This is the longest and most remote route to Kilimanjaro. After beautiful forests and moorlands it crosses the Shira Plateau to meet up with the Machame Route. Groups may be accompanied on the first day by an armed ranger as the forests around the Lemosho Glades are rich in buffalo, elephant and other game. The South Circuit is then followed, offering superb views of the Southern Ice fields, past the Barranco Hut then on to Barafu and hence the summit. Descent is by the Mweka Route.
Day 1: LEMOSHO GATE to MTI MKUBWA (8,692 ft.)
Hike time: 3hrs, Elevation Change + 650 M
Estimation distance: 10 km Final Elevation 2650 M
A three-hour drive from our Hotel brings us to the Londorossi Park Gate located on the western side of Kilimanjaro. At the gate, we pick up our game ranger who will accompany us, as we might encounter elephants and buffaloes during our trek. We drive to the trailhead at Lemosho Glades and start our trek through the rain forest. In places, the vegetation is so untouched that it grows right across the narrow track. The flora and fauna are richer here than on the other more popular routes through the rain forest. Our trek today will be along a little used track known as Chamber’s Route. In about 3-4 hours, we reach our camp in the rain forest at Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree).
Day 2: MTI MKUBWA to SHIRA ONE CAMP (11,841 ft.)
Hike time: 5 – 6 hrs, Elevation change + 950 M
Estimation distance: 12 km Final Elevation 3,610 M
After breakfast, we start the climb cross the remaining rain forest towards the giant moorland zone. Today is a full day trek with an altitude gain of 2,000 ft. A great lunch stop is One, a beautiful valley just outside the Shira Crater at around 10,000 ft. After lunch, we cross into the Shira Caldera, a high altitude desert plateau that is rarely visited. Shira is the third of Kilimanjaro volcanic cones, and is filled with lava flow from Kibo Peak. The crater rim has been decimated by weather and volcanic action. Today you will get your first close views of Kibo – the dramatic summit of Kilimanjaro.
Day 3: SHIRA ONE CAMP to SHIRA TWO CAMP (12,500 ft.)
Hike time: 3-4 hrs, Elevation change: +400 M
Estimated distance: 5 km Final elevation: 3900 M
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. Arrive at Shira 2 camp (Fischer’s Camp); Shira is one of the highest plateaus on earth. Trekking time without the optional excursions is about 3 hours.
Day 5: SHIRA TWO CAMP to BARRANCO (13,044 ft.)
Hike time: 7 hrs,
Estimated distance: 11 km Final elevation: 3990 M
Today is the last of the “easy days”. It is about a 7-hour superb hike. We pass the Lava Tower, around the southern flank of Kibo, and slowly descend into the spectacular Barranco Valley, interspersed with giant lobelia and senecia plants. After arriving at our most spectacular campsite, everyone stands in awe at the foot of Kibo Peak, looming high above, on our left. Our camp is only 465 feet higher than where we were last night, but during the day, we will have climbed to just over 14,000 feet. This is one of our most valuable days for acclimatization.
Day 5: BARRANCO HUT TO BARAFU CAMP (15,332 ft.)
Hike time: 8 hrs, Elevation change: +640 M
Estimated distance: 9km, Maximum elevation: 4600 M
On the eastern side of the valley, across the stream is the Barranco Wall – a 950 ft. barrier of volcanic rock. Although it is tall and looks steep, it is very easy to climb. This is our first challenge of the day. The views from the wall are nothing less than magnificent. The rest of the day is spent skirting the base of Kibo peak over our left shoulder. We descend down into the Karanga Valley, stop for lunch here and continue on. First thing, you will be making a steep hike out of the valley. The air starts getting quite thin, and you will be running short of breath. It is a tough, but rewarding uphill to the rocky, craggy slopes at the camp. Barafu means, ice in Swahili, and it is extremely cold at this altitude. So, go to bed early because we will be waking you at midnight for the final leg to Uhuru Peak.
Day 6: BARAFU to Crater Camp (5730m)
At around 5-6am you are woken up and you’ll start the ascend to the crater in daylight, well after most other groups have left (at midnight). The ascent to the edge of the crater at Stella Point at 18,870 ft (5750 m) will take about 5-6 hours, along a winding path of endless switchbacks.
From here, there is a gently sloped trek of 30 min-1 hour across the lunar landscape of the inner crater to reach the Crater Camp. Our camp is set in soft sands near the retreating vertical ice walls of the Furtwangler glacier. Rest and enjoy snacks and hot drinks in the mess tent, then opt to explore the strange lunar landscape of the inner crater, to include a visit to Reusch Crater, the ash pit, and the glaciers. Only few that trek Kilimanjaro ever experience the summit zone in this way. Accommodation: Crater camp (B, L, D)
Day 7: UHURU PEAK (19,340 ft.) to Mweka CAMP (9,550 ft.)
Rise early to watch the sunrise from the summit, it will take you about 1hour from the crater camp.
Descent is far less tiring, it’s a good idea to have a little rest once in awhile as you continue down to Mweka camp (3-4 hours from the top).
Day 8: MOSHI
Descent time: 4 hrs, Elevation change: -1250M
estimated distance: 10km, Final elevation: 1828 M
In the morning we walk down to the road head. This takes about 3 – 31/2 hours. After a welcome lunch, it is time to say “kwaheri” to the porters and earn a good rest and hot shower! Transfer to Arusha coffee Lodge for dinner and overnight.