The Lemosho Route is a very scenic hiking route, starting on the western slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro before merging with the Machame Route half way through. It leads you through a lush rainforest, past the eerie Dendrosenecio forest and up the vertiginous Barranco Wall. The altitude profile of the Lemosho Route is ideal for acclimatization, allowing climbers to hike to higher altitudes during the day than they’ll be sleeping overnight.
We recommend the 8-day Lemosho Route for its optimal altitude profile and duration leading to a fairly high summit success chance. The Lemosho Route also boasts some of Kilimanjaro’s best scenery. Please just be aware that the Lemosho Route is not as off-the-beaten-track as often portrayed. It has become more and more popular in recent years and merges with the busy Machame Route half-way to the summit, so expect to share your climb with others.
- Transfer to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate
- Moshi (831m) → Londorosi Gate (2,250m)
The start of your exciting Mount Kilimanjaro journey begins from your hotel pick-up in Moshi (or Arusha). 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.
- First views afar from above the tree-line
- Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,650m) → Shira 1 Camp (3,610m)
Today you will be climbing up the Shira ridge to reach the Shira Plateau; the trail will be very steep, so breaks are encouraged.
The trail will begin to lead you out of the rainforest and into the savannah. Before you know it, you’ll be met with tall grasses, heather, moorland and volcanic rock that is laced with lichen. As you hike up through the hills, and cross varying streams, you’ll notice the enticing views afar that come with the Lemosho Route.
After a few hours of walking uphill, you reach the top of the Shira Ridge onto the Plateau where you are treated to a panoramic view of Kibo and the Shira Cathedral. From here, it’s only a short hike down to camp, allowing for plenty of rest before the next day.
Be aware that the Shira Plateau can be below freezing at night, so make sure you have your hats, gloves and flashlights ready when the sun sets.
- Crossing the vast Shira Plateau
- Shira 1 Camp (3,610m) → Shira 2 Camp (3,850m)
Today’s hike will take you across the Shira Plateau, maintaining a very manageable incline for the majority of the trek. With Kibo in your sight, you get to have breathtaking views of the free-standing mountain glistening in the distance.
After you’ve crossed the Shira Plateau, watch out for a few specimen of the curious Dendrosenecio trees, also known as Giant Groundsels.
Your guide may leave you with the option to hike up to the Shira Cathedral, or head straight to the next camp. If you choose to see the cathedral, you won’t be let down. The cathedral is approximately an hour and a half away from the trail and was caused by an ancient eruption. To get to see it up close is a scenic treat, and some say it’s the highlight of their trek!
If you don’t choose to see the cathedral, you will arrive at your camp by mid-day. Use your afternoon to go for a walk further up the mountain. The higher you hike during the day before returning to your camp at a lower altitude, the better you will acclimatize to the thin air.
- Acclimatizing to the thin air at Lava Tower
- Shira 2 Camp (3,850m) → 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.
- Scrambling atop the (in)famous Barranco Wall
- Barranco Camp (3,900m) → Karanga Camp (3,995m)
Waking up, you may feel anxious about climbing the famous Barranco Wall today. However, do not fret, as it is less of a climb and more of a scramble!
You will arrive at the wall soon after breakfast, and as you follow the zig-zagged path to the top, you may need to use your hands as you steady yourself up the wall. The climb takes approximately 1 hour and a half, but don’t forget to look back and enjoy the views as you ascend the wall.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Heim Glacier and Kibo. Snap a photo, take a break, and 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. You’ll navigate through another series of zig-zags and rocky terrain, but at this point you will be well-trained from the morning.
Arriving at Karanga Camp, the afternoon is yours to relax, explore, and take in the surroundings. If lucky, you can catch a glimpse of the malachite sunbird, a dazzling sight to see!
- Into thin air and alpine desert
- Karanga Camp (3,995m) → Barafu Camp (4,673m)
Today you will be climbing up to your base camp for the final summit push. You may start to be feeling butterflies in anticipation of your big summit night. Within less than 24 hours, you’ll be standing on the top of Africa!
On this part of the adventure, you will make your way through the strange and mystical alpine desert as you slowly ascend upwards. Here you will be surrounded by rocks, dust and stones in a bleak and barren landscape, surrounded by glaciers. Extra care and attention as well as sturdy footwear is advisable because of the loose, flat stones and chunky rocks that you will encounter on your way up.
Barafu Camp is perched upon an exposed ridge at an altitude of 4,673 metres. From Karanga, this represents an altitude difference of 678 metres. You will pass through the desolate desert landscape with the Decken and Kersten glaciers visible after you leave Karanga and slowly make your way to the coveted Barafu Camp. After a while you will descend into a valley and get a glimpse of the Rebmann glacier – a small remnant of an enormous icecap which once enthroned the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Temperatures can be chilly in this part of the mountain, so be sure to wrap up warm and drink plenty of hot drinks where possible.
Once you reach your destination, you will need plenty of rest – because tonight is the big summit night. Even though you may not be feeling hungry due to the altitude, try to eat as much as possible to gain strength for your summit push. After an early dinner, it’s time to get your gear ready for your early wake up, and to catch as much sleep as you can.
- Final summit push through the night and sunrise on top of Africa
- Barafu Camp (4,673m) → Uhuru Peak (5,895m)
Today is an early start for the moment you’ve been waiting for – summit day. You’ll be woken up around 11:30 to complete your final summit push from Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak by sunrise. After your breakfast, you will have all your gear ready for the day. Be sure to bring extra water (dehydration is painful at such high altitudes), headlamps, thick gloves, sunscreen and sunglasses for the summit (the sun is intense once up) and of course, your camera. 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. Frigid temperatures and icy winds will require an iron determination to keep going. Each step will take all your focus and energy. 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. 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. No matter what happens next, you can be proud that you’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro!
From here, you only have approximately 150 meters of altitude to go for your final trek to Uhuru Peak. You can do it. It is important to prepare yourself for what might become the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trip, so rest and eat to gain energy for the final haul. The walk is a gentle incline, but the thin air will make it difficult to predict how you feel in this last stretch. Those who react well to the altitude may find it easier than others, with adrenaline rushing through their body. Some don’t react as well as others, and will find this to be the most challenging, despite the gentle incline. However, everyone will feel the pride that you’ve come that far as you make it to the summit.
The end is near, and you push yourself to the highest point. A stunning landscape overlooking the icefields and glaciers is waiting for you. Dawn is approaching as you push yourself to the highest point of Mt. Kilimanjaro and of Africa – Uhuru Peak. You’ve made it! 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
- Mweka Gate (1,640m) → Moshi (831m)
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 Moshi (or Arusha) 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.