Below is a sample itinerary for the Shira route.
This 8-day route approaches Kilimanjaro from the west. A 4×4 vehicle transports us through a rich, lush rainforest until we arrive at the ridge of the Shira Plateau, where our expedition begins. We trek across an alpine plateau and traverse the great Southern Icefield, before summiting from Barafu Hut. The Shira route is ideal for those with backpacking experience and those seeking a more challenging adventure.
8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS
Arrive anytime at Kilimanjaro Mountain Resort. in Moshi Tanzania. With prior arrangement, airport pick up and private transfers to the hotel are available from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). We will gather in the evening for a pre-climb briefing and an equipment check. We will also confirm you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.
We take a ride to Londorossi National Park gate to complete the necessary registration formalities, before driving a short distance on a steep track through farmland and plantations (9,200 ft). We continue climbing steadily on foot through shrub forests and stands of giant heather to reach the rim of Shira Plateau (11,000 ft). The views across the surrounding plains open up as we approach our first camp, Simba Camp (11,600 ft).
[4-5 hours walking]
Today is an easy day to help acclimatization and to explore the grassy moorland and volcanic rock formations of the plateau. We walk to the summit of Shira Cathedral (12,300 ft), a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles. There is a tangible sense of wilderness here, especially when the afternoon mists roll in. From our camp near Shira Hut (12,600 ft), we take in the unforgettable views of Mt. Meru as she floats among the clouds.
[4-5 hours walking]
The morning walk is a steady climb away from the moorland of Shira Plateau to reach the broad upland desert beneath the Lent Hills, with expansive views in all directions. After lunch in our camp close to Moir Hut (13,800 ft), there is the option of a more strenuous afternoon walk to reach the summit of the Lent Hills (15,400 ft). We can explore the area beneath the Northern Icefields, a remote place rarely visited by tourists, with unusual views of Kibo. Few visitors get to this remote corner of Kilimanjaro.
[3-6 hours walking]
We enjoy a morning of gentle ascent and panoramic views, walking on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch at our Lava Tower (14,900 ft), there is a steep but spectacular afternoon walk on the rocky lower slopes of the Western Breach. This afternoon excursion is highly recommended for acclimatisation purposes and for the superb views of hanging glaciers on both sides of the Breach.
[4-6 hours walking]
A steep descent into the bottom of Barranco Valley (12,800 ft) leads us to the famed Barranco Wall and its steep climb. At the top the undulating trail crosses the flanks of Kibo with superb vistas of the Southern Icefields. The terrain is volcanic scree, with pockets of vegetation in sheltered hollows, and a powerful sense of mountain wilderness. Our next camp is at Karanga Camp (13,100 ft), the last water point on the approach to the summit.
[5-7 hours walking]
We follow an easy path on compacted scree with wide views that gains altitude unrelentingly to reach Barafu Hut (14,800 ft) for lunch. There is a short acclimatisation hike to the plateau at the bottom of the southeast valley (15,700 ft). The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the early morning final ascent.
[3-5 hours walking]
We start our ascent by torchlight about 1 a.m. so that we can be up on the crater rim by sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (18,800 ft), in about five or six hours. We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the two-hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (19,345 ft), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshments, we continue to descend to reach our final campsite, Millenium Camp (12,500 ft).
[11-15 hours walking]
A sustained descent on a well constructed path takes us through a lovely tropical forest alive with birdsong and boasting lush undergrowth with considerable botanical interest. Our route winds down to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate at Mweka (5,400 ft); and on through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village [4-6 hours walking], where we are transferred to hotel in Moshi.