- Transfer to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate
- Arusha (1,450m) → Londorosi Gate (2,250m)
The start of your exciting Kilimanjaro journey begins from your hotel pick-up in Arusha (or Moshi). You will depart early to arrive by Londorosi Gate on the western side of the Kilimanjaro National Park by mid-day.
During the drive, enjoy the green scenery of coffee and banana plantations. Nearer to Londorosi Gate, you’ll find yourself surrounded by pine plantations – sad evidence of the past destruction of the indigenous rainforest which used to engulf the gate until few decades ago.
At the gate, you will be registering with the Kilimanjaro National Park authorities. Expect to linger around for approximately an hour to two while all equipment and supplies get distributed amongst your porters and weighed to ensure fair porter treatment practices.
Once formalities are taken care of, it’s time to head back into the car to drive to the start of your exciting journey at Lemosho Gate.
- Short transfer to the start of the climbing track
- Londorosi Gate (2,250m) → Lemosho Gate (2,100m)
Once formalities are taken care of, it’s a short drive to Lemosho Gate where your hike begins. During the wet season, the road may be too muddy for the vehicles, so there’s a chance you may walk the last remainder.
In the past, spotting wildlife in this area used to be a possibility with animals such as elephants and buffalo. However, it is no longer the case, and armed rangers are no longer needed.
As you approach Lemosho Gate, you’ll be entering into the montane rainforest zone, and the rich air along with the greenery will be a pleasant greeting!
- Lush rainforest alive with monkeys and birds
- Lemosho Gate (2,100m) → Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,650m)
After a long day of driving and waiting, you’ve finally arrived and the adventure begins. Today will be a short, but steep, hike to the first camp. It will take you through the lush and green rainforest that sits towards the bottom of Kilimanjaro.
The air is misty and dense, and your surroundings are nothing short of breathtaking. Be on the lookout black-and-white Colobus Monkey troops that frequent the area; you’ll want to snap some photos of the lively bunch.
The trail may begin as muddy, and despite the rainforest technically called a montane forest, it doesn’t diminish the fact that you could be rained on quite suddenly. So be sure to have your rain gear at an arm’s length!
As you arrive at your first camp on the mountain after a short hike, you may be surprised to find your camp fully set up by your porters who work hard, seemingly like invisible ferries to us, to make sure that all we need to do is enjoy our climb.
Mti Mkubwa is also known as the “Big Tree Camp” and you’ll know why immediately. Situated under a big tree, the camp is alive with the sounds of monkeys and birds; many of whom you will hear through the night, and in the early morning.
- A long day up and across the vast Shira Plateau
- Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,650m) → Shira 2 Camp (3,850m)
Today will be a long and fairly challenging day, climbing up the Shira ridge and crossing the vast Shira Plateau.
As you start your day, the hike begins to take you through the tail-end of the rainforest zone. Looking around, trees become tall grass as you approach the low-alpine moorland zone. It’s a thrilling sensation to cross these two separate climate zones, and you feel like you’re teleporting into a separate part of the world.
The trail begins to gradually steepen as you ascend the Shira ridge to the top of the Shira Plateau – one of the highest plateaus in the world. This part of your journey will be steep and challenging, so breaks are encouraged. Take your time to appreciate the enticing views afar that come with the Lemosho Route.
Once you reach the edge of the Shira Plateau, you will be treated for your hard work with panoramic views of Kibo and the Shira Cathedral. From here, it’s only a short hike down to Shira 1 Camp where you will stop for lunch to rest and refuel.
The second half of the trek will take you across the Shira Plateau which will be more gradual than the morning with a fair amount of flat-ground walking. Watch out for a few specimen of the curious Dendrosenecio trees, also known as Giant Groundsels, towards the end of your hiking day.
Shira 2 Camp is host to stunning views of the valley, with the Western Breach of Glaciers hanging grandly above. Be aware that the site sits exposed on the plateau and temperatures can reach below freezing at night, so make sure you have your hats, gloves and flashlights ready when the sun sets.
