7 Days Shira Route
Because of its remote location, the Shira route on Mt. Kilimanjaro is one of the least used initial ascent routes on the mountain. The ascent begins at a high altitude, at nearly 12,000 feet at Morum Barrier Gate (3600 m). As a result, you should take this route slowly and carefully at first. You begin your trek in the heather zone, bypassing the wet forest behind you, and arrive on the Shira Plateau on the first day of the trek.
The first day of your Kilimanjaro climb is only a few hours long to allow for acclimatization. The next two days are spent hiking across the plateau, which is said to be one of Africa’s most beautiful hikes. The plateau is made up of grassland, heath, and moor, and it is home to some of the world’s largest senecias (up to 10 meters high). Eland, buffalo, leopards, and other animals are frequently seen on the plateau. An ancient crater, the Shira Cone, rises about 200 meters above the plateau. Cathedral and the Needle are two dramatic peaks on the Shira Plateau’s southern ridge. All of these factors combine to create spectacular scenery along this route.
On day three, the Shira route trail merges with the Machame Route. All two trails continue from here to Lava Tower, then down into the Great Barranco Valley, where the Umbwe route joins from the south.
The road leading to the Shira Route’s starting point is only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicles and can become impassable during the rainy season (when it might be necessary to start from a lower point). The drive to the trailhead, however, provides breathtaking views of the Great Rift Valley and surrounding mountains, including Mt. Meru and Longido. It follows the ancient Shira rift zone, which consists of a series of parasitic cones on the volcano’s flank. The vegetation changes dramatically and is quite impressive along the way.
7 Days Shira Route
Day by day
Day 1 Briefing
A representative from Mbassa Adventures will be there to greet you when you arrive. You will be transferred to your hotel in Arusha for the night once you have completed the necessary procedures for customs and immigration.
Day 2 Transfer to gate – hike to Shira 1 camp (3505 m)
After breakfast, you will be picked up from your Arusha hotel and transferred to the Londorossi gate (approximately 4 hours transfer time), where you will complete the Kilimanjaro National Park entry formalities. After that, continue by car to Morum Barrier Gate (approx. 1 hour), where you will have lunch. Following that, you begin your Mt. Kilimanjaro climb by trekking to the first camp through heather and moorland (ca. 1-2 hrs). The views across the Plateau to Kibo will take your breath away. Shira 1 camp is where you’ll spend the night.
Day 3 Shira 1 – Shira 2 (Fischer’s) camp (3900 m)
You have the entire day today to explore the Shira plateau, beginning with a slow trek eastward towards Kibo’s glaciered peak. The Shira plateau is one of the highest plateaus on the planet, with an elevation of 12,500 feet on average. You will have the opportunity to visit Shira volcano’s ancient collapsed cone (the oldest of Kilimanjaro’s three volcanic centers). Trekking time: approximately 3 hours. Shira 2 Camp provides dinner and overnight accommodations.
Day 4 Shira 2 – Barranco camp (3976 m)
After breakfast, you will climb steadily over vast ridges to “Lava Tower,” where you will have lunch (ca. 4 hrs). Lava Tower, a 300-foot volcanic plug, marks a 15,000-foot exposed peak. You’ll have to descend the steep trail into the Great Barranco Valley in the afternoon. Your camp at Barranco is located in a valley surrounded on three sides by the valley’s massive walls and the Kibo massif. Hanging glaciers gleam in the sunlight above, creating an eerie landscape known for its rare plants such as Giant Groundsels (Seneciao Kilimanjari) and the endemic Giant Lobelia. Trekking time: 6-7 hours. Barranco Camp provides dinner and overnight accommodations.
Day 5 Barranco camp – Barafu camp (4673 m)
If you choose the 6-day itinerary, you will trek for 3–4 hours before stopping for a hot lunch in the Karanga Valley. The trail then gradually ascends in the afternoon. As you approach Barafu Camp, the temperature will drop and the landscape will become more sparse. Your Barafu Camp is located on a small, exposed flat area on a ridge and serves as the traditional base camp from which you will attempt the summit at midnight tonight. It’s critical to consume as much food and drink as possible before retiring to your tent for rest and sleep. Stay the night at Barafu Camp.
Day 6 Barafu camp
– Stella Point (5790 m) – Uhuru Peak (5895 m) – descend to Mweka camp (3068 m)
Your chef will prepare a hot drink, which you will take very early this morning. Expect a midnight wake-up call which will be the start of a juggernaut (12-17 hrs of trekking). At around 1 am, you will start trekking; Here temperatures usually range from just below freezing at midnight to somewhere between -12 deg. C (10 deg. F) to -23 deg. C (-10 F.) on the summit just before dawn.
Slowly ascending, you will come across a winding path of endless switchbacks that will slowly take shape in the shadows of the Ratzel and Rebman glaciers at early dawn, and behind you, the spires of Mawenzi are silhouetted against the red glow of the sun rising behind the clouds.
Six hours of slow uphill walking brings you to the crater’s edge: Stella Point, at an elevation of 19,000 feet (5790 meters) on the crater rim, marks the end of the steep part of the hike. From here, it’s a gentle slope to Uhuru Peak (about 1 hour), Kili’s true summit at 19,340 feet (5896 m). For many, the strength required to ascend this final piece is monumental. Spend some time at the summit before beginning your descent. The path descends a steep scree slope back to Barafu Camp, where you will rest for a short time before continuing your descent to Mweka Camp for your final night on the mountain. Mweka Art Camp Dinner and Overnight
Day 7 Final descend – Transfer to Arusha
Your final descent to Mweka Gate is a simple 2-3 hour trek through beautiful rainforest to the final sections of the trail back to Mweka Gate. You will receive your Kilimanjaro certificate and lunch here. Following that, you will say goodbye to many of your crew and begin your return journey to Arusha, where you will be provided with a day room to freshen up until the evening, when you will be picked up by your driver and transferred to Kilimanjaro International Airport to board your international flight. Your Tanzania trip, however, will be incomplete unless you book one of our popular wildlife safaris to Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, or Tarangire Park.