Climbing Kilimanjaro Lemosho Shira – TKLEM
The Kilimanjaro Lemosho Glades route is perhaps the least used when climbing the famous mountain. It is partly because of its remote location and difficult roads leading to the trailhead. The trailhead is at relatively high elevation, so we start slow and easy.
The trail merges with the Shira Route and later with the Machame Route. From this point all three trails continue to Lava Tower, and then down into the Great Barranco Valley, where the Umbwe route joins steeply from the south. The trail then circumvents counter-clockwise around the upper slopes of the Kibo massif, over the high-desert ridges to the Karanga Valley, then to an exposed campsite set on a high ridge, Barafu (meaning literally “ice” in Kiswahili). From Barafu Camp we make our overnight attempt at Africa’s highest peak…an experience that few ever forget.
Subsequently, we start slow, and gain altitude slowly for the first four days, then the physical and mental demands increase. The trek from Barranco to Barafu and then the overnight trek to the Uhuru summit is a serious challenge due to the short amount of time to rest before the overnight summit attempt. Overall, the distance covered and the intensity of the final few days make this trek a good choice only for the experienced hiker. Finally, the many changes of scenery and spectacular hike across the Shira Plateau make this trek truly special.
Kilimanjaro Lemosho Shira Itinerary
Day 1 Moshi
Arrival in Arusha or Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to Moshi. This is the town located at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. Begin preparations for climbing. Dinner and overnight is spent at the hotel.
Day 2 Lemosho Trailhead (2375m) – Forest Camp (2895m)
Depart for Londorossi gate, where you will complete entry formalities, then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Commence climbing upon arrival at trailhead. Proceed through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp, about 3-4 hours of trekking. Buffalo and elephant sightings are possible on the first day trekking through the forest. The trail is often overgrown from lack of use. Overnight is spent at Forest Camp (Mtee Mkubwa Camp).
Day 3 Shira Camp (3720m)
Once out of the forest, take a steep track into a Savannah of tall grasses, heather, and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. Ascend through the lush rolling hills below the Shira plateau, finally reaching camp at the edge of the plateau, a day of 5-6 hours trekking. The view of Kibo from across the plateau is amazing. The route leads up to the western edge of the Shira Plateau. Most noteworthy, the hike across the plateau is said to be one of the most stunningly beautiful hikes in Africa.
Day 4 Shira 2 Camp (3950m)
Today is a full day exploration of the Shira plateau. Trek east toward Kibo’s glaciered peak, with the option to visit the ancient collapsed Shira cone, the oldest of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanoes. Shira is one of the highest plateaus on earth, averaging 3800m. Trekking time without the optional excursions is about 3 hours.
Day 5 Barranco Camp (3950 m)
Proceed steadily upward over expansive ridge lines of high desert to Lava Tower, about 4 hours. Lava Tower, a 100 meter volcanic plug, marks an exposed pass at 4500m. In the afternoon, descend the steep track into the Great Barranco Valley. Barranco Camp is set in a valley enclosed on three sides with the massive valley walls and the Kibo massif itself. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above, amidst the eerie landscape of plants such as the giant groundsels (Senecio Kilimanjari), and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. Consequently, trekking time is 6-7 hours.
Day 6 Barafu Camp (4630m)
The day begins with a scramble up the steep ‘Barranco Wall’. The trail then traverses up and down the slopes of valleys which have carved their way into the mountain’s southern face. Kibo’s glaciers loom above to your left and the jagged peaks of Mawenzi jut into the African sky at just under 5100m straight ahead. We reach the Karanga Valley after 3-4 hours of trekking. In the afternoon, the trail turns steadily uphill. Subsequently, the temperature will grow colder and the landscape more sparse as we near Barafu Camp. It is set on a small, exposed flat area on a ridge. The camp acts as base camp from which you will make your summit attempt at midnight tonight. Eat and drink as much as possible before retiring to your tent for rest.
Day 7 Uhuru Peak (5895m) – Mweka Camp (3110m)
Today is epic, with 12-17 hours of trekking. For that reason, a midnight wake-up call gets you started. The temperatures range from just below freezing at midnight, to between -12 C to –23 C (10 F to –10 F) just before dawn at the summit. The winding path of switchbacks will take form and shape in the shadows of the Ratzel and Rebman glaciers at early dawn. Behind you, the spires of Mawenzi will be silhouetted against the red glow of the sun from beneath the clouds. After about 6 hours of walking, you will come to the edge of the crater. Stella Point, at 5790m on the crater rim, is the end of the steep track. From here, there is a gentle slope about 1 hour to Uhuru Peak. The strength it takes to ascend this final 100 m is, for many, monumental. Finally, after a short time at the summit, descend the steep scree trail back to Barafu Camp for some rest. Then summon your strength again for further descent to Mweka Camp for the night.
Day 8 Mweka Gate (1830m)
Descend straight to the gate for 2 – 3 hours, where you’ll have lunch and be awarded climbing certificates. Ultimately, you will be transferred to base hotel to rest as well as celebrate. Relax over dinner and well earned overnight stay.
Day 9 Moshi – Airport or Arusha
After breakfast, you will be transferred back to Arusha or Kilimanjaro International Airport. Undoubtedly, you will carry lifelong memories of your adventure on Mount Kilimanjaro.