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Considered the most scenic trail on Mt Kilimanjaro, the Lemosho route boasts panoramic vistas on various sides of the mountain. The route approaches Mt Kilimanjaro from the west, beginning with a long drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate.
Afterward, the first two days are spent trekking through the rainforest to Shira Ridge. In a pleasant, relatively flat hike, the Lemosho plateau crosses the entire Shira Plateau from west to east. The crowds are usually low until the route joins the Machame route near Lava Tower, then from there, the route transverses underneath Mt Kilimanjaro’s southern ice field on a path known as the Southern Circuit before summiting from Barafu. The descent is made through the Mweka route.
Here’s what to expect on your 10-day climb.
The six-day Lemosho route variation is not recommended because it is difficult to cover the distance and elevation in the allotted time.
Specifically, on day 2, the journey from Forest Camp to Shira 2, is rather long and has an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. It would not be unusual for climbers to have symptoms of altitude sickness while only on the second day of the climb due to the quick pace.
Secondly, day four combined with day five makes for a very tough schedule. Day four is a full day of trekking from Barranco to Barafu. Then after dinner and a partial night’s sleep, the very long and strenuous summit day begins around midnight. The 6-day Lemosho route requires 19-24 hours of demanding walking, at extremely high elevation, with only 4-6 hours of sleep.
Arrival and Departure: Kilimanjaro International Airport
Upon arrival at Kilimanjaro Airport, you will be warmly welcomed by one of our experienced drivers and your Mountain Guide who will escort you to your reserved hotel in Arusha Town.
Overnight at Zawadi House on Bed and Breakfast
Elevation (m):915 m/1387 to 2,250 m to 2,000 m to 2,750 m
Height (ft): 3,000 ft/4921ft to 7,380 ft to 6,560 ft to 9,020 ft
Distance: 18 km,
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitation: Montane Forest
Drive from Arusha to the Londorossi Park Gate. From here follow a forest track in a 4WD vehicle for about 11 km/7 mi (45 minutes) to Lemosho Glades and a possible campsite. From the Glades, walk for 3 hours along beautiful forest trails to the Mti Mkubwa (big tree) campsite.
Elevation (m): 2,750 m to 3,500 m
Height (ft): 9,020 ft to 11,485 ft
Distance: 12 km
Hiking Time: 5 hours
The trail gradually steepens, enters the giant heather moorland zone, then crosses the Shira Ridge at 3,600 m/11,810 ft and drops gently to Shira Camp 1 located by a stream on the Shira
Elevation (m): 3,500 m to 3,840 m
Height (ft): 11,485 ft to 12,600 ft
Distance: 6 km,
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Habitation: Alpine Desert
A gentle walk across the plateau leads to Shira Camp 2 on moorland meadows by a stream. A variety of walks are available on the plateau making this an excellent acclimatization day.
Elevation (m): 3,840 m to 4,630 m to 3,950 m
Height (ft): 12,600 ft to 15,190 ft to 12,960 ft
Distance: 15 km
Hiking Time: 7 hours
After breakfast, you will hike east up a steepening path above the highest vegetation toward Kilimanjaro’s looming mass. After several hours, you walk through a rocky landscape to reach the prominent landmark called Lava Tower at 4,630 m/15,190 ft. This chunky remnant of Kilimanjaro’s earlier volcanic activity is several hundred feet high, and the trail passes right below it. For extra credit, the sure-footed can scramble to the top of the tower.
After a lunch stop near Lava Tower, descend for 2 hours below the lower cliffs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall to Barranco Camp at 3,950 m/12,960 ft. There are numerous photo opportunities on this hike, especially if the walls are festooned with ice. Barranco Camp is in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Walls, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for your dinner. On this day, be careful to notice any signs of altitude sickness.
Elevation (m): 3,900 m to 4,200 m
Height (ft) : 12,800 ft to 13,780 ft
Distance: 7 km
Hiking Time: 4 hours
Habitation: Alpine Desert
After breakfast, we continue up a steep ridge to the great Barranco Wall, then you climb this imposing obstacle, which turns out to be easier than it looks. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you can now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. With Kibo’s glaciers soaring overhead, you descend into the lush Karanga Valley to the Karanga Valley campsite. From the camp, you can look east and see the jagged peaks of Mawenzi jutting into the African sky.
After a hot lunch in camp, your afternoon is at leisure for resting or exploring. After two long days, this short day is very important for your acclimatization, since your summit push is about to start.
In the morning, you hike east over intervening ridges and valleys to join the Mweka Route, which will be your descent route. Turn left toward the mountain and hike up the ridge through a sparse landscape for another hour to the Barafu Hut where you will receive a hot lunch. The last water on the route is in the Karanga Valley; there is no water at Barafu Camp, even though Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice.”
The famous snows of Kilimanjaro are far above Barafu Camp near the summit of the mountain. Your tent will be pitched on a narrow, stony, wind-swept ridge, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. Prepare your equipment and warm clothing for your summit climb, and drink a lot of fluids. After an early dinner, go to bed for a few hours of precious sleep.
You will rise around 11:30 PM, and after some steaming tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. Your 6-hour climb northwest up through heavy scree between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers to Stella Point on the crater rim is the most challenging part of the route for most climbers. At Stella Point (5,685 m/18,650 ft) you stop for a short rest and a chance to see a supremely sanguine sunrise. At Stella Point, you join the top part of the Marangu Route but do not stop here too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue. Depending on the season and recent storms, you may encounter snow on your remaining hike along the rim to Uhuru Peak.
On the summit, you can enjoy your accomplishment and know that you are creating a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. After your 3-hour descent from the summit back to Barafu Camp, you will have a well-earned but short rest, collect your gear, and hike down a rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest to Mweka Camp (3,100 m/10,170 ft). This camp is in the upper forest, so you can expect mist or rain in the late afternoon. Dinner and washing water will be prepared, and the camp office sells drinking water, soft drinks, chocolates, and beer!
After a well-deserved breakfast, it is a short, scenic, 3-hour hike back to the park gate. Don’t give your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely, but do remember to tip your staff at the gate. At Mweka Gate, you can sign your name and add details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Climbers who reached Stella Point are issued green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak receive gold certificates.
From the Mweka Gate, you will continue down to the Mweka Village, possibly a muddy, 3 km, 1-hour hike if the road is too muddy for vehicles. In the Mweka Village, you will be served a delicious hot lunch after which you are driven back to Arusha for an overdue hot shower and comfortable night in a nice hotel.
Overnight at Zawadi House on Bed and Breakfast
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Airport for your onward flight.
“End of service”.
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