Lemosho Route

Optimal time – Highest success rate – Less busy than most – Scenic

Hikers in rainforest climate zone on Lemosho Route on Kilimanjaro


The Lemosho route is a somewhat newer route on Kilimanjaro that starts on the West side of the mountain. It is quite similar to the Northern Circuit, except that it does not pass the northern side of the mountain (but the first few days and the last two days are the same). It is a good balance of spending optimal time on the mountain to adjust to the elevation without the extra length (in both distance and time) that the Northern Circuit requires.

By starting on the west side of the mountain it starts off at a more gradual incline which helps with acclimatization. It also avoids the crowds for the first two days until it meets up with the popular and busier Machame route. The Lemosho route is a preferred route by reputable guides because of the limited crowds, incredible beauty and high success rate.

The first few days give climbers a gradual ascent and allow them to adjust to the rising altitude on the Shira Plateau. It should be noted that Shira was one of the three volcanic cones (in addition to Kibo and Mawenzi) before it collapsed a couple of million years ago. The route then heads towards Moir Hut (where the Northern Circuit route splits to the North) and heads south towards Barranco Hut which is a beautiful section of trail. It them climbs the intimidating, challenging and often remembered “Barranco Wall” to the lovely Karanga Camp. Eventually it leads to the Barafu Hut whish is the last camp before summit day.

There are a few climbing tours that offer additional optional days. One option is to add an extra day at a camp called Lava Tower. This would be done to help you acclimatize to the altitude prior to your summit day and help. It is a great way to not only get used to the altitude, but also rest your muscles for the upcoming summit day.

Another option (which is not for the timid!) is to stay an extra night at Crater Camp after you summit. This is an amazing opportunity in that you will be camping inside the actual crater at an elevation of 18,865 feet (5,750 m). You will be camping right at the base of the Furtwangler Glacier. The Reusch Crater is an incredible site with its circular crater and ash pit that is 400 feet deep. However, this is only for experienced hikers and experienced guides. And, oftentimes, the facilities will be trimmed down as most guiding companies will not take the full crew to this height. The threat of altitude sickness and the more serious Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is quite high, so this is only offered on the longer routes of Lemosho and Northern Circuit). But if you are very experienced hiker and have the extra money for such an adventure, it is an incredible experience!

The last day follows the shortest route down the hill by taking the popular Mweka route and heading back to the town of Moshi by bus.


Day 1: Londorossi Gate (2,000 m/6,561 ft) to Mti Mkumbwa (2,650 m/8,692 ft)

  • Hike time: 3 hours
  • Elevation change: + 650 m / +2,132 feet
  • Estimated distance: 10 km / 6.2 miles
  • Final elevation: 2,650 m / 8,692 feet

After a 1.5 hour drive from Moshi/Arusha check in is at the Londorossi Gate. Day 1 is fairly easy with a 3-4 hour climb to Mti Mkubwa Camp.


Day 2: Mti Mkubwa (2,650 m/8,692 ft) to Shira One Camp(3,609 m/11,841 ft.)

  • Hike time: 5 – 6 hours
  • Elevation change: +950 m / +3,116 feet
  • Estimated distance: 12 km / 7.5 miles
  • Final elevation: 3,609 m / 11,841 feet

After a few hours walk we will see the end of the Montane forest and the beginning of a climb through Heather and Moorland region to the edge of the Shira Caldera. Destination is the scenic Shira One Camp.


Day 3: Shira One Camp(3,609 m/11,841 ft) to Shira Two Camp(3,849 m/12,628 ft)

  • Hike time: 5 - 6 hours
  • Elevation change: +240 m / +787 feet
  • Estimated distance: 5 km / 3 miles
  • Final elevation: 3849 m / 12,628 feet

Today is spent on a gentle hike across the Shira Plateau with possible side trips to Shira Cathedral. We will camp at the first high camp of Shira Two.


