Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Machame Route

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro doesn't need to be a rush as the Lemosho Route Demonstrates. Starting in the jungle the route climbs slowly up to and across the Shira Plateau, taking 3 days to achieve what the Shira route and Machame Route do in 2. This slower pace has made the Lemosho route very popular and gives climbers time to take in more sights and views as they climb Mount Kilimanjaro

Lemosho Route: Overview

Mount Kilimanjaro’s Lemosho Route is one of 2 routes that approach Kibo from the West (the Shira route being the other). The forest on the Lemosho route is the most impressive on the mountain. The Lemosho route is now the third most popular on Mount Kilimanjaro.

The highlight of the Lemosho Route is the 2-day crossing of the Shira Plateau and the visit to the giant lava towers of the Shira Cathedral, regarded as the most picturesque section of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Shira Plateau used to be a massive crater before an eruption caused the volcano to collapse. Lava from a later eruption of Kibo flowed down the Western Breach, filling the remains of Shira’s creator forming the plateau. There is no set route across the plateau so the Lemosho Route is flexible, giving you greater control of what you see as you cross it.

Usually those climbing the Lemosho Route climb due east from the plateau, merging with the Shira Route, Lemosho Route and the Umbwe Route on the Southern Circuit. However for those seeking extra adventure on their climb, the Lemosho Route is a perfect set up for climbing the Western Breach.

The early stages of Lemosho Route are also your best chance of seeing some wildlife on Mount Kilimanjaro, with monkeys prevalent in the forest. The Lemosho Route is perfect for those who want to talk a slightly longer, more relaxed approach to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.


Start:Londorossi Gate
6890ft / 2100m
Finish:Big Tree Camp
8695ft / 2650m
Gain:1805ft / 550m
Duration:3 hours

Pick-up from the hotel is around 8.00am. The drive to the start of the Lemosho route, Londorossi gate, takes 2-3 hours. Don’t forget to drink your water to keep you hydrated as you gain a lot of altitude today. At the gate, Thomas has some paper work to do and then you set off into the forest.

While today’s climb is a short one, it is actually quite tiring with some steep sections on which you will find yourself climbing over tree roots instead of a trail. This is not representative of the entire climb and ass you start to climb above the forest the trail becomes easier to manage. After 2 or 3 hours of climbing you reach Big Tree Camp; your first camp on the Lemosho route. Camp will have been set up for you by the porters and when you arrive you'll get hot drinks, popcorn and warm water for washing followed by dinner. Note that while you get good cell coverage on most of Kilimanjaro, it’s very poor on this part of the Lemosho route so it may be the Shira Plateau on day 3 before you get a useable signal.

Lemosho Route: Day 2 - BIG TREE CAMP TO SHIRA 1

Start:Big Tree Camp
8695ft / 2650m
Finish:Shira 1
11,417ft / 3480m
Gain:2722ft / 830m
Duration:5-6 hours

Wake-up each day at 7.30am. Hot water and a large breakfast is provided, then Thomas will give you a quick medical check before you leave camp.

Today you leave the forest for the heather and moorland and when you reach the lip of the Shira Plateau you get your first view of Kibo, the summit and some excellent views of the Shira peaks. This part of the Lemosho route has got the best views on the entire of Mount Kilimanjaro. Leaving camp, you face 2-3 hours of undulating terrain before coming to a clearing where you can eat lunch and rest. The trees have thinned out and you are now in the heather and moorland zone.

Another 2 hours of steady uphill brings you to the top of the Shira Ridge where you'll get an amazing panorama of Kibo, the plateau, the Shira Cathedral and even the Machame Route. at this point on the Lemosho route the entire of the western and southern flanks of Mount Kilimanjaro are before you. From the top of the ridge you have a short descent to your camp for the night.

Lemosho Route: Day 3 - SHIRA 1 TO SHIRA HUTS

Start:Shira 1
11,417ft / 3480m
Finish:Shira Huts
12,620ft / 3847m
Gain:1203ft / 367m
Duration:6-8 hours

Today you see the Shira Cathedral up close, something few get to do. It was causes by an ancient erruption when the Shira Plateau was not a plateau, rather a massive, active crater. Seeing the Shira Cathedral up close is widely regarded as a great highlight of the Lemosho route. The vast cone of Kibo rises over the plateau so you'll get some good photos! a 1 hour 30 minute hike on flat ground brings you to a junction. Turning south west and continuing for another 1 hour 30 minutes brings you to the Shira Cathedral. Those who don't want to go to the Shira Cathedrial can continue southeast from the junction for 2 hours, arriving in camp at lunchtime.

After exploring the Cathedral you walk east for 1 hour 15 minutes to camp in time for dinner. It can dip below freezing on the Shira Plateau at night so wrap up warm. Keep your hat, gloves and torch handy too in case you need to go to the toilet during the night.


