September 1, 2016

Shira Route

The Shira route on Mt. Kilimanjaro, is one of the least used initial ascent routes on the mountain, partly because of its remote location. The climb begins at a high elevation, Morum Barrier Gate at nearly 12,000 ft. (3600 m). Thus, you have to start slow and easy on this route. You start your trek in the heather zone, bypassing the wet forest behind, and immediately find yourself on the first day of the trek on the Shira Plateau.

The first day of your Kilimanjaro climb is simply short to begin the acclimatization process. You spend the next two days hiking across the plateau, which is said to be one of the most stunningly beautiful hikes in Africa. The plateau itself is grassland, heath and moor, and is home to especially large senecias (up to 10 meters high). On the plateau, one can often see elands, sometimes buffaloes, leopards and other animals. The Shira Cone, which is an ancient crater, rises about 200 meters above the plateau. Along the southern ridge of the Shira Plateau there are two dramatic peaks, Cathedral and the Needle. All of these create fantastic scenery to enjoy on this route.

The  Shira route trail  eventually merges with Machame Route on day three. From this point all the two  trails continue to Lava Tower, and then down into the Great Barranco Valley, where the Umbwe route joins from the south.


The road to the starting point of Shira Route is  only accessible by 4-WD vehicles and can become impassable during the wet seasons (when it might be necessary to start from a lower point). But the drive itself to the trailhead offers spectacular views of the Great Rift Valley and the surrounding mountains including Mt. Meru and Longido. It follows the ancient Shira rift zone, an array of parasitic cones on the flank of the volcano. The vegetation changes dramatically along the way are striking.

Day 1 Arrival

Arriving at Kilimanjaro International Airport,after customs and immigration formalities, you will be transferred to your hotel in Arusha for overnight.

Day 2  Transfer to gate – hike to Shira 1 camp (3505 m)

After breakfast, you will be collected from your hotel in Arusha and transferred to  Londorossi gate (ca. 4 hrs transfer), where you will complete Kilimanjaro National park entry formalities. Afterwards  continue by car to Morum Barrier Gate (ca. 1 hr). where you will have your lunch. Thereafter you begin your Mt. Kilimanjaro climb trekking through heather and moorland to the first camp (ca. 1-2 hrs). You will find that the views over to Kibo across the Plateau are breathtaking. Overnight at Shira 1 camp

Day 3  Shira 1 – Shira 2 (Fischer’s) camp (3900 m)

Today, you have a full day to explore the Shira plateau, with a slow trek eastward towards Kibo’s glaciered peak. The Shira plateau is considered as one of the highest plateaus on earth and it averages  12,500 ft. You have a chance to visit the ancient collapsed cone of Shira volcano (the oldest of Kilimanjaro’s 3 volcanic centers). Total trekking time: ca. 3 hrs.Dinner & Overnight at Shira 2 Camp

Day 4  Shira 2 – Barranco camp (3976 m)

After breakfast, you will  have a steady climb  over vast rigdes to “Lava Tower” , here, you will have your  lunch (ca. 4 hrs). Lava Tower, a 300 ft volcanic plug, marks an exposed pass at 15,000 ft. In the afternoon, you will have to descend the steep trail into the Great Barranco Valley. Your camp at Barranco is set in a valley enclosed on 3 sides with the massive walls of the valley itself and the massif of Kibo. Hanging glaciers glint in the sunshine above,- an eerie landscape known for its rare plants such as the Giant Groundsels (Seneciao Kilimanjari) and the uniquely endemic Giant Lobelia. Total trekking time: 6-7 hrs.Dinner & Overnight at Barranco Camp

Day 5  Barranco camp – Barafu camp (4673 m)

If you decide to take the 6-day itinerary option, you will trek 3-4 hours and stop in the Karanga Valley for a hot lunch. Afterwards, in the afternoon, the trail turns steadily uphill. The temperature will start growing  colder and the landscape more sparse as you approach Barafu Camp. Your Barafu Camp is set on a small, explosed flat area on a ridge and is the usual base camp from which you will make the summit attempt at midnight tonight. It’s essential to eat and especially drink as much as possible before retiring to your tent for rest and sleep. Overnight at Barafu Camp

Day 6  Barafu camp – Stella Point (5790 m) – Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – descend to Mweka camp (3068 m)

Your chef will prepare a  hot drink, which you will take very early this morning. Expect a  midnight wake-up call which will be the start of a juggernaut (12-17 hrs of trekking). At around 1 am, you will start trekking; Here temperatures usually range from just below freezing at midnight to somewhere between -12 deg. C (10 deg. F) to -23 deg. C (-10 F.) on the summit just before dawn.

As you proceed with ascent at a slow pace, you will come across winding path of endless switchbacks which  will slowly take form and shape in the shadows of the Ratzel and Rebman glaciers at early dawn, and behind you the spires of Mawenzi are silouhetted against the red glow of the sun rising behind the clouds.

6 hrs of slow walking uphill, brings you  to the edge of the crater: Stella Point, at an elevation of  19,000 ft (5790 m) on the crater rim, it is the end of the steep part of the hike. From here, the you will have a gentle slope towards  Uhuru Peak (ca. 1 hr), the true summit of Kili at 19,340 ft (5896 m). The strength it takes to ascend this final piece is for many monumental. Spend  a short time at the summit, before you start descending. The path goes down a steep scree slope back to Barafu Camp where you will rest  for a short time , before you have to summon your strength to continue your further descent to Mweka Camp for the last night on the mountain. Dinner & Overnight art Mweka Camp

Day 7  Final descend – Transfer to Arusha

Your last descent to mweka gate, is an easy 2-3 hours trek that will take you through a beautiful rain forest to go down the final parts of the trail back to the Mweka Gate. Here, you will be awarded your Kilimanjaro certificate , and have lunch, thereafter you will  say goodbye to many of your crew, and start your return journey to  Arusha where a day room to freshen will be provided till evening when you will be picked up by your driver and transferred to Kilimanjaro International Airport to board your International flight. However  your Tanzania trip will not be complete without booking one of our popular wildlife safaris to Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro crater or Tarangire park

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