Shira Route, Tanzania Climbing Tour Itinerary
Day 1:Londorossi Gate/Shira trail head - River Camp (~3050 m/~10000 ft)
Walking distance: 7 km/4.4 miles
Walking time: 4 hours
Altitude gain: ~950 m/~3100 ft
The starting point for the Shira Route is the Londorossi Gate. It is a two to three hour drive to get there and on this first day you may well spend more time driving and waiting around at the gate than you will be walking.Londorossi looks like something pulled out of a cheap Western. The place is entirely made out of wood. The high timber fences you see are supposed to keep the wildlife out.That already indicates another advantage of taking one of these lesser trafficked routes. You do indeed have a better chance to see some wildlife on the first days, though this applies to Lemosho more than to Shira.What follows after the registration at the gate is unusual: you keep driving. The Shira Route is the only Kilimanjaro climb route that you can follow in a car, at least for part of the way on day one. Theoretically you could drive all the way to the Morum Barrier at the foot of the Morum Hill.
You follow the Ngarenairobi River as you leave the forest and enter the next vegetation zone: moorland and heather. Your first campsite is located between the road and the river.If you choose to walk, then the first day takes you up to six hours or much less, depending where exactly you start walking.
Day 2: River Camp - Shira Huts (3850 m/12630 ft) via Shira Cathedral
Walking distance: 12 km/7.5 miles
Walking time: 6-8 hours
Altitude gain: 800 m/2630 ft
The next day begins with a steady climb up the slope towards the Morum Hill and Morum Barrier. This is where the Shira Plateau begins (and half of the climbers begin their Shira trek). The road continues after the gate, but only emergency vehicles are allowed here.You now start heading south east on a mostly flat path across the plateau. In another two hours you reach the junction of the Shira and the Lemosho Route, the location of the Simba Cave Campsite (3590 m/11780 ft) on the side of the Simba River. Not long after you pass the turn off to another campsite, called Fischer Campsite (3885 m/12745 ft), which is some way off the main trail.
There is an alternative route to get here, a detour past the Shira Cathedral and a climb to its summit (3720 m/12200 ft). The huge buttress of rock is surrounded by steep needles and pinnacles. It's scenic area with a real sense of wilderness, certainly worth the detour.For those who didn't make the detour there are still the great views from camp: Shira Needle, Cathedral and Shira Hill, and Kibo itself and the Western Breach.
Day 3: Forest Camp (2750m) – Shira 1 Camp (3540m)
Day three offers even more options than the first two days did, though initially all climbers follow the same trail:
The day starts with a good two and half hours of walking mostly gently uphill (and scrambling a bit for two short sections). Following the slope of the Shira Plateau you gradually leave the heather and moorland behind and enter the mostly barren alpine desert region, enjoying breathtaking views all the way.Soon you come across the first junction. One option is to add an acclimatization day here and continue your trek to Moir Huts (4140 m/13579 ft), thirty minutes off the main trail. This is a scenic and quiet campsite in a valley surrounded by steep slopes, possibly the quietest camp on the mountain. If your operator takes you here you will arrive around lunch time and spend the afternoon exploring the Lent Hills, including an acclimatization walk to 4700 m.
After a much deserved lunch break near the Lava Tower you descend into the beautiful Barranco Valley, the result of a massive landslide some 100,000 years ago. The valley is sheltered by towering cliffs and is much greener. There is vegetation again, most notably the giant senecios and lobelias. You have great views across the plains way below and you also get your first glimpse of the Barranco Wall. You will climb that tomorrow.Whether climbers reached the Barranco Camp via Machame, Shira, Lemosho, or even on a special route around the northern circuit, from this point onwards all climbers follow the same trail.
Day 4: Walking distance: 5.5 km/3.5 miles
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Altitude gain: 55 m/185 ft
We begin the day by descending into a ravine to the base of the Great Barranco Wall. Then we climb the non-technical but steep, nearly 900 ft cliff. From the top of the Barranco Wall we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into Karanga Valley. One more steep climb up leads us to Karanga Camp. This is a shorter day meant for acclimatization.
Day 5: Karanga Camp - Barafu Huts (4680 m/15360 ft)
Walking distance: 3.5 km/ 2.2 miles
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Altitude gain: 640 m/2105 ft
We leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. We continue up to the rocky section to Barafu Hut. At this point, you have completed the Southern Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day. The two peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo are viewable from this position.
Day 6: Summit attempt via Stella Point (5752 m/18871 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m/19340 ft) and descent to Millenium Camp (3820 m/12530 ft) (or to Mweka Hut)
Walking distance: 5 km/3 miles ascent + 10 km/6.2 miles descent
Walking time: 5-6 hrs + 1-2 hours up, 5-6 hours down (the overall walking time may vary from 10 - 16 hours)
Altitude gain: 1072 m/ 3511 ft (Stella Point) or 1215 m/3980 ft (Uhuru Peak)
Descent: 2075 m/6810 ft
Very early in the morning, we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. Near Stella Point (18,900 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.
Day7: Millenium Camp - Shira Gate
Walking d istance: 20 km/12.5 miles
Walking time: 5 hours
Descent: 1990 m/6530 ft
On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Moshi.