Shira Route starts at 3,600 meters and is therefore not ideal for trekkers who have little or no experience of high altitude trekking.
The Shira Route is practically identical to the Lemosho Route. In fact, Shira was the original route before Lemosho was created to improve the route start point.
Whereas Lemosho Route starts at the Londorossi Gates in the beautiful Kilimanjaro rainforest, the Shira Route bypasses this and begins further north and higher up at the Shira Gate. On the first day hikers trek from Shira Gate to Simba Camp which is at a very similar altitude, allowing trekkers to acclimatise before joining the Lemosho Route on day two at Shira Camp 2.
The high starting point is however a major negative for this route and some trekkers experience altitude sickness from day one as their bodies haven’t had enough time to acclimatise.
After Shira Camp 2 the route joins the Machame Route via Lava Tower, and then descends to the Barranco Camp via the Southern Circuit (see map below). Like the Machame, Umbwe and Lemosho Route, ascent to Uhuru Peak is made via Barafu Camp and up the southern slopes of Kibo.
Descent is via the Mweka Route.
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Kilimanjaro Shira Route Map
The Shira Route can be completed in six, seven and eight days.
This page does not provide a detailed day-by-day route itinerary as this can be read on the Lemosho Route page, which is identical apart from a different start point and first day trekking.
Shira Route Kilimanjaro Altitude Profile
Here's what the Shira route altitude profile looks like.
Shira Route FAQ
What is the Shira Plateau?
The Shira Plateau is a 13km stretch of land on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro. It sits at about 3,800 meters and is one of the highest plateaus in the world. The Shira plateau was formed about 500,000 years ago from an ancient caldera (volcanic crater) that has through time eroded to form a plateau on the base of the volcanic pit.
Should I hike the Shira Plateau route?
We recommend avoiding the Shira route for two reasons. Firstly, the start point at 3,600 meters is very high, which means you don't get much time to acclimatise and the probability of experiencing altitude sickness symptoms is quite high. Secondly, the Shira route bypasses the stunning rainforest on the Western side of Kilimanjaro, and instead starts in an area that is rather barren and not very scenic.
Which route should I do instead of the Shira Route?
The Lemosho route is a great alternative to the Shira Route. It also starts on the western side of Mount Kilimanjaro, but begins in the rainforest and provides a good acclimatisation profile. Some operators use the Shira route name interchangeably with the Lemosho, so to be sure you are booking onto the Lemosho route make sure that the first camp you stay at is called Mti Mkubwa (aka Big Tree Camp).
Other Kilimanjaro FAQs