Marangu Route Kilimanjaro trek

The Marangu Route is considered the most straightforward and, therefore, popular, of routes, and is traditionally known as the "Tourist Route" or "Coca-Cola Route”. Consequently, it is the only one that has mountain huts to sleep in, serving the proverbial Coca Cola along the way. Bear in mind, however, that huts are basic, shared with other trekkers, and facilities are far from luxurious. It takes five days minimum to ascend, albeit on a more gradual collection of contours. You can also choose to do an extended, six day version of the trek, allowing an additional day for acclimatisation and greatly increasing the success rate of the trek. The six day trek includes an extra night at Horombo Hut, with a short two to four hour day trek to Zebra Rocks, at an altitude increase of just 280m, and back.
Starting in the small town of Marangu on the southeastern side of the mountain, you trek through luscious fauna and flora-filled rainforest from the minute you leave the foot of the mountain. After your first night in the Mandara huts, the landscape opens up into stunning fields of heather. The landscape is so different it feels as if you have just switched channels on the telly. En route to your next stop at Horombo Huts, you can scramble up to the rim of the Maundi Crater to get your first view of the main Kibo Crater, dripping with glaciers all glistening in the distance. This alpine landscape is the big pull for many on this route. The target on your fourth day is the “Saddle”, which straddles the land between the Mawenzi and Kibo peaks, with Kibo hut your last stop before the top. En route to the summit, usually undertaken in the middle of the night, you pass Hans Meyer Cave, with a steep, slow zig zag climb to Gillman’s Point, with snow laying the path all the way to Uhuru peak. This is the only Kilimanjaro trekking route that descends back along the same path.

The pros and cons of trekking the Marangu Route

Even though it is known as the ‘easiest’ route – let’s be clear, this is no walk in the park. We are still talking Kilimanjaro, and none of the routes are ‘easy’. Ironically, therefore, this route has a lower success rate, because many tourists get the impression that it is a doddle. Marangu is also the only route with sleeping huts with dormitory style accommodations. All the others have campsites only. This route uses the same path for going up and down, so if you want to see more aspects of the landscape, it might not be the one for you. But it is great if you are not as confident on very steep slopes, and if you don’t want to camp. Another good thing about Marangu is that you can make the most of the quieter trails during the rainy season, but enjoy a dry, warm bed at night.

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Written by Bryony Cottam
Photo credits: [Page banner: truebacarlos] [intro: Yosemite] [The pros and cons of trekking the Marangu route: Thorsten Hansen]
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