The Marangu Route is also known as the "Coca Cola" or "tourist" route. It is the easiest and shortest route to the summit. This is also the only route with the comforts of sleeping huts at every camp site with solar lights and comfortable beds. The huts are communal, and the bunks have a sponge mattress and pillow. There are 60 beds at both Mandara and Kibo Huts and 120 beds at Horombo Hut. Bathrooms and running water are available at the two lower huts. Mens' and ladies' latrines are available at the last camp but are very basic.
All climbing groups, often from several countries around the world, share meals in dining huts providing a jovial and energetic atmosphere. Soft drinks, bottled water, and beer may be for sale at the huts. Bring small Tanzanian bills to purchase these items (prices increase with elevation).
This route is usually done on 5 days but can be done in 6 days for better acclimatization. The extra day can be spent resting at Horombo or climbing the small peak of Mawenzi.
DAY 1: To Mandara Hut
1700m to 2740m, 5500ft to 9000ft
7 km, 4-5 hours, Montane Forest
After breakfast and briefing, drive to the Kilimanjaro National Park Gate (45 minutes), register and commence the climb. Walk through the rainforest to the Mandara encampment located at 9000 ft / 2740 m. A side trip to Maundi Crater is a good way to see the surroundings including Northern Tanzania and Kenya. In the rainforest, look for towering Eucalyptus trees, bird life, and Columbus monkeys.
DAY 2: To Horombo Camp
2700m to 3700m, 9000ft to 12,100ft
11 km, 6-8 hours, Heather land
After about 1 hour, you will leave the glades of the rainforest and follow an ascending path on the open moorlands to the Horombo encampment. Views of Mawenzi and the summit of Kibo are amazing. Look for giant lobelias and groundsels. You will start to feel the affects of the altitude. If you wish to extend you trek, here you can spend an extra day resting at Horombo or climbing the small peak of Mawenzi.
DAY 3: To Kibo Hut
3700m to 4700m, 12,100ft to 15,400ft
10 km, 6-8 hours, Alpine Desert
Ascending, we now pass the last watering point, walking onto the saddle of Kilimanjaro between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. Vegetation begins with upper heather land but then disappears into "moonscape". Dinner, rest, and prepare for summit climb.
DAY 4: To Summit and Horombo
4700m to 5895m (and down to 3700m)
15,400ft to 19,300ft, (and down to 12,100ft)
4 km up / 14 km down 10-15 hours, Alpine Desert
Very early in the morning (midnight to 2am), commence the climb to the summit on steep and heavy scree or snow up to Gilman's point located on the crater rim at 18640 ft / 5861 m (4-7 hours). Continuing, we now ascend to Uhuru Peak, which is the highest point in Africa: 19340 ft / 5895 m (1-2 hours). Unbelievable views at every turn. Get your picture taken at the summit to show your friends. From here, we now descend, stopping for lunch and a rest at Kibo before continuing on to the Horombo encampment for dinner and a tired but happy overnight (1-2 hours). This beginning of this climb is done in the dark and requires headlamps or flashlights. It will be very cold until you start descending, so you will need all of your warm layers. This is, by far, the most difficult part of the trek with many switchbacks. "Pole pole" and an optimistic attitude will get you there!
DAY 5: To Moshi
3700m to 1700m, 12,100ft to 5500ft
18km, 5-7 hours
After breakfast, A steady descent takes us down through moorland to Mandara Hut (2700m / 8858 ft), the first stopping place at the Marangu route. Continue descending through lovely lush forest on a good path to the National Park gate at Marangu (1830 m / 6004 ft). At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy). A vehicle will meet you at Marangu gate to drive you back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha.