Are you planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro but not sure which route to take?

In this detailed guide, we will explore the two popular routes – Marangu and Rongai.

We will discuss the pros and cons of each route, compare them in terms of difficulty level, scenery, accommodation, crowd levels, cost, and success rates.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of which route suits your preferences and receive expert recommendations for a successful Kilimanjaro climb.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways:

Key Takeaways:

  • Marangu Route is the most popular and oldest route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, also known as the “Coca-Cola” route.
  • Rongai Route offers a more remote and less crowded experience, with stunning views of the Northern side of the mountain.
  • When choosing between Marangu and Rongai routes, consider factors such as difficulty level, scenery, accommodation, crowd levels, cost, and success rates. Personal preferences and expert recommendations should also be taken into account.

What is the Marangu Route?

The Marangu Route is one of the popular paths to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Known as the ‘Coca-Cola Route‘ due to its initial amenities, it offers trekkers a chance to climb Africa’s highest mountain with a mix of adventure and comfort.

With a rich history dating back to the early days of Kilimanjaro tourism, the Marangu Route holds a special place in the hearts of many. This classic trail was the first established route on the mountain and has witnessed countless successful summit attempts over the years. Its unique feature lies in the traditional huts scattered along the trail, providing a more sheltered and cozy accommodation option compared to camping.

The Marangu Route is often preferred by those seeking a slightly less challenging trek, as the paths are well-defined and the inclines are more gradual than some of the other routes. This does not diminish the sense of achievement upon reaching Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Kilimanjaro.

What Are the Pros of the Marangu Route?

The Marangu Route offers comfortable hut accommodations, making it a preferred choice for trekkers seeking a less rugged experience on their Kilimanjaro climb. The gradual ascent allows for better acclimatization, leading to higher success rates in reaching the summit.

These hut accommodations provide a cozy resting place along the trek, offering a comfortable retreat after a day of hiking. With beds and dining facilities readily available, trekkers can relax and recharge for the next day’s journey. The infrastructure along the Marangu Route also includes toilets and running water, adding to the convenience and comfort of the trek.

The gentle gradient of the Marangu Route aids in acclimatization by allowing trekkers to adjust gradually to the altitude. This gradual ascent reduces the risk of altitude-related illnesses, contributing to the overall well-being of climbers and increasing their chances of reaching Uhuru Peak. Trekkers on the Marangu Route often report feeling better prepared and more energized as they approach the summit, thanks to the well-paced itinerary.

What Are the Cons of the Marangu Route?

Despite its popularity, the Marangu Route is often criticized for its crowded trails and less immersive wilderness experience compared to other routes. The higher success rates may also attract less experienced trekkers, affecting the overall adventure aspect.

The infrastructure along the Marangu Route, with its more permanent huts, takes away from the true camping experience that many trekkers seek in the heart of nature.

This lack of tent camping can also diminish the feeling of being fully immersed in the natural surroundings. The need to stick to a strict timetable due to pre-booked accommodations on this route can make it feel more like a scheduled tour rather than a wild adventure.

What is the Rongai Route?

The Rongai Route offers a more remote and less traveled path to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, making it an ideal choice for trekkers seeking a quieter and wilderness-focused experience amidst the stunning landscapes of Tanzania.

This route is known for its opportunities to spot unique wildlife along the way, adding an exciting element to the trekking experience. Wildlife enthusiasts often have the chance to encounter various species such as elephants, buffalo, and monkeys in their natural habitat.

The secluded nature of the Rongai Route also presents trekkers with the possibility of quieter and more serene camping scenarios compared to busier routes on the mountain.

What Are the Pros of the Rongai Route?

The Rongai Route stands out for its serenity and wildlife encounters, offering trekkers a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the Kilimanjaro region while enjoying higher success rates due to fewer crowds.

One of the key advantages of choosing the Rongai Route for your Kilimanjaro trek is the peaceful ambiance that envelops the entire trail, allowing you to truly connect with nature without the hustle and bustle of large crowds. The route’s gradual ascent also provides ample time for acclimatization, increasing the chances of a successful summit bid.

The Rongai Route offers fantastic opportunities for wildlife sightings, including the possibility of spotting elusive animals like buffalo, colobus monkeys, and various bird species along the way.

