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Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: Marangu Route  The Natural Adventure Company 1

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro: Marangu Route

Overview

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world at 5895 m above sea level. It is located in Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania and is one of the most popular climbing destinations globally. All our Kilimanjaro itineraries are privately guided – you can start on any date you wish, subject to availability, and we are happy to accommodate solo travellers, too (supplement may apply). We typically provide one chief English-speaking guide plus an assistant guide per every two people, as well as three porters per climber and one cook for the group. Our Kilimanjaro private departures offer arguably the best value for money on the market with an above-average success rate.

There are several trekking routes to the summit. Among them, the Marangu Route (also called the Coca Cola Route) is the oldest established route, following Hans Meyer’s groundbreaking path closely up and down Kilimanjaro. The German geologist Meyer was the first to climb Kilimanjaro in 1889, accompanied by the Austrian climber Ludwig Purtscheller and the local guide Yohani Kinyala Lauwo. The route is very popular, as it can be done in fewer days than the others and offers accommodation in permanent huts (rather than tents) in the camps, dormitory-style. The summit ascent is shorter but steeper compared to the Machame Route, and, with less time for acclimatization, it tends to have a lower summit success rate. This is the only route where the ascent and descent path is the same, thus creating more traffic and offering the least scenic variety.

Our standard Marangu Route itinerary is 7 nights (6 trekking days, 8 days total). As all our departures are private, we can be quite flexible, and on request, we can adapt the itinerary and make it shorter or longer to suit your preferences and stamina.

Click to view map

*This map is for general reference only and it should not be used for navigation purposes.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Arusha | 1400 m

Pick up at Kilimanjaro international airport, met with your guide and drive to your hotel in Arusha, where you overnight before the trek begins.

Day 2: Marangu Gate – Mandara Hut | 2700 m

The drive from Arusha city to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate passes through the village of Marangu, which is located on the lower slopes of the mountain. Once you reach the park gate, all hikers are requested to sign in at the Park Office and make their final preparations for the climb. Porters will be seen arranging and loading their packs, containing the food, water, cooking gas as well as most of your equipment. Make sure that you have all your daypack items (containing at least drinking water, your lunch pack and extra clothing) with you as the porters ascend a lot quicker than the hikers. Our guides will be available to assist with any additional information or needs you might have. You now leave the Park gate and ascend on a cleared ridge trail through the rainforest. Your first night stop, Mandara hut, is a group of wooden A-framed huts in a forest clearing. Each hut features 6-8 sleeping bunks with solar generated lighting. The total capacity of the camp is 60 climbers. Water is piped into the camp from springs above, and there are flush toilets behind the main hut.

  • Hiking for the day: 4-5 hours, ~8 km ↑820 m; final elevation: 2700 m

Day 3: Mandara Hut – Horombo Hut | 3720 m

From Mandara hut, the trail passes through a short stretch of forest, then skirts the base of the Maundi Crater and then emerges into the transition from rainforest to moorland. It is well worth a short detour to scramble up the rim of the Maundi Crater for your first awe-inspiring view of the Kibo Crater. On a clear day, Kibo will glimmer in the distance, showing off her majestic glaciers in the morning sun. Once you are in the open moorland, you will get the chance to see some of Kilimanjaro’s most spectacular plants – the endemic giant lobelia which grows up to 3 m in height and the giant groundsel, which can reach heights of 5 m. In about 6 hours from here, you reach the Horombo hut, where you will have hot washing water, an evening meal and overnight.

  • Hiking for the day: 6-8 hours, ~12 km ↑1000 m; final elevation: 3720 m

Day 4: Horombo Hut – Acclimatization Day | 3720 m

Horombo hut is a village of huts perched on a small plateau, with buildings similar to Mandara, but with a total capacity of 120 climbers. Normally it is bustling with hikers, guides, porters and with an atmosphere of adventure and excitement. You will meet both ascending and descending hikers here. This extra day and night at Horombo are for additional acclimatization. A hike towards the Mawenzi hut, passing the Zebra Rocks on the way (about 3 hours up and 1.5 hours down, ~5 km one way), is strongly recommended. This hike will further assist with the process of acclimatization. Remember to drink enough water and move slowly! All meals for the day are provided at the hut. Go to bed early in order to get a good sleep before the next day’s climb.

