Conquering Kilimanjaro: An 8-Day Journey Along the Lemosho Route
Kilimanjaro, the rooftop of Africa, has long been a magnetic summit for trekkers and mountaineers worldwide. Among the several paths that snake their way up the mountain, the Lemosho route has gained a reputation as one of the most scenic and successful paths to the snow-capped peak. If you’re considering embarking on this journey, here’s a comprehensive guide to scaling the heights via the Lemosho route.
Introduction to the Lemosho Route
The Lemosho route is a relatively new trail compared to the more established Marangu and Machame routes. It begins on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro and has quickly become a favorite for its remote atmosphere, natural beauty, and high summit success rate.
Spanning approximately 70 kilometers (42 miles), it takes climbers through a diverse range of ecosystems, from rainforest and heath to alpine desert and glaciers. Due to its longer itinerary, usually 7 to 8 days, it allows for better acclimatization and provides hikers with more time to soak in the stunning vistas..
8 Days Kilimanjaro Climbing Lemosho Route
Day 1: From Lemosho Gate to Big Tree Camp (Mti Mkubwa)
The journey begins at Lemosho Gate, situated at an altitude of 2,100 meters (6,890 feet). After completing the necessary registration with the park authorities, trekkers delve into the lush rainforest that marks the start of the Lemosho Route. This day’s trek is relatively short, taking about 3 to 4 hours to reach the Big Tree Camp, also known as Mti Mkubwa, located at 2,780 meters (9,120 feet). The path is gentle yet enchanting, with the possibility of spotting blue monkeys and hearing the distant calls of Colobus monkeys. As hikers settle in for their first night on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, the mix of excitement and apprehension is palpable under the dense canopy of ancient trees.
Day 2: To Shira 1 Camp
With the second sunrise, trekkers embark on a more challenging hike towards the Shira Plateau. The climb takes around 6 to 7 hours, covering a terrain that transitions from rainforest to heather and moorland, offering stunning views and the chance to observe the unique flora, such as giant lobelias and senecios. Reaching the Shira 1 Camp at 3,505 meters (11,500 feet), hikers can witness the wide-open skies and the silhouette of Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s highest peak, in the distance. This is the first night spent above the 3,000-meter mark, and it is essential to pay attention to the body’s response to altitude.
Day 3: Shira 1 to Shira 2 Camp
Though shorter in distance, the hike from Shira 1 to Shira 2 Camp is instrumental for acclimatization. It takes about 3 to 4 hours of hiking through a gentler gradient compared to the previous day. This segment allows trekkers to marvel at the sweeping Shira Plateau, one of the largest high-altitude plateaus in the world. The journey to the Shira 2 Camp, situated at 3,840 meters (12,600 feet), is usually accompanied by a detour to the Shira Cathedral, which serves as an acclimatization hike and offers an extraordinary panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
Day 4: To Barranco Camp via Lava Tower
This is a pivotal day for acclimatization as the trail leads to the Lava Tower at 4,630 meters (15,190 feet) before descending to the Barranco Camp at 3,960 meters (12,990 feet). The day is long, usually taking about 7 to 8 hours of hiking through the alpine desert ecosystem. The trek to the Lava Tower provides trekkers with the opportunity to test their reaction to high altitude, and the subsequent descent to Barranco Camp is critical for the “climb high, sleep low” method of acclimatization.
As hikers retire to their tents nestled in the Barranco Valley, they tighten their resolve while facing the Barranco Wall — an imposing barrier they will have to overcome the following day.
Day 5: Overcoming the Barranco Wall to Karanga Camp
Despite its daunting appearance, the Barranco Wall is a manageable obstacle, and most climbers find this part of the route to be extremely rewarding. Scaling the “Breakfast Wall” takes about 1 to 2 hours of scrambling, during which climbers use their hands for balance and leverage. Upon reaching the top, trekkers are treated to some of the most iconic views of the journey, including a surreal perspective of Kibo looming above.
The trek then leads to the Karanga Camp at 3,995 meters (13,106 feet). The journey from Barranco to Karanga takes about 4 to 5 hours, during which trekkers traverse valleys and ridges with breathtaking vistas, further exposing them to the stark beauty of the mountain’s higher elevations.
Day 6: To Barafu Camp
Following a relatively short and steady climb from Karanga, hikers arrive at the Barafu Camp, located at 4,673 meters (15,331 feet). The 3 to 4-hour trek to Barafu traverses an alpine desert landscape devoid of vegetation; the stark, rocky scenery underlines the altitude reached. Barafu Camp is the staging point for the summit push. It’s essential to rest, hydrate, and prepare mentally and physically for the nighttime ascent to Uhuru Peak.
Day 7: Summit Day - To Uhuru Peak and Down to Mweka Camp
Summit day begins in the wee hours, with climbers departing Barafu Camp around midnight. The steep, strenuous climb to the summit unfolds under starlit skies, with the trekkers’ headlamps flickering in the darkness like a procession of fireflies. After about 6 to 8 hours, the crater rim comes into view, and with it the first blush of dawn. Stella Point, at 5,756 meters (18,885 feet), offers a brief respite before the final hour-long push to Uhuru Peak.
At the summit, emotions run high as climbers embrace, take photos, and generally bask in the glory of their accomplishment — standing atop the highest point in Africa. After savoring the moment, it’s time for the descent, first back to Barafu Camp for rest and then continuing down to Mweka Camp at 3,100 meters (10,170 feet). This long day of climbing and descending is exhausting but rewarding beyond measure.
Day 8: Descending to Mweka Gate
The final day of the trek is a descent of 3 to 4 hours through lush forest to Mweka Gate at 1,640 meters (5,380 feet). Helichrysums and other hardy alpine plants give way to the dense greenery of the rainforest. Reaching the gate, a sense of extraordinary achievement pervades as trekkers reflect on the magnitude of what they’ve experienced. Climbers receive their summit certificates and say goodbye to their guides and porters who have become companions and cheerleaders along the way.
Solo climber: $ 2290
2 people: $ 2060 per person
3+people: $ 1990 per person
Preparing for the Kilimanjaro Climb
Your Kilimanjaro climbing adventure begins long before you set foot in Tanzania. Preparing your body is crucial to your success and enjoyment of the trek. Cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling, and swimming are excellent for building stamina. Additionally, incorporate strength training and hiking with a weighted backpack to condition your body for the daily trek with gear.
Packing proper gear is essential. Layering is key, so include moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and waterproof outer layers. Don’t forget your headlamp, sun protection, and broken-in hiking boots. A comprehensive gear list should include warm clothing, gloves, a warm hat, and a sleeping bag rated for at least -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit).
Be aware of altitude sickness signs, which include headaches, nausea, and dizziness. To mitigate the risk, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and consider discussing altitude sickness medication with your doctor
Lemosho Route Cost Includes
2 Nights accommodation at Keys Hotek on BB
Private professional mountain guides
All Park fees
All meals while on the Mountain
Arrival and Departure transfers
Government taxes, VAT and all relating service charges
Guides, Porters, cook salaries and park fees
Lemosho Route Cost Excludes
Tanzania Visa: $50 per person on arrival
Personal Expenses (e.g. laundry, telephone, beverages, etc.)
Meals not listed above
Optional Tours (short safari after your climb etc)
Tips and any items of personal nature.
Emergency Evacuation by Flying Doctor