The Lemosho Route is relatively new. It starts on the Western side of Mount Kilimanjaro at the Londorossi Gate and was introduced as an alternative to the Shira Route which begins at a higher, more challenging altitude.
The Londorossi Gate is a fair drive from the town of Moshi, and considerably further from Arusha. At the gate you will register with the authorities before being driven a further 12km to the starting point.
The western side of Kilimanjaro is still very wild and you may get lucky and spot large antelope, buffalo and maybe even elephant.
On day three the Lemosho Route joins the Machame Route at Lava Tower and down towards Barranco Valley via the Southern Circuit (see map below). As with the Machame Route, Lemosho trekkers need to transverse the Barranco Wall and then summit from Barafu Camp.
Descent is via the Mweka route.
Most trekkers complete the Lemosho Route in seven days; however some tour operators offer six day treks (not recommended) and eight day hikes on the Lemosho. The latter is great for acclimatisation and of course increases the probability of success.
The seven day route typically stops for a night at both Shira Camp 1 and Shira Camp 2. Eight day treks stop again at Karanga Camp for another acclimatization day.
Below is the itinerary for a six day Lemosho Route.
Day 1 – Londorossi Gate (2,100 meters) – start point 2,360 meters to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters)
Distance: ~5.5km / 3.5 miles
Trekking time: 3-4 hours
The Lemosho Route departs from the far West side of Mount Kilimanjaro. Getting to Londorossi Gate (2,100 meters) takes approximately 2 hours from Moshi and longer from Arusha. At the gate you will register with the Kilimanjaro National Park authorities before getting back into vehicles to be transported to the starting point which is a further 12km from Londorossi. During the wet season the track can be very inaccessible to vehicles and you may need to walk the last few miles to the starting point. Most tour operators provide lunch at this point before starting the short trek to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters). Spotting large wildlife like elephant and buffalo is possible on this stretch of the mountain and you will likely be accompanied by an armed guide in case one of the big five gets too close for comfort! Dinner will be served when you reach Mti Mkubwa Camp.
Day 2 – Mti Mkubwa Camp (2,820 meters) to Shira Camp 2 (3,850 meters)
Distance: ~16km / 10 miles
Trekking time: 6-8 hours
Zone: Rainforest / Low Alpine Zone
Day two starts with a gradual hike through the final stretch of the rainforest zone and then gets steeper as you approach the low alpine moorland zone. The trek is a long one that stops briefly for lunch at Shira Camp 1 which is on the western edge of the Shira Plateau; just over 8km from your starting point. You then continue on your hike across and up the Shira plateau to Shira Camp 2 at 3,850 meters. Here you will join trekkers from the Machame Route whilst enjoying stunning view across the valley below and Western Breach of Kilimanjaro above. The plateau is exposed so be prepared for a cold night with temperatures getting below zero.
Day 3 – Shira Camp (3,850 meters) to Lava Tower (4,600 meters) and then Barranco Camp (3,900 meters)
Distance: ~11km / 7 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: Low alpine zone / High alpine zone
On day three you will start trekking due east from the Shira Plateau, passing through the ‘Garden of the Senecios’ which also features many giant lobelias. The landscape rapidly becomes desert-like as you approach Lava Tower and the Shark’s Tooth formation at 4,600 meters. You will have lunch at Lava Tower before joining the Southern Circuit trail (see map above) which descends to Barranco Camp 3,900 meters where you will spend the night at a very similar elevation as the night before. Climbing high and sleeping low is a good way to acclimatise the body to altitude. Note: some tour operators offer variations of this route via Moir Camp just north of Lava Tower, before joining the Southern Circuit.
Day 4 – Barranco Camp (3,900 meters) to Karanga Camp (3,960 meters) (and then Barafu Camp – 4,680 meters)
Distance: ~9.5km / 6 miles
Trekking time: 8-10 hours
Zone: High alpine zone
On day four you will be presented with the relatively steep Barranco ‘Breakfast’ climb, a 257 meter scramble up the Barranco Wall. Be prepared to use all four limbs as you traverse the wall to the top of the Karanga Valley. From here you will follow a path that sojourns through many inclines and declines to Karanga Camp (3,960 meters). For those on an eight day hike, this will be your camp for the night. Six and seven day trekkers will stop here for a brief lunch before continuing on through the barren desert landscape that leads to the Mweka trail and up to Barafu Camp (4,680 meters). At Barafu you will have an early dinner and then ‘hit the sack’ for some much needed rest before your summit attempt which begins at midnight. Please make sure that you have organised all your gear for the summit. You will be awoken in the dark and searching for your headlamp or camera at this time is not a good way to start your summit attempt.
Day 5 – Barafu Camp (4,680 meters) to Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters) and then Mweka Camp (3,100 meters)
Distance: ~4.5km / 3 miles ascent and then 11km / 7 mile descent
Trekking time: 6-8 hours to the summit and then 5-8 hours to Mweka
Zone: Glacial zone and the all preceding zones
Day five starts at midnight with hot tea, biscuits and a long and zigzagging hike up the heavy scree that covers the steep slopes of Kibo. The going is slow and very tough. You will need to dig deep and ensure you maintain a consistent pace to push yourself up to the crater rim. After about 4-6 hours hiking you will reach Stella Point (5,739 meters) where you will have a chance to rest and watch dawn break across the Tanzanian landscape. It is a good idea to have some hot tea or hot chocolate at this point as you will need to muster the energy to continue for another 1-2 hours around and up the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters). Remember to keep your momentum moving forward, one step at a time. Over 60% of climbers stop at Stella Point but most can make it to the summit if they are able to find the metal strength to push through. Obviously if you are experiencing severe AMS symptoms you should descend immediately. Your time at Uhuru Peak will be brief. Take as many pictures as you can, savour your accomplishment and then start heading back to Stella Point. Many trekkers slide down the scree slopes of Kibo to Barafu Camp, where you will have a chance to rest before continuing on to Mweka Camp (3,100 meters). In total you will be trekking between 12-16 hours on day 5 so it is really important that you pace yourself and remain hydrated.
Day 6 – Mweka Camp (3,100 meters) to Mweka Gate (1,640 meters)
Distance: ~9.5km / 6 miles
Trekking time: 3-5 hours
The final day on the mountain is a short one, but nonetheless tiring as your body will be exhausted and your knees will likely be sore from the previous day’s descent. Go slowly and enjoy the wonderful rainforest scenery as you head towards Mweka Gate (1,640 meters). At the gate you will need to sign-out with the authorities and will also receive your certificate, either for Stella Point or for Uhuru Peak. It is customary to pay your tips to your trekking team before you depart back to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha.
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References: Lemosho route up Kilimanjaro.
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