5 Days Marangu Route
Marangu Route Known as the "Coca-Cola" route, the Marangu route is a classic trek on Mount Kilimanjaro. It is the oldest, most well established route. Many favor the Marangu route because it is considered to be the easiest path on the mountain, given its gradual slope. It is also the only route which offers sleeping huts in dormitory style accommodations.
The minimum days required for this route is five, although the probability of successfully reaching the top in that time period is quite low. Spending an extra acclimatization day on the mountain is highly recommended when climbing Klimanjaro using the Marangu route.
Day 1 - Marangu Gate (1860 m/6100 ft) - Mandara Huts (2700m/8860 ft)
Walking distance: 8 km/5 miles
Walking time: 3-4 hours
Altitude gain: 840 m/2760 ft
Your first day on Kilimanjaro starts with the transfer from your hotel to Marangu gate, the registration formalities, an introduction to your guides, the packing of all equipment and distributing it among the porters. Expect to linger at the gate for an hour or two before you get going.
The first day on the Marangu Route leads through rain forest. (You know why it's called rain forest, right? ALWAYS carry your rain gear in your day pack!) For a while the path follows a little stream and it passes a couple of picturesque little waterfalls. You'll probably have lunch at the Kisamboni picnic area, which marks half way. It should take about an hour and a half to get there.
And it is about another hour and a half from here to the Mandara Huts. As you near the huts you will notice the vegetation change. You are about to enter the next climate and vegetation zone the alpine heath and moorland. The first heathers appear, but most noticeable is the lichen dangling from all the trees and shrubs, leading to the name "bearded forest" that you may have seen under some Kilimanjaro pictures.
Soon you'll arrive at the Mandara Huts, a group of wooden huts in a forest clearing. If you do have time and energy left you can take a little side trip to the Maundi Crater. It takes about 15 minutes and, weather permitting; you will be rewarded with good views to Mawenzi. You may also spot blue monkeys (they have become very used to people), and with a bit of luck even black and white colobus monkeys.
Day 2 - Mandara Huts - Horombo Huts (3700 m/12140 ft)
Walking distance: 12 km/7.2 miles
Walking time: 5-7 hours
Altitude gain: 1000 m/3280 ft
First thing after your breakfast in the morning you will walk through a patch of forest. If you did not make the detour to Maundi Crater yesterday you now have another chance of spotting colobus monkeys. However, soon you will leave the last trees behind. You are now walking through moorland and the dominating plant is heather. The most noticeable features, apart from the Kilimanjaro peaks of course, are the first giant senecios and loblelias that you can see growing among the ubiquitous heather.
This is a long day, the path meanders through the hills with some ups and downs and across a few dry creeks. Remember to drink plenty, and try to eat well, even if you don't feel like it. You are quite high now and it will be bitter cold at night! The Horombo Huts are by far the busiest place on Kilimanjaro, not just on the Marangu Route but on the whole mountain.Optional Acclimatization Day
If you choose to climb Kilimanjaro on the Marangu route, please do add this optional acclimatization day to your schedule. Remember, Marangu is the route with the lowest success rate. The acclimatization day will increase your chances to reach the summit.
Day 3 - Horombo Huts - Kibo Huts (4700 m/15420 ft)
Walking distance: 9.5 km/5.7 miles
Walking time: 5-7 hours
Altitude gain: 1000 m/3280 ft
As you keep trudging uphill the vegetation is gradually thinning out. You will be passing several water streams and they do not necessarily look inviting. Nevertheless, soon you'll reach the sign-posted "Last Water Point" at 4200 m/13780 ft. It is indeed the last chance to collect water, and your porters will. You might sit down at the picnic tables here and have a break. After lunch it's an easy two hour stroll for some, for others it's a longer trudge across this bolder strewn plain, on a path that gets steeper and steeper, to the Kibo Huts, which do not seem to come any closer.
If you feel the altitude you will be surprised at how hard this is. The path doesn't LOOK steep, and it isn't (except maybe for the very last section), but the lack of oxygen turns the hike into a major effort.The landscape can be quite dramatic, open and windswept, with big clouds rolling across it. Many people really enjoy this part. But it all depends how well acclimatized you are.
Day 4 - Summit attempt via Gilman's Point (5700 m/18700 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m/19340 ft) and descent to Horombo Huts (3700 m/12200 ft)
Walking distance: 5.5 km/3.5 miles ascent + 15 km/9.5 miles descent
Walking time: 5-6 hrs + 1-2 hours up, 5-6 hours down (the overall walking time may vary from 10 - 16 hours)
Altitude gain: 1000 m/ 3280 ft (Gilman's Point) or 1195 m/3920 ft (Uhuru Peak)
Descent: 2195 m/7200 ft
This day will likely go down in your memory as the most physically challenging day in your whole life. Likely it will also be one of the earliest starts you ever made. Your day pack should be ready with everything you will need tonight: rain gear if you aren't wearing it anyway, enough water, hand warmers, balaclava. You should have fresh batteries in your head torch and camera and you should already be wearing the right clothes. Make sure everything you are wearing is bone dry.
Guides will wake you up some time between 11.00 and 11.30 pm. There will be some hot drinks and maybe some food, but mostly it's a matter of crawling out of your sleeping bag, putting on a few more layers of clothes, your boots and your head torch. Grab your day pack and off you go. As steep as the slope is, due to the many switchbacks the path itself isn't all that bad. However, nothing's easy without oxygen and the air is incredibly thin, getting thinner all the time. Take all the time you need and for goodness sake don't let anyone pressure you into moving faster than you feel comfortable to. Steady, steady, one tiny little step after the other.
Lunch should be waiting for you at Kibo Huts. You just want to collapse and sleep; you cannot imagine getting up from that chair again. But after what you have done to your body today it is not safe to remain at this altitude. You have no choice but to pack up your gear and keep going, the sooner the better. Three more hours to the Horombo Huts.
Dinner is often a much livelier affair, with everybody's eyes shining as they recount the experiences of the day. And I have no doubt that you will sleep well tonight.
Day 5 - Horombo Huts - Marangu Gate
Walking distance: 20 km/12.5 miles
Walking time: 5 hours
Descent: 1840 m/6040 ft
After beakfast you set off, down past Mandara Huts (lunch stop) to Marangu Gate. Once you reach the gate you'll have to endure some more formalities, but eventually you will say good bye to your guides (a sad and emotional moment), climb into the vehicle waiting for you and be whisked away to your hotel for hot showers and cold beers.
Park fees (For non-residents)
All activities (Unless labeled as optional)
All accommodation (Unless listed as upgrade)
Camping equipment (Sleeping bag excluded)
A professional driver/guide
All transportation (Unless labeled as optional)
Roundtrip airport transfer
Meals (As specified in the day-by-day section)
Drinking water (On all days
International flights (From/to home)
Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour
Tips (Tipping guideline US$10.00 pp per day)
Personal items (Souvenirs, travel insurance, visa fees, etc.)
Government imposed increase of taxes and/or park fees
This tour starts and ends in Arusha
Book your own international flights when using this operator help
A transfer from and back to the airport (or hotel) is included
Additional accommodation before and at the end of the tour can be arranged for an extra cost