Are you planning to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro but unsure which route to take?

In this detailed guide, we will explore the Marangu Route and the Machame Route, comparing their history, difficulty levels, accommodations, and facilities.

By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the differences between these two popular routes, helping you make an informed decision on which one suits your preferences and abilities best.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways:

Key Takeaways:

  • The Marangu Route is the oldest and most popular route for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
  • The Machame Route offers more diverse and scenic views, but is also more challenging and longer in duration compared to the Marangu Route.
  • The choice between Marangu and Machame Route ultimately depends on individual preferences and factors such as difficulty level and accommodation facilities.

What is the Marangu Route?

The Marangu Route is one of the most popular routes for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, also known as the ‘Coca-Cola Route’ due to its easier and more comfortable nature compared to other routes. It is often chosen by hikers seeking a less strenuous ascent.

Despite being less challenging, the Marangu Route still provides a unique and rewarding experience for trekkers of all levels. The trail takes you through diverse landscapes, from lush rainforests to alpine meadows, offering spectacular views along the way. Trekkers appreciate the convenience of overnight stays in huts along the route, with basic amenities provided, adding to the comfort of the journey.

History of the Marangu Route

The Marangu Route has a rich history dating back to the early days of mountaineering on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

Being one of the oldest routes, Marangu has witnessed the evolution of climbing techniques and equipment over the years, contributing significantly to the narrative of Kilimanjaro’s mountaineering legacy.

This route, often referred to as the Coca-Cola route for its popularity and relatively easier ascent compared to other paths, has attracted adventurers seeking a balance between challenge and accessibility.

The infrastructure along Marangu includes mountain huts, providing a unique experience for trekkers compared to camping on other routes. Despite its popularity, the route has maintained its charm, with historical anecdotes and milestones that add to the allure of this iconic way to summit Kilimanjaro.

Difficulty Level and Duration

The Marangu Route is considered one of the easier routes up Mount Kilimanjaro in terms of difficulty level, making it suitable for climbers of various skill levels. The duration of the trek typically ranges from 5 to 6 days, allowing for ample time for acclimatization.

Unlike some of the more challenging routes, Marangu offers climbers the convenience of sleeping in dormitory-style huts along the way, providing a semblance of comfort during the ascent. The camps on this route are equipped with basic facilities, including bunk beds, dining areas, and toilets, offering a more ‘home-like’ experience amidst the rugged mountain terrain.

Given the lower success rates compared to other routes, acclimatization becomes even more crucial on Marangu. Climbers need to pay close attention to their bodies and follow a steady pace to prevent altitude-related symptoms. The gradual ascent on this route, although less steep, requires a disciplined approach to adjust to the increasing altitude.

Accommodation and Facilities

Accommodation along the Marangu Route primarily consists of mountain huts, providing shelter and basic amenities for trekkers. These huts offer a unique experience of staying on the mountain and are strategically located along the trail.

For those adventurers who prefer camping under the starry African sky, there are designated camping sites along the route. These sites offer a more immersive experience with nature and are equipped with basic facilities.

The mountain huts and camping sites on the Marangu Route are known for their picturesque views of the surrounding landscapes, including lush forests, diverse wildlife, and magnificent glaciers that crown the peaks.

What is the Machame Route?

The Machame Route, known as the ‘Whiskey Route‘, is a scenic and challenging trail up Mount Kilimanjaro, offering stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems along the way. It is a favorite among climbers seeking a more adventurous climb.

The Machame Route stands out for its varied terrain, starting in lush rainforests before ascending through rocky paths and eventually reaching alpine deserts. This diverse landscape provides climbers with a truly immersive experience, allowing them to witness the dramatic changes in vegetation and climate as they climb higher.

The Machame Route offers a more gradual ascent compared to some other routes, allowing climbers more time to acclimatize to the altitude. This not only enhances the chances of a successful summit but also adds to the overall enjoyment of the trek.

History of the Machame Route

History of the Machame Route
The Machame Route has a storied history on Mount Kilimanjaro, known for its challenging terrain and breathtaking views of the African landscape. It has been a favored route for climbers looking for an immersive experience in nature.

The Machame Route, also referred to as the ‘Whiskey Route,’ earned its nickname due to its diverse landscapes and varying terrain challenges along the way. This iconic route has been a part of Kilimanjaro’s climbing legacy for decades, attracting adventurers from around the globe. Climbers are not only drawn to its physical demands but also the rich history that surrounds it.

