A-frame huts at MArangu route campsite with blanket of cloud below

The Marangu route on Kilimanjaro

Aug 30, 2021

The Marangu route is the original Kilimanjaro route. It's the only route where you don't camp, but instead stay in communal A-frame huts. It's not a tough route, but it has a low success rate because you're not given much time to acclimatise.

The Marangu is one of the oldest and most popular Kilimanjaro route. It's sometimes called the Coca-Cola route because you stay in huts and can buy a Coke en route.

The Marangu route approaches the summit from the southeast of the mountain. Overall it's a relatively easy route, having very few steep climbs.

That said, The Marangu route's acclimatisation profile is mediocre, as it doesn't allow much time for acclimatisation. Fewer people therefore make it to the top when you look at its summit success rate compared with those of the other routes.

Quick facts about the Marangu route

Difficulty: Low

Distance: 72 km / 45 miles

Duration: 6 days

Success rate: Low

Follow Alice's opinion of the route

During your research you may have heard that the Marangu route is the cheapest, easiest and most popular route up Kilimanjaro. This is, in fact, an outdated view, and we feel quite the opposite. The Marangu route is probably one of our least favourite Kilimanjaro climb routes. Whilst offering rewarding views from the Saddle (a high-altitude desert), it's less scenic than other Kilimanjaro routes because you ascend and descend via the same trail.

The Marangu route is the only Kilimanjaro route to offer hut accommodation. On all other routes you must camp. On the Marangu route you sleep in dormitory-like huts that provide mattresses and other basic amenities. This makes the route a popular choice for budget operators that don’t have camping equipment.​ We only recommend choosing this route if you really don't want to camp.

Highlights

✓ Hut accommodation

✓ Enjoy panoramic views

✓ Varied terrain

Considerations

- Shorter acclimatisation period

- Low summit success rate

- Less scenic than other routes

The Marangu route is for climbers who don't want to camp and require a shorter trek.

The Marangu route offers a gentler and easier path than some of the other routes

The Marangu route offers a gentler and easier path than some of the other routes

What is the scenery like?

The Marangu route is less scenic than the other Kilimanjaro routes because you ascend and descend along the same path. That said, the scenery is still very beautiful; you pass through rainforest, moorland, high-altitude desert, and an arctic summit. It's just worth noting that other routes offer more variety in the way of scenery because their ascent and descent routes differ.

How hard is the route?

The Marangu route has a reputation for being an 'easy' climb, but this perception is actually misleading. Yes, it offers amenities like hut accommodation and, yes, it's a comparatively shorter route. But it demands you ascend quickly and so many people climbing this route suffer from poor acclimatisation and don't make it to the top. The Marangu route actually has the lowest success rate of all the seven Kilimanjaro routes. This just goes to show that you shouldn't fall for the promise of 'easy'!

All that being said, while we wouldn't necessarily recommend the Marangu route, it is definitely still achievable with the right Kilimanjaro preparation, which includes an awareness of the risks. You might also like to read our trekking tips for beginners.

If you are physically fit, choose a good mountain crew to assist you in your climb, and can accept the risks, you should be able to achieve the summit via the Marangu route.

We recommend that you also read 10 tips for climbing and summiting Mt Kilimanjaro.

Marangu route elevation profile

The graphs below show the Marangu route in profile - first in metres, then in feet.

Marangu route elevation in metres
Marangu route elevation in feet

What is the route's success rate?

The Marangu route is one of the shortest Kilimanjaro routes, which gives it a relatively poor acclimatisation profile. Summit success is low. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all Kilimanjaro operators for the five day route is 50%. That means your chances of reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro when using the Marangu route aren't fantastic. (We usually recommend opting for the Lemosho route or one of the other Kilimanjaro routes with a better acclimatisation profile.)

How busy is the Marangu route?

The Marangu route is a popular choice among the seven Kilimanjaro routes because it's seen as an easier climb, given its gradual slope and direct path. It's therefore a busy route and can get crowded. If you want to avoid the crowds, this Kilimanjaro route is not for you.

Trekkers making their way up the Marangu route

Trekkers making their way up the Marangu route

What is the accommodation like?

The Marangu route is the only route to offer hut accommodation. There are 60 bunk beds at both Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut. You must bring your own sleeping bags, but you're supplied with mattresses and pillows at the various huts. Check to see if your chosen tour operator has sleeping bags you can use.

The huts themselves have communal dining halls and washrooms. The latter range in quality: you can expect running water and flushing toilets at the lower huts, and buckets of water and long drops at Kibo Hut.

How many days is the Marangu?

The Marangu route is usually completed in five to six days. We would always recommend the six-day itinerary. We find that the low success rate of the Marangu route is mainly the result of unprofessional tour operators taking people up the mountain on the short five-day itinerary. A five-day climb simply doesn't give you enough time to acclimatise. Furthermore, climbing Kilimanjaro is not a race. Take your time and soak in the views and experience!

