Kilimanjaro Marangu Route
Marangu is one of the oldest and most popular Kilimanjaro routes. 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. But its 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.
Follow Alice’s view
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 This is, in fact, an outdated view, and we feel quite the opposite.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.
✓ Hut accommodation
✓ Enjoy panoramic views
✓ Varied terrain
– 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.
What is the scenery like on the Marangu route?
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 zone. It’s just worth noting that other routes offer more variety in the way of scenery because their ascent and descent routes aren’t the same.
How hard is the Marangu 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. 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.
Marangu route elevation profile
The graphs below show the Marangu route in profile – first in metres, then in feet.
What is the Marangu route summit 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.
What is accommodation like on the Marangu route?
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 long does it take to hike the Marangu route?
The Marangu route can be 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!
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
Six-day Marangu route overview
You start at Marangu Gate, climb to the summit, and then head back down to Marangu Gate.
|Day||Start||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Finish||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Time (hr)||Distance (km)||Distance (miles)|
|1||Marangu Gate||1,843||6,046||Mandara Hut||2,700||8,858||4-5||8||5|
|2||Mandara Hut||2,700||8,858||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||6-8||12||7|
|3||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||Mawenzi Ridge||4,390||14,400||2-3||5||3|
|Mawenzi Ridge||4,390||14,400||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||1-2||5||3|
|4||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||Kibo Hut||4,703||15,430||6-8||10||6|
|5||Kibo Hut||4,703||15,430||Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||6-8||6||4|
|Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||4-5||16||10|
|6||Horombo Hut||3,720||12,205||Marangu Gate||1,843||6,046||5-7||20||12|
The Marangu route is one of the shortest routes on the mountain but should not be mistaken as the easiest, as you ascend quickly.
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.
Marangu Gate to Mandara Hut
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.
Mandara Hut to Horombo Hut
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.
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
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.
Horombo Hut to Kimbo Hut
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.
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
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!
Part 2 | Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut
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!
Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate
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!
Feeling inspired to climb the Marangu route? Got some more questions that you want answered? Shoot us a message! We’re always happy to hear from you and share our knowledge and insights.
Other useful Kilimanjaro topics
- Kilimanjaro routes
- Kilimanjaro packing list
- Best time to climb Kilimanjaro
- Kilimanjaro preparation
- Kilimanjaro safety
- Tipping on Kilimanjaro
- What is it like to climb Kilimanjaro?
- Climb Kilimanjaro cost
The 7 Kilimanjaro routes
- Lemosho Route
The Lemosho is the most beautiful Kilimanjaro route.
- Machame Route
The Machame is the most popular Kilimanjaro route
- Marangu Route
The Marangu route only offers hut accommodation
- Rongai Route
The Rongai is the only route that approaches from the North
- Shira Route
The Shira route Approaches from the Western side of Kilimanjaro
- Northern Circuit Route
The Northern Circuit is the newest and longest Kilimanjaro route
- Umbwe Route
The Umbwe is the shortest, steepest and hardest Kilimanjaro route