top of page

Shira Route Itinerary

The Shira route on Mt. Kilimanjaro, is one of the least used initial ascent routes on the mountain, partly because of its remote location. 

7 Day Shira Route

The climb begins at a high elevation, Morum Barrier Gate at nearly 12,000 ft. (3600 m). Thus, you have to start slow and easy on this route. You start your trek in the heather zone, bypassing the wet forest behind, and immediately find yourself on the first day of the trek on the Shira Plateau.

The first day of your Kilimanjaro climb is simply short to begin the acclimatization process. You spend the next two days hiking across the plateau, which is said to be one of the most stunningly beautiful hikes in Africa. The plateau itself is grassland, heath and moor, and is home to especially large senecias (up to 10 meters high). On the plateau, one can often see elands, sometimes buffaloes, leopards and other animals. The Shira Cone, which is an ancient crater, rises about 200 meters above the plateau.


Along the southern ridge of the Shira Plateau there are two dramatic peaks, Cathedral and the Needle. All of these create fantastic scenery to enjoy on this route.

The  Shira route trail  eventually merges with Machame Route on day three. From this point all the two  trails continue to Lava Tower, and then down into the Great Barranco Valley, where the Umbwe route joins from the south.

Day 1

Shira Gate to Simba 1 Camp

Following an early breakfast and briefing from your guide, our staff will drive you several hours from the hotel or our family home (depending on where you will be staying before and after the climb) to the western side of Kilimanjaro.  


You will stop at the Londorossi National Park Gate, where your guides and porters will prepare your equipment and supplies. Kilimanjaro Park registration will be completed here.  


After registration, you will continue driving up a steep path to the gate where you will begin your ascent.  Immediately start your trek through the shrubs and giant heather until you reach Simba Camp, which has slightly more open views.

  • Elevation: 3,600m to 3600m

  • Distance: 4km

Day 2

Simba Camp to Shira 2 Camp

Today is another fairly easy day in regard to the grade of the terrain.  You’ll stop halfway through for lunch and continue until you reach Shira Camp 2 in the afternoon.  When you arrive, you will find your camp and tent is already set up by the porters who ran ahead.  They will bring you boiled drinking water and washing water in preparation for dinner.

  • Elevation: 3,600m to 3,840

  • Distance: 6km

Day 3

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower; Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

After breakfast and packing, you start your trek east up a steep path above the last bit of Kilimanjaro’s vegetation.  After 5-6 hours, you reach the well-known landmark Lava Tower (15,190 ft/ 3,950 m).  


You will stop here for lunch and some bonus acclimatization before you descend for 2 hours below the Western Breach into the Barranco Camp. Day 3’s hike offers multiple terrific opportunities for photos, especially if the walls are covered with ice.


While you wait for your dinner, you will have a chance to experience one of the most memorable sunsets you have ever seen as the sun drops through the valley.  Pay attention to your body and keep your guide informed of any signs of altitude sickness.

  • Elevation: 3,840m to 4,629m; 4,629  to 3,950m

  • Distance: 13km

Day 4

Barranco Camp Acclimatization

You will spend Day 4 exploring near Barranco Camp for much-needed acclimatization.  Keep your camera handy to capture the scenery of the groundsel-clad campsite.  Many trekkers rank this as their favorite camp on this trail, which is another reason this is the perfect spot for your acclimatization day.

Day 5

Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

After sleeping below the Great Barranco Wall, you get your chance to tackle this hurdle. Don’t worry…It’s much easier than it looks.  

Continue up until you reach just below the Heim Glacier.  Then head down through the Karanga Valley.  This is the last place for your porters to gather water.  They will collect all the water for the remainder of the ascent here.  You will settle in here at the Karanga Camp.

After lunch, you can spend the afternoon doing light exploring or resting while taking in the views of Mawenzi’s towering spires.

  • Elevation: 3,950m to 4,200m

  • Distance: 7km

Day 6

Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

After breakfast, you’ll head east, crossing over multiple ridges and valleys until you join up with the Mweka Route and turn left to continue up the ridge for an hour to reach the Barafu Hut.


You will arrive at camp to find your tent pitched on a rocky ridge with high winds.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with the camp before dark to be safe.  Also, have your headlamp/flashlight handy if you need to leave the tent after dark.


You will prepare your equipment (replace batteries for headlamp and camera) before you go to bed by 7 PM and try to catch a few hours of shuteye before your summit attempt!

  • Elevation: 4,200m to 4,550m

  • Distance: 5km

Day 7

Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Wake at 11:30 PM for tea or coffee and biscuits and then depart Barafu on your bid for the peak.


You will climb 6 hours through thick scree following multiple switchbacks between the Ratzel and Rebmann glaciers until you reach Stella Point (18,650 ft/5,685 m).  You have just completed what most climbers consider to be the most challenging part of their trek.  Depending on your pace to this point, you may get the chance to enjoy the majestic sunrise during your short rest here.  


Although you will be fatigued, it is important to keep moving due to the extreme cold.  At Stella Point, you have joined up with the last bit of the Marangu Route.  You will hike along the rim for another 1-2 hours until you reach your ultimate goal of Uhuru Peak.  Congratulations, you are now standing on the Roof of Africa!


You will have time to take pictures with the world-famous Uhuru Peak sign, but it is important to begin your descent soon in order to allow yourself enough time to rest at the Barafu Camp.  After a 3-hour descent down sliding scree, you will reach Barafu to have a short rest while you collect your gear and then continue down the path back into the forest camp of Mweka.  You might experience a little rain in the afternoon, so be sure to have your rain gear in your daypack.  Enjoy some dinner and some well-deserved sleep.  


At Mweka Camp, the office sells bottled water, soft drinks, candy bars, and beer.

  • Elevation: 4,550m to 5,895m to 3,100m

  • Distance: 7km up and then 22km down

Day 8

Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Wake up for breakfast as usual, pack, and descend through a short, scenic, 3-hour hike to Mweka Gate.  Wait until you and all of your gear has reached the gate before you tip your staff.


After registering at the gate, you will wait to receive your summit certificates (green for those who reached Stella Point and gold for those who reach Uhuru Peak).  From the gate, if the road is too muddy for vehicles, you will continue your hike for 1 hour to the Mweka Village, 3km away.  


There you will enjoy a hot lunch before being driven back to Moshi where you can have your first hot shower in days!

  • Elevation: 3,100m to 1,980m

  • Distance: 10km

bottom of page