Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide

Here is everything you would possibly need to know to climb Kilimanjaro

Lemosho Route

There was once a time when Kilimanjaro was dominated by its two major routes - Marangu and Machame. But as time passed and Kilimanjaro's popularity exploded, the park authorities realized the need to add more routes in order to distribute the large influx of trekkers. Lemosho is one of such thoughtfully carved out route.

Owing to its beauty, success rate and seclusion, it is the route included in the most extravagant of packages by operators. If you have read our popular trekking guide on Kilimanjaro, you would know that Lemosho is characteristically an expensive, longer and more physically intensive route as compared to Marangu, Machame and Rongai. Moreover, it hosts one of the longest treks to the summit with the trekking duration ranging from 7 to 8 days, and the 8-day option boasting a 90% success rate. This is really impressive for a 70 kilometer trek, with most of the credit going towards the effective acclimatization profile the route offers.

Since Lemosho joins the Machame route after 3 days of trekking, there are a host of climatic zones and varied terrains that one will encounter, similar to Machame. Starting with the first ecological zone on Kilimanjaro, Lemosho will take you through an evergreen rainforest. You then make your way through the Shira Plateau and onto the Moir Hut, which is the first trekking spot intended for acclimatization. Then comes the Lava Tower and the Barranco Valley, which is bound to leave you gasping for breath at its beauty. Now you reach the Barafu hut by circling around the southern circuit, where the summit attempt is made early in the morning.

Here is an account of the various altitudes on the Lemosho Route -

DayStartAltitude (m)Altitude (m)FinishAltitude (m)Altitude (m)Time (hrs)Distance (kms)Distance (mi)
1Londorassi Gate23607742Mti Mkubwa289594983-464
2Mti Mkubwa28959498Shira 1 Camp3505115005-685
Shira 1 Camp350511500Shira 2 Camp3810125003-4106
Shira 2 Camp381012500Moir Hut4200138002-342
Moir Hut420013800Lava Tower4630151902-342
Lava Tower436015190Barranco Camp3976130442-332
5Barranco Camp397613044Karanga Camp3995131064-553
6Karanaga Camp399513106Barafu Camp4673153314-542
Barafu Camp467315331Uhuru Peak5895193417-853
Uhuru Peak589519341Mweka Camp3068100654-6127
8Mweka Camp306810065Mweka Gate164053803-4106

The various campsites and huts along the route are -

  1. Mti Mkubwa Camp (2895 m)
  2. Shira 1 Camp (3505 m)
  3. Shira 2 Camp (3810 m)
  4. Moir Hut (4200 m)
  5. Barranco Camp (3976 m)
  6. Karanga Camp (3995 m)
  7. Barafu Camp (4673 m)
  8. Mweka Camp (3068 m)

Pros and Cons of Choosing the Lemosho Route

Every route has its own set of offerings along with the various advantages and disadvantages.

When it comes to Lemosho, here are some pros of this route -

  • The route is known to be extremely scenic with beautiful panoramic expanses along the southern traverse, including picturesque views of the remarkable gorges.

  • If you opt for the 8-day trek, Lemosho offers an excellent acclimatization profile. This makes up for the difficult trek and also offers a high success rate.
  • Hosting only about 8% of the trekkers, Lemosho is considered as a quieter route and is perfect for private treks. If you are looking forward to a one-on-one experience with nature, Lemosho can be a great choice.
  • Lemosho is also known for wildlife spotting opportunities. It is possible to come across animals such as antelopes, buffalos and even elephants.
  • It also offers an opportunity to traverse the Shira Plateau, which is one of the largest and highest plateaus in the world.
  • Lemosho allows for excellent camping opportunities via the fully-catered camping option provided by operators.
  • Modern day Lemosho offers flexibility in the sense that some trekkers now choose to steer north before reaching the Lava Tower and join the Northern Circuit.

Apart from these, there are also a few cons associated with the route -

  • Lemosho is one of the more expensive Kilimanjaro routes due to the long route length adding to the cost in terms of park fees, conservation fees, etc.
  • If you are planning to trek during the rainy season, Lemosho is inaccessible at this time of the year.
  • Since Lemosho joins the popular Machame Route eventually, the trek before the summit can seem a bit crowded, particularly during the peak seasons.

Cost of Trekking Kilimanjaro via Lemosho Route

When you choose one of our packages, most of the possible expenses (even the park fees) is included in it. But since you should be aware of what you are paying for, we have provided the detailed cost structure below.

An 8 Day Lemosho Trek will cost you around $1100 for the park fees alone! As we mentioned in our blog about the Machame route, Tanzania is known for its hefty park fees. Here is the breakup -

1) One Time Fees

  • Rescue Fees: $20 per person per trip

2) Per Day Fees

  • Park Entry Fees (Charged as Conservation Fees): $70 per person
  • Entry Fees for your Crew (Cooks, Guides and Porters): 3500 Tanzanian Shillings (TZS) per person, which converts to about $1.6.

3) Per Night Fees

  • Camping Fees: $50 per night per person

4) Value Added Tax (VAT)

The Government of Tanzania has now also imposed a VAT of 18% on all the components mentioned above, from July, 2016.

Thus, all these charges further drive up the price of the trek and make Lemosho a somewhat expensive option to choose from. Hence, you need to consider these costs before choosing the route.

