All Kilimanjaro treks are challenging and a good level of fitness is required for a successful climb. The Marangu Route is a tough walking trip but within the limits of a fit individual used to hill walking. Marangu Route is the easiest and most popular route to this, the highest point in Africa. Kilimanjaro has twin peaks, the craggy Mawenzi standing 5149m, and the ‘flat-topped’, glaciated Kibo standing at 5896m. The Saddle, which stretches between these two peaks is 5km wide, high-altitude and semi-desert.
This route from Marangu Village to the summit is also popular as it uses the park huts for accommodation which have dormitory style rooms; although you will require a sleeping bag and mat. This route ascends and descends by the same route and is the only route on Kilimanjaro to do so. There are no shower/bath facilities while doing the climb and toilets will be longdrops. You will need to prepare for very variable temperatures, from hot to extremely cold.
Numbers of climbers are restricted on this route and it must be booked in advance. An extra day for acclimatization to the altitude is recommended and can be spent at the Horombo Hut which has various walks to enjoy.
Marangu route takes you at a gentle pace from the hot dusty plains and cultivated foothills, through rainforests, alpine moorland, scree and onto summit glaciers. For the ascent to Uhuru Peak from Kibo Hut a very early start is made since the scree is easier to climb when frozen and the views from the crater rim at dawn can be spectacular. Ski sticks are a necessity when ascending the scree to the summit and can be hired from the park gate.
The five day climb will have the following itinerary: –
Day 1 – In order to acclimatize it is recommended that you spend one night in Marangu village. This will help with your climb. Meet your guide in Marangu and have a pre-climb briefing.
Day 2 – Start your climb walking through rainforest until you reach the first hut. Mandara Hut, 2,752 meters. Climbing time 3 hours
Day 3 – Climb the ascending path through alpine meadow. Here the altitude will slow your pace, take your time with this part of the climb enjoying the flora and the views of Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. Horombo Hut 3,780 meters. Climb time 5 hours
Day 4 – Today the landscape becomes rugged and rocky with groundsels and lobelias appearing. Overnight: Kibo Hut 4,730 meters. Climb time 5 hours.
Day 5 – UHURU PEAK – starting at about 1 am while the scree is still frozen. Climb the steep assent to Gilman’s Point [the most difficult and tiring part of the climb] walk along the rim to Uhuru Peak – this is a one hour’s walk from Gilman’s Point. Take your photographs and then start the decent. Overnight at Horombo Hut. Uhuru Peak 5,680 meters. Climb time 6 hours.
Day 6 – Descend to the Marangu Gate – return to the hotel for a hot shower a rest and then to celebrate.
About the Author
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Written by: Ian Williamson