The route gained popularity among climbers in the mid-20th century, gaining a reputation for its scenic beauty and the sense of accomplishment it brings to those who conquer it. Mount Kilimanjaro’s status as Africa’s highest peak adds to the allure of the Machame Route, attracting both experienced climbers seeking a challenge and enthusiasts eager to embark on their first high-altitude adventure.

Difficulty Level and Duration

The Machame Route presents a moderate to challenging difficulty level, requiring climbers to navigate varied terrain and altitudes. The trek typically spans 6 to 7 days, allowing for gradual acclimatization to the higher altitudes.

Ascending through lush rainforests to rocky paths, climbers on the Machame Route experience a diverse range of landscapes. From steep sections to the challenging Barranco Wall, physical fitness and mental fortitude are put to the test.

Acclimatization is key on this route, with climbers needing to adjust to the altitude changes as they progress towards the summit. Proper rest, hydration, and gradual ascent are vital to combat altitude sickness and ensure a successful climb.

Camping under the stars amidst the rugged beauty of Kilimanjaro adds a sense of adventure to the journey. Trekking poles, sturdy boots, and a well-packed backpack are essential companions for this unforgettable experience.

Accommodation and Facilities

Accommodation options on the Machame Route include camping sites along the trail, offering a more immersive experience of the mountain environment. Climbers can enjoy magnificent views from the summit ridge during their trek.

These camping sites are strategically located, providing not only a resting place but a chance to connect with nature at its purest form. The facilities at these sites are basic yet essential, offering tents, sleeping bags, and hearty meals to fuel the climbers for their journey.

One of the unique features of camping along the Machame Route is the camaraderie that develops among fellow climbers. Sharing stories under the starlit sky, anticipating the sunrise from the summit, creates a bond that transcends mere companionship.

Comparison between Marangu and Machame Route

When comparing the Marangu and Machame Routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, climbers encounter a choice between a more comfortable but less scenic route (Marangu) and a challenging but visually rewarding trail (Machame). Each route offers unique experiences to climbers based on their preferences and trekking goals.

Marangu, often referred to as the ‘Coca-Cola’ route due to its more gradual incline, provides climbers with accommodations in huts along the way, offering a more sheltered experience. In contrast, the Machame Route, known as the ‘Whiskey’ route, involves more strenuous ascents but rewards hikers with breathtaking views of diverse landscapes, including lush rainforests and vast alpine deserts.

While Marangu may be considered slightly easier in terms of terrain, Machame is ideal for those seeking a more immersive and challenging trekking adventure amidst the striking beauty of Kilimanjaro’s varying ecosystems.

For your preference, whether you prioritize comfort or crave a sense of accomplishment through conquering rugged paths, both routes cater to distinct needs of climbers looking to summit Africa’s highest peak.

Difficulty Level

The Marangu Route is generally considered less challenging in terms of elevation gain and steepness compared to the Machame Route. Climbers on the Marangu Route may face fewer issues with altitude sickness due to the more gradual ascent.

On the Marangu Route, the incline is more steady, offering hikers a slightly more predictable climb. This can be beneficial for those who are still acclimatizing to higher altitudes.

The Machame Route, while more strenuous, provides a more adventurous and diverse terrain experience, with varying landscapes and ecosystems. The rapid altitude gain on the Machame Route can be tough on climbers, pushing their physical limits and potentially increasing the likelihood of altitude-related symptoms.

Scenery and Views

The Marangu Route offers lush forests and stunning views of the mountain, while the Machame Route provides diverse landscapes, from rainforests to alpine deserts, with glimpses of glaciers along the way.

On the Marangu Route, trekkers meander through vibrant greenery, with the melodies of exotic bird calls filling the air. The dense canopy overhead filters the sunlight, creating a mystical ambiance as if walking through a lush tunnel towards the mountain’s peak.

In contrast, the Machame Route presents a dynamic journey, where hikers traverse varying terrains, transitioning from the emerald embrace of rainforests to the rugged beauty of alpine deserts.

Accommodation and Facilities

Accommodation and Facilities
Accommodation on the Marangu Route includes huts with basic amenities, offering a more sheltered experience, while the Machame Route provides camping options for a closer connection to the natural surroundings.

On the Marangu Route, climbers have the advantage of sleeping in designated huts, providing protection from the elements, a solid roof over their heads, and communal dining spaces for shared experiences. Some may find the shared accommodations less private compared to camping.

In contrast, camping on the Machame Route allows climbers to immerse themselves in nature, sleep under the starlit sky, and have a more solitary and wilderness-oriented experience. The trade-off is the potential exposure to harsh weather conditions, limited facilities, and the need to carry camping gear.

Which Route Should You Choose?

