The Shira Route is one of the less popular routes up Kilimanjaro. It is also one of the oldest routes on Kilimanjaro. The route starts at Shira Ridge, which is accessible by vehicle from Moshi or Arusha. This means that climbers skip the rainforest zone and start the hike at a higher altitude. Unfortunately, doing this is not good for acclimatization. For this reason, we do not offer the Shira Route unless you want to book it as a private climb. The summit success rate is around 50%.
The Shira Route traverses the entire Shira Plateau from west to east, passing through a variety of landscapes, including moorland, alpine meadows, and volcanic craters. The route then joins the Lemosho Route at Shira Two Camp, and climbers follow the Lemosho Route to the summit.
The Shira Route is a 7-day trek, and it is important to be well-prepared before attempting the climb. Climbers should be in good physical condition and have experience trekking at high altitudes. It is also important to be aware of the risks of altitude sickness and to take steps to mitigate the risk.
Trekkers are driven to the Morum Barrier at 11,171 feet. It is just a short hike to Shira One Camp at 10,400 feet from there.
The second day climbs up to the Shira Plateau, topped by the Shira Two Camp at 12,500 feet. From this vantage point, trekkers can take in spectacular views of Kibo Peak floating above the clouds.
The third day traverses the Shira Plateau eastward towards the Lava Tower—a 300-foot volcanic rock formation. Most groups will typically stop for lunch here before continuing. The route then joins the more popular Machame Route for the final push to the summit. The trail steepens and becomes rocky while ascending the Barranco Wall. Trekkers will scramble over large boulders and among alpine desert shrubs as they reach Barafu Camp at 15,200 feet.
The final trek begins at midnight to reach Uhuru Peak around sunrise. This is the “Roof of Africa” and a huge accomplishment. Descending back down the Mweka Route, hikers return to the base through beautiful forest zones.
Tips for climbing the Shira Route
These tips apply to all the routes on Kilimanjaro.
- Be well-prepared before attempting the climb. Make sure you are in good physical condition and, if possible, have experience trekking at high altitudes.
- Be aware of the risks of altitude sickness and take steps to mitigate the risk. Walk at a very slow pace to help with acclimatization.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Pack for all types of weather. Kilimanjaro can be unpredictable, so it is important to be prepared for anything.
- Bring a good camera to capture the incredible scenery.
- Hire a reputable guide and porter company. They will take care of all the logistics and help you have a safe and enjoyable climb.
The Shira Route is one of the oldest routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro. However, driving to 11,000 feet will severely limit your body’s ability to acclimate to the extreme elevation gain of Kilimanjaro. The Lemosho route follows the same route but starts in the rainforest and is the route we recommend to take instead of the Shira route. The Lemosho route has a much higher summit success rate—over 90%.