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Kilimanjaro Marangu Route Overview

Kilimanjaro Marangu Route 5 Days at Mandara Huts

Kilimanjaro Marangu route

Marangu Route – The Only Kilimanjaro Route with Hut Accommodation

For many years Marangu used to be the most popular Kilimanjaro route. It has now been delegated to number two by the Machame route.

Duration: 5 days, acclimatization day can be added

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 acclimatization profile is mediocre, as it doesn’t allow much time for acclimatization. Fewer people therefore make it to the top when you look at its summit success rate compared with those of the other routes.

Marangu route overview

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 This is, in fact, an outdated view, and we feel quite the opposite.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.

Marangu route
Marangu route

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

What is the scenery like on 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. 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.

2 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

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.

Trekkers making their way up the Marangu routeTrekkers making their way up the Marangu route

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 Profile

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

                                                                Total                                                     82           50

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

Advantages:

  1. Low cost.
  2. Accommodation is in huts, no camping equipment needed.
  3. Supposedly the easiest route. (I beg to differ.)

Disadvantages:

  1. Lowest success rate. (See? Not that easy after all!)
  2. Very crowded.
  3. Camping is not allowed.
  4. The only route that uses the same way up and down.

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