- An easy day in wilderness
- Shira 2 Camp (3,850m) → Moir Hut Camp (4,200m)
Today will be another fairly easy day that will get you to your next camp before noon. This will leave you enough time to rest, enjoy the wilderness, or go for a walk around camp in the afternoon.
Instead of heading straight from Shira 2 Camp to Moir Hut, you may also have the option today to climb up to the majestic Lava Tower at an altitude of 4,600 meters. Please discuss this option with your guide. If you feel sufficiently strong and the option is available to you – which it usually is in private tours, or if everyone in your group agrees to do so — we highly recommend the detour to Lava Tower due take full advantage of its acclimatization benefits. To learn more about it, please also read the following itinerary steps for Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower and Lava Tower to Moir Hut (both of which are optional).
- Acclimatizing to the thin air at Lava Tower
- Moir Hut Camp (4,200m) → Lava Tower (4,600m)
The morning climb brings you to the majestic Lava Tower, an ancient plug that was left by the active-volcanic days. Although the walk is not too steep, it is nonetheless a long and strenuous one due to the high altitude. Your body will begin to notice the decrease in oxygen.
On this part of the journey, the landscape becomes more barren and even the heather disappears, only to be replaced by rocks and lava ridges. At the peak of your journey, you will have climbed 4,600 metres to the Lava Tower, also known as the Shark’s tooth. This covers an altitude distance of approximately 750 metres from Shira 2 Camp.
Your new surroundings at Lava Tower will consist of a high altitude desert, with no vegetation and pools of rocks, scree and dust as far as the eye can see. You’ll need a few warm layers on this part of the journey as it can be prone to cold winds, ice and mist.
Symptoms of altitude sickness are common here, but don’t worry because this is one of the reasons why you have come here: to allow for proper altitude acclimatization.
- Descending into the picturesque Barranco valley
- Lava Tower (4,600m) → Barranco Camp (3,900m)
After a break at Lava Tower to get the full benefit of your efforts and acclimatize to the thin air, you’ll being your descent into the beautiful Barranco valley. The valley was formed by a mudslide 100,000 years ago, and the climb down offers picturesque views of the Barranco Wall (which you will climb tomorrow). The descent into the valley will feel like a step backwards, after having worked hard all day to reach higher altitudes.
It is important to take it easy as you descend as parts of the journey can be a little slippery, with a lot of scree as you make your way down. For much of the journey, the alpine desert will seem to stretch into infinity until you get to the Great Barranco Valley. As you get nearer and nearer to Barranco Camp, the landscape gradually gets greener as you revisit the mystical Dendrosenecio forest.
Barranco Camp hosts views of Kibo, the Western Breach, and the beginning of the southern glaciers – a well deserved treat after the hard work you’ve done that day.
- Into thin air and alpine desert
- Barranco Camp (3,900m) → Barafu Camp (4,673m)
This part of the journey is a long one and involves a fair bit of climbing, so get ready to scramble. But as with all the challenging pathways up Kilimanjaro, the effort is rewarded with spectacular views and a lifetime of memories.
You will start your day by scaling the iconic Barranco Wall which is as challenging as it is beautiful. The Barranco Wall is very steep, and a fair bit of scrambling may be necessary. However, despite its famed difficulty, with regular breaks and an easygoing pace, you’ll be triumphant when you see the awe-inspiring views from the top.
Once you reach the highs of the wall, you will be greeted by the heart-melting sight of the Heim Glacier. Take a moment to stop and soak in the beautiful sights around you and the sense of achievement you will feel when you have conquered the wall.
Then it’s back down again as you descend into the narrow Karanga Valley. This windy and cold gully is also lush and green; a nice switch from the previously barren and rocky landscape. After descending through the valley, it’s a small ascend up to the Karanga Camp. At this point, you might have to say goodbye to other climbers who stay here overnight as the path from Barranco to Barfu is sometimes split into two days.
