Kilimanjaro Hiking Tours – The complete Mt Kilimanjaro guide to climbing Kilimanjaro

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Recommended duration of climb

The Shira route is a fast ascending Kilimanjaro route, because you will be driving up to altitudes of around 3 500m before the actual hike start. We only recommend this route to hikers who are already acclimatized by hiking Mt Meru or Mt Kenya a few days before attempting Kilimanjaro. The minimum duration is 6 days, but we strongly recommend you choose the 7 day Shira route. The 7 day Shira route will allow you more time to rest before the actual summit attempt. If you choose the 6 day Shira route will you arrive late afternoon to Barafu camp and then start the summit attempt at midnight.

7 Day Shira route itinerary – click here

6 Day Shira route itinerary

Day 1 – Morrum Barrier Gate (3 300m / 10 800ft) – Shira 1 campsite (3 610m / 11 843ft)

Hiking time: 4 to 5 hours
Distance: Approximately 7 km / 4.4 miles
Habitat: Montane forest

Your day starts early with a 3 to 4 hour drive from Moshi town to the Londorossi gate to register. After registration, you continue by vehicle to the Morrum Barrier gate. The drive itself is spectacular as you drive through the different vegetation zones. You will start hiking from the Morrum Barrier gate, hike through a giant heather moorland zone and cross several streams before reaching Shira 1 Campsite, located on the western edge of the Shira plateau.

Day 2 – Shira 1 campsite (3 610m / 11 843ft) – Shira 2 campsite (3 850m / 12 631ft)

Hiking time: 6 to 7 hours
Distance: Approximately 10 km / 6.2 miles
Habitat: Moorland

After breakfast, trek from Shira 1 campsite, directly across the gentle slope of the Shira plateau. We take a scenic path to the Shira Cathedral (3 872m / 12 703ft), a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles. Shira 2 campsite is exposed campsite, and the night will even be colder than the previous night, with temperatures dropping to well below freezing.

Day 3 – Climb high, sleep low

Ascend: Shira 2 campsite (3 850m / 12 631ft) – Lava Tower (4 600m / 15 090ft)

Hiking time: 4 to 5 hours
Distance: Approximately 7 km / 4.3 miles                                                                                                                                                                                         
Habitat: Semi-desert

Descend: Lava Tower (4 600m / 15 090ft) – Barranco campsite (3 900m) / 12 795ft)

Hiking time: 2 to 3 hours
Distance: Approximately 3.3 km / 2 miles                                                                                                                                                                                           
Habitat: Semi-desert

The route now turns east into a semi desert and rocky landscape surrounding Lava Tower, where you reach an altitude of 4 600m / 15 090ft and stop for lunch. This is where the true acclimatisation benefit of the Lemosho route becomes clear, of climbing high and sleeping low. The descent to Barranco campsite takes about 2 hours.

Day 4 – Barranco campsite (3 900m) / 12 795ft) – Barafu campsite (4 673m / 15 330ft)

Hiking time: 6 to 8 hours
Distance: 10 km / 6.2 miles
Habitat: Alpine desert

After breakfast, make your way up the Barranco wall, which in the end, normally turns out to be easier than anticipated. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you will now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. One should keep in mind that there are three rises and falls before reaching Karanga campsite where you will have lunch.

After lunch ascend 640m to Barafu campsite. Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice” and the Barafu campsite is totally exposed to the ever-present gales. The summit is now a further 1 222m / 4 009ft higher and you will commence with your final ascent attempt, the same night. Go to bed at round about 19h00 and try to get some precious rest and sleep.

Day 5 – Summit attempt

Ascend: Barafu campsite (4 673m / 15 330ft) – Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft)

Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak
Distance: Approximately 5 km / 3.1 miles
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Descend: Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft) – Mweka (3 100m / 10 170ft)

Hiking time: 7 to 8 hours to reach Uhuru Peak, 6 to 8 hours to descend to Mweka Campsite
Distance: 12.5 km / 7.8 miles to Mweka campsite or 9 km / 5.6 miles to High campsite
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

You will get up around 23h20, and after some tea and biscuits you shuffle off into the night. You will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend up a steep path towards Stella Point, located on the crater rim. For many climbers the 6-hour walk to Stella point is mentally and physically the most challenging part of the entire hike. At Stella Point (5 756m / 18 884ft) you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point it is possible to encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. Enjoy your accomplishment and a day to remember for the rest of your life!

The walk back to Barafu campsite from the summit, takes about 3 hours. Here you will have a well-earned, but short rest and collect the rest of your gear. If the group managed to summit just after sunrise and everything was on schedule will we descend down to Mweka campsite (3 100m / 10 170ft). However if the summit attempt took longer than planned, will we overnight at High Campsite (3 950m / 12 960ft), which is located closer to Barafu campsite.

Day 6 – Final descend

Shorter: Mweka campsite (3 100m / 10 170ft) – Mweka Gate (1 640m / 5 380ft)

Hiking time: 3 to 4 hours
Distance: Approximately 10 km / 6.2 miles
Habitat: Forest


Longer: High campsite (3 950m / 12 960ft) – Mweka Gate (1 640m / 5 380ft)

Hiking time: 5 to 7 hours
Distance: From High Campsite approximately 13.5 km Mweka campsite approximately 13.5 km / 8.4 miles
Habitat: Forest

After an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3 to 4 hour scenic hike from Mweka campsite to the Mweka gate. If the group spend the last night at High Campsite it will be a slightly longer 5 to 7 hour hike down to the Mweka gate.

At Mweka gate, you sign your name and details in a register. This is also where successful climbers will receive their summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5 756m / 18 884ft) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5 895m / 19 341ft) receive gold certificates. Drive back to the hotel for a long overdue hot shower and well deserved rest!