundred metres, and you have all afternoon to rest and acclimatise.

With a good operator you have an 80 – 90% chance to make it to the crater rim, and 70 – 80% will make it to Uhuru Peak.

(If you have some trekking experience your chances to make it to the summit could be as good as 90%. (The remaining 10% come down to weather, individual preparation, individual altitude tolerance and unforeseen mishaps.)

The Rongai route has another important advantage: the northern side of Kilimanjaro is a lot drier than the other side. Your chances NOT to get soaked on the first days are excellent. Especially if you climb Kilimanjaro during one of the wetter periods of the year, using Rongai makes a lot of sense.

Mount Kilimanjaro Marangu Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Marangu Route the only Kilimanjaro climb route that offers hut accommodation.

kilimanjaro routes marangu Mount Kilimanjaro Marangu Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Marangu Route is jokingly referred to as the “Tourist Route” or “Coca-Cola Route.”

It’s called “Tourist Route” for two reasons. One reason is simply its popularity: it makes this climb route somewhat touristy.

The Marangu route is also the only climbing route that uses the same path up AND down, which contributes to it being the most crowded climb route on Kilimanjaro.

The Marangu route is a comfortable walking path with a very steady, gradual slope (at least until you reach the last camp). This gave the Marangu route a reputation as an “easy” climb route.

And that’s the other reason for the name “Tourist Route”: because it is supposed to be “easy”, the Marangu route is used by many shockingly unprepared “tourists”, rather than trekkers.

The name “Coca Cola Route” stems from the sleeping huts along the route. They sell the stuff (as well as bottled water and candy bars). The Marangu route is the only Kilimanjaro climbing route that offers hut accommodation. Camping is not allowed.

A climb on the Marangu route is comparatively cheap. You need no camping equipment (no cost for extra porters to carry the equipment) and you can do the climb in five days/four nights. Also, many cut throat budget operators run treks on this route.

But make no mistake: the Marangu route is NOT easy and it is NOT for tourists! It is a serious climb with very low success rates. Only a quarter to a third of the climbers on this route reach the summit of Kilimanjaro. The reason?

  • The “tourists” on this route are shockingly unprepared.
  • A five day climb does not allow for sufficient acclimatization, many climbers have to turn around because of altitude sickness. (You can add an optional acclimatization day.)
  • Budget operators have much lower client success rates. Equipment, food, experience level of guides, all that makes a big difference and all that costs money.
  • The last day before the summit attempt is a long one and covers 1000 m of altitude difference. There is not much time to recover or acclimatize before setting out again at midnight to climb another 1200 m. Not good.

Add to that the lack of scenic variety compared to the other routes, and you wonder why anyone would want to climb Kili on the Marangu route.

Well, even if not as scenic as other routes, it is still a spectacular experience with great views all along. There are two reasons why you may want to climb Kilimanajaro on the Marangu route:

  1. You absolutely can not, under no circumstances, imagine sleeping in a tent for five nights or more. (But don’t think those huts offer luxury accommodation or that there are any amenities. There aren’t. You get a mattress and pillow – no linen – on a bunk bed, and you get to eat in a crowded dining hall. No less and no more.)
  2. The other reason to select Marangu is if money is your main consideration, before everything else. I you don’t care about scenery, aren’t worried by big crowds, and are willing to accept a reduced chance of success, Marangu is the cheapest option you have. (But do yourself a favour and take that optional extra acclimatisation day.)

Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Route

Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Route the most popular climbing route up Kilimanjaro.

kilimanjaro map machame route Mount Kilimanjaro Machame Route

The Machame route is also called the “Whiskey Route”, a reference to the “Coca Cola Route” Marangu (see above). Machame is “tougher” than that.

Machame is indeed a more difficult climb in some respects, but it does have much higher success rates than Marangu, especially if you choose the seven day version. (According to estimates about 60% of the climbers on Machame make it to the summit, and over three quarters reach the crater rim.)

The seven day version gives you a very short day before your summit attempt, which leaves plenty of time to recover, acclimatise and get ready. The six day version has the same problem as the Marangu route in that respect. See above.

The Machame route is not technically difficult. It is more strenuous. The trail is often steeper and it involves many ups and downs, crossing a succession of valleys and ridges. But that’s why it is also one day longer than Marangu.

Still, for people who have never done any longer hikes in their life and are not well prepared it can be demanding and tiring.