Selecting between the Marangu and Machame Routes on Mount Kilimanjaro depends on various factors such as your preference for comfort, desire for a challenge, and the level of adventure you seek. Each route offers a distinct experience tailored to different types of climbers.

For those seeking more comfort and a less strenuous climb, the Marangu Route, also known as the ‘Coca-Cola Route’ due to its huts with amenities, might be the ideal choice. This route provides bunkhouse accommodation and meals along the way, offering a more leisurely pace but with less scenic variety.

On the other hand, the Machame Route, known as the ‘Whiskey Route,’ is perfect for adventurers looking for a bit more challenge and spectacular views. The diverse landscapes on this route, from lush rainforests to barren alpine deserts, provide an exciting and demanding trek.

While the Marangu Route may be considered easier due to its gradual ascent, the Machame Route provides a more adventurous and challenging climb with steeper, more varied terrain that tests climbers’ endurance and skills.

Factors to Consider

When deciding on a route, consider your climbing experience, physical fitness level, and how you acclimate to altitude. These factors will play a significant role in determining which route suits you best for a successful climb.

For climbers looking for a less challenging trek that provides more comfortable accommodations, the Marangu Route may be the preferred choice. Known as the ‘Coca-Cola route’ due to its popularity and availability of hut accommodations, it offers a more gradual ascent, which can aid in acclimatization. The shorter duration of the Marangu Route may not allow for optimum altitude adaptation.

On the other hand, the Machame Route is famous for its scenic beauty and diverse landscapes. It is considered more challenging due to steeper paths and longer walking distances, making it ideal for those seeking a more physically demanding climb. Climbers on Machame should be well-prepared for the demanding terrain and rapid altitude gain.

Personal Preferences

Your personal preferences, such as your appetite for adventure, appreciation of landscapes, wildlife encounters, and the ultimate goal of summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, should guide your choice between the Marangu and Machame Routes.

Those who seek a more direct and less rugged ascent often opt for the Marangu Route, known as the ‘Coca-Cola’ route due to its hut accommodation providing more comfort in comparison to camping.

On the other hand, the Machame Route, dubbed the ‘Whiskey’ route, is preferred by adventurers craving a more challenging and scenic experience, as it offers diverse landscapes, from lush rainforests to rocky terrains.

While on the Marangu Route, the winding trails unveil the stunning Horombo and Kibo Huts, offering glimpses of mountain vistas and unique flora and fauna. In contrast, the Machame Route presents thrilling opportunities to spot exotic wildlife like the Colobus monkeys and breathtaking scenery, with its meandering paths through varied ecosystems.


Choosing between the Marangu and Machame Routes on Mount Kilimanjaro is a deeply personal decision influenced by factors such as your climbing goals, adventure spirit, and appreciation of the diverse landscapes found on the mountain. Both routes offer unique experiences for climbers seeking an unforgettable expedition.

The Marangu Route, often referred to as the ‘Coca-Cola Route,’ is renowned for its gradual ascent and hut accommodations, providing a relatively comfortable experience. On the other hand, the Machame Route, known as the ‘Whiskey Route,’ offers a more challenging climb with camping along the way, allowing for a closer connection to nature and a greater sense of accomplishment.

Ascending Kilimanjaro is a journey that takes you from lush rainforests to barren alpine deserts, offering a diverse range of ecosystems to explore. Each step reveals new sights and challenges, making every moment on the mountain an unforgettable adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Marangu and Machame Route?

What is the difference between the Marangu and Machame Route?

The main difference between the two routes is the level of difficulty and the type of accommodations. The Marangu Route is considered the easier option with dormitory-style huts while the Machame Route is more challenging but offers tent camping.

Which route offers a better chance of reaching the summit?

The Machame Route is known for its higher success rate due to its longer and more gradual ascent. However, the Marangu Route offers a shorter summit day which can be appealing for some hikers.

What is the average duration for each route?

The Marangu Route typically takes 5-6 days, while the Machame Route takes 6-7 days. It is important to note that these durations can vary depending on the hiker’s pace and acclimatization abilities.

Which route offers better views and scenery?

Both routes offer beautiful views, but the Machame Route is often considered more scenic as it takes hikers through a variety of landscapes and habitats.

Are there any significant differences in terms of cost?

The Marangu Route is generally less expensive due to the option of staying in huts instead of tents. However, the Machame Route offers a more immersive camping experience for those seeking a true wilderness adventure.

Which route is recommended for first-time Kilimanjaro hikers?

The Marangu Route is often recommended for first-timers due to its easier terrain and more comfortable accommodations. However, it is important for all hikers to have proper physical fitness and preparation regardless of the route chosen.