Basically, there are three main ways to judge the ideal route to climb:
Fastest, most picturesque, and least busy.
The Marangu Route is the fastest and can, in theory, be done in 5 days. Fastest has the side benefit of being cheaper too.
Fastest may sound good to the super-fit, but a person's ability to deal with the low oxygen air found at altitude is not related to fitness. The best way to improve anyone's ability to deal with the effects of "thin" air is to walk slow and spend more days on the mountain.
The Marangu Route is a busy route with high traffic.
Note: Because of its low summit success rate, we do not recommend the 5-day Marangu Route climb.
The Machame Route includes 6 or 7 days of actual hiking.
It climbs high and sleeps low, which is recommended for proper acclimatization.
The Machame Route is a popular and busy route with high traffic, especially during high season.
The Lemosho Route is one of the newer and longer routes, taking a recommended 8 days of actual hiking, also making it great for proper acclimatization.
Because of its duration it is also more expensive.
A 7-day trek on the Lemosho Route is possible, but not recommended as this route was designed to maximize time on the mountain for acclimatization purposes.
If a 7-day trek is the goal the Machame Route would be a better choice.
The Lemosho Route is slowly getting more busy and is considered to be a medium traffic route.
The Rongai Route includes 6 or 7 days of actual hiking and is considered to be one of the easier climbs, because it is both gradual and steady.
Because it does not have a great 'walk high, sleep low' profile it is potentially more difficult in terms of acclimatization.
If you are concerned about climbing the Great Barranco Wall, then this is the route for you!
The Rongai Route is a remote route, not busy, low traffic.
The Northern Circuit Route is the newest and longest route including 9 actual days of hiking.
This route starts in the west and circles Kilimanjaro via the north essentially offering 360-degree views of the mountain.
Because it is the newest and longest route it is not busy and considered to be a low traffic route.
All routes are picturesque in their own right.
The Machame and Lemosho Route are similar, as the Lemosho Route merges with the Machame Route on the fourth day.
All routes, except for Marangu, ascent/descend via a different path, allowing for varying views of and from the mountain.
While online statistics concerning the Kilimanjaro summit success rates vary, they have one thing in common:
THE MORE TIME SPENT ON THE MOUNTAIN ACCLIMATIZING AND THE LONGER THE ROUTE, THE HIGHER THE SUMMIT SUCCESS RATE!