The Lemosho route is one of the longer hikes and has a higher success rate. Usually done in 7 to 8 days, this route takes a western approach. Due to the remote start and the longer climb time, this route does tend to be a bit more expensive than the others. Because it is a bite more remote with a long drive out to the trailhead, it is less crowded than the other routes.The environment around the trailhead is also quite unique. Because of its placement inside the forest, most of the houses you pass are made of wood and is quite something to see after being in Moshi or Arusha. Lemosho is also considered one of the more scenic routes with exposure to different landscapes including forest, rainforest and the rocky Shira plateau. After crossing the plateau, the route does link up with the Machame route (at the Lava Tower or at Barranco) where things can start to get a bit more crowded. Descent from the mountain is done via Mweka route. There are a few different variations to this route with different acclimatization days available. See the bold OPTIONS in the 8 day itinerary below.
- Number of days needed: 7 or 8 (recommended)
- Total walking distance: 56km
- Starting elevation: 2250m (Londorossi Gate)
- Price: $$$
On this first day you will head out early to make the long drive out to West Kilimanjaro where you will pass through different environments to reach your starting point. After passing through the lush forest to get to the check-in point, you will have a short rest while the porters have their bags weighed and all of the crew and climbers are registered with the National Park. From there you will make your way to the hike starting point. This is done by 4-wheel drive as the roads can be quite muddy in the rainy season. The hike through the forest path will take you to Mti Mkubwa, your first camp for the night. The incline of the path is gradual with few steep parts and you do not feel it that much as you are hiking.
Londorossi Gate (2,380m) – Mti Mkubwa (2,750m)
- Distance: 4 km
- Trekking time: 4-5 hours
- Altitude gain: 370 meters
After a hot breakfast you will head out again for the day. The trail takes you through the forest and out into moorland as you approach the Shira Plateau. Though the distance hiked is not that far, the day is quite long due to steep sections and the need for more breaks. The trail does flatten out after the lunch spot until you reach the camps. You will have hot lunch served today and by the time you reach camp the chef will have already started preparing dinner.
Mti Mkubwa (2,750m) – Shira Camp 1 (3,500m)
- Distance: 10 km
- Trekking time: 6-7 hour
- Altitude gain: 750 meters
On day 3 there are a few different options to take, which will change the length of days of your hike. On the recommended 8 day hike you will head pretty much directly across the plateau. After a short distance, you will pass the place where the Shira route meets Lemosho. Just a bit longer to go and you will reach your camp for the night. A detour can also be made before reaching camp to visit the Shira Cathedral. This allows for a hike to its “summit” and is good for acclimatization.
Shira Camp 1 (3,500m) – Shira Hut (3,850m) via Shira Cathedral (Detour)
- Distance: 11 km
- Trekking time: 6-8 hours
- Altitude gain: 350 meters
OPTION 1A (EXTRA NIGHT)
You will turn off the main trail just after the junction with the Shira route to head towards Fischer Camp. This camp is very quiet and peaceful as it is away from the main route.
OPTION 1B (EXTRA NIGHT)
You will again turn off the main trail but instead of spending the night at Fischer Camp you will continue to Moir Hut. (4175m) Fischer camp will be used as the lunch spot for the day.
Again after a hot breakfast, you will head out to start your hike. On this day, you climb high before descending to sleep as sleeping at a lower altitude is better for you. This also gives you a taste of what it is like to be at higher altitudes and we can evaluate any symptoms you may be feeling. Your first part of the hike takes you to the Lava Tower where you will stop for a hot lunch. Some people camp at the Lava tower if they have added extra days to their climb. After lunch you will descend into the Barranco valley where your camp is.
Shira Hut (3,850m) – Barranco (3,950m) via Lava Tower (4,640m)
- Distance: 9km
- Trekking Time: 6-8 hours
- Altitude gain: 150 meters
OPTION (EXTRA NIGHT)
If you want to add an extra night to your climb, you can choose to camp overnight at the Lava tower instead of using it as just a lunch spot. Since the altitude is quite high we do recommend sleeping lower.
Today is a favourite among most climbers on this route and is the day that you face the Barranco wall or “breakfast wall”. It is not a normal hike as you “scale” the wall but don’t be nervous as no special equipment is needed and it is easy to do. You can simply use your hands to steady yourself along the wall. The guides are there to help you along the way as well. You will pass across streams and eventually cross over the Karanga River. After another short climb you will be at the Karanga Valley Camp for the night.
Barranco Camp (3,950m) – Karanga Camp (4,040m)
- Distance: 5.5 km
- Trekking time: 4-5 hours
- Altitude gain: 55 meters
This day is quite short compared to the others, which is an advantage, as you will be attempting your summit that night! The path gets increasingly steeper as you get closer to the Barafu Camp. You will arrive in time for a hot lunch and have the rest of the day to rest and relax before the summit push. This camp is interesting as it is on an exposed ridge. It is a good thing to familiarize yourself with the surroundings in time for nightfall so you don’t make any missteps!
Karanga Camp (4,040m) – Barafu Camp (4,680m)
- Distance: 3.5 km
- Trekking time: 4-5 hours
- Altitude gain: 640 meters
This is summit day/night! Climbers will wake up just before or close to midnight to prepare for the final ascent to the summit, which is done in the dark. “Breakfast” will be already prepared. Depending on how many climbers there are, some of the porters will join you and the guides on the summit attempt to provide extra support if needed. The walking pace is very slow, with climbers focused on putting one foot in front of the other, following the trail of headlamps you see before you. Climbers often feel very sleepy at this time but just keep going forward! The path you take is a switchback but as you keep going up you do start to feel more of the incline. The aim is to reach Stella point, your first checkpoint, at or just after sunrise. At this point climbers can take a bit more of an extended break and enjoy the beautiful views from the top! Uhuru peak, the final summit, is about a 1-2 hour walk away on a more flat path with very little to no incline. Climbers can experience difficulty breathing on this portion even though it is more flat. Elevation is at xx Stella Point compared to xx at Uhuru Peak. After taking pictures at the summit sign, you will descend back down to camp for a short break and some food. The path down from the summit is loose gravel. The guides and porters are more than happy to help you down and often feel that if you let yourself go a bit loose you can usually slide/walk down at a faster pace than if you are nervous and trying to go alone. Walking poles can come in handy for this part. The descent back to the camp takes about 4 hours. After your rest, you will start to descend towards the Mweka camp where you will stay for the night.
Barafu Camp (4,680)m to Uhuru Peak (5,845m) via Stella Point (5,750m) down to Mweka Camp (3,100m)
- Distance: 5 km (ascent) + 10k m (descent)
- Trekking time: 5-8 hours on the way up + 5-6 hours on the way down
- Altitude gain:
- Ascent 1,215 m (Uhuru Peak)
- Descend 2,745 meters
After breakfast you will head down the final part of the mountain to the Mweka gate to receive your certificate and head back to Moshi for some well-deserved rest and a hot shower!
Mweka Camp (3,100m) descend to Mweka Gate (1,800m)
- Distance: 13 km
- Trekking time: 5-6 hours
- Descend: 1,300 meters