There is also the Barranco Wall to cross, a very steep, one and a half hour climb that will require you to occasionally use your hands for balance. (It sounds and looks a lot more difficult than it actually is!)

Well, and you have to camp all the way. If you go with a budget operator that alone can be demanding, especially if the weather turns bad.

As for scenery, the Machame route is absolutely spectacular: the Shira Plateau, the Lava Tower, the Barranco Wall… You start from the west, circle Kibo on the southern side, and then descend on the Mweka route in the south east. The variety is hard to beat. Machame is considered the most scenic Kilimanjaro climbing route.

For that reason the Machame route has become the most popular climb route on Kilimanjaro. The advantage of that is that prices have dropped and you can find many budget operators on it. The disadvantage is that the Machame route is very crowded.

If you are confident in you ability to hike in difficult terrain for days in a row, if you like camping and nature, but money is very tight, then Machame may be the Kilimanjaro climb route of choice for you. You will have to put up with the crowds.

Mount Kilimanjaro FAQs Part 2

Mount Kilimanjaro Frequently Asked Questions Part 2

Mount Kilimanjaro Trek Marangu Route Mount Kilimanjaro FAQs Part 2

What is your cancellation policy?

Cancellations are effective upon the date of receipt of written notification in our office.

  • 91 days or more prior to departure are subject to a cancellation penalty of 10% of the total climb price;
  • 90 to 61 days prior to departure are subject to a cancellation penalty of 50% of the total climb price; and
  • 60 days or less prior to departure are subject to a cancellation penalty of 100% of the total climb price.

What is included and not included in your Kilimanjaro climbs?

KILIMANJARO CLIMB INCLUSIONS:

  • All accommodations in Arusha and on the mountain
  • All transfers to and from the airport, your hotel and to the park gate
  • All park fees, camping fees and mandatory rescue fee
  • All meals and drinks while on the mountain
  • All shared equipment (tents, cooking utensils, crockery, etc.)
  • Services of a professional mountain guide and porters

KILIMANJARO CLIMB EXCLUSIONS:

  • International Airfare to and from Kilimanjaro International Airport
  • Tanzanian tourist visa fee payable upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport
  • Personal equipment & items (clothing, hiking boots, climbing gear, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, water bottles, etc.)
  • Comprehensive travel & medical insurance
  • Gratuities to your mountain guide(s) and porters
  • Laundry, drinks at your Arusha hotel

What is the best way to get to Tanzania?

If you are coming from North America or Europe, we recommend flying KLM to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). If you are coming from China, we recommend flying Ethiopian Air to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).

If you are planning a visit to Zanzibar after your climb, we recommend that you either (i) arrange your flight so that you arrive at JRO and depart through Dar Es Salaam International Airport (DAR) or consider arriving into Tanzania through DAR and then take a connecting flight to JRO to start your climb.

The flight between JRO and DAR is approximately about one hour.

Please confirm all international flights and seating prior to departure.

Can you book my flights?

Unfortunately we do not book international flights, however, all domestic internal flights included in your itinerary (if applicable) will be arranged by us and the cost is included in the itinerary price.

Are there any airport taxes?

Airport taxes are not included in the price of internal Tanzania flights and are payable in cash. Be sure to have US dollars on hand to pay applicable airport taxes which range from US $5 to US $15 per flight.

What happens if my flight is delayed?

If your flight is delayed or there is a flight schedule change and we are required to change your accommodations, internal flights, transfers, etc., the additional expenses incurred as a result of the delay or flight change will be your responsibility. We will not be able to obtain refunds from suppliers for unused accommodations, internal flights and other services already paid.

Are there luggage restrictions?

For international flights, please check with your individual airline as check in and carry on luggage restrictions vary from airline to airline. With respect to domestic internal flights from Arusha to the Serengeti or Arusha to Zanzibar, the luggage restriction is 15 kg or 33 lbs and we recommend use of duffel bags rather than rigid suitcases. Excess luggage can be accommodated at the discretion of the airline and additional charges will apply.

Do you need a Tanzanian tourist visa?

Tourist visas can be obtained upon arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport or Dar Es Salaam International Airport by simply filling out an entry form (provided during your flight) and payment of the visa fee. Please ensure you have two blank pages in your passport and your passport does not expire within six months of your arrival date.

The tourist visa fee is US$50 with the exception of the following citizens: Pakistan (US $ 200), USA (US$100), Ireland (US$100).