Day 5: Horombo Hut – Kibo Hut | 4700 m

After breakfast, you now continue your ascent into the Alpine desert habitat. From Horombo there are two trails to the “Saddle” – the area located between the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo. There is an upper route (right hand fork) and lower route (left-hand fork) to choose from. The upper route will be very familiar, as you will have climbed most of it the previous day towards Mawenzi hut. It is very stony and eroded. The recommended lower route is much easier and nearly an hour shorter, and it also passes the last watering point at 4130 m. You will have to fill your water bottles with all the water you will need until your return to Horombo hut in two night’s time (unless you are willing to buy mineral water at Kibo hut). Situated in the barren Alpine desert is Kibo hut, a stone-built block house which has bunk beds for 60 climbers, but no streams with water nearby. It is, however, possible to buy mineral water and soft drinks at the camp office. There are platform toilets behind the hut. The summit is now a further 1195 m up, and you will make your final ascent the same night. Prepare your equipment and thermal clothing for your summit bid. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Early dinner and early going to bed so you can rest before the summit climb.

  • Hiking for the day: 6-8 hours, ~10 km ↑995 m; final elevation: 4700 m

Day 6: Kibo Hut – The Summit – Horombo Hut | 5895 m

Wake up at about midnight, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night, and this is where it really gets tough. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5150 m), also a good resting spot. The path then zigzags up to Gillman’s point (5 681 m), which is located on the crater rim. This section is very steep with a lot of stone scree, requiring a great physical and mental effort. Probably the most demanding section of the entire route. Move slowly. From Gillman’s Point, you will normally encounter snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895 m), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction – you made it. Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long you will be able to spend, taking photographs, before the 3-hour descent back to Kibo hut. After a short rest, you gather all the gear you left behind for the ascent and head down to Horombo hut for your overnight. The return to Horombo hut will seem surprisingly fast compared to the ascent. The total time spent walking on this day is around 14 hours, so be prepared for a very tough day. Later in the evening, you enjoy your last dinner (with soft drinks and beer for sale at the camp office) on the mountain and a well-earned sleep, filled with memories and stirring emotions.

Hiking for the day:

  • Kibo – Uhuru: 6-8 hours, ~6 km ↑1180 m; final elevation: 5895 m
  • Uhuru – Horombo Hut: 5-6 hours, ~16 km, ↓2174 m; final elevation: 3720 m

Day 7: Horombo Hut – Marangu Gate – Arusha | 1400 m

After breakfast you continue your descent, passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate. At Marangu gate, you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Gillman’s Point (5685 m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895 m), receive gold certificates. Transfer to your hotel in Arusha.

  • Hiking for the day: 6-7 hours, ~20 km ↓1816 m; final elevation: 1400 m
  • Overnight in Arusha: SG Premium Resort or similar

Day 8: Departure

Transfer to Kilimanjaro Airport and departure. Possible safari extension on request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation in Arusha is in a 3-star hotel on a twin share basis. The accommodation during the hike is in dormitories in huts in the camps. There are 60 bunk beds at Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut. Guests are supplied with mattresses and pillows, but sleeping bags are required. The huts have communal dining halls and basic washrooms, ranging from flushing toilets and running water at the lower huts to long drop toilets and buckets of water at Kibo Hut.

