Kilimanjaro Shira Route
The Shira route is one of the older Kilimanjaro routes, and is near identical to the Lemosho route. The only difference between them is that the starting point of Shira is higher. In fact, the Lemosho route is actually the ‘new and improved’ version of the Shira route.
It approaches from the Western side of the mountain featuring camping throughout. It starts relatively high above sea level and is therefore less frequented. The higher starting point compared to Lemosho results in a poorer acclimatisation profile.
Follow Alice’s view
Along with the Lemosho route, the Shira route has all the qualities you could ask for in a Kilimanjaro climb including stunningly beautiful views and varied terrain throughout. The only difference between the two is that the Shira route starts at a much higher point above sea level; 3,600m compared to 2,360m. Thats over 1000m difference! This means that climbers are at a higher risk of developing altitude related symptoms from the first day. As such we recommend opting for the Lemosho route over Shira, though would be happy to recommend this route to those who are a seasoned hikers or used to living at high altitudes.
✓ Beautiful scenery
✓ Enjoy panoramic viewpoints
✓ Variety of terrain
✓ Quieter than other routes
– Poor acclimatisation profile at the start
– Not possible in wet season
The Shira route is for climbers who: want a climb that ticks all of the boxes but are able to conquer the high altitude at the start
What is the scenery like on the Shira route?
Along with the Lemosho route, the Shira route is known for being one of the most ‘beautiful’ Kilimanjaro routes. The spectacular western approach offers trekkers the experience of hiking across the Shira Plateau. It is one of the largest high altitude plateaus in the world and gives fantastic views of the dramatic Shira Cathedral. Views are incredible, especially from the southern circuit. The only difference between the Shira and Lemosho route scenery is on the first couple of days.
How hard is the Shira route?
No Kilimanjaro climb is easy, but the Shira route is generally considered a ‘harder’ climb because of the fact that the trail starts at a much higher altitude. This means that a lot of people can fall victim to the effects of altitude right from the start. The rest of the climb from day 3 has great climb high sleep low opportunities. It is undoubtedly a beautiful climb, and with the right Kilimanjaro preparation it is achievable. We do however recommend the Lemosho route as an easier alternative, without having to compromise on scenery or terrain variety.
What is the Shira route summit success rate?
The Shira route doesn’t have the best acclimatisation profile due to the fact that it starts at high altitude. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all Kilimanjaro operators for the 7 day route is 85%.
How busy is the Shira route?
The Shira route is generally less frequented than other Kilimanjaro routes such as the Machame route. You are free from big crowds on the first couple of days. You then join the Lemosho route on the evening of day 2 at Shira 2 Camp, and then the Machame route near the Lava Tower. This is when crowds can get a little bigger in peak season.
What is the accommodation on the Shira route?
The Shira route only offers camping accommodation. As part of our climbing package all of your camping equipment is included; tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and pillow. The tents are taken up and down each day by your dedicated mountain crew.
How long does it take to hike the Shira route?
The Shira route can be completed in either 7 or 8 days. The extra day gives you more time to acclimatise. In our experience, most people who have completed the right Kilimanjaro preparation and are okay with the higher altitude at the start of the climb, are fine with the 7 day option.
What is the Shira route cost?
Follow Alice offers the Shira route as a 7 day group climb or private climb. Our 7 day Shira route costs $2585 per person (based on double occupancy). This includes 7 days on the mountain and 1 day either side at our beautiful parter lodge in Arusha, Kigongoni Lodge. For more information on the inclusions / exclusions and more details about the trip, head to our Kilimanjaro climb page.
“The climb was tough, but as a first time high altitude climber I never felt worried and always felt like I knew what was happening.” Stephen Hemmings
7 Day Shira Route Overview
Starting from Shira Gate to the summit and finish at Mweka Gate
|Day||Start||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Finish||Altitude (m)||Altitude (ft)||Time (hrs)||Distance (km)||Distance (miles|
|1||Shira Gate||3,600||11,800||Simba Camp||3,600||11,800||1-2||4||2|
|2||Simba Camp||3,600||11,800||Shira 2 Camp||3,810||12,500||2||6||4|
|3||Shira 2 Camp||3,810||12,500||Lava Tower||4,630||15,190||4-5||7||4|
|Lava Tower||4,630||15,190||Barranco Camp||3,976||13,044||2-3||3||2|
|4||Barranco Camp||3,976||13,044||Karanga Camp||3,995||13,106||4-5||5||3|
|5||Karanga Camp||3,995||13,106||Barafu Camp||4,673||15,331||4-5||4||2|
|6||Barafu Camp||4,673||15,331||Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||7-8||5||3|
|Uhuru Peak||5,895||19,341||Mweka Camp||3,068||10,065||4-6||12||7|
|7||Mweka Camp||3,068||10,065||Mweka Gate||1,640||5,380||3-4||10||6|
Shira Route Itinerary
The Shira route is near identical to the Lemosho route, the difference lying in the first couple of days. Where the Lemosho route starts at the Londorossi Gates, the Shira route bypasses this and begins further north and higher up at the Shira Gate. So before the climbing can begin, you will leave Moshi and take a long drive from Moshi to Shira Ridge, bypassing the rainforest zone. You then join the Lemosho route on the evening of day 2 at Shira 2 Camp. After passing through Lava Tower, the Shira route then follows a path known as the Southern Circuit, traversing underneath Kilimanjaro’s Southern Ice Field. You then summit from Barafu, and descend via Mweka.