Is Tanzania a safe country to visit?

Since its independence in 1961, Tanzania has been a politically stable country and one of the safest countries to travel to in Africa.

We do however recommend that you use common sense and take safety precautions as you would when travelling in any foreign country:

  • Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home
  • Keep all your important documents and cash in a money belt hidden under your clothes or in your day pack in your possession at all times (do not leave cash in your duffel bag to be carried by the porters)
  • Keep a copy of all important documentation (passport, itinerary, insurance policy, credit cards, etc.) locked in your duffel bag
  • When shopping, carry a few dollars for spending money in an easily accessible zippered pocket or shoulder bag rather than displaying your money belt
  • Do not walk around town after dark in Arusha, Dar Es Salaam or Zanzibar – always take a taxi even if you are only going a block or two.

Do I need Travel Insurance?

Kilimanjaro climbs are a considerable investment and it involves risks and carrying comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of booking. Coverage should include trip cancellation, delay or interruption, lost or delayed baggage, emergency accident, illness and evacuation, 24-hour medical assistance and traveler’s assistance. We suggest that you contact your insurance company to ensure that a Mount Kilimanjaro climb is covered under the policy. Hazina Afrika does not include travel insurance or any protection plan in its climb price.

What vaccinations and medications do I need for travel to Tanzania?

We highly recommend that you consult with your physician or a travel medical doctor for advice several months in advance of your trip as you may need a series of vaccinations. Please ensure that you indicate that you will be travelling to Tanzania and will be participating in a high altitude trek. Your doctor will be able to suggest which vaccinations and medications are advisable. Anti-malarial medication is strongly recommended and should be discussed during your doctor’s visit.

All vaccinations are voluntary for entry into Tanzania with the exception of Yellow Fever vaccination. If you are entering Tanzania from Yellow Fever infected country such as Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, you will be required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate upon arrival in Tanzania. Please ensure you carry this Certificate with your passport. If you are entering Tanzania from Europe, you will not be required to show a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate.

What if I have special needs or requirements?

If you have any special needs or requirements, whether its allergy to specific foods or a medical condition we should be aware of, please let us know when you book your climb.

Will my mobile/cellular phone work on Kilimanjaro?

There is some mobile or cellular coverage on Kilimanjaro but reception may be inconsistent and network signals weak depending on which route you are on and where on the mountain. Your cellular/mobile phone will work in Arusha and Moshi.

Can you use US dollars in Tanzania?

Although the currency in Tanzania is the Tanzania Shilling (Tsh), the U.S. dollar is widely accepted. However please note that for larger U.S. dollar denominations ($20, $50 and $100), only bills issued after 2003 will be accepted in Tanzania due to counterfeiting and fraud.

Major credit cards are accepted at larger hotels and major souvenir shops and larger tourist towns offer ATM bank machines where you can withdraw cash using your bank card or credit card. Please note that ATM bank machines only dispense Tanzanian shillings.

Traveller’s cheques are hard to cash and not recommended.

How much should I tip to the mountain guide(s) and crew?

We feel that the gratuity system in Tanzania is not only customary, but to a certain degree obligatory. In Tanzania, a tip is not so much a bonus for particularly attentive service but rather a payment to supplement their base salary.

Obligatory payment of gratuities seems like an oxymoron and seems to go against the spirit of tipping, however, majority of Tanzanians who work in the tourism industry support many extended family members through the tips they earn, common in African culture, so please consider it a way for you to kindly and generously give back to the local people.

Tips for the mountain guide(s) and porters should be handed out on the last day and given directly to each person.

Please see below for recommended tipping guidelines for your safari:

Mountain Guide: $30 – $40 per day
Each Assistant Guide: $25 – $30 per day
Each Cook: $25 – $30 per day
Each Porter: $10 per day
Transfer driver in Arusha/Moshi: $10 – $20 per vehicle
Hotel Porters/Baggage Handlers: $1 to $2 per bag
Hotel/Lodge/Camp Staff: $10 per group per day using gratuity box (read below)

At most hotel and lodges will have a gratuity box will be located in the reception area and we recommend that you use the gratuity boxes rather than providing individual tips to the staff that directly assist you. There are many behind the scenes staff ensuring your pleasant stay (cooks, room attendants, house keepers, security guards, etc.) and by using the gratuity box, your tip will be shared equally amongst all staff.

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