Lemosho as Compared to Other Kilimanjaro Routes

While it totally depends on the trekker regarding which route is the best for him/her, here are some insights about Lemosho as compared to other routes.

  • Lemosho is one of the longer routes of Kilimanjaro. Hence, if you are looking for a shorter path to the summit, routes like Shira, Machame, and Umbwe are much better options.
  • When it comes to beauty, Lemosho is arguably the most spectacular route, followed by Umbwe and Machame.
  • If you are not comfortable with tents, especially if you have no prior trekking experience, Marangu would be a far better option for you since it is the only Kilimanjaro route that offers hut accommodation.
  • Lemosho is a fairly difficult trek. Comparatively, Marangu and Rongai are the easier treks with gentler gradients.
  • Compared to other routes, the starting point on Lemosho is relatively secluded, offering a rather exhilarating experience in the wild, and is often recommended for the more adventurous folk.
  • If you have narrowed down your choices between the Shira and Lemosho routes, it is highly recommended that you opt for Lemosho since Shira

offers a much higher starting point which is detrimental for effective acclimatization.

To sum it up, Lemosho is a difficult and expensive route and is appropriate for trekkers who already have prior trekking experience. First timers are bound to find the route extremely strenuous. Having said that, it is a perfect fit for routine trekkers who are looking for a challenge in the wilderness, sans the crowd of the popular routes.

We offer Kilimanjaro climbs via Lemosho route. Here is our popular 8 day itinerary.

Day 0: Pre-trek Briefing

  • If you have opted for the optional airport transfers, we will pick you up from Kilimanjaro Airport or Arusha airport and transfer you to your hotel in Moshi.
  • Pre-trek briefing at your Moshi hotel. You should be planning to arrive atleast one day before the start of the trek. Today we will spend in having a pre-trek briefing. We will also review your equipment and rent any equipment which is needed.

Day 1: Hotel to Mti Mkubwa Camp

  • After breakfast and briefing, drive to Londorossi Park Gate (about a 3-hour drive). From here a forest track requiring a 4WD vehicle leads to Lemosho Glades. Walk along forest trails to Mti Mkubwa (big tree) campsite.
    • Elevation: 1830m/6000ft to 2650m/8700ft
    • Distance: 6km/4mi
    • Hiking Time: 2-3 hours
    • Habitat: Montane Forest
    • Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Day 2: Mti Mkubwa Camp to Shira 1 Camp

  • After breakfast, we continue as the trail gradually steepens and enters the giant heather moorland zone.
  • After several streams are crossed we continue over the Shira Ridge then gently downwards to Shira 1 camp located by a stream on the Shira Plateau.
    • Elevation: 2650m/8700ft to 3500m/11,500ft
    • Distance: 8km/5mi
    • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
    • Habitat: Moorland
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3: Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp

  • After breakfast, a gentle hike across the plateau leads to Shira 2 camp on moorland meadows by a stream.
  • A variety of hikes are available on the Plateau, making this an excellent acclimatization day.
    • Elevation: 3500m/11,500ft to 3850m/12,600ft
    • Distance: 8km/5mi
    • Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
    • Habitat: Moorland
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4: Shira 2 Camp to Barranco Camp

  • From the Shira Plateau we continue to the east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes to the South East towards the Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth” (elev 4650m/15,250ft). Shortly after the tower we come to the second junction which goes to the Arrow Glacier. We now continue down to the Barranco Camp. Although you end the day around the same elevation as when you began, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day.
    • Elevation: 3850m/12,600ft to 4000m/13,000ft
    • Distance: 8km/5mi
    • Walking Time: 5-6 hours
    • Habitat: Semi-desert
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

  • After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue on a steep ridge up the Barranco Wall to the Karanga Valley and the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail.
    • Elevation: 4000m/13,000ft to 4050m/13,250ft
    • Distance: 5km/3mi
    • Climbing Time: 3-4 hours
    • Habitat: Alpine Desert
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

  • We continue up to the Barafu Camp. You have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day.
    • Elevation: 4050m/13,250ft to 4700m/15,350ft
    • Distance: 4km/2mi
    • Climbing Time: 3-4 hours
    • Habitat: Alpine Desert
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp

  • Very early in the morning (midnight to 2 am), we continue our way to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. You head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. At Stella Point you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see. Faster hikers may view the sunrise from the summit.
  • From Stella Point, you may encounter snow all the way on your 1-hour ascent to the summit. Once at Uhuru Peak you have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa!
  • From the summit we begin our descent by continuing straight down to the Mweka Camp, stopping at Barafu for lunch. You may want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. We arrive at Mweka Camp and enjoy our last evening on the mountain.
    • Elevation: 4700m/15,350ft to 5895m/19,340ft
    • Down to 3090m/10,150ft
    • Distance: 5km/3mi up / 13km/8mi down
    • Hiking Time: 5-7 hours up / 5-6 hours down
    • Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to Hotel

  • After breakfast we continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).
  • Vehicle will be waiting for you at Mweka gate to drive you back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha (about 30 to 60 minutes).
    • Elevation: 3090m/10,150ft to 1680m/5500ft
    • Distance: 10km/6mi
    • Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    • Habitat: Forest
    • Meals: Breakfast