The Marangu route approaches Kilimanjaro through forest and moorland from the south, and follows the earliest developed trekking trail up the mountain to the Saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo. It leads up from Kibo to Stella Point on the rim, and thereon to Uhuru Point, the Roof of Africa.

Marangu is by far the busiest and, some would say, easiest way up the mountain. However, the high level of tourist traffic on this route has given it a poor reputation.

It is the only route that offers sleeping huts with beds and mattresses, though they hardly qualify as luxurious accommodation. The campsites also sell soft drinks, mineral water and beer, which is why the commercial Marangu has been dubbed the Coca Cola route.

Marangu is very crowded and there may be insufficient room in the huts. Operators tend to offer it as a foolishly short five-day climb. Even the six-day ascent is risky and therefore only an estimated 40 per cent of those climbing via Marangu make it to the summit. It is mandatory to descend by the same route so the climber does not get a good overview of Kilimanjaro, with only one route and the same sights being seen.

We generally advise all climbers to avoid Marangu route unless they are intent on climbing at the lowest possible cost.

What is the scenery like on Marangu route?
On the positive side, Marangu is the original trekking route on Kilimanjaro and passes through very beautiful landscapes, including the awe-inspiring Saddle. It begins in agricultural areas, before moving on to rain forest. Trekkers then pass around the base of the Maundi Crater, entering the moorland area. There’s a tough ascent through desert land and a rocky trail to Kibo Hut and then a steep climb to Hans Meyer Cave and on to Gillman’s Point. From here onward, it’s a long trek around the rim of the crater to the summit.

How long is Marangu route?
Marangu itineraries are either 5 or 6 days long. We do not recommend such short climbs. The optimum for altitude acclimatisation is at least seven days, ideally eight. If choosing Marangu route, you should consider an altitude acclimatising trek or safari before you embark on Kilimanjaro because a five or six day Kilimanjaro climb to Uhuru Point is simply too rushed. See our Kilimanjaro acclimatisation guide for more on this subject.

How tough is Marangu route?
The Marangu route is not the easiest route on Kilimanjaro! This is mainly because it is promoted as a fast and cheap climb. Fast means a lower chance of success and a greater risk of altitude sickness.

The Marangu trail is well maintained and offers an approach without precipitous sections. The rain forest sector – if wet – can be very muddy and slippery, so walking poles are advised.

In comparison with Lemosho and Shira routes, the final push to the summit is harder on Marangu route because the trail around the rim of the Crater is longer. The trekker has to get round from Gilman’s Point to Uhuru Point and that is an hour more walking at an altitude of nearly 6000ms. This makes a big difference on summit day!

We do not often recommend Marangu route because it gets so busy, because trekkers are tempted to rush the route and because the descent trail is the same as the ascent trail.

When is the best time to climb?
See our Kilimanjaro seasons page for advice on the best times of year to climb, applicable to all routes.

What is the accommodation like?
You will sleep in huts. The huts sleep between 20 and 30 people, and are very busy compared to the camps on the quieter Lemosho/Shira, and Rongai Route approaches.

Who should choose Marangu route?
Marangu route is OK for those climbers on a tight budget, who want to climb with lots of other trekkers and who do not mind accommodation in large, often dirty and always noisy huts. However, you should definitely take an altitude acclimatising trek or safari prior to starting out on a short Marangu route climb.