As you make your way up to the Barafu Camp, you’ll notice that the dusty black volcanic rocks and ashes gradually give way to the high alpine desert. Cold winds and icy temperatures are common here and you will definitely want to ensure you have your layers on.
On a clear day, the sunlight casts a golden glow over the summit, as a sombre and beautiful reminder of the journey ahead.
- All the way the top (almost)
- Barafu Camp (4,673m) → Stella Point (5,756m)
Today is an early start for the moment you’ve been waiting for – your final push to the top of Kibo. One of the benefits of staying overnight at Crater Camp is that you can conquer the top of Kilimanjaro in daylight rather than overnight. However, it will still be an early start just after sunrise, to leave enough time to explore the Crater in the afternoon.
Even though summiting in daylight will feel a lot less frigid than overnight, be sure to pack thick gloves and extra warm gear as the wind will still feel icy even during the day. And make sure to apply extra thick sunscreen and bring your sunglasses as the sun is getting ever more intense the higher you climb. Snacks are encouraged as well to maintain energy throughout the long day.
Once you’ve strapped on your boots, you will head out of Barafu Camp. These small cliffs will cause you to scramble around a bit, but you will soon reach the bottom of your next challenge: the climb to Stella Point. Stella Point rests at the top of Kibo, and to hike up to it will be hard work. A series of switchbacks through volcanic scree will test you. Be sure to find YOUR appropriate momentum, and focus on taking it one step at a time.
The air will become thinner, and altitude sickness may begin to hit you. Each step will take all your focus and energy. Exhausted or euphoric climbers who summited overnight and make their way down as you struggle uphill will test your patience. Your final push to the top may seem endless and time seeming to work against you, but rest assured that it will come to an end. Knowing that you'll be able to enjoy the roof of Africa without the crowds will be your reward for all the hard work.
What satisfaction as you reach Stella Point at the top of Kibo! Congratulations! You’ve already conquered an impressive feat and will receive your climbing certificate for making it to this point. Even though Stella Point is not yet the summit, and the excitement of Uhuru Peak is still waiting for you the next morning, you can already be proud that you’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro!
- Lunar landscape, glacier and ash pit
- Stella Point (5,756m) → Crater Camp (5,739m)
After the euphoric moments at Stella Point, the fun continues as you get to walk to Crater Camp. The morning was hard on your body, and luckily Crater Camp isn't far, situated only 150 meters (510 feet) of descent away. Set in soft sands, the camp is located near the impressive ice walls of the Furtwangler Glacier. The campsite is the highest on Kilimanjaro, located at 5,740 meters (18,800 ft). After replenishing your energy levels over a well-deserved break in the mess tent, the lunar landscape is yours to explore with the Reusch Crater and ash pit located only an hour away. After your accomplished day, what a treat to be able to experience the majestic offerings on the top of Kilimanjaro that so few climbers ever get to see!
- Sunrise at the summit
- Crater Camp (5,739m) → Uhuru Peak (5,895m)
If climbing all the way to Stella Point wasn’t enough, it's time to scale the very top of Mount Kilimanjaro – Uhuru Peak. You will rise early to reach the summit by sunrise. However, while your body may be aching from the day before, it will be nowhere as challenging because the peak is only 150 meters (510 feet) of ascent away, and won't take more than one or two hours at most.
Dawn is approaching as you push yourself to the highest point of Mt. Kilimanjaro and of Africa – Uhuru Peak. The opportunity to see the new day’s climbers and the sunrise from the summit is a privilege that you won’t soon forget. Take some pictures, pat yourself on the back, hug your companions and enjoy the glistening pink and orange sunrise hues overlooking the ice fields and glaciers. The rolling clouds splash against the noble beauty of Kibo – it’s a sight you won’t soon forget.