NOTE: Today the Lemosho Route merges with the Shira Route, Machame Route and the Umbwe Route as all 4 join the Southern Circut

Start:Shira Huts
12,600ft / 3840m
Finish:Barranco Camp
13,070ft / 3985m
Gain:470ft / 145m
High Point:Lava Tower
15,230ft / 4642m
Max Gain:2630ft / 802m
Duration:6-8 hours

Today you climb high and sleep low for acclimatization. Your destination is the impressive Barranco Valley. You have 2 options for getting there. Those who prefer a less strenuous day or those feeling the effects of altitude can climb a maximum height of 14,860ft / 4530m just after lunch before descending into the valley. Those who feel up for a little more adventure can continue climbing to the Lava Tower (15,230ft / 4642m) before their descent.

Leaving camp you climb east towards Kibo (the views are breathtaking). The climb is mostly shallow and just before lunch the Lemosho route merges with the Shira route and the Machame route ono the Southern Circut about 4 hours after leaving camp.

After lunch those heading directly to the Barranco Valley descend south for 2 hours to camp. The route has great views of the Lava Tower and the Western Breach. Those heading for the Lava Tower continue to climb a moderate slope for about 45 minutes before arriving at the foot of the Western Breach. After an hour of resting, exploring and even rock climbing you descend to camp, ending day 4 of the Lemosho route. Note that it is normal to have a headache by the end of today - plenty of fluids and a good rest almost always helps greatly.


NOTE: Today's itinerary for the Lemosho Route is the same as the Machame Route, Shira Route and the Umbwe Route

Start:Barranco Camp
13,070ft / 3985m
Finish:Karanga Camp
13,250ft / 4040m
Gain:180ft / 55m
Duration:3-4 hours

Today's climb is short and beautiful, a favourite of many who climb the Lemosho route. Before leaving camp look south from camp down a deep gorge in the mountain. You should just be able to see Moshi town on the plains.

Today's main obstacle is the near vertical Barranco Wall. A path zigzags up to the top and while you will need both hands at times, it's a scramble not a rock climb. There is no rush and there are plenty of great photo opportunities on the Barranco Wall. It will take about 1 hour 30 minutes to reach the top, your highest point of the day at 13,890ft / 4233m.

From the top of the Barranco Wall Kibo rises in front of you, an amazing sight. From here it’s an hour's walk to the Karanga Valley. You begin a gentle descent of about 1km into a small valley before a short ascent out the other side. Then it’s another shallow downhill for 1.5km. A steep scramble down a slope takes you to the floor of a gorge (12,925ft / 3940m) and steep switchback path of about 330ft/100m, taking about 20 minutes, brings you to the Karanga Camp. The afternoon’s your own.


NOTE: Today's itinerary for the Lemosho Route is the same as the Machame Route, Shira Route and the Umbwe Route

Start:Karanga Camp
13,250ft / 4040m
Finish:Barafu Camp
15,360ft / 4681m
Gain:2110ft / 641m
Duration:3-4 hours

The penultimate day of the ascent and a short one. Leaving camp the path begins to rise and does so most of the way to Barafu Camp. The landscape is desolate and the Southern Icefields on the slopes of Kibo to your left add to the surreality of your surroundings. After a steady climb of 1 hour 30 minutes you enter a long, shallow valley. If you turn north and face Kibo, you are about inline with the summit, Uhuru Peak. A walk of 1 hour 15 minutes followed by a short steep scramble brings you out of the valley. Turning north you begin the last leg to Barafu, taking about 30 minutes and with no serious incline.

Once in camp you will get a solid meal and Thomas will brief you on the plan for the summit bid. The views of the summit and also of Mawenzi are great from Barafu. It can be hard to sleep at this altitude and it’s still going to be bright outside, with porters and climbers about, so an eye mask and ear plugs can be useful.

Lemosho Route: Day 7 Ascent - BARAFU CAMP TO THE SUMMIT

NOTE: Today's itinerary for the Lemosho Route is the same as the Machame Route, Shira Route and the Umbwe Route

Start:Barafu Camp
15,360ft / 4681m
19,340ft / 5895m
Gain:3980ft / 1214m
Duration:approx 7 hours

You’ll be woken about 11.30pm and hot drinks and snacks will be served. It's vital that you drink as much as you can tonight, dehydration will end your climb. You have 4000ft/1220m to cover before reaching Uhuru Peak. Leaving camp you climb for about 2 hours to the top of a large ridge. From here the path is made of switchbacks to very near the rim. They are not overly steep but it is constant. From the top of the ridge to the end of the switchbacks will take about 3 hours 30 minutes.

