About the Shira Route

Less-traveled and older than many of the other routes leading up to the summit of Kilimanjaro, the Shira Route is often overlooked by many adventurers due to the high elevation at its starting point. It shares plenty of similarities with the popular Lemosho Route, due largely to the fact that it is the original path and the Lemosho is the improved version. As such, you can expect the same breathtaking views and variety of terrain that is found on that trail.

While it may be just as scenic, the Shira route does have one drawback that causes it to see less foot traffic than other routes up Kili, mainly the aforementioned altitude at the start of the trek. Rather than climbing uphill from a lower elevation, the Shira Route begins with a drive up to the Shira Gate at 11800ft, bypassing the rainforest ecological zone and causing many people to experience some symptoms of altitude sickness.

Along the journey you will traverse the Shira Ridge and Shira Plateau, pass below the Southern Icefield, and begin your ascent of the summit from Barafu. After taking in the breathtaking views from the top of Kili, your descent will take you down to the Mweka Gate.

If you are in great physical condition and have experience with trekking at high altitudes, then the Shira Route just might be the perfect trail for you to take. If not, don’t sweat it! There are plenty of other spectacular Mount Kilimanjaro adventure tours that feature an easier route and longer acclimatization period.

If you are just in the beginning steps of planning a trek to the top of Africa, make sure to check out our complete guide to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Shira Route Map
Shira Route Map

Shira Route Itinerary

Day 1 Begin at the Shira Gate

Day one of your Kilimanjaro adventure will see you drive to the high altitude start point at the Shira Gate. Here, you will begin your trek through the shrub-covered terrain to reach your overnight location.

Elevation Change: N/A
Distance: 2.5mi
Time: 1-2h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Simba Camp

Day 2 Traverse the Shira Plateau

Today you will experience a pretty laid back day of hiking across the Shira Plateau that will help you acclimatize to the altitude. Take in the beauty of the volcanic rock formations, before arriving at Shira 2 Camp for the night.

Elevation Change: 699ft Ascent
Distance: 3.7mi
Time: 2h
Terrain: Heath
Overnight Location: Shira 2 Camp

Day 3 Hike to the Lava Tower

Day 3 of the trek will be a bit more strenuous, as you will climb uphill towards the impressive Lava Tower. Afterwards, your route will descend through Senecio Forest to the Barranco Camp.

Elevation Change: 2690ft Ascent/2146ft Descent
Distance: 6.2mi
Time: 6-8h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Barranco Camp

Day 4 Trek to Karanga Camp

On paper this day looks like a flat walk, when in reality there will be some serious changes in elevation. You will begin with a descent into a ravine, before climbing up the steep 902ft cliff known as the Barranco Wall. After this, you will descend once more into the Karanga Valley and spend the night at Karanga Camp.

Elevation Change: 62ft Ascent
Distance: 3.1mi
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Karanga Camp

Day 4. Trek to Karanga Camp
Day 4. Trek to Karanga Camp

Day 5 Climb to Barafu Camp

Today you will join up with the Mweka Trail, climbing further uphill towards your overnight location at Barafu Camp. It will be an early night at camp, as you will need to rest up for an early summit attempt around midnight.

Elevation Change: 2224ft
Distance: 2.5mi
Time: 4-5h
Terrain: Alpine Desert
Overnight Location: Barafu Camp

Day 6 Summit Day

Awaking in the wee hours of the morning, you will begin the physically demanding climb up tot he summit of Uhuru. Along the journey you will be subject to rough terrain and cold weather, but aslo a picturesque sunrise and breathtaking views from the summit of Mount kilimanjaro. After reaching the top, you will begin your descent toward Mweka Camp.

Elevation Change: 4009ft Ascent/ 9275ft Descent
Distance: 3.1mi
Time: 11-14h
Terrain: Arctic/Alpine Desert/Rainforest
Overnight Location: Mweka Camp

Day 7 Descend to Mweka Gate

The final day of your Kilimanjaro adventure will see you descend further through the rainforest to reach the Mweka Gate. Here, you will collect your summit certificate, before meeting up with your driver for a ride back to Moshi.

Elevation Change: 4685ft Descent
Distance: 6.2mi
Time: 3-4h
Terrain: Rain Forest
Overnight Location: Hotel in Moshi

Plan Your Kilimanjaro Adventure

Whether it is your first time on a multi-day trek and you are wondering how hard it is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, or you are a seasoned adventurer simply wondering when the best time of year is to climb to the highest point on the African continent, you might have a few lingering questions that need to be answered. For this reason, we have put together a series of articles that cover every aspect of planning your life changing adventure.

So whether you need to know what to add to your packing list, if you should secure travel insurance, or how you should prepare your body for such a challenging feat, you can rest assured that we have you covered. And for the finer details regarding traveling to a foreign country, such as vaccines, travel visas, and other regulations, be sure to check available online resources like the Center for Disease Control and the Tanzanian Embassy, as they will provide the most current information.

Traveling to the opposite end of the world for a rugged and challenging adventure can be daunting, but at least you can eliminate the stress of planning by gathering as much information as possible and arriving prepared, which in our experience makes the actual trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro all the more enjoyable!