- Half way down into thicker air
- Uhuru Peak (5,895m) → Mweka Camp (3,100m)
Make sure to take lots of photos and soak in the views as you won’t be staying up long at Uhuru Peak. Your guide will make sure to bring you back down to thicker air soon after you’ve reached the peak of your journey. While climbing thus far may have seemed to be the hardest part, you’re day has only just begun.
After making it all the way up to the summit of Uhuru Peak, you will still feel that lingering sense of euphoria that comes with such a magnificent achievement. Now the challenge is to make your way down to Mweka Camp, which sits at 3,100 metres – an an altitude drop of almost 2,800 metres. As you make your way down, you will find that the descent is tough on your knees, which will by now be feeling the impact of your climb up this formidable mountain. To ease the strain on your knees, make good use of your walking poles.
For the initial part of your journey down from Stella Point, you will encounter fields of sand and scree, which can be particularly challenging to navigate your way through. Gaiters are once again essential here, to prevent some of the glacial scree making its way into your boots! There are different ways you can tackle the scree. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can simply slide or ski down the scree slopes, which is a fun and quick way of conquering it! If you’re not comfortable with that, simply walk slowly down the scree, although this will add additional time onto your journey.
Your slope then turns into rocks before you reach Barafu Camp. Rest and eat to regain some energy. However, don’t rest too long. You still have over 3 hours to go. As you descend, you’ll notice that some of the plants and greenery starts to reappear and the surroundings are not as barren as it has been in recent days. You’ll pass by Millennium Camp which is located just above the tree line. Sometimes, you may camp here if the descent further down is just too challenging to handle – discuss this with your guide beforehand to see if it’s possible.
But Mweka Camp is only two hours further, located in the upper part of the rainforest zone, which brings with it a very welcome increase in oxygen and moisture in the air. You will be feeling tired and worn from the journey by the time you reach your camp for the night, but this is normal. Conquering Kilimanjaro is far from easy and you can take solace from the fact that you have completed a challenge that you’ll remember for a lifetime. Finally, you’ll be able to get some well earned rest and relaxation, and celebrate the completion of this important milestone of your journey.
- All the way back down through the forest
- Mweka Camp (3,100m) → Mweka Gate (1,640m)
The euphoria from yesterday’s achievement will linger today and give you a high that will last for some time to come. Conquering Mount Kilimanjaro is not easy and the challenge associated with climbing it is legendary. Today’s walk is a pleasant one and it will take you through the beautiful greenery of the rainforest as you steadily continue your downward descent. The atmosphere will resemble prehistoric times as you make your way through the 20 foot fern trees in the rainforest. You will venture through the moorlands and the montane rainforest, which bears similarities to the first stop on Kilimanjaro and you will once again greet the different bird species and monkeys that you encountered on your way up. At this point tiredness and bruised knees may drain your enthusiasm little, but you will still feel the pride in your accomplishments. The temperature will be a little warmer and more humid by this point, in contrast to the ice caps and the glaciers experienced over the last few days.
Soon even the jungle will gradually start to fade in favour of dirt tracks and the return of civilisation, which signals your arrival at Mweka Gate – the exit of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. Once you have reached this point, your journey across Kilimanjaro will have concluded and you will be satisfied in the knowledge that you have reached the summit and finally conquered this tough but beautiful mountain.
Once you arrive at Mweka Gate and you have completed your walk, it will be time to bid farewell to your crew. It is customary to tip your guides, cook and porters for their assistance during your trip before you are transported back to your hotel. Please check the tipping procedure and tipping ranges recommended by your tour company before the start of your climb.
- Transfer to your hotel (or airport drop-off)
- Mweka Gate (1,640m) → Arusha (1,450m)
After your exciting conclusion at Mweka Gate, you surely can’t wait to get back to your hotel for a well-deserved shower. The scenic drive back to Arusha (or Moshi) takes you through coffee and banana plantations, and is serene as you reflect on your adventure.
Arriving at your hotel, you’ve finished the magical journey, and it’s time to sift through photos, brag to your friends, and reminisce fondly on those life-long memories that you’ve just made.