Fondly referred to as the "Coca-Cola route", Marangu is still the most popular route on Kilimanjaro. This is partly as a result of being the only route on Kilimanjaro according trekkers relative luxury of sleeping in huts along the entire route as well as the possibility to accomplish the route in 5 days, (nonetheless, this shorter trekking itinerary available on this route is not always the best option due to insufficient acclimatisation before the summit attempt). However though, there is a possibility to spend an optional extra day to acclimatise at an altitude of 3720m to enhance the chance for a successful summit attempt. Generally, huts accommodation and the availability of mineral water, soft drinks, chocolates and beers on sale in the huts is what sets this route apart from the other camping trails.
Trip tips: Accommodation on this trip is in a comfortable Hotel before and after the climb and in mountain huts throughout the climb. Guides leading the trek always walk along with the climbers and closely monitor the trekker’s adjustment to altitude. All personal and trip equipment is carried by local Porters - you only carry a day-pack with personal gear. We buy fresh produce locally and to ensure good standards of hygiene all food is prepared by our own staff. We can cater for special dietary requirements and there are no extra food-kitty payments.
7days Itinerary for the Marangu route (ex – Nairobi) - For the 8 days option on this route with better acclimatisation, simply include an additional acclimatisation day at Horombo hut as day 5 of the itinerary below.
Nairobi – Arusha by road.
Departure from Nairobi is in the morning hours for a 4-5 hours journey via Namanga boarder to get to Arusha town. On arrival have lunch then take the rest of the afternoon to sort out your trek gears. Dinner and overnight at Impala Hotel or similar.
Marangu Gate (1980m) - Mandara hut (2700m)
Hiking time: 5h Distance: Approximately 12kms Habitat: Montane forest
Ascent: +720 m
After breakfast at the hotel we leave Arusha behind and head for the mountain via Moshi town and Marangu village. The drive from Arusha to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate, takes about 2 hours. Once at the park gate, all hikers are required to sign in at the Park office. Porters will in the mean time arrange and sort packs, containing the trek equipment as well as clients bags. Make Ensure your daypack items are separated for you to carry (drinking water, lunch pack, few extra clothing, medicine etc.) as the porters ascend a lot quicker than us. Our guides will how ever be available to assist all the time. From the gate we ascend on a cleared ridge trail through the rain forest. The forest is normally suffused with mist and dripping with beards of moss and is home to most Kilimanjaro animals. Today’s trek takes us 5 hours and ascends 720m to reach the first nights stop - Mandara hut. The mountain camp comprises of a group of wooden A-framed huts positioned in a forest clearing and all supplied with solar generated lighting. Each hut is fitted with 6-8 sleeping bunks and a total capacity of 60 climbers. Water is piped into the camp from springs above and there are flush toilets behind the main hut.
Mandara hut (2700m) - Horombo hut (3720m)
Hiking time: 6h Distance: Approximately 15kms Habitat: Moorland
From Mandara hut the trail passes through a short stretch of forest then skirts the base of the Maundi Crater before emerging into the moorland. It is well worth a short detour to scramble up the rim of the Maundi Crater for the first impressive 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 we’re in the open moorland we’ll get the chance to see some of Kilimanjaro's spectacular plants eg: the endemic giant lobelia and groundsels. Today’s trek takes 6 hours and ascends 1020m to reach Horombo hut for a welcome rest, evening meal and overnight. Retire to bed early today and get a last good night's rest - Horombo hut is a cluster of huts perched on a plateau and buildings similar to Mandara hut but with an added capacity of 120 climbers! Normally bustling with hikers, guides, porters and with an atmosphere of adventure and excitement. We’ll meet both ascending and descending hikers here.
(Optional acclimatisation day at Horombo hut (3720m) An extra day at Horombo is very essential to unseasoned trekkers for additional acclimatisation. A hike towards the Mawenzi hut, passing the Zebra Rocks (about 3 hours up and 1,5 hours down), being greatly recommended. This hike will further assist with the process of acclimatisation. Always remember to drink enough water and move slowly!
Horombo hut (3720m) - Kibo hut (4700m)
Hiking time: 6h Distance: Approximately 15kms Habitat: Alpine desert
After breakfast ascend higher into the Alpine desert habitat. From Horombo there are two trails to the "Saddle" (area between Mawenzi and Kibo peaks). The upper route forks right passing Mawenzi that’s rocky and rough underfoot but very scenic. The alternative lower route forking left that’s much easier to trek but more plain but passing the last watering point along the way. We must fill our water bottles with all the water we required until our return to Horombo hut after two night's or otherwise be forced to buy Mineral water at Kibo hut. Situated in the barren Alpine desert, Kibo hut is built of stone and contains bunk beds for 60 climbers, but has no streams with water nearby. It is however possible to buy mineral water and soft drinks at the camp. There are platform toilets behind the hut. The summit is now a further 1195m above and we make the final ascent this same night. Prepare all summit equipment and go to bed early and try to get as much rest and sleep as possible.
(Summit Attempt) Kibo hut (4700m) - Uhuru Peak (5895m) - Horombo hut (3720m)
Hiking time: 8h to trek up to Uhuru peak, 6h to get down to Horombo Distance: Approximately 6kms ascent, 21kms descent Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
Ascent: +1195m / Descent: -2175m
We are arisen before midnight, and after taking some tea and biscuits we totter off into the night with the going getting tougher as we progress. The first section of the trail consists of a rocky path to the Hans Meyer Cave (5,150m), then the path steeply zigzags up to Gillman's point (5,681m) on the crater rim. This section has lots of stone on it’s scree, requiring a great physical effort. Probably the most demanding section of the entire route - here we do the Kili shuffle and move slowly.
From Gillmans Point expect snow all the way up to Uhuru peak (5895m), the highest point in Africa. Total exhilaration and satisfaction - you made it. Weather conditions on the summit will determine how long we’re able to spend taking photographs. Advise: Avoid stopping here for too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue - after celebrations at the summit we have a 6 hour descent back via Kibo hut to Horombo hut for our overnight. The return to Horombo hut will seem surprisingly fast compared to the ascent with the total time spent walking on this day being 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) then a well-earned restful night.
Horombo hut (3720m) - Marangu Gate (1980m)
Hiking time: 6h Distance: Approximately 27kms
After breakfast continue the descent (6 hours), passing the Mandara hut, down to the Marangu gate. Successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Gillman's Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m), receive gold certificates. From here we’re driven back to Arusha for a refreshing hot shower, dinner and celebrations!! Overnight in Impala hotel or similar
After breakfast we commence our journey back into Nairobi and arrive in the afternoon hours.