What Are the Cons of the Rongai Route?

What Are the Cons of the Rongai Route?
While the Rongai Route offers a serene trekking experience, its remote location and limited infrastructure can pose challenges for trekkers in terms of physical fitness requirements and potential altitude sickness due to the rapid ascent profile.

One of the drawbacks of the Rongai Route is its demand for good physical fitness as trekkers need to navigate steep and challenging terrain. The absence of proper facilities along the trail means that trekkers must be self-sufficient in terms of supplies and equipment, making it essential to pack meticulously for the journey.

The route’s remote location also presents challenges for emergency situations, as swift access to medical assistance can be limited. Trekkers need to be well-prepared for any health issues that may arise during the expedition.

Comparison of Marangu and Rongai Routes

When comparing the Marangu and Rongai Routes on Mount Kilimanjaro, it’s essential to consider factors like difficulty levels, scenic beauty, accommodation options, crowd levels, overall costs, and success rates to determine the best fit for your trekking preferences.

One significant difference between the Marangu and Rongai Routes lies in their trail difficulty. Marangu, often referred to as the ‘Coca-Cola Route,’ is considered the easiest path, with a more gradual ascent and well-defined trails, making it ideal for novice trekkers.

On the other hand, the Rongai Route offers a slightly more challenging terrain as it approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, providing a unique perspective of the mountain and requiring trekkers to navigate through a variety of landscapes, including lush rainforests and alpine desert zones.

In terms of landscape views, Marangu showcases dense forests before reaching the arid landscapes near the summit, while the Rongai Route offers diverse panoramas with stunning vistas of Kenya and Tanzania along the way.

Difficulty Level

The Marangu Route is often considered less challenging in terms of terrain and elevation gain, offering a more gradual ascent profile compared to the Rongai Route, which involves steeper sections and varied landscapes with notable ascents and descents.

While the Marangu Route can be dubbed the ‘tourist route’ due to its popularity and simpler pathways, it still poses its own challenges, especially in acclimatization. Trekkers often encounter well-maintained paths and comfortable sleeping huts along the way, providing a relatively cozy experience.

In contrast, the Rongai Route offers a more secluded and off-the-beaten-track adventure, with its challenges lying in the rugged terrains that demand a good level of physical fitness. The constant undulating trail of the Rongai Route requires a steady effort and perseverance, making it a more physically demanding option.

Scenery and Views

While the Marangu Route offers lush rainforest sections and a more cultivated landscape, the Rongai Route showcases diverse terrains, panoramic views, and potential wildlife sightings due to its wilderness setting, providing contrasting scenic experiences for trekkers.

On the Marangu Route, hikers are enveloped by dense forests filled with colorful bird species and vibrant flora, creating a serene atmosphere that feels almost magical. The occasional sound of cascading waterfalls adds to the tranquility of the journey.

In contrast, the Rongai Route leads trekkers through open savannahs and rocky slopes, offering unobstructed views of towering peaks and expansive valleys that stretch as far as the eye can see. The chance to encounter unique wildlife like buffalo, elephants, and monkeys along the Rongai path adds an element of thrill and excitement to the trek.

Accommodation Options

The Marangu Route offers hut accommodations with basic amenities for trekkers, while the Rongai Route relies more on camping under the stars, providing a unique wilderness camping experience that varies from the comfort of huts on the Marangu path.

On the Marangu Route, trekkers have the convenience of staying in mountain huts equipped with beds and shared dining areas, which provide a sense of community and a break from the elements. In contrast, the Rongai Route involves setting up campsites along the trail, immersing hikers in the rugged beauty of the landscape.

Weather conditions play a significant role in the trekking experience on both routes. The proximity to the equator means that weather on Mount Kilimanjaro can change rapidly. Trekkers on the Marangu Route might encounter more frequent rain due to the route’s location on the mountain’s east side, while those on the Rongai Route may experience cooler temperatures as they ascend.

Crowd Levels

While the Marangu Route tends to attract more trekkers due to its popularity and comfort features, the Rongai Route offers a quieter trekking environment with fewer crowds, allowing for a more serene wilderness experience and potentially impacting success rates.

