Shira Route

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Total Distance: 48.31 Km

No Of People Climbing – 12, 289 Per Year

Trek Difficulty: Strenuous, Steep

Duration: 7-8 days

Success rate: Medium

Shira Route Overview

The Shira Route is a difficult route that begins in the west, at Shira Gate. What is unque about Shira is that the first section of the trail is not hiked, but rather driven. Therefore, climbers using Shira will miss out on hiking up one of Kilimanjaro’s ecological zones, the rain forest.

An off road vehicle transports climbers to the Shira gate, located at 11,500 feet, where the hike begins to Simba Camp. This is a sizable altitude gain for someone who slept at Moshi or Arusha on their previous night. Complications from altitude can occur due to failed acclimatization.

The route takes six days minimum to complete, although seven days is recommended. The descent is down Mweka, in the south-east. Because the starting point is far from Moshi and Arusha, it is more expensive to climb this route due to the added transportation cost of getting climbers to the gate. Scenicaly, Shira is beautiful because it crosses the spectacular Shira Plateau, and then combines with the Machame route to share its viewpoints around the southern circuit. Shira has low traffic until it combines with Machame.

The Shira Route is one of the less frequented but incredibly scenic routes to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It begins on the western side of the mountain and offers stunning views of the Shira Plateau. Here’s a detailed overview:

Key Features:

  • Length and Duration:

    • The Shira Route is approximately 56 kilometers (35 miles) long.
    • Typically, the climb takes 7-8 days, allowing for proper acclimatization.
  • Starting Point:

    • The trek begins at Londorossi Gate, situated at an altitude of about 2,100 meters (6,890 feet).
  • Major Campsites:

    • Simba Camp (Lemosho Glades): The first campsite, located at 2,650 meters (8,690 feet).
    • Shira 1 Camp: Situated at 3,610 meters (11,844 feet) on the Shira Plateau.
    • Shira 2 Camp: At 3,850 meters (12,600 feet), offering expansive views of the plateau.
    • Lava Tower: A notable landmark at 4,630 meters (15,190 feet), often used for acclimatization.
    • Barranco Camp: Positioned at 3,960 meters (13,000 feet), known for the Barranco Wall.
    • Karanga Camp: At 4,035 meters (13,235 feet), offering an extra acclimatization day.
    • Barafu Camp: The final camp before the summit push, located at 4,640 meters (15,223 feet).
  • Summit Attempt:

    • The summit push usually starts from Barafu Camp around midnight.
    • Climbers aim to reach Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters / 19,341 feet) by sunrise.
  • Descent Route:

    • The descent typically follows the Mweka Route, offering a direct path down the mountain.


  • Scenic Beauty: The Shira Route offers breathtaking views of the Shira Plateau and its surroundings, providing a unique and picturesque trekking experience.
  • Acclimatization Opportunities: With its longer duration and gradual ascent, the route allows for better acclimatization, increasing the chances of summit success.
  • Less Crowded: Compared to some of the more popular routes like Machame and Marangu, the Shira Route tends to be less crowded, offering a quieter and more serene trekking environment.

Preparation and Considerations:

  • Physical Fitness: Adequate physical conditioning is essential for tackling the challenges of altitude and long trekking days.
  • Altitude Sickness: Despite the gradual ascent, climbers should remain vigilant for symptoms of altitude sickness and take necessary precautions, including proper hydration and acclimatization breaks.
  • Gear and Equipment: Climbers should ensure they have appropriate gear, including warm clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and a high-quality sleeping bag suitable for the mountain’s conditions.
  • Guides and Porters: Hiring experienced guides and porters is highly recommended for safety, navigation, and logistical support during the trek.

Typical Itinerary:

  1. Day 1: Londorossi Gate to Shira 1 Camp
  2. Day 2: Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp
  3. Day 3: Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower and descent to Barranco Camp
  4. Day 4: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
  5. Day 5: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
  6. Day 6: Barafu Camp to Summit to Mweka Camp
  7. Day 7: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate

Route Advantages:

  • Scenic Diversity: Trekkers enjoy a variety of landscapes, from lush rainforests to high-altitude alpine deserts.
  • Gradual Ascent: The gradual ascent aids in acclimatization, reducing the risk of altitude-related illnesses.
  • Less Crowded: The Shira Route sees fewer climbers compared to some of the more popular routes, offering a quieter and more peaceful trekking experience.

The Shira Route is an excellent choice for climbers seeking a scenic and less crowded route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. With its breathtaking vistas and ample acclimatization opportunities, it promises an unforgettable journey to the Roof of Africa.

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide

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