There's more than one way up Africa's highest mountain. Speed or success: which one would you choose?
If lightweight celebrities can do it (Gary Barlow, Chris Moyles, Cheryl Cole, among others) then so can you.
But do bear in mind that scaling 5,895m nearly 20,000ft Mount Kilimanjaro, at 5,895m (nearly 20,000ft) Africa's highest mountain, is no mean feat.
And there's more than one way to the summit of this majestic giant, towering over the plains of the Serengeti. So choose a route that suits your fitness levels, and bear in mind that the main reason for people failing to reach the top of Mt Kilimanjaro is not lack of training, but altitude sickness.
There are five main routes to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Do you want a physically less demanding route, or one on which you are more likely to reach the top? The longer treks are more demanding as you spread your trip over more days, but they also carry a higher success rate of getting to the top as they give you more time to acclimatise to the altitude.
1. Marangu Route
This is one of the most popular routes, because taking only 5 days to trek, it is one of the shortest and cheapest ways to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. It is nicknamed the Coca-Cola route due to the tea huts where you can buy a Coke on the way.
Marangaru kicks off with a gentle pace through forests and moorlands before entering high altitude scenery. In terms of physical demand, this is the easiest route to the summit of Kilimanjaro. However as there is such a short acclimatisation period, it has one of the lowest success rates.
2. Machame Route
This is nicknamed the Whiskey route given that it is a tougher climb than the Coca-Cola/Marangu Route. It's a steep, tough trek, but highly recommended as it is spread over six or seven days and has a good success rate.
Throughout the trek, the scenery stays interesting, passing through five diverse climatic zones, where the varied landscape such as moorland and forests keeps things interesting through your trip.
3. Shira Route
The Shira route was the first trail taking trekkers along the Western Breach of Kilimanjaro and on to the Shira Plateau. It is scenic but one of the most demanding as even the first night's sleep is at high altitude. In addition, part of the route is only accessible by 4WD vehicles and can become impassable during wet periods.
Because of its start at a higher elevation, trekkers considering the Shira route should have previous experience in high altitude trekking.
4. Rongai Route
This is a fantastic route that is less frequently used. It's the only northern approach to Mt Kilimanjaro and offers a true wilderness experience in the early stages. The trek is so remote that you may well see no other climbers during your ascent, and is considered the most personal of all the routes.
It's a steep, tough climb but within the limits of anyone who is fit and used to mountain walking. The route is affected by seasonality - it approaches from the drier north side, and while the weather is generally good for climbing, from November to February the short rainy season hits, so a different route may be advisable during those months.
5. Lemosho Route
This beautiful 10-day trek is often called the Ultimate Kilimanjaro route as it offers such impressive scenery. It is one of the longest routes, so seen as more difficult than Rongai or Marangu, yet has a high success rate because it allows for easier acclimatisation due to the amount of time you spend climbing the mountain.
You pass through a lot of unspoilt wilderness an route to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro, and the first day of the trek is likely to be rich in wildlife and animals. For this reason, it's one of the few treks where you'll need an armed ranger.
Fancy it but not sure which route is for you? take a look at the G Adventures interactive map of Mt Kilimanjaro which details all the routes, with photos to help you plan your trip.
G Adventures leads more than 1,000 climbers up the mountain each year and with high levels of safety, its climbers have a 96% success rate.
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