Total hiking distance: Approximately 90 kms via Londorosi or 100kms via Lemosho.
Shira approach route is separately referred to as Lemosho or Londorosi depending on the village trail one uses to get to Shira. Lemosho approach route is a longer alternate trail to Londorosi but the two trails soon meet at the Shira (1) camp and become one. From the drop-off point on Lemosho route, one requires 2 days to reach Shira (1) camp while it takes a few hours to get to the same camp using the Londorosi (Shira) route. This makes the Lemosho trail a favourite for trekkers with more time and those seeking for better acclimatisation. The Shira approach to Mount Kilimanjaro is one of the most beautiful routes up the mountain. In sharp contrast to the conventional Marangu route, accommodation on the Lemosho /shira routes is strictly in tents making it better suited to the slightly more adventurous hiker. The route however rewards the trekker with a scenic splendor such as not seen on the Marangu route - from late afternoon sunsets at Shira, to the misty revelations of Kibo at the great Barranco Wall, the Shira route offers the adventurous hiker a stunning picturesque scenery over 7 or 8 days depending on your start point. Shira route is normally completed in a minimum of 7 days if you start at Londorosi or 8 days if you opt for Lemosho. There is an added benefit to this longer trekking route, it affords the climber the most valuable commodity on the mountain - additional acclimatisation and our itinerary provides valuable acclimatisation by having extra, but shorter walking days during the trek.
Trip tips: Accommodation on this trip is in a comfortable Hotel before and after the climb and camping throughout in specious mountain tents. Guides leading the trek always walk along with the climbers and closely monitor the trekker’s adjustment to altitude. All your equipment will be carried by local porters, you only carry a day-pack with personal gear. When camping you will not have to participate in camp chores. We buy fresh produce locally and to ensure good standards of hygiene all food is prepared by our own staff. We can cater for special dietary requirements and there are no extra food-kitty payments.
9 or 10 days Itinerary for Shira route (ex – Nairobi) - For the 10 days option via Lemosho trail, we simply include an additional day within the Lemosho forest and camp at Muti Kubwa (Big Tree) - 2300m on the first day of the trek instead of going directly to Shira (1) camp as is the case with the Londorosi trail. By so doing it allows for more acclimatization and better Montane forest exploration.
Day 1: Nairobi – Arusha by road.
Depart from Nairobi in the morning hours and drive for 4-5 hours via Namanga boarder to Arusha. On arrival have lunch then take the rest of the afternoon to sort out your trek gears. Dinner and overnight at Lush Garden Hotel or similar.
Day 2: Drop off point (2200m) - Shira (1) Camp (3,500m)
Hiking time: 6 - 7h Distance: Approximately 5kms Habitat: Montane forest to moorland
After breakfast you get a briefing followed by a drive 3-4 hour drive to the Londorosi Park gate. After completion of park entry formalities you are drive farther on to the drop-off point on Londorosi /Shira route from where we set off climbing gently through the western slopes of the mountain OR drive to Lemosho village to start the hike at the forest boarder through Lemosho forest. Today we ascent through the original montane forest, carpeted with unique "busy lizzie" flowers, begonias and ferns taking us 3 hours and ascending 1,300m if we take the more direct route to Shira (1) through Londorosi, (This same camp is reached in 2 days if we take the Lemosho forest trail). Your porters arrive at campsite ahead and erect tents for you. Night temperatures can already drop close to freezing point at this first camp.
Day 3: Shira (1) camp (2980m) - Shira campsite (3840m)
Hiking time: 5-6h Distance: Approximately 9 kms Habitat: Moorland
In 3 hours we emerge from the giant heather zone and out onto fine open moorland. We then continue up a rocky ridge onto the Shira plateau. By now you’re able to see the east the Western Breach with its stunning glaciers. After another 2-3 hour hike we reach the Shira campsite at 3,840m. We've seen herds of eland up here and there are fascinating geological features in the old volcanic caldera which can be viewed during a half hour optional walk in the afternoon. At camp the crew boils drinking and washing water for you before serving dinner. The night at this exposed camp will even be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.