Trekkers walking along a dirt path flanked by large moorland bushes on Kilimanjaro

All Kilimanjaro routes offer amazing scenery, from the beautiful vegetation to the panoramic views

What is the Marangu route cost?

Follow Alice offers the Marangu route as a six-day group or private climb for $2,285 per person (based on double occupancy). This package fee includes six days on the mountain and one day either side at our beautiful parter lodge in the town of Moshi. For more information on the inclusions and exclusions, as well as more details about the trip, please head to our Kilimanjaro climb page.

The climb was tough, but as a first-time high-altitude climber I never felt worried and always felt like I knew what was happening.

– Stephen Hemmings

The Marangu route is one of the shortest routes on the mountain but should not be mistaken as the easiest, as you ascend quickly.

6-day Marangu route itinerary

The Marangu route approaches the mountain from the west. Your climb takes you through various climatic zones, including rainforest, moorland and high-altitude desert. The ascent and descent are along the same path.

Updated map of 6-day Marangu route on Kilimanjaro

Map showing the six-day Marangu route on Kilimanjaro

Day 1: Marangu Gate to Mandara Hut

Elevation: 1,843 m to 2,700 m

Distance: 8 km / 5 miles

Hiking time: 4-5 hours

Habitat: Forest

On Day 1 of your Kilimanjaro trek you hike though dense rainforest, though at points there are openings in the vegetation that offer views of the farmlands which cover the base of the mountain outside of the Kilimanjaro National Park. The day's trail ends at Mandara Hut, where you overnight.

Day 2: Mandara Hut to Horombo Hut

Elevation: 2,700 m to 3,720 m

Distance: 12 km / 7 miles

Hiking time: 6-8 hours

Habitat: Heath

On Day 2 you trek through more beautiful rainforest, but soon the forest gives way to moorland. The snowcapped peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi can be seen. After trekking for six to eight hours you reach Horombo Hut, where you stay for the night.

Day 3: Horombo Hut to Mawenzi Ridge to Horombo Hut

Your third day on the mountain can be split into two parts: a climb to Mawenzi Ridge, followed by a return to Horombo Hut. The reason for this is that it's in keeping with the 'climb high, sleep low' strategy which helps your body to acclimatise properly to the increased elevation.

Part 1 | Horombo Hut to Mawenzi Ridge

Elevation: 3,720 m to 4,390 m

Distance: 5 km / 3 miles

Hiking time: 2-3 hours

Habitat: Heath

This part of the day's trek sees you climb from Horombo Hut up into the heath zone of Kilimanjaro. The turning point of the climb comes when you reach the horseshoe-shaped Mawenzi ridge.

Part 2 | Mawenzi Ridge to Horombo Hut

When you reach Mawenzi ridge you spend some time there taking in the breathtaking views before heading back down to Horombo Hut for another night. As already mentioned, climbing high and then sleeping low is an important acclimatisation strategy.

During the trek on the Marangu route you should strive to climb slowly and steadily. Kilimanjaro is not a race!

During the trek you should strive to climb slowly and steadily. Kilimanjaro is not a race!

Day 4: Horombo Hut to Kibo Hut

Elevation: 3,720 m to 4,750 m

Distance: 10 km / 6 miles

Hiking time: 6-8 hours

Habitat: Alpine desert

Today you traverse the so-called Saddle, a five-mile stretch of rubble and emptiness that connects the craters of Mawenzi and Kibo. You spend the night at Kibo Hut.

Day 5: Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut

Similarly to Day 3, today's trek consists of two parts. For the first part, you strike out for the summit! Having hopefully successfully reached it, you start your descent down the mountain, stopping at the now familiar Horombo Hut for the night.

Part 1 | Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak

Elevation: 4,703 m to 5,895 m

Distance: 6 km / 4 miles

Hiking time: 7-8 hours

Habitat: Arctic

Your guide wakes you up around midnight to get ready for the ascent. Today is usually the most mentally and physically challenging part of the entire Kilimanjaro climb. The route ascends northwest into the dark night. Within about six hours you reach Stella Point and enjoy the sunrise. After that, you trek for about another hour on a snow-covered trail to reach Uhuru Peak at 5,895 m (19,341 ft) at the very top of Africa!

Trekkers spread out across the Lemosho route

Summit day is by far the hardest stretch of any Kilimanjaro climb

Part 2 | Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut

Elevation: 5,895 m to 3,720 m

Distance: 16 km / 10 miles

Hiking time: 7-8 hours

After reaching the summit, you descend to Horombo Hut for the night. Having hiked for about 12 to 15 hours, you’ll fall asleep immediately, trust us!

Glacier at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

Glacier at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

Day 6: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate

Elevation: 3,720 m to 1,843 m

Distance: 20 km / 12 miles

Hiking time: 5-7 hours

Habitat: Rainforest

Today you do the last bit of hiking down to the foot of the mountain, where your driver is waiting for you. Time for a beer and a great celebration dinner!

 

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