The most straightforward and direct of all the routes, the Marangu Route ascends and descends along the same path and can be completed in just five days, although six is recommended. It is best known as being the only route to offer mountain hut accommodation along the train, in place of the usual campsites. From the southeastern side of Kilimanjaro, the route passes through leafy forest, heather-filled moors and lunar landscapes, gradually sloping upwards with no difficult or steep sections to cross. Marangu comes with its highlights, although other routes are arguably more scenic, but the promise of a Coke or a cold beer at the end of a hard day’s trek is understandably very appealing.
The pros and cons of Marangu
The ‘Coca Cola’, or ‘Tourist’ route, Marangu is commonly known as the easiest route, mostly because of its mountain hut accommodation. Ironically, it is estimated to be the route with the lowest success rate. This is partly because it attracts the most unprepared, inexperienced climbers expecting a walk in the park and comfy beds. In reality, it is the shortest Kilimanjaro route, only five days long, with relatively little time to acclimatise. It’s also the only route that descends back along the same path, meaning you don’t get to see the mountain from a different angle.
A six day version of the route does allow an additional day to acclimatise, climb high and sleep low, greatly increasing the chances of success and a more enjoyable trek. Being so short means it’s usually the cheapest option, and if you’re dead set against camping then the Marangu huts will be a welcome alternative, even if they are more rough-and-ready than relaxing and comfortable. Huts are supplied with mattress and other basic amenities, ideal if you don’t have all the equipment required for the other routes, and the shared mealtimes in the dining halls adds to the atmosphere. If you choose to do this trek in the rainy season, you can also benefit from the quieter trails while enjoying a warm, dry bed at night. But while cost and a cosy bed are important, this is ideally a trail for trekkers who know they can cope with the altitude.