The Marangu Route is the oldest on Kilimanjaro and is also one of the most popular mainly because it is the only route on the mountain that has huts provided for hikers. There are 60 bunk beds each at Mandara and Kibo Huts, and 120 bunk beds at Horombo Hut. Typically tour operators provide mattresses and pillows for climbers (sleeping bags however, need to be brought separately by trekkers). The Marangu route can be completed in 5 days; however, it is recommended that climbers take an extra day to acclimatise at Horombo Hut. The main setback on the Marangu Route is that the ascent is exactly the same as the descent and therefore there is not as much variety in settings compared to other routes. It also means that the route can get very crowded. The Marangu Route success rate also tends to be low as it is usually chosen by inexperienced and unprepared trekkers who are misled to believe it is the easiest route.
The Marangu Route is also known as the Tourist Route and the Coca-Cola Route. This is because Marangu is the most popular route on the mountain, and thus is considered touristy, and because the route is the only one that offers sleeping huts, which serve beverages like Coca-Cola, on the way. Marangu is the easiest route on Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s ascension profile is very gradual and steady, allowing for painless trekking for most of the way. However, due to its reputation as an easy route, Marangu is often selected by unprepared, unexperienced climbers. Correspondingly, only about 35% of the people actually make it to the top.
The trek begins in the south-east area of the mountain at Marangu Gate. The route takes five days minimum to complete, although six days is more practical and recommended. The sleeping huts along the route are structures with a dining hall and bunk beds, equipped with mattresses and pillows. The descent is done on the same path, contributing to Marangu overcrowded feeling. It is a cheaper climb as well, do to the close proximity of the gate to Moshi, the gateway town, and because it is a shorter route.