Day 4: Shira Two Camp (3,849 m/12,628 ft) to Barranco Hut (3,948 m/12,956 ft)

  • Hike time: 5 hours
  • Elevation change: +100 m / +328 feet
  • Estimated distance: 6 km / 3.7 miles
  • Final elevation: 3,948 m / 12,956 feet

The real work of climbing Kilimanjaro begins here. Today the main feature is a slow climb to Lava Camp followed by a descent to the beautiful Barranco Camp. This is the “climb high-sleep low principal” of altitude adjustment.

* An option of an extra overnight day at Lava Camp is sometimes taken to enjoy the scenery and help acclimate to the higher elevation.


Day 5: Barranco Hut (3,900 m/12,800 ft) to Karanga Valley (3,963 m/13,000 ft)

  • Hike time: 3.5 hours
  • Elevation change: +100 m / +328 feet
  • Estimated distance: 4 km / 2.5 miles
  • Final elevation: 3,963 m / 13,000 feet

After a climb of the Great Barranco Wall we continue around the southern circuit train until we reach another scenic location of Karanga Camp. This day is somewhat short to allow for acclimatization.


Day 6: Karanga Valley (3,963 m/13,000 ft) to Barafu Hut (4,600 m/15,091 ft)

  • Hike time: 3.5 hours
  • Elevation change: +600 m / +1,968 feet
  • Estimated distance: 4 km / 2.5 miles
  • Final elevation: 4,600 m / 15,091 feet

The trail from Karanga to Barafu reaches the bleak high desert of Kilimanjaro. Barafu Camp is a basic camp geared towards the business of reaching the summit. Today involves careful adjustment to altitude and we may face the elements of mother nature with the weather as we become exposed to cross winds at Barafu Ridge (4870 m / 16,000 feet). We aim to eat and retire earlier on this day as we will rise by midnight to start the trek to the summit.


Day 7: Barafu Camp (4,600 m/15,091 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5,896 m/19,343 ft) and then to Mweka Camp (3,100 m/10,170 ft)

  • Summit time: 7 hours
  • Elevation change: +1,300 m / +4,265 feet
  • Estimated distance: 5 km / 3.2 miles
  • Final elevation: 5,896 m / 19,343 feet
  • Descent time: 5 hours
  • Elevation change: -2,800 m / -9,186 feet
  • Estimated distance: 8 km / 6.4 miles
  • Final elevation: 3,700 m / 10,170 feet

We will set off by 1 am at the latest in order to reach Stella Point by sunrise. You will be trekking up scree slopes to the rim where we need to continue around this in order to reach the summit - Uhuru Peak at 5,895 m (19,340 feet). Take your time to enjoy the indescribable view and peace before our descent. We will be heading back to Millennium Camp at 3,730 m (12,237 feet) for a hearty lunch. We will then descend to Mweka camp at 3,100 m (10,170 feet). This whole day, including ascent and descent is tough and can take up to 12 - 15 hours of trekking. It takes mental preparation and physical stamina. The key is to just keep moving forward. It's a huge achievement!

* Following the summit, there is the option to stay overnight at Crater Camp in the Kibo Crater. There is a lot of logistical planning for this, so be sure to inquire about this option when you first book your trip.

Day 8: Mweka Hut (3,100 m/10,170 ft) to Mweka Gate (1,828 m/6,000 ft)

  • Descent time: 4 hours
  • Elevation change: -1,250 m / -4,101 feet
  • Estimated distance: 10km / 6.2 feet
  • Final elevation: 1,828 m / 6,000 feet

On the last day, we will continue our descent across the Moorland towards Mweka Gate where your trekking experience comes to an end! This day is still fairly strenuous, since your body will be sore from the previous day. The temperature is hotter due to the lower elevation and because you are in a rainforest, it can be quite muggy and wet. There is no rush to get to the bottom, so we can take our time. We should be aiming for 5 to 6 hours. When we arrive at the gate, you may purchase a beer or soft drink and we will transport you to your accommodation for crew celebration and relaxation before a well-deserved sleep.

Does this adventure sound interesting to you?  Let us know if you have any questions.  We've got lots of guides that would love to make a trip on the Lemosho Route something you will never forget!  Contact us below.

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