As the switchbacks end you come to the last section of the climb to the crater rim. After 30 minutes you reach Stella Point at 18,870ft/5752m having climbed 3510ft/1070m from Barafu. You’ve now less than 500ft/150m to climb! From Stella Point the path turns southwest and after 45 minutes of steady but shallow incline you reach the iconic sign that marks the summit and the roof of Africa. Looking east, you see the sun rising over Africa, Mawenzi silhouetted against it and the Icefields and glaciers sparkling orange and pink in the early morning glow. Congratulations, you made it.

Lemosho Route: Day 7 Descent - SUMMIT TO MILLENNIUM CAMP

NOTE: Today's itinerary for the Lemosho Route is the same as the Machame Route, Shira Route and the Umbwe Route

19,340ft / 5895m
Finish:Millennium Camp
12,533ft / 3820m
Drop:6801ft / 2075m
Duration:6-8 hours

The descent follows the same path you climbed to reach the summit. Trekking poles are useful here; going down is tough on the knees. Depending on your physical state, the descent to Barafu Camp can take 2-4 hours. If you're feeling up to it, food will be provided before an hour or 2 of sleep before continuing down Mount Kilimanjaro.

Leaving Barafu you descend due south for 4km, loosing a lot of altitude over the 2 hour trek. After about an hour you come to a crossroads. To the left is a little used trail to the Horombo Huts on the Marangu Route and to the right is the Southern Circuit leading to the Keranga Valley. You can now see Millennium Camp ahead and below it, Mweka Huts Camp. If you’re feeling good it’s possible to trek on down to Mweka Camp at 10,138ft/3090m (another 3.5km descent), just mention to Thomas. It’s a good idea to give tips to Thomas for distribution in camp, as tomorrow you may not see all the porters.


NOTE: Today's itinerary for the Lemosho Route is the same as the Machame Route, Shira Route and the Umbwe Route

Start:Millennium Camp
12,533ft / 3820m
Finish:Park Gate
5385ft / 1641m
Drop:7148ft / 2179m
Duration:4-5 hours

Before leaving camp, take a few minutes to look north at the snow-covered cone of Kilimanjaro. It's a beautiful sight and one you will never forget.

A steady descent of about 1 hour 30 minutes brings you 3.5km downhill to Mweka Camp. There are some nice places to grab a few last pictures of the summit on this trail. 5 minutes from Mweka Camp you reach a very clear divide with the forest. From the boundary of the forest to the park gate is 10km of downhill. For a lot of today’s hike, you're walking on a ridge between 2 huge gorges, giving some impressive views through gaps in the trees. After about 2 hours of hiking you come to the start of the 4-wheel drive track and from here to the gate is only a 40-minute walk. This last section of the forest has an abundance of elusive monkeys but if your lucky you may come across a few foraging in the trees. You will also pass young children allowed in by the park rangers in order to collect dead wood for the fire. They are fascinated by digital photography and showing a photograph you just took of them always gets a good reception. Any sweets or chocolate you still have is a welcome treat for these kids.

At the park office you are presented with your certificate if you reached Stella Point (green) or better yet, the summit (gold). Then it is back to the hotel for a hot shower and big feed. All that’s left to do now is get a good night's rest before your transfer onwards or to the airport tomorrow.


Climb length:8 days
Trip length:10 days
Extra night:£90/$180

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro by the Lemosho Route in 2008 and 2009

We have no climbs organised for the Lemosho route in 2009. Why not check out our climbs of the Machame Route or the Shira Route instead? You can also organise your own climb of the Lemosho Route.

How to Book

To organise your own climb of Mount Kilimanjaro by the Lemosho route, either call our office on +44 (0)28 9073 6050 (UK telephone number) or fill in your details online by clicking the link below

8-day Lemosho Route Itinerary

1Arrive in Kilimanjaro International Airport, transfer to hotel in Moshi (approx 1 hour) for night. Receive climb briefing.
2Londorossi park gate - Big Tree Camp
3Big Tree Camp - Shira Camp 1
4Shira Camp 1 - Shira Camp 2. This additional day is for acclimatization
5Shira Camp 2 - Barranco Camp
6Barranco Camp - Karanga Camp. This additional day is for acclimatization
7Karanga Camp - Barafu Camp
8Barafu Camp - Summit - Millennium Camp
9Millennium Camp - park gate. Overnight in hotel
10Transfer to Kilimanjaro International Airport for onward flight or departure

What's included

  • 1 night in hotel before climb and 1 after (B&B)
  • All transfers to and from Moshi and to and from Mount Kilimanjaro
  • Park fees, guide fees and mountain rescue fees
  • 4 porters per person
  • Food and water while on the mountain
  • tents (individual if requested for no additional cost), sleeping pads and all eating utensils
  • There is NO local payment on any of our climbs!

What's not included

  • International flights
  • Tanzania visa (approx $50)
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips for porters (we recommed $80-120 per climber)