When deciding to climb Mount Kilimanjaro you have to decide, which route you’re gonna choose, as there is a handful of possibilities to reach the summit. Some or longer and take more days, some are shorter and more demanding on each day. But there’s only one route which allows sleeping in small huts rather than having to sleep in a tent. This one is called Marangu route, as it starts in the village of Marangu, at the Marangu gate to the Kilimanjaro national park. It’a also often called the Coca-Cola-Route, as it’s supposed to be the easiest route of all. Interesting enough it’s also the route with the highest failure rate. So how does that add up?

The answer is pretty simple: It’s the easiest route because it’s not technically demanding. You do not need to be a mountain climber. It’s basically a smooth walk to the summit. (admittedly with a constant incline of roughly 10%) It’s comfortable as well (or the least non-comfortable route there is… *G*)

It’s also the route that brings you to the summit, the Ururu Peak, in the shortest amount of time. It “only” takes you 6 days to go up and down again, whereas the other routes consume up to 9 days. But as always there’s a good and a bad side… The body needs time to adapt to the height. Scientists say that you shouldn’t increase your sleeping altitude of more than 300 to 500m per day. On the Marangu route you’re doubling that very easily. If you’re exhausting yourself at any given point of the trek it’s highly unlikely that you’ll make it to the top.

“Pole Pole” is the slogan on the mountain, “slowly slowly” in the Suaheli language. Meaning even on the first day when you’re fit and rested you’re starting to walk slowly. In fact it’s a new definition of slow. On a normal hiking day in training I was able to do approx. 6 km per hour, when walking slowly in terrain 3-4 km per hour. On Mt. Kilimanjaro you’re starting with 1.5-2 km/hour. You’re not doing more than one kilometer in half an hour! The aim is to keep your pulse just above your resting heart rate as this saves you the energy you’ll need for summit day.

 

Some facts:

  • Total distance: 70km
  • total height meters: >4.000m
  • 6 days
  • 5 climate zones
  • 3 camps (huts)
  • 1.000m altitude gain per day
  • 6h hiking per day

Follow me to day 1 of the tour: Day 1: Marangu gate to Mandara Hut