The Shira Plateau is one of the most scenic and fascinating areas on Kilimanjaro. Depending on the weather conditions, you can take four-wheel drive vehicles to within a half-hour hour walk of Shira Hut (4,000 meters). Even this drive is very spectacular and offers magnificent views of Mount Meru and the Great Rift Valley. Game is often sighted and the road features striking vegetation changes ranging from forest and grassland to moorland. The fast ascend by vehicle to about 4,000 meters will require additional acclimatization, after which it will be possible to ascend Uhuru Peak either via the Western Breach or via the Barafu Hut.
Londorossi Gate – Shira One Camp (9,000 feet)
We commence our climb from Londorossi Gate, through the tropical rainforest. Today is only a few hours of gentle walking to Shira One Camp and gives you an opportunity to stretch your legs in anticipation of the long trek ahead.
Shira One Camp – Shira Plateau (11,000 feet)
After breakfast you will start a slow five-hour walk through the forest and up into the Hagenia zone; here the vegetation begins to thin out as you approach the Shira Plateau. Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo are the three craters of the Kilimanjaro volcanic massif. From Shira Camp there are stunning views of the Shira Needles and the distant Mount Meru.
Shira Plateau – Moir Hut (12,500 feet)
Today is another leisurely five-hour hike across the Shira Plateau, approaching the Kibo outcrop from the west. An early arrival at Moir Hut gives you ample time to relax, amble around, and admire the magnificent scenery.
Moir Hut – Lava Tower Camp (14,300 feet)
Experience the thinning vegetation of the Alpine Desert Zone, where few plants survive and temperatures can reach the freezing point. You will trek for approximately four hours to reach Lava Tower, an imposing relic from Kilimanjaro’s volcanic past and your haven for the night.
Lava Tower – Barranco (13,000 feet)
You will awake to find the entire Shira Plateau at your feet, with superb views across to Meru and the Shira Needles. A steady walk brings you up to the pass at Lava Tower looming at 15,000 feet. The descent to Barranco Camp takes you along an immense canyon called Grand Barranco. Along the way you will see numerous waterfalls, which are fed by streams from the mountain that converge here to form the Umbwe River. Today’s trek lasts for about six hours and arrival at camp is around 5:00 p.m.
Barranco -Karanga Camp (13,000 feet)
Begin your hike to Karanga Camp (which is at the same altitude as Barranco Camp, so you should be well acclimatized by now to this elevation). After a scramble at Barranco Cliff, the rest of the trek is spent climbing up and down the slopes of the mountain for most of the way to camp. This section of the trail is not considered difficult and takes only about four hours. After lunch, you have an opportunity to hike in the Karanga Valley, where giant senecios and lobelia grow.
Karanga Camp – Barafu Camp (15,200 feet)
The climb to Barafu is mostly on Alpine Desert terrain; a mostly mineral environment with just a few lichens and mosses. Mawenzi Peak towers majestically to the right and Kibo Peak seems just a stone’s throw away. Climbers usually arrive at Barafu Camp sometime before 3:00 p.m. Those who wish to attempt the summit should retire early this night, as the next day is the longest of the whole climb.
Barafu Camp – Ascent to Summit – Descent to Mweka Camp (10,200 feet)
It is at this stage that the climb becomes much more difficult and hikers should carry as little as possible for this stage. Temperatures range from -4 degrees to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Making your way up a path that is flanked by the Ratzel and Rebman Glaciers, you will climb for about six hours before reaching the edge of the crater between Stella and Hans Meyer points.
One more hour of climbing brings you to the summit of Uhuru Peak, the highest point on the African continent. The track around the edge of the crater is icy and rocky, so concentrate on your feet and follow your guide very closely for this section of the climb.
Enjoy your scramble down the scree and carry on to Kibo Hut for rest and refreshments before continuing on to Mweka Camp for the night. Arriving into camp at around 5:00 p.m., you will look back and realize that today you have trekked a total of 13 hours!
Mweka Camp to the Gate
The descent to Mweka Gate takes approximately five hours and climbers usually reach there around noon. Upon arrival at the gate, wrapped in the warmth of your great achievement, you will be given a certificate attesting your success before joining your driver and vehicle for the return to Arusha.