The Shira route is the Lemosho route’s predecessor, updated because it can be particularly tough at the start
Shira Gate to Simba Camp
After an early breakfast, our driver will take you to Londorossi Park Gate. This journey is 2-3h long. Here we get recorded and enter the national park. From here you will make your way to the Shira Gate. Your climb begins here as you trek through heath and moorland terrains and arrive at Simba Camp where you will stay for the night.
Simba Camp to Shira 2 Camp
Today your journey passes through the vast moorland rock formations. Expect volcanic rock plateaus. You will cross the Shira Cathedral which is one of the 3 peaks of Kilimanjaro. You will then set up camp at Shira Camp.
Part 1 | Shira 2 Camp via Lava Tower
Today, we do our first acclimatisation walk up to an impressive rock formation called Lava Tower at 4,630m (15,419ft). It takes 5h to get there and is a first highlight on the way to the summit.
Part 2 | Lava Tower to Baranco Camp
And now we are on to part 2 of today’s Shira route trail. After lunch at Lava Tower, we head down and reach Barranco Campsite in about 2h. The camp is located in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Wall (“Breakfast Wall”).
Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
This is a short 4-5h hiking day meant for acclimatisation. After an early morning breakfast, it’s time for us to conquer the Great Barranco Wall. Although it may look intimidating at first, our travellers usually state it was much easier than they anticipated. At the top of the wall, you will be above the clouds with superb views of the southern ice-fields and the summit. The trail then winds up and down until we arrive at Karanga Campsite where we spend the night.
Karanga to Barafu Camp
It’s getting real! We’re now very close to the summit and will have some amazing views of the mountain during our short 2-3h ascent to the last base, Barafu Campsite, at 4,600m (15,091ft). An early dinner will be served so you can get some rest before attempting the summit that same night. Before you go to bed, our guide will brief you in detail on how best to prepare for summit night. Don’t worry, you’ll be in great hands!
Part 1 | Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak (summit day!)
Our guide will wake you up around midnight for tea and biscuits. You then begin your summit attempt which many describe as the most mentally and physically challenging part of the whole Kilimanjaro climb. The route heads northwest into the dark night ascending over stone scree. In about 6h, we’ll reach Stella Point (5,685m/18,651ft), located on the crater rim. After enjoying the magnificent sunrise, we continue for an hour or so on a snow-covered trail before reaching Uhuru Peak (5,895m / 19,341ft), the very top of Africa and a life-time accomplishment! Be prepared to be overwhelmed and don’t forget to take your pictures.
Part 2 | Uhuru Peak and back down to Mweka Camp
After reaching the summit, we descend down to Mweka Campsite at 3,110m (10,204ft). Here, we’ll spend our final night on the mountain after having hiked for about 12-15h. You’ll fall asleep immediately, trust us!
Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate
We wake up at our last campsite down in the rainforest. After breakfast, we’ll say goodbye to all of our helpers that have been working so hard throughout the week to get us successfully to the summit. Helpers that have become friends during our days on the mountain. We do the last bit of hiking down to the foot of the mountain, where our driver will be waiting to bring us back to Kigongoni Lodge. Time for a beer and great celebration dinner!
Feeling inspired to climb the Shira route? Got some more questions that you want answered? Shoot us a message! We are always happy to hear from you.
Other useful Kilimanjaro topics
- Kilimanjaro routes
- Kilimanjaro packing list
- Best time to climb Kilimanjaro
- Kilimanjaro preparation
- Kilimanjaro safety
- Tipping on Kilimanjaro
- What is it like to climb Kilimanjaro
The 7 Kilimanjaro routes
- Lemosho Route
The Lemosho is the most beautiful Kilimanjaro route
- Machame Route
The Machame is the most popular Kilimanjaro route
- Marangu Route
The Marangu route only offers hut accommodation
- Rongai Route
The Rongai is the only Kilimanjaro route that approaches from the North
- Shira Route
The Shira route Approaches from the Western side of Kilimanjaro
- Northern Circuit Route
The Northern Circuit is the newest and longest Kilimanjaro route
- Umbwe Route
The Umbwe is the shortest, steepest and hardest Kilimanjaro route