Marangu Route – The Only Kilimanjaro Route with Hut Accomodation

The Marangu Route is the oldest on Kilimanjaro and is also one of the most popular – mainly because it is the only route on the mountain that has huts provided for hikers. There are 60 bunk beds each at Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut.

Typically tour operators provide mattresses and pillows for climbers (sleeping bags, however, need to be brought separately by trekkers).

The Marangu route can be completed in 5 days; however, it is recommended that climbers take an extra day to acclimatise at Horombo Hut.

The main setback on the Marangu Route is that the ascent is exactly the same as the descent and therefore there is not as much variety in settings compared to other routes. It also means that the route can get very crowded.

The Marangu Route success rate also tends to be lower as it is usually chosen by inexperienced and unprepared trekkers who are misled to believe it is the easiest route.

Marangu Route

Map

MIQ_Kilimanjaro Routes map_Marangu route

Marangu Route Itinerary

Day 1 – Marangu Gate (1,870 meters) to Mandara Hut (2,700 meters)

  • Distance: ~8km / 5 miles
  • Trekking time: 4-6 hours
  • Zone: Rainforest

The Marangu Route begins at Marangu Gate (1,870 meters) on the South-East side of Mount Kilimanjaro (see map above). Typically you will be driven to the gate from Moshi, which takes approximately an hour and passes through the village of Marangu. If approaching from Arusha it takes over two hours to reach Marangu gate. 

At the gate you will meet your trekking team, register with the Kilimanjaro National Park authorities and witness porters assembling and weighing packs of gear that they will be carrying up the mountain. Day one is a gradual trek through the Kilimanjaro rainforest and takes 5-7 hours to complete. 

Your first night is spent in the Mandara A-frame Huts (2,700 meters) which come equipped with solar generated lighting, flush toilets and water piped in from a nearby mountain stream. Each hut has 6-8 bunk beds. If you are a light sleeper we suggest bringing earplugs!

kilimanjaro porters
Porters weighing gear

Day 2 – Mandara Hut (2,700 meters) to Horombo Hut (3,720 meters)

  • Distance: ~12km / 7 miles
  • Trekking time: 6-8 hours
  • Zone: Rainforest / Low Alpine Zone

Day two on the Marangu Route begins with an early start. You will be served breakfast and should be on your way by latest 08:30.

The trek continues through the rainforest, around the base of the Maundi Crater and then transitions rather rapidly into the low alpine moorland zone.​

If the weather is clear you should definitely take the opportunity to scramble up the Maundi Crater to get your first full view of Kibo. 

During the trek, you will also see giant lobelias which are scattered throughout the landscape at this altitude. Day two takes approximately 6-8 hours to complete and covers a significant distance (11.5km / 7miles). 

At Horombo Hut (3,720 meters) you will be served dinner and shown to your sleeping quarters for the night.


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Day 3 – Acclimatisation Day at Horombo Hut

  • Distance: 0
  • Trekking time: 0
  • Zone: Low alpine zone / High alpine zone

This is an important acclimatisation day at Horombo. Most tour operators will take hikers on a hike towards Mawenzi. This is a 3-hour hike up and about 1.5 hours back. We highly recommend it as it will assist with acclimatisation.

Day 4 – Horombo Hut (3,720 meters) to Kibo Hut (4,700 meters)

  • Distance: ~10km / 6 miles
  • Trekking time: 5-7 hours
  • Zone: Low alpine zone / High alpine zone

You will depart from Horombo Hut early and begin a 1,000-meter ascent to Kibo Hut which covers a distance of approximately 10km.

There are two routes to Kibo. The first, or upper route, forks to the right. Six-day trekkers would have trekked this route on their acclimatisation day to Mawenzi Hut. You will most likely take the lower left-hand route as it is easier and nearly an hour shorter. On the left-hand route, you will pass the last water point at 4,130 meters.

