As you probably already know, there are several routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro, but which one do you choose? Climbing Kilimanjaro is a difficult adventure, so choosing the right route for you is essential in making your climb a success. Furthermore, a longer route increases your chances of making the summit. These longer routes allow your body more time to acclimate to the extreme elevation gain associated with climbing Africa’s tallest mountain.
For that reason, one route we recommend over all others is the 8-Day Lemosho route. It has fewer people than the Machame route, has a more than 90% success rate due to its ideal “climb high, sleep lower principle”, and in our opinion is the most spectacular route on the mountain.
Below are the other three major routes we offer as a group climb. Follow each link to read more about the individual routes.
Lemosho Route Highlights
Some of the highlights of the Lemosho route are the Shira Cathedral. It is one of the highest points on the Shira Plateau. It is also one of the three volcanic cones of Kilimanjaro. Kibo and Mawenzi are the other two.
From The Cathedral’s high point, you get an amazing view of the rainforest below. You may also see Mount Meru, and with a bit of luck a good view of the summit of Kilimanjaro.
In addition to the Shira Cathedral, you also get great views along the way, from Lava Tower to the stunning Barranco Valley and its waterfalls and Giant Groundsel trees, and the intimidating Barranco Wall itself.
At Lava Tower the Northern Circuit departs the Lemosho Route, but the Machame route joins with it. You’ll lose the few people that are climbing on the Northern Circuit. Yet gain a lot more people who are climbing via the most popular route—the Machame route.
The Lemosho route begins on the western side of the mountain. It starts at the Lemosho gate. The trek starts by climbing through the lush rainforest for a day and a half before reaching the wildflowers of the Moorland region. After traversing the Shira Plateau, you’ll make your summit push from the southern side of the mountain from Barafu Base Camp.
We recommend booking your flight to arrive at least the morning before your climb starts or two evenings prior. It is difficult to get a trip briefing and proper rest if you arrive the evening before your climb. Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) is 45 minutes from your lodging. We will pick you up from JRO (for a fee) and take you to your hotel, or you can take a taxi.
During the trip briefing, we will make sure you have the required equipment, perform your initial health check, and that you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 1
Day one starts early. From the hotel, we will drive you to the Londorossi National Park gate to sign into the park. The porters will also weigh and check the gear. From there you’ll continue driving through the cultivation zone to the Lemosho trailhead (7,000 ft) where you’ll eat lunch. After lunch, you’ll begin your trek to Lemosho Forest Camp (8,700 ft). The climb is steep, but manageable, with wonderful views of the rainforest. The rainforest is home to the Blue and Columbus Monkey and you may catch glimpses of them as you hike along. After three hours or so of hiking, you’ll camp for the night. At dinner, the guides will perform the daily health check and give a quick briefing of what the next day will entail including how much water to bring. The hike is about 2.9 miles and you gain 1,700 feet of elevation.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 2
On day two the trek continues through the rainforest until the trail turns and suddenly the jungle trees are gone and you are surrounded by the giant heather shrub of the Moorland zone. The trail continues to climb steadily up rolling hills. You’ll be surrounded by expansive views until you reach the Shira Plateau. Once there, the trail continues along this relatively flat, rock plain toward your camp at Shira I (11,600 ft). Hiking this day takes 6-7 hours, covers 4.9 miles, and goes up roughly 3,000 feet.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 3
Today is an easier day. The route is designed to allow your body to acclimate to the elevation. You’ll start at camp and climb west to the volcanic rock formations of Shira Cathedral (12,800 ft.). You’ll rest a bit here and eat, admiring the stunning views. After lunch, you’ll continue to Shira II camp, which is a bit lower (12,600 ft). This campsite has some of the best views of the summit. The view of Mount Meru floating on the clouds is simply unforgettable. You’ll hike for 4-5 hours, cover 9.9 miles and ascend about 1,000 feet.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 4
From camp, you’ll ascend gradually up to Lava Tower, the highest point of the day. You’ll take a break and eat lunch. You will have views of the treacherous Western Breach and may even witness one of the frequent rock slides. After lunch, you’ll descend into the Barranco Valley to Barranco Camp (13,000 ft). It is one of the best camps on Kilimanjaro. Barranco Camp sits in the shadow of the infamous Barranco Wall and is situated along a cliff face that allows clouds to swirl up into camp as they journey toward their destination. You’ll hike 5-7 hours, cover 6.3 miles, yet only be about 400 feet higher than Shira II camp even though you climbed as high as 15,100 feet at Lava Tower.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 5
Day five starts with a lung-burning ascent of the 800-foot Barranco Wall. The ascent takes a minimum of 45 minutes but can be much longer depending on the number of people ahead of you. At the top, you’ll stop and admire what you just accomplished gazing back down on Barranco Valley. Continuing, you’ll be treated to the views of Southern Icefield above you until you reach Karanga Camp (13,100 ft). This camp is the last water point on the way to the Summit. After this, the porters will bring water from below. You’ll hike 4-6 hours over 3.2 miles and again camp will be just a few hundred feet higher than the previous night.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 6
On day six, you’ll follow an easy trail on scree with far-ranging views of the countryside below. You’ll gain elevation rapidly as you ascend to your next camp—Barafu Hut (14,800 ft). If you are up for it, there is a short acclimatization hike to the plateau at the bottom of the southeast valley. The rest of the day is spent preparing for summit night. You should spend the afternoon resting as much as possible before you head to bed for the evening. The hike takes about 3-5 hours, covers 3.4 miles, and gains 1,700 feet.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 7
Summit Night: You will be woken by the guide around 11 PM (Actually Day 6) and begin your ascent by headlamp. Your goal is to reach the crater rim by sunrise. You’ll plod along at a slow and steady pace up switchbacks for about six to seven hours until you reach Stella Point (18,800 ft). At Stella, you’ll take a short break before you begin your final push to the Summit. It takes about two hours to make the roundtrip from Stella Point to Uhuru Peak. The Summit of Kilimanjaro is 19,341 feet high. Along this final leg, you pass close to the Southern Glaciers on your left and be able to gaze down into the Reusch Crater of Kibo on your right. Once at the Summit you’ll spend about 45 minutes resting, eating, and waiting for your turn to take a photo at the sign. Don’t waste this time, take a lot of photos and videos.
Once you begin to descend, it goes fairly quickly down a scree slope to Barafu Hut. Once there you’ll eat, and possibly take a short nap before continuing down to the final campsite, Mweka Camp at 10,000 feet. This is the longest day, you’ll be hiking for 11-15 hours over 10.4 miles. You’ll gain 4,155 feet and lose 9,300 feet.
KILIMANJARO: DAY 8
After breakfast, you’ll begin the remainder of your descent through the rainforest to the Mweka Gate at 5,400 feet. You’ll be entertained by singing birds and crazy primates swinging through the trees saying goodbye to you as you finish your journey. Once your guide has checked you out, you’ll travel through coffee plantations and fields of bananas and avocados as you head to a restaurant to celebrate your accomplishment and bid farewell to your guides and porters. After the celebration, you go back to your hotel. The hike takes 4-6 hours, descends 5.14 miles, and loses 4,800 feet.
After breakfast, you’ll either be driven to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) or picked up for your safari.
Of all the routes, we feel the Lemosho route is the prettiest. The views combined with the great success rate make climbing Kilimanjaro on the 8-Day Lemosho route the best option. However, whatever route you choose, we know you’ll have an amazing climb. Join us for a magical adventure to the Roof of Africa.