To give yourself the best chance of success make sure your hike is at least 6-7 days. Any less and you will not be acclimatized and run an increased risk of mountain sickness. Routes vary in terms of difficulty, traffic and beauty. The easiest routes are Marangu and Rongai with Machame, Shira and Lemosho being increasingly more difficult. The longer routes have tougher hiking but you'll better acclimatized and your chances of reaching the summit will be higher.
This a remote, very beautiful route to Uhuru Peak. The forest around the Lemosho Glades has numerous big game animals, which means a game ranger accompanies climbers on their first day. This route is a long route which requires 7-days for a comfortable completion, which makes it more expensive and consequently less busy.
The most popular tourist route and some claim the easiest route to Uhuru Peak. The 5-day option, which is available on this route, makes it the least expensive route on the mountain. A 6-day option with a day for acclimatisation is recommended. This is the only route that has comfortable sleeping huts with beds and mattresses at every overnight. Bottled water, sodas, beer and sweets are sold at every camp. All camps on Marangu Route have radio contact with the Park Headquarters.
This is the most beautiful route to the summit. The 6-day route is more challenging than the Marangu route. The day walks are longer and steeper, however the summit attempt is one hour shorter. Only tented camps are available, which can be less comfortable and require a good sleeping bag and decent mattress.
This route is shorter but more difficult. It is quiet spectacular. Umbwe is known for its lava caves. The first night you will stay at Umbwe Cave Camp with two more caves visited on route the following day. Sometimes Umbwe is used as a descending route.
The Shira Plateau is one of the most stunning and interesting areas on Kilimanjaro. Depending on the rain you can drive 4x4 vehicles to within 2 hours walk from Shira Hut (at 4000m). Even the drive is pleasant and offers some great views of Mt Meru the Rift Valley. Game is often sighted from the road features some striking vegetation changes ranging from forest, grassland, heath to moorland. The fast ascent by vehicle to about 4000m requires additional acclimatisation, after which you will ascend Uhuru Peak via the Western Breach or via the Barafu hut.
This route is only in use as a descending route for the western ascent routes.
All park fees and arrangements must be made at the Marangu gate. This route can only be used to ascend and the Marangu Route must be used for the descent. There are some large caves along the route, which are often used by porters to overnight for the first two nights.
Western Breach / Arrow Glacier
An alternative final ascend route which can be taken from all of the western routes, sleeping at magnificent Arrow Glacier on your summit night. The western Breach is a hard walk up steep scree with some rock scrambling occasionally required. Snow cover makes scree easier but you need an ice axe. for the adventurous it is possible spend an extra night in the Kibo Crater.