Traversing along the Marangu trail, one often encounters a steady flow of fellow adventurers, which can create a bustling atmosphere throughout the journey. The well-developed infrastructure of the route, including huts for accommodation, contributes to its appeal but also brings higher levels of foot traffic.

On the contrary, the Rongai Route, though lacking in amenities, provides a tranquil setting with sparse clusters of hikers, fostering a sense of solitude amidst the raw beauty of the landscape.


In terms of trekking costs, the Marangu Route may be more budget-friendly for some due to its hut accommodations and less camping gear requirements, whereas the Rongai Route may involve additional expenses related to camping equipment and logistics, impacting the overall expedition budget.

When considering budget considerations, the Marangu Route stands out as a cost-effective option, with the advantage of providing hut accommodations along the trail, reducing the need for carrying extensive camping gear. This can result in savings on renting or purchasing camping equipment.

Conversely, the Rongai Route often requires trekkers to bear additional expenses for camping gear, such as tents, sleeping bags, and cooking supplies, as it primarily involves camping throughout the journey.

In terms of accommodation expenses, the Marangu Route’s hut system offers a more comfortable and secure place to rest compared to camping on the Rongai Route, which may appeal to those seeking a less rugged experience. This convenience of hut accommodations is usually reflected in slightly higher trekking fees for the Marangu Route.

Success Rates

Success rates on the Marangu Route may be influenced by the gradual ascent profile and better acclimatization opportunities, whereas the Rongai Route’s success rates could depend on factors like trekker’s physical fitness, summit day conditions, and altitude acclimatization strategies.

One major element that contributes to the success rates on the Marangu Route is the relatively steady increase in altitude, allowing trekkers to adjust more smoothly to changes in oxygen levels. This gradual ascent plays a significant role in reducing the likelihood of altitude sickness and increasing the chances of reaching the summit comfortably.

Conversely, the Rongai Route, although less crowded than the Marangu Route, poses challenges in terms of physical demands. Trekkers must possess a certain level of fitness to navigate the rugged terrain, especially during the final push towards the summit.

Which Route Should You Choose?

Deciding between the Marangu and Rongai Routes for your Kilimanjaro trek depends on various factors, including personal preferences, trekking experience, desired level of comfort, budget constraints, and wilderness immersion expectations.

For those seeking a more budget-friendly option with huts for accommodation and a shorter duration, the Marangu Route might be the ideal choice. On the other hand, the Rongai Route offers a quieter and less crowded experience with a more gradual ascent, suitable for trekkers prioritizing acclimatization. If you value a more secluded trek surrounded by the wilderness, the Rongai Route could be the better fit.

Your past trekking experiences can also play a crucial role in decision-making. If you are a novice trekker, the Marangu Route’s relatively simpler terrain might suit you better. If you are an experienced trekker looking for a more challenging and less-traveled path, the rugged terrains of the Rongai Route could be more appealing.

Factors to Consider

When choosing between the Marangu and Rongai Routes, it’s essential to consider factors such as trail difficulty, guide availability, landscape variations, ascents, and descents encountered, ensuring that the selected path aligns with your trekking preferences and capabilities.

One key factor to ponder when comparing the Marangu Route against the Rongai Route lies in the trail complexities each offers. The Marangu Route, also known as the ‘Coca-Cola Route,’ is often considered one of the easier options due to its gradual inclines and better availability of amenities along the way.

Conversely, the Rongai Route, originating from the north side of Mount Kilimanjaro, presents a quieter and more remote trail, with diverse landscapes and fewer trekkers.

In terms of guide services, both routes generally offer professional guides, porters, and cooks to assist trekkers. The level of service and expertise can vary based on the operator or company chosen for the trek. It’s crucial to inquire in advance about the experience and qualifications of the guides to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.

The topographical changes along the Marangu and Rongai Routes showcase the diverse beauty of Kilimanjaro. While the Marangu Route is known for its lush rainforest sections followed by alpine meadows and barren lunar landscapes, the Rongai Route unveils pine forests, moorlands, and stunning views as it approaches the summit.

Trekking challenges play a vital role in the decision-making process. The Marangu Route, though less daunting in terms of steep ascents, can pose difficulties due to its rapid ascent profile. In contrast, the Rongai Route offers a more gradual ascent, providing trekkers with better acclimatization opportunities.

