Lemosho

Lemosho route approaches Kilimanjaro through forest and moorland from the south-west, taking the trekker across the caldera of Shira Plateau and on to the visually dramatic southern flank. The route then continues under the Southern icefields of Kibo. The final ascent is made via Barafu route; descent is via Mweka Route.

Lemosho is a comparatively little-used approach route, but it offers many advantages over other routes. It is an especially scenic route – the rainforest is beautiful on this part of the mountain – and it offers a fantastic acclimatisation profile – crossing the wilderness of Shira Plateau gives the climber a good chance to get used to the altitude before tackling the busy Barafu Route to the summit.

Descent is down the well-maintained Mweka Route.

What is the scenery like on Lemosho route?
As a relatively little-used approach route, Lemosho offers the climber the chance to see a wilder, more beautiful side of Kilimanjaro, particularly on the initial approach through the rainforest. Above the forest a zone of giant heather leads to the Alpine heath, then on to the high altitude desert and the snow-capped summit.

The most spectacular section of Lemosho route is undoubtedly the traverse of the Shira Plateau – a vast high altitude caldera. The views of this caldera from different vantage points such as the Shira Cathedral and Moir Hut are especially memorable. On a 9-day Lemosho climb it is normal to camp at Moir Hut and then visit the Lent Group on the north western side of Kilimanjaro, from where you can look down onto the plains of Kenya.

The trek to the foot of the famous outcrop Lava Tower is another notable feature of Lemosho Route, along with the drop back down to the flora-rich Great Barranco. The views from Barranco Camp (below the wall) and from the top of the wall are simply stunning. Then on to the “Arctic” summit and amazing views into the actual crater of Kilimanjaro as the trail contours around to Uhuru Point the Roof of Africa!

In short, Lemosho is one of the most scenic routes on Kilimanjaro.

How long is Lemosho route?
Lemosho itineraries are either 7, 8 or 9 days long. The optimum for altitude acclimatisation and budget is Lemosho8. Lemosho7, in our view, is a little too rushed.

A diversion to the wild, and rarely visited north flank overlooking Kenya may be taken with Lemosho9 – possibly the second best itinerary on the mountain for giving the climber a great scenic overview and maximum chance of reaching the summit.

How tough is Lemosho route?
Lemosho’s start point is on the south west of Kilimanjaro, so a relatively long but scenically interesting driven transfer is required. The rainforest sector – if wet – can be muddy and slippery, so walking poles are advised. Crossing Shira Plateau is easy trekking and only on Barranco Wall is there any exposure to drop-offs.

In comparison with Rongai and Marangu Routes, the final push to the summit is easier on Lemosho. This is because the trail to the rim of the Crater meets the rim at Stella Point – closer to Uhuru Point than Gilman’s Point on the busier routes. An hour less walking at an altitude of nearly 6000ms make a big difference on summit day!

With generally easy terrain and good routings for longer 8 or 9 day climbs, Lemosho route is one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro for those looking to maximise their chances of reaching the summit.

How does Lemosho route compare with Shira?
Lemosho and Shira both start from the south-west of the Kilimanjaro massif and follow largely the same approach route to the summit. With Shira you are driven up towards the Shira Barrier, thus missing the day one walk through the Lemosho rainforest. The day that you “win” gives you the chance to go to Moir Hut, the Lent Group on the north western side of Kilimanjaro, before re-joining the standard Lemosho approach to the summit. Both routes come off via Mweka Forest; so you have a beautiful rainforest walk here.

On Shira route, the drive towards the barrier drops you off at a trekking start point approximately 2800ms in elevation. You then walk that first day up to the rim of Shira Caldera and your camp at 3550ms – about 4-5 hrs walking. With Lemosho route you start at the Glades at approximately 2000ms and walk up to 2800 to Big Tree Camp. The next day you reach Shira Camp at 3550ms. It’s a gentler ascent.

The best of both worlds is our Lemosho 9-day climb which starts as per Lemosho (8 days), but then replicates the Shira extra day at the spectacular Moir Hut and Lent Group. It costs more but the added bonus in scenery and acclimatisation makes it a great choice.

When is the best time to climb?
See our Kilimanjaro seasons page for advice on the best times of year to climb, applicable to all routes.

What is the accommodation like?
You will sleep in tents, not huts. The early camps are quieter on Lemosho route compared to the busy southern routes of Machame and Marangu, but once Barranco Camp is reached, then the route up Barafu Ridge is shared with Machame Route climbers and the very small numbers coming up Umbwe Route.

Who should choose Lemosho route?
Lemosho8, with Shira, is now the high quality standard route on Kilimanjaro for climbers wanting the richest array of scenery and a peaceful trail. Lemosho is one of our favourite routes because it is relatively quiet until you “bottleneck” on the final summit approach. The scenery, including the majestic southern flank above Barranco, is some of the best on the mountain. Add in an extra day, then Lemosho9 with Moir Hut and the Lent Group makes this route exceptional for scenery and altitude acclimatisation.

Note that Lemosho is an ascent-only route; you will descend via Mweka Route, passing Millennium Camp and the Mweka reaches of the beautiful southern rainforest before reaching Mweka Gate.

Like other wilderness routes, such as Rongai, Lemosho’s remote starting point means that it is marginally more expensive than the popular southern routes, Marangu and Machame.

In short, Lemosho is a great traverse route that takes in the most magnificent scenery on Kilimanjaro.