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Shira Route Mount Kilimanjaro stands on the East African plateau, on the Tanzanian side of the Kenya border, overshadowing its smaller sister volcano, Mount Meru. Mount Kilimanjaro is deemed to be a dormant volcano, created during the formation of the Great Rift Valley in the Pleistocene era.
Kilimanjaro National Park comprises all of the mountain above the tree line. The name ‘Kilimanjaro’ has varying interpretations, from “Mountain of Greatness”, Mountain of Whiteness”, “Mountain of Caravans”, and “Small Mountain of Caravans” which are all names derived from the Swahili, or Chagga dialects. In addition, there is a word in Swahili, “kilima” which means top of the hill. An additional claim is that it comes from the word “kilemakyaro” in the Chagga language, meaning “impossible journey”.
The Shira route, approaches Kilimanjaro’s summit from the west and crosses the caldera of Shira Volcano before heading beneath the southern ice fields of Kibo. The route is seldom used by other trekkers and so your initial two days on the mountain are less crowded than on most other routes. The remainder of the route joins in with the routes from Lemosho and Machame. Your starting altitude is higher than your end point altitude.
Shira Route itinerary
Day 1: Arrive
Shira Route arrive Kilimanjaro International Airport and transfer to hotel. Overnight at Impala Hotel.
Shira Route after breakfast, we head out on a 5 hour drive to the Londorossi Park Gate at 2200m, taking in sights of the east rift valley and animals en route. After completing park formalities, we drive for a further 26km to the Simba River where the trailhead begins.
After a packed punch, we trek abut 3 hours to the Simba Campsite. The trek begins. We climb for 3 to 4 hours, with a packed lunch en-route, to Simba campsite at 3500m.
Shira Route after breaking camp, we begin the short hike up to Shira Camp, at a height of 3840m. This is usually takes no more than 2 hours, but this rest is required for adequate acclimatization. In the early afternoon as the clouds lift, you
should have clear view of the west face of Kibo volcano (commonly referred to as Kilimanjaro) After lunch, you can take the chance to walk up towards Lava Tower in the to aid acclimatisation, of jus relax around camp taking in views of Mt Meru in the distance.
Shira Route after breakfast, you will quickly leave the moorland scrub behind and enter into a moonscape of semi-alpine desert, while you hike constantly upwards toward Lava Tower , and impressive structure near the base of Arrow Glacier, at 4600m. Around 4200m, you may start to feel the effects of altitude with shortness of breath and irritability, assuming it had not taken effect earlier on the climb. You still stop for lunch either before or at Lava Tower . (If you plan to add an extra acclimatisation day, this is a good place to stop)
Shira Route after Lava Tower , your route will head down by almost 680m to the Barranco camping. This is the day where you will follow the principle of climb high and sleep low. Barranco camp is situated in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for the preparation of your dinner.
Shira Route early morning, you will head up the impressive Great Barranco Wall – a climb much easier than anticipated. This will bring you out below Heim Glacier. The route then heads down through the Karanga Valley over several ridges and valleys where you will see the magnificent giant Senecio Kilimanjari plant . You will then join up with your later descent route where you will head left up the ridge for another hour, before reaching Barafu Hut.
Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice”. The summit is a further 1345m up. It is this ascent that you will tackle in the early hours of the next morning. That night, it is important to prepare your gear, lay out your clothing etc for your summit attempt. It is also highly advisable to sleep with your water bottles to prevent them from freezing up overnight. Ensure that your headlamp had a new battery and that you have spare camera batteries if necessary. You will head for bed around 18h30.
Shira Route you will rise around 23h30, and after some tea and biscuits you will head off “pole pole” into the night. Heading in a North westerly direction you will ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point (5685) on the crater rim. The hike up is about 6 hours and is for many climbers, the most mentally and physically challenging part of the entire route. It is advisable NOT to stop too long at Stella Point (5685m). Take a short rest and head the next 200m, most probably through snow, for the summit. The remainder of the climb to Uhuru Peak will take anything from 1-2 hours. From Stella Point you will normally encounter snow all the way on your 2-hour ascent to Uhuru Peak . How long you spend on the summit will depend on the weather, your levels of fatigue and the guidance of your guide etc.
After your moment of glory, you will head back to Barafu, in about 2 hours where you will have a chance to rest, buy a cola or two before collecting the rest of your gear and heading down towards Mweka hut (3100m). While the route is not difficult, it is long and will take you down the rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest. The camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Dinner, and washing water will be prepared and drinking water, soft drinks, chocolates and beer is available from the camp office!
Shira Route after an early and well-deserved breakfast, it is a short 3-hour scenic hike back to the Park gate. It is recommended not to pay your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely. At Mweka gate you will have to sign your name and details in a register in order to receive you summit certificates. Those climbers who reached Stella Point (5685m) are issued with green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak (5895m) receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate you will continue down into the Mweka village, normally a muddy 3 km (1 hour) hike. In the Mweka village you will meet up with your team and bus, and head back to the hotel in Arusha a long over due hot shower.
Day 8: Depart
Shira Route after breakfast, transfer to Kilimanjaro airport for your departure flight Zanzibar/ Home