By evaluating these factors and considering your preferences, you can make an informed choice between the Marangu and Rongai Routes for a memorable Kilimanjaro adventure.

Personal Preference

Personal preferences play a significant role in selecting between the Marangu and Rongai Routes, with hikers needing to assess their comfort levels with hut accommodations versus camping under the stars, and their inclination towards crowd interactions or wilderness solitude.

The decision-making process also revolves around the desire for the unique ecosystem experiences provided by each route, such as the lush rainforest of Marangu versus the more arid landscapes of Rongai. While Marangu boasts more well-trodden paths and infrastructure in place for convenience, Rongai offers a more serene atmosphere with fewer fellow trekkers.

Choosing the right route is crucial for ensuring an unforgettable and tailored Kilimanjaro trekking adventure tailored to individual preferences, blending physical challenges with personal comfort.

Expert Recommendations

Expert recommendations for choosing between the Marangu and Rongai Routes often focus on aspects like acclimatization, trekker experience levels, desired trekking pace, success rate expectations, and the overall satisfaction derived from the Kilimanjaro climb.

Acclimatization plays a crucial role in a successful Kilimanjaro ascent as it determines how well your body adjusts to the altitude. The Marangu Route, also known as the ‘Coca-Cola Route’, offers a gradual ascent with hut accommodation, making it a popular choice for less experienced trekkers.

On the other hand, the Rongai Route provides a more remote and less crowded experience, favored by those seeking a quieter trek. Trekker proficiency is key; experienced hikers might prefer the challenge of the Rongai Route, while novices may find the Marangu Route more manageable.

Tips for a Successful Kilimanjaro Climb

Tips for a Successful Kilimanjaro Climb
Embarking on a Kilimanjaro climb requires preparation and strategic planning to ensure a successful expedition. From staying hydrated to pacing yourself, choosing the right gear, following guide instructions, and being mindful of the changing weather conditions, these tips can enhance your trekking experience.

  1. Hydration Strategies: Carry a sufficient amount of water or use water purification tablets to stay hydrated throughout the ascent, as dehydration can lead to altitude sickness.
  2. Gear Selection: Invest in proper footwear, clothing, and equipment suitable for varying terrains and temperatures to ensure comfort and safety.
  3. Trekking Pace: Maintain a steady and sustainable pace to conserve energy and adjust to the altitude gradually.
  4. Guide Interactions: Communicate openly with your guides, seek their advice, and follow their instructions to navigate the terrain effectively.
  5. Weather Considerations: Stay informed about the weather forecasts and be prepared for sudden changes by carrying appropriate layers and gear.
  6. Optimizing Scenic Views: Take breaks strategically to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and capture memorable moments along the trek.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Marangu and Rongai Route?

The main difference between Marangu and Rongai Route is the starting point and the scenery. Marangu Route, also known as the “Coca-Cola” route, starts at the Marangu Gate on the southeastern side of Kilimanjaro. Rongai Route, also known as the “less-traveled” route, starts at the Rongai Gate on the northeastern side.

Which route is easier, Marangu or Rongai?

Marangu Route is considered to be the easier route because it has a gradual slope and huts for accommodation. Rongai Route, on the other hand, has steeper and more challenging terrain. However, both routes require a good level of fitness and proper acclimatization.

Which route offers better views, Marangu or Rongai?

Rongai Route is known for its scenic views of the northern side of Kilimanjaro, including the Mawenzi and Kibo peaks. Marangu Route, on the other hand, offers limited views until reaching the summit. Therefore, if you’re looking for stunning views throughout the trek, Rongai Route would be a better choice.

Is one route more crowded than the other?

Yes, Marangu Route tends to be more crowded as it is the most popular route for Kilimanjaro treks. Rongai Route, being less traveled, offers a quieter and more peaceful experience on the mountain.

Which route has a higher success rate?

Both Marangu and Rongai Route have similar success rates, which vary depending on the tour operator and individual’s fitness and acclimatization. However, Rongai Route is generally considered to have a slightly higher success rate due to its longer duration and better acclimatization profile.

Can I combine Marangu and Rongai Route?

Yes, some tour operators offer a combination of Marangu and Rongai Route, also known as the “Northern Circuit” route. This allows trekkers to experience the best of both routes, including diverse scenery and a longer and more gradual trek.