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LEMOSHO ROUTE VS MACHAME ROUTE: WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOUR KILIMANJARO ADVENTURE?

The Lemosho and Machame Routes are two popular climbing routes on Mount Kilimanjaro. The Lemosho Route takes longer, between 7 and 8 days, while the Machame Route takes a shorter duration of 6-7 days. The Lemosho Route is more scenic and has a higher summit success rate than the Machame Route because it gives climbers more time to acclimatize. The longer duration of the Lemosho Route enables the body to adjust to the altitude and prevents overwhelming sickness, increasing the chances of reaching the summit. The Machame Route is more popular and has lower prices due to competition between tour operators. The Lemosho Route starts at Lemosho Gate, while the Machame Route starts at Machame Gate. The two routes initially walk different trails, stay at different campsites, and enjoy different scenery.

lemosho route vs machame route

Overview Of Lemosho Route and Machame Route

Lemosho and Machame Routes are among the most popular Mount Kilimanjaro Routes. Both offer diverse surroundings, wonderful views, and challenging terrains. Granting, they differ in difficulty, length, popularity, and altitude. So, before we get into the deeper logistics of both Kilimanjaro Routes, below is a basic overview of the routes.

CLIMBING COMPONENTSLEMOSHO ROUTEMACHAME ROUTE
Distance67 km. (41.6 miles)62 km. (38.5 miles)
Average DifficultyModerateModerate
Average Duration6-8 Days6-7 Days
Highest PointUhuru Peak – At 5,895 meters (19,635 feet)Uhuru Peak – At 5,895 meters (19,635 feet)

Route Length And Duration Both Kilimanjaro Routes

The overall distance of the Lemosho Route is a bit longer than the Machame Route, at – 67 kilometers. This distance also includes the descent via the Mweka route. The average duration of the route is 6-8 Days. On the contrary, the distance of the Machame route is a touch less compared to the Lemosho Route, at 62 kilometers. The average duration of the Machame Route is 6-7 Days. The total length and distance difference are minimal enough that it won’t factor much into your route decision-making.

Difficulty Level And Altitude Gain Of Both Kilimanjaro Routes

Both the routes have the same average difficulty, i.e. moderate. You should expect some steep inclines on both routes. Generally speaking, the Lemosho Route has a bit of a steeper incline compared to Machame. But, the difference isn’t that much so it won’t factor much into your choice of route. The following is a day-wise altitude gain of both Kilimanjaro Routes:

DAY(s)LEMOSHO ROUTE ALTITUDE GAIN (in feet)MACHAME ROUTE ALTITUDE GAIN (in feet)
DAY 11,6404,000
DAY 22,2963,100
DAY 31,640500
DAY 42,460100
DAY 5984 (Ascend), 460 (Descend)2,200
DAY 62,4604,045
DAY 73,5924,685 (Descend)
DAY 84,593 (Descend) 

Scenery And Landscape

Both Lemosho and Machame Routes offer stunning scenery. They’re among the most beautiful of all Mount Kilimanjaro Routes. After crossing the Lava Tower, the scenery is the same. It’s the first few days that offer the best scenic landscapes.

The Lemosho Route is probably the favorite among tourists when it comes to the scenery. That said, the Machame Route also offers fabulous scenery. On both routes, you’ll get to trek up through vibrant rainforests and then enter the captivating moorland zone.

  • After this point, you can start enjoying sweeping views over the enormous plains.
  • The two routes are not vastly different from each other in terms of scenery and landscapes.
  • This is because they both include some time in the rainforest and both are on the way to the western slope of Kilimanjaro.

Number Of Climbers And Popularity

Regarding the number of climbers and popularity, the Lemosho Route overshadows the Machame Route by far. Lemosho Route offers unmatched and splendid views of the gorges that feature the western side of Kilimanjaro. It also has one of the highest success rates and best acclimatization of all the Mount Kilimanjaro Routes.

Lemosho Route Vs Machame Route – Pros And Cons

Both of these Mount Kilimanjaro Routes have advantages and drawbacks. It’s worth balancing them out so you can choose your most preferred option and make your experience as memorable as Kilimanjaro’s natural beauty.

Pros Of The Lemosho Route

Scenically Beautiful – There are many Barrancos (deep canyons) on Kilimanjaro, the most notable being the Barranco Wall. When you take the Lemosho Route to Climb Kilimanjaro, you’ll pass this wall near the Lava Tower. The views here will be simply stunning. 
Wildlife Sightings – Because the Lemosho Route is remote, there are fewer crowds along the trail. So, the chances of seeing antelopes and elephants are significantly higher. Also, there are several primates in the lush rainforest zone which you’ll also get to see. 
Remote Trekking Adventure – As many people undertake the climbing expedition up Mount Kilimanjaro each year, the routes tend to get very crowded. 
However, this isn’t the case when it comes to the Lemosho Route. This is a perfect choice for those who want to take an off beaten track and enjoy a tranquil hiking experience.

Cons Of The Lemosho Route

Bit Expensive – Lemosho is one of the most expensive Kilimanjaro trekking routes. But if you want a more relaxing and quiet trekking adventure, then the extra costs will be worth it. 
Takes a Long Time – The ideal itinerary of the Lemosho Route is for 8 days. Some may consider this a drawback but this is a great advantage. Due to the extended time, your body will be able to acclimatize to the altitude range and you’ll avoid any serious illnesses.