Sample hotel in Arusha: SG Premium Resort

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner – are included during the hike – from lunch on day 2 to the lunch on day 8. In Arusha, only breakfast is included. A typical breakfast includes porridge, fruits, omelette, toasted bread, cheese, sausages, coffee, tea, hot chocolate. A lunch box contains chicken or fish, fruits, biscuits, chocolate, fruit juice. Dinner includes soup, bread, pasta, rice, chicken, fruits, tea, coffee etc. A vegetarian menu can be arranged on request.

Difficulty & terrain

This is a demanding trek but is not a technical climb (read more about difficulty grades). Both experienced hikers and beginners can do the tour as it does not require technical skills and mountaineering equipment. But it is mandatory that you are in great shape and should have properly trained before the tour. Walking pace will be slow and steady. Many prefer the Marangu route because it is considered to be the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope and direct path. However, the short time frame of the route makes altitude acclimatization fairly difficult. The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the southeast. It is less scenic than the other routes because the ascent and descent are along the same path. Marangu can also be arranged with 1 day less skipping the acclimatization day 4 at Horombo Hut.

When to go

This trip is available with daily private departures, year-round. Best time to climb weatherwise is either between June and October or between December and February – which are also the busiest times. In April and May, there are generally fewer climbers because of the rain season. Mt. Kilimanjaro climate features 5 different zones. At the beginning of the climb, the average temperature is around 27°C to 32°C and tends to be relatively stable year-round. At the summit, Uhuru Peak, evening temperatures range between -18°C to -26°C. As the weather is often unpredictable, you should always be prepared for lower temperatures than expected and for rain even in the dry season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Recommended airport: Kilimanjaro International Airport

  • Transfers Kilimanjaro Airport – Arusha and Arusha – Kilimanjaro Airport are included in the price (one arrival and one departure transfer per party)
  • It is also possible to fly to Nairobi Aiport and take a shuttle to Arusha, about 5-hour drive. You will need a visa to Kenya.

Good to know

  • Guides: the guides used are highly trained and qualified, registered with the Kilimanjaro National Parks Board. There will be one chief guide, and one assistant guide will be provided if more than 2 climbers are travelling.
  • Visas: the citizens of most European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia, need a visa to enter Tanzania, it is recommended that you apply online for an eVisa in advance
  • Luggage transportation: your luggage will be placed in specially designed waterproof bags carried by the porters, giving it that extra protection if it is wet on the mountain.
  • Altitude sickness: while climbing, you may experience different symptoms of mild altitude sickness, with the most common being headaches, light-headedness, nausea, sleeplessness and a loss of appetite, loss of balance and dizziness. In most cases, these can be controlled by taking painkillers such as panadol or similar. It’s important to eat well and maintain your energy. Staying hydrated is essential, and you should drink a minimum of 3 litres daily.
  • Sun injuries: it is strongly recommended to use a 30+ sun protection cream at lower altitudes, and a total block cream above an altitude of 3000 m. Wearing sunglasses when climbing is a must, especially for the summit hike as the morning reflection of the sun can lead to snow blindness.
  • Tips guidelines: head guide – 200-250 USD; assistant guide – 100-150 USD; cook – 100-120 USD; porter – 30-40 USD
  • Equipment: we recommend that you travel as lightly as possible, bringing backpacks and not suitcases.

Inclusions

Included

  • Transfers from/to Kilimanjaro Airport
  • Transfers to/from the national park gates
  • 6-day Marangu route trek with a full board from lunch on day 2 to lunch on day 7
  • 2 overnights at a 3-star hotel in Arusha in private rooms with ensuite facilities and included breakfast
  • All park and hut fees and government taxes
  • Boiled water
  • First aid kit box, oxygen cylinder
  • Services of a private English-speaking professional mountain guide
  • 2 porters per climber, 1 cook per party

Excluded

  • Airfare
  • Lunches and dinners in Arusha, drinks, snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips to guides and porters
  • Sleeping bag, own climbing equipment
  • Tanzanian visa
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as some costs are not shared
  • Extra nights in Arusha are available upon request
  • A sleeping bag can be rented on the spot for about 20 USD

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