Day 4: Shira (at 3840m) to Lava Tower (at 4630m) to Barranco camp (at 3950m)
Hiking time: 7h Distance: Approximately 15 kms Habitat: High altitude semi-desert
Gain: +790m / -680m
From Shira the trail now heads due east into high altitude semi desert of rocky landscape surrounding Lava Tower and reach an altitude of 4630m in about 4-5 hours. (This is definitely the toughest day so far and normally at this altitude some climbers will start to feel the effects of altitude). After lunch we descent almost 680m into the sheltered Barranco Valley for mid-way camp at 3,950m. In another 2hours. Elevation of todays camp from Shira is only 110m - but having climbed much higher and dropped back down assists acclimatisation immensely. The descent to Barranco camp offers great opportunities to take some beautiful photographs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall. The camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which also provides a memorable sunset while we wait for our dinner.
Day 5: Barranco camp (3950m) - Karanga Valley camp (4000m)
Hiking time: 3-4h Distance: Approximately 7 kms Habitat: Alpine desert
After Breakfast we make our way up the Great Barranco wall that’s an awesome looking obstacle and emerge out just below the Heim Glacier with some sections of very easy scrambling and drop down again to the Karanga Valley. This is a short walking day, 3-4 hours, with an optional acclimatisation hike in afternoon up onto the scree below the glaciers. Overnight camp is set within the Karanga Valley at an altitude of 4000m.
Day 6: Karanga Valley camp (4000m) - Barafu Camp (4,750m)
Hiking time: 4h Distance: Approximately 7 kms Habitat: Alpine desert
Today we trek up to a new camp about 150m above Barafu Hut perched high on a rocky bluff at 4,750m. “Barafu is “Swahili for ice and this is a bare and savage camping area to spend the night. Totally exposed to the ever-present windy outbursts requiring tents to be pitched on a narrow, stony, and treacherous ridge -fantastic views though across to Mawenzi peak, and a bit less to climb tomorrow morning! This is another short walking day, about 4 hours only, with less exertion and a good rest in afternoon immediately before the hard summit day. (Karanga valley happens to be the last water stop on the route – so remember! carry enough supplies for Barafu Camp and the summit trek. The summit is now a further 1345m farther on from Barafu and we make this final ascent this same night - make sure to familiarise yourself with this ragged terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. Prepare your equipment, ski stick and thermal clothing for your summit attempt. This should include the replacement of your headlamp and camera batteries and make sure you have a spare set available as well. To prevent freezing it will be wise to carry your water in a thermal flask. Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get some precious rest and sleep.
Day 7: (Summit attempt). Barafu camp (4550m) - Uhuru Peak (5895m) - Mweka (3100m)
Hiking time: 8h to reach Uhuru Peak, 7 - 8h to descend to Mweka Distance: Approximately 7 kms ascent - 23 kms descent Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
Ascent: +1345m Descent: -2795m
We arise at 2330hrs, for some tea and biscuits before we shamble off into the night to climb the steep frozen scree heading in the northwesterly direction to reach Stella Point on the crater rim. After a 6-hour laborious walk we reach Stella Point (5685m.) for a beautiful sunrise (weather permitting) and in another hour we’ll be at the highest point on the continent - Uhuru Peak (5895m) usually in warm sunshine. Time spent at the summit depends on prevailing weather conditions. Advise: Avoid stopping here for too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue.
We return on the Mweka descent route. Walking time today 7 hours and 1,300m ascent to the summit, 5-6 hours and 2,800m descent to Mweka camp (3100m). Mweka camp is in a clearing amongst the giant heather of the upper forest where mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. This is a long and hard day - you'll feel tired but absolutely ecstatic after you've done it.
Day 8: Mweka camp (3100m) - Mweka Gate (1980m)
Hiking time: 3h
Distance: Approximately 15 kms Habitat: Forest
After breakfast is a 4-5 hours descent through the forest to Mweka Gate to collect our certificates and meet our vehicle. Return to Arusha by road for ovenight and cerebrations at Impala Hotel or similar.