Shira Route, along with Lemosho, approaches Kilimanjaro from the south-west. The drive to Londorossi Gate is exactly the same as for Lemosho, but unlike Lemosho, the actual trek starts after a short driven transfer up from Londorossi Gate to just below the Shira Barrier.  This effectively “wins” one day and enables Shira8 trekkers to cross the caldera of Shira Plateau and go to Moir Hut and the Lent Group on the north west flank of Kilimanjaro. Then the route re-joins Lemosho and heads to the visually dramatic southern flank, before continuing under the Southern ice fields of Kibo. The final ascent is via Barafu route.

Descent is down the well maintained Mweka Route, where the rainforest is particularly beautiful. Shira, like Lemosho, is a great traverse route that takes in some of the most magnificent scenery on Kilimanjaro.

NB. Much of Shira Route runs parallel to, or on the same trails as, Lemosho route, so there’s necessarily a lot of overlap between our info pages for each route.

What is the scenery like on Shira route?
The approach on day one with the part drive to Shira Barrier is not scenically interesting, particularly compared to Lemosho’s initial trek through the rainforest. This quickly changes, however. From the Barrier, the route crosses Shira Plateau, characterised as Alpine heath, and then goes to the wonderful camping site at Moir Hut, with remarkable views all the way back across Shira Plateau. After offering a glimpse of the plains of Kenya the trail turns back towards the southern flank, with its majestic scenery around and above Barranco. Then on to the high altitude desert and the Arctic summit as the trail contours around Kilimanjaro’s Crater to Uhuru Point, the Roof of Africa! This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful routes to the summit of Kilimanjaro, helped considerably by the fact that it accommodates fewer climbers.

How long is Shira route?
Shira itineraries are typically either 7 or 8 days long. The optimum route for both altitude acclimatisation and budget is Shira 8, for which we organise regular open groups that anyone can join.

How tough is Shira route?
Shira route, like Lemosho, is easy to begin with. The trek across Shira Plateau is relatively gentle and only on Barranco Wall is there any exposure to drop-offs.

On which note, there is a degree of unnecessary worry from trekkers about Barranco Wall. From below it looks like an imposing face but in reality there is a well-worn trail and at any exposed points guides will give a helping hand to nervous trekkers. To put this into perspective: in nearly 25 years of organising treks on Kilimanjaro we have never had anyone unable to make it up Barranco Wall.

In comparison with Rongai and Marangu Routes the final push to the summit is easier on Shira Route. 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 routers. An hour less walking at an altitude of nearly 6,000 metres make a big difference on summit day!

How does Shira route compare with Lemosho?
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.

With Shira, 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 climb 800ms to Big Tree Camp. The next day you reach Shira Camp at 3550ms. It’s a gentler ascent.

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 on Shira route. Most of the camps don’t have huts. This is preferable, given the poor state of the huts on those routes where they are provided.

During the first few days of climbing, the camps on Shira route are quieter compared to those on the busy southern routes of Machame and Marangu. Once Barranco Camp is reached, however, this changes. The route up Barafu Ridge and onward is shared with Machame Route climbers and the very small numbers coming up Umbwe Route. Almost all routes up Kilimanjaro suffer a similar “bottleneck” towards the end as the routes naturally converge as you approach the summit – the remote North Flank and Northern Circuit routes are the exception.

Who should choose Shira route?
Shira8 is in our view the best open group climb (as distinct from private climbs) on Kilimanjaro for climbers wanting the richest array of scenery and a cost effective group climb. The scenery is some of the best on the mountain, when you consider the stunning trek across Shira plateau and the majestic southern flank above Barranco.

Note that Shira 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.

Do you offer open groups on Shira Route?
Yes. Shira8 is one of regular departures, offered most weeks during the climbing seasons and commences with a rendezvous in Arusha town on Fridays. Please see our Shira8 Fixed Departures for a list of upcoming climbs with availability.