The Shira route is another path that approaches Kilimanjaro from the west, and it is nearly identical to the Lemosho route. In fact, Shira was the original route and Lemosho is the improved variation. While Lemosho starts at Londorossi Gate and treks through the rain forest to Shira 1 Camp, the Shira route bypasses this walk by using a vehicle to transport climbers to Shira Gate, located near the Shira Ridge. On the first day on the mountain, climbers begin their hike from 11,800 feet (3,600 m) and spend their first night at the same elevation at Simba Camp. Then, the route merges with Lemosho and follows the southern circuit route.
Although Shira is a varied and beautiful route, Lemosho is recommended over Shira due to the high altitude of Shira's starting point. It is possible that climbers will experience altitude related symptoms on the first day due to failed acclimatization. Climbers using Shira should be confident of their ability to acclimatize.
Day One: Londorossi Gate (2,100m/6,890ft) to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,750m/9,023ft) Elevation Gain: 650 meters, 2,133 feet Lemosho is ideal for climbers seeking a more private hiking experience. Although the trail joins with the more popular Machame route on the third evening, the first three days on the mountain are relatively quiet with few other trekking groups on the trail. On the first day, arrive at Londorossi Gate at about 11am. Spend about an hour at the gate while Topi Adventure registers your climb and the porters and guides make final preparations. Please note that the arrival time at the gate may vary depending on road conditions. After registering at the gate, drive to the trailhead and enjoy a picnic lunch before starting the trek to Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) Camp. Pass through the rain forests of Kilimanjaro viewing trees and birds along the way. Arrive at the campsite in the late afternoon and relax for the rest of the day.
Day Two: Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,750m/9,023ft) to Shira 1 Camp (3,720m/12,200ft) Elevation Gain: 970 meters, 3,177 feet Hike through the forest on day two for Kilimanjaro's moorland. This is the day that you will enjoy the greatest variety of Kilimanjaro's wildflowers. When the trail flattens out, you will have your first views of Kibo peak. After lunch, you will climb the Shira Plateau, created when Kibo's lava flows filled up the Shira crater. Stop at Shira 1 Camp, where you will relax for the rest of the day.
Day Three: Shira I Camp (3,720m/12,200ft) to Shira II Camp (3,840 meters/12,532ft) Elevation Gain: 120m, 332ft: This is an acclimatization day that allows you to take day hikes that explore the Shira Plateau. You will hike only a short while and gain just over 100 meters in elevation. Look to the west at sunset and you may catch a glimpse of the twin eruptions from the craters of Ol Donyio Lengai (The Mountain of God), an active volcano 100 kilometers distant.
Day Four: Shira II Camp (3,840m/12,532) to Barranco Camp (3,950m/12,960ft) Elevation Gain: 110m, 428ft; Although this up and down day ends with an elevation gain of only 110 meters, by early afternoon you will have climbed 690 meters to a height of 4,530 meters before beginning your descent to Barranco Camp. This day is crucial for acclimatization. After breakfast, continue east on the Shira Plateau for two hours before reaching the junction for Shira and Lemosho Routes. Continue on through the barren landscape for another thirty minutes before stopping for lunch. Shortly after lunch, reach the highest point of the day before descending quickly to Barranco Camp.
From the high point, spot Lava Tower, a 300-foot lava formation jutting out of the mountainside. Optional detour via Lava Tower. The descent to Barranco Camp will take you through a valley which is home to many unusual plants including the Senecio Kilimanjaro. Barranco Camp is considered to be the most scenic campsite on the route. It is set in a canyon among forests of Senecio Kilimanjai beneath the Heim glacier. From the campsite, enjoy magnificent views of Mount Meru, Heim Glacier, Kibo's southern face and the imposing Barranco Wall.
Day Five: Barranco Camp (3,950m/12,960ft) to Karanga Camp (4,200m/13,780ft) Elevation Gain: 250 meters, 820 feet; Leave Barranco Camp after breakfast for Karanga Valley. The day begins with an hour and a half scramble up the Barranco Wall. This is the hardest part of the day and in some places you may have to use your hands to pull your body up. After reaching the top, hike through fairly level terrain before making a short but steep descent into the greener Karanga River Valley. Karanga Camp is located on the ridge above the river valley.
Day Six: Karanga Valley (4,200m/13,780ft) to Barafu Camp (4,600m/15,100ft) Elevation Gain: 400 meters, 1,320 feet; After breakfast, begin the hike to Barafu Camp. On the way to Barafu, view several of Kibo's glaciers as well as the junction that connects the descent route, Mweka, with the Machame trail. During this day, hike by the Heim, Kersten and Decken Glaciers. Although the trail to Barafu passes through alpine desert with little vegetation, there are stunning views of Kibo and Mawenzi peaks along the way. Try to sleep as soon as you finish dinner as you will awake before midnight for your summit ascent.
Day Seven: Barafu Camp (4,600m/15,100ft) to Uhuru Peak (5,895m/19,340ft) to Mweka Camp (3,100m/10,170ft) Elevation Gain: 1,295 meters, 4,240 feet Elevation Loss: 2,795 meters, 9,170 feet Around midnight, begin the final ascent to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa. For the next six hours, hike by the light of your headlamp. The Machame ascent to the crater rim is the most challenging part of the entire six-day trek. The going is steep and slow until you reach the crater rim at Stella Point. The hike from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak is a gradual climb and, as far as hikes go, not very difficult. The altitude, however, makes it more challenging. The crater rim hike takes approximately forty-five minutes. Upon reaching Uhuru, take photos of your guide and group at the peak before beginning the descent to Mweka Camp. On the way down from Uhuru, enjoy breathtaking views of the mountain, crater, clouds and glaciers. At Barafu Camp, eat brunch, drink lots of tea, and take a short break. You still have another three to four hours to go before reaching Mweka Camp.
Day Eight: Mweka Camp (3,100m/10,170ft) to Mweka Gate (1,500m/4,920ft) Elevation Loss: 1,600 meters, 5,250; feet After breakfast, finish the trek with a descent to Mweka Gate. Your last hike on Kilimanjaro is a beautiful one, passing through Kilimanjaro's cloud forest. Watch your step during the descent as the trail can be slippery. Our vehicles will be waiting at the lower station of Mweka Gate to take you back to Moshi/Arusha. You will be able to buy t-shirts, souvenirs and sodas at the gate. Enjoy a picnic lunch at the gate before departing the mountain.