Day 1 Lemosho/Forest Camp
Day 2 Forest Camp/Shira Camp
Day 3 Shira/Heather Camp
Day 4 Heather camp/Lava Tower Camp
Day 5 Lava Tower/Arrow Glacier
Day 6 Arrow Glacier/Crater camp
Day 7 Crater Camp/Summit/Mweka camp
Day 8 Mweka camp/Mweka Gate (park entrance)
Shira Route is unique for having several variations both in the starting of the climb and the final days of the summit. It is a very scenic route enjoying beautiful views of Mt. Meru and the Masai Steppe and a chance of seeing wild game. The climb begins from a trailhead at Londorossi in Western Kilimanjaro. Park Authorities recommend driving up a steep road in a 4WD to the gate on Shira Plateau at 2700 meters, an altitude already too high for climbers who have yet to acclimatise.
Some of the more knowledgeable and discerning operators have started routes that approach from the Lemosho Glades and Forest to ensure a gentler ascent to the plateau, taking an extra day or two in doing so. The Lemosho approach is very exclusive and allows for acclimatisation through rainforest. Together with the Western Breach summit it is used only by the top operators with very discerning climbers.
The Shira Plateau allows for acclimatisation walks and even technical climbs of the Shira Needles, before continuing.
The route heads to Machame from where there are two options;
1.Continue the Southern Circuit Machame Route i.e. Barranco, Barafu, Stella or
2. Follow the Western Breach Route along the western slope of Kibo Massif to Lava Tower, Arrow Glacier and Summit Crater Camp.
The Western Breach Route is more demanding route may require crampons in June/July because of heavy snowfall. It is still non-technical but is shunned by all except the more serious of operators.
Shira Route’s last advantage is that its last camp is the highest of the camps on the mountain at 18500 feet and clients arrive there for lunch. This leaves the afternoon free for exploratory walks to the Ash Crater etc and taking them higher than the point at which they sleep, the most important aid to acclimatisation. From here, it is a mere two hours to the summit. This means that with a slow approach, most climbers who reach this camp will summit successfully and without illness.
We drive to the roadhead at Lemosho Glades to start a few hours of gentle walking through the forest to our camp.
Overnight Forest Camp (2727m)
After breakfast, enjoy a slow walk through the forest into the Hagenia zone. As the vegetation begins to thin out, we approach Shira Plateau, one of the 3 craters of the Kilimanjaro volcanic massif. From our camp at Shira, we can see the Shira needles and the distant form of Mount Meru, 4545M.
Overnight Shira Camp (3330m)
Sunrises from Shira are just spectacular. They reveal the distant snow-capped crater. Climbing into the alpine heather zone, we approach Kibo from the west, to our private camp. Today’s shorter walk allows for further exploration of the lobelias, senecios and other plants.
Overnight Heather Camp (3788m)
With vegetation getting sparser and sparser, we approach the Alpine Desert Zone. Very few living things survive in the Alpine desert but for some tough lichens and tussock grasses. Temperatures alternate between scorching heat during the day and freezing temperatures.
Tonight, our Camp is set below the Lava Tower, an imposing monolith from Kilimanjaro’s volcanic past.
Overnight Lava Tower Camp (4330m)
Lava tower early mornings come with fantastic views of Mt. Meru, Kibo and the Western Breach. This is an imposing wall on the mountain and constitutes our climb for the next 2 days.
We slow down the pace for acclimatization. Today’s short walk takes us to our camp at Arrow Glacier at the base of the breach.
In the afternoon we have time to ‘walk high’ to ‘sleep low’ before a fantastic sunset before we retire.
Overnight Arrow Glacier Camp (4690m)
Today, we have another early start for a 6 hrs slow ascent to the top of the Western Breach. Atop, we slowly traverse a crater to our Crater Camp to rest and prepare for the summit climb tomorrow.
Overnight Crater Camp (5545M)
Day 7 Crater Camp – Summit (5860m)
Crater camp is closest camp to the summit having a final 2hrs hike to the crater summit then a further 10 minutes to Uhuru Summit, where we arrive in time for an awesome sunrise, and fantastic views f the African plains in all directions. We then descend and arrive at Mweka Camp after a 7 hrs trek.
Overnight Mweka camp (3090m)
Descend from Mweka camp to the base, 5 hrs arriving before noon to be awarded with certificates for a successful climb Mount Kilimanjaro.