Kilimanjaro – Shira Route

Shira Route

The Shira Route is a difficult route that begins in the west, at Shira Gate. What is unque about Shira is that the first section of the trail is not hiked, but rather driven. The Route provide a better chance to acclimatize to the altitude and better summit chances.

The route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down Mweka, in the south-east. Because the starting point is far from Moshi and Arusha, it is more expensive to climb this route due to the added transportation cost of getting climbers to the gate. Scenicaly, Shira is beautiful because it crosses the spectacular Shira Plateau, and then combines with the Machame route to share its viewpoints around the southern circuit. Shira has low traffic until it combines with Machame.

Shira is better for those who are confident in their ability to acclimatize to altitude, and to walk over steeper paths for extended periods.

Day 1:

The starting point for the Shira Route is the Londorossi Gate (same as for the Lemosho Route) to River Camp.

  • Londorossi Gate/Shira trail head – River Camp (~3050 m/~10000 ft)
  • Walking distance: 7 km/4.4 miles
  • Walking time: 4 hours
  • Altitude gain: ~950 m/~3100 ft

Day 2 :

The next day begins with a steady climb up the slope towards the Morum Hill and Morum Barrier. This is where the Shira Plateau begins (and half of the climbers begin their Shira trek).

  • River Camp – Shira Huts (3850 m/12630 ft) via Shira Cathedral
  • Walking distance: 12 km/7.5 miles
  • Walking time: 6-8 hours
  • Altitude gain: 800 m/2630 ft
Shira Route Map

Day 3 :

The day three starts with a good two and half hours of walking mostly gently uphill (and scrambling a bit for two short sections). Following the slope of the Shira Plateau. After a much deserved lunch break near the Lava Tower you descend into the beautiful Barranco Valley.

  • Shira Huts – via Lava Tower (4640 m/15220 ft) – Barranco Huts (3985 m/13070 ft)
  • Walking distance: 9 km/5.6 miles
  • Walking time: 6-8 hours
  • Altitude gain: 135 m/440 ft (790 m/2590 ft to Lava Tower)

Day 4:

Today you will tackle the Barranco Wall. The wall is exposed and you will use your hands to steady yourself, but you can pretty much walk all the way to the top. Only at a few points do you need to scramble. (And you don’t need experience to scramble…). You’ll have a short break to enjoy the stunning views, and then it’s down again on a much gentler slope. From here it’s another couple of hours over volcanic screen and through several small, sheltered valleys, until you reach the Karanga Valley Camp.

  • Barranco Huts – Karanga Camp (4040 m/13255 ft)
  • Walking distance: 5.5 km/3.5 miles
  • Walking time: 4-5 hours
  • Altitude gain: 55 m/185 ft

Day 5 :

The walk today is short. You leave the Karanga Valley on an easy but steep path, through an increasinlgy inhospitable landscape, with the Southern Glaciers looming to your left. The path keeps getting steeper until you reach the Barafu Camp for lunch.

  • Karanga Camp – Barafu Huts (4680 m/15360 ft)
  • Walking distance: 3.5 km/ 2.2 miles
  • Walking time: 4-5 hours
  • Altitude gain: 640 m/2105 ft

Day 6 :

You will head in a north-westerly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. For many climbers the 6-hour walk to Stella point is mentally and physically the most challenging on the route. At Stella Point (5739m) you will stop for a short rest. you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see (weather permitting). From Stella Point you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak. The time you will spend on the summit will depend on the weather conditions. Enjoy your accomplishment and a day to remember for the rest of your life!

  • Summit attempt via Stella Point (5752 m/18871 ft) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m/19340 ft) and descent to Millenium Camp (3820 m/12530 ft) (or to Mweka Hut)
  • Walking distance: 5 km/3 miles ascent + 10 km/6.2 miles descent
  • Walking time: 5-6 hrs + 1-2 hours up, 5-6 hours down (the overall walking time may vary from 10 – 16 hours)
  • Altitude gain: 1072 m/ 3511 ft (Stella Point) or 1215 m/3980 ft (Uhuru Peak)
  • Descent: 2075 m/6810 ft

Day 7 :

After beakfast you set off, down… It’s your last day on the mountain and you may have trouble getting enthusiastic about your surrounds.

  • Millenium Camp – Shira Gate
  • Walking distance: 20 km/12.5 miles
  • Walking time: 5 hours