Pros Of The Machame Route

Cost-Effective – Machame Route is the more popular choice among trekkers. Thus, this results in considerably reduced costs. So, if you want a more cost-effective Kilimanjaro Climb, then Machame Route is the way to go. 
Shorter Distance – The Machame Route is one day shorter compared to Lemosho, yet it has a great success rate. The seven-day itinerary involves a day of high-altitude ascend and low-altitude sleep. This aids in acclimatization and increases the odds of reaching Kilimanjaro’s summit.

Cons Of The Machame Route

Fewer Wildlife Sightings – Fewer wildlife sightings will be along the Machame Route. But, what it may lack in animals it more than makes up for it in the stunning vistas. The natural beauty of Kilimanjaro is in full flow along the Machame Route. 
More Crowded – The Machame Route has risen in popularity in recent years, so the trail has grown rather crowded. But, if you find comfort in having a large group of people around to share your trekking experience, then Machame is for you.

Starting Elevation Of Both Kilimanjaro Routes

The starting point of the Lemosho Route is at the Lemosho Gate which is to the northwest of Kilimanjaro’s summit. The Machame Route, on the other hand, has the starting approach from a southwestern point at Machame Gate.

This means that hikers on both routes first walk different trails, stay at different campgrounds, and enjoy different scenic landscapes.

Necessary Equipment And Supplies

When it comes to what equipment and supplies you need for Kilimanjaro, they are the same for both routes. So, make sure to include the following items in your Kilimanjaro Packing List.

BASIC EQUIPMENT FORR YOUR HEAD FORR YOUR HANDS AND FEET FORR YOUR UPPER BODY FORR YOUR LEGSOTHER MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS
DaypackSun HatLightweight GlovesInsulated JacketTrekking TrousersPlug Adapters
Waterproof Duffle BagBeanie style hatTrekking BootsHard shell outer jacket hardd Shell TrousersSun and Lip Screen
Trekking PolesSunglassesTraining SneakersSoft-shell/Fleece JacketMerino wool leggingsCamera and extra batteries and lenses
Sleeping BagHeadlampGaitersLong Sleeved ShirtInsulated Synthetic PantsTravel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste
ScarfWool/Ski HatFew pairs of socksThermal Base LayerHeavy Baselayer BottomsEar Plugs

Accommodation And Camping Options

One of the major differences in terms of surroundings and experience between both routes relates to the campgrounds of the early days. Before reaching Barranco Camp, hikers of the Lemosho and Machame Route stay over at different campgrounds.

  • On the Machame Route, the two itineraries diverge only after the Barranco Camp.
  • The six-day itinerary takes trekkers to Barafu Camp and skips the Karanga Camp.
  • Whereas, climbers of the seven-day itinerary make a stop at Karanga Camp.

Those hikers who Climb Kilimanjaro through the Machame Route stay at Machame Camp and Shira Cave Camp on their way to Barranco Camp.

  • Those who climb the seven-day Lemosho Route, stay at Mti Mkubwa Camp and Shira Two Camp before reaching the Barranco Camp.
  • While climbers of the eight-day Lemosho Route have a stay at Shira 1 Camp, Mti Mkubwa Camp, and Moir Hut.

Of all the campgrounds used by trekkers of both routes, Shira 2 Camp is known for its amazing location. Sunsets here are a thing of wonder. Moreover, situated high up on Kilimanjaro, Karanga Camp is a terrific site for both sunrises and sunsets. On the seventh day on the Machame route, you’ll get to stay at this camp. And, all trekkers on the Lemosho Route spend an overnight stay at the camp.

Acclimatization

Acclimatization is when your body adjusts to the reduced oxygen that normally comes with a higher altitude. To give your body enough time to adjust to the higher altitude, you should increase your elevation gradually. Both Lemosho and Machame Route offer great acclimatization. This is even truer when you choose the longer itinerary over the shorter one.

Lemosho Route Vs Machame Route – Deciding Factors

The Lemosho and Machame routes should be chosen based on the duration and length of the climb. The Lemosho Route takes 7 to 8 days to complete whereas the Machame Route takes 6-7 days.

  • If your budget permits and you want the simplest trekking path with less walking per day, then the 7-Day Machame Route itinerary works well.
  • And, if you have the time, choose the 8-Day Lemosho Route to strengthen your acclimatization process.

You should choose the Machame Route if you want a shorter climb. But, we advise that you climb for at least 7 days to better acclimate to the higher altitude conditions. This will also maximize your chances of reaching the summit.

Which Kilimanjaro Route Is Right For You?

We have a favorite preferred option regarding Kilimanjaro Routes and that is the Lemosho Route. But, you may have a different choice, based on your personal preference and needs. If you want the best scenic surroundings coupled with high success rates and great acclimatization, then Lemosho Route is a perfect choice. But, if you’re backed on time and want a more cost-effective Kilimanjaro Climbing Adventure, then the Machame Route offers just that. At African Scenic Safaris, we have itineraries for both of these Kilimanjaro Routes, so you can choose a route and go on a thrilling ascent up Kilimanjaro.

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Josephat Mashehe is a seasoned Kilimanjaro guide who offers his expertise to those looking to conquer Africa's highest peak. With years of experience under his belt, Josephat provides comprehensive guidance, ensuring a safe and memorable journey for adventurers. His services include detailed planning, safety measures, and on-site assistance, making him an invaluable asset for anyone aiming to tackle the challenging climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
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