Make sure to fill up your water reserves here as you will not find another watering point until you get back to Horombo Hut from the summit (you are able to buy bottled mineral water at Kibo Hut).

At Kibo Hut you will be served an early dinner and should try to get to bed before 19:00 as you will be awoken around 23:30 to start your 1,150-meter ascent to Uhuru Peak. Make sure that you have all your gear ready for a prompt departure, including insulated water, snacks, your headlamp and your camera.

Day 5 – Kibo Hut (4,700 meters) to Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters) and then Horombo Hut (3,720 meters)

  • Distance: ~5.5km / 3 miles ascent and then 15km / 8 mile descent
  • Trekking time: 6-8 hours to the summit and then 5-8 hours to Horombo Hut
  • Zone: Glacial zone, high alpine zone and low alpine zone

Day five begins with summit night. After being awoken you will be served some hot tea and biscuits and will then begin your summit ascent.

The route follows a rocky path to the first checkpoint, Hans Meyer Cave at 5,150 meters. It then continues to zigzag for a good 2-3 hours until you get to Gilman’s Point (5,681 meters) on Kibo’s crater rim. You will most likely be very tired at this point. 

Take some time to rest and refuel with a snack. The final push is tough and requires mental stamina. Focus on moving slowly and deliberately for the final 200-meter ascent.

kilimanjaro summit
Sunrise, with the summit in the distance. Not far to go now!

At Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters) you will not be able to stay too long so make sure to get all the pictures you want to take and then begin your descent back to Kibo Hut, and onto Horombo Hut. In total, you will be trekking upwards of 12-16 hours. It will be one of the longest days of your life but well worth it! Here’s the good news, beers can be bought at Horombo!


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Day 6 – Horombo Hut (3,720 meters) to Marangu Gate (1,870 meters)

  • Distance: ~20km / 12.5 miles
  • Trekking time: 6-8 hours
  • Zone: Low alpine zone and rainforest

Day six from Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate is nearly 20km but usually only takes 7 hours to complete. You will be exhausted at this stage and spend most of the hike imagining the hot shower you will be having that evening.

At Marangu Gate, you will be presented with your certificate, either for Gilman’s Point or Uhuru Peak (depending on how far you managed to get). 

It is customary to present your trekking team with their hard-earned tips at this point. You will then be driven back to your hotel where celebrations can begin!


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Machame Route Altitude Profile

Marangu-route-profile

Trekking Insurance

Climbing Kilimanjaro comes with obvious risks. It is important that you get adequate insurance for your Kilimanjaro trek. Use the quote calculator from our recommended partner, World Nomads. World Nomads provide specific coverage for hiking up to 6000m, which is perfect for Kilimanjaro.

Marangu FAQ

Still have questions about the Marangu Route. Leave a comment below and we will respond with an answer within 24 hours.

12 thoughts on “Marangu Route – The Only Kilimanjaro Route with Hut Accomodation”

    • Hi Bob, some operators will offer a short one day hike. Unfortunately I don’t know any who provide this option though.

      Reply
  1. Hello,
    I was planning to climb using Marangu route, but as per your report success rate is low. Is it that difficult? I dont want to change my plan

    Reply
    • Hi Girija, the Marangu is in fact one of the easier routes on Kilimanjaro in terms of terrain. The reason for the low summit success rate is due to it’s relatively poor acclimatisation profile and the fact that many trekkers opt to do the 5 day Marangu, which doesn’t provide much time to acclimatise. If you are doing the 6 day Marangu then you summit chances are quite high. All the best!

      Reply
  2. I have had both my knees replaced and have only about a 50 degree bend in my left knee, will this hinder my attempt on the Marangu 6 day route?

    Reply
    • Hi Gary, if you are comfortable hiking 6-8 hours a day for multiple days then you should be fine. Personally I find coming down more challenging on the knees. This is particularly true on Kilimanjaro where the volcanic scree near the top of the mountain is loose and slippery. I highly recommend taking hiking poles. All the best!

      Reply

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