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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.

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How Challenging is the Shira Route?

The Shira route offers a moderate level of difficulty, making it an excellent choice for adventurous backpackers seeking a memorable trek. Despite its challenges, it is highly recommended for its unique features and breathtaking scenery.

1. Breathtaking Scenery: Trekking through the Shira route treats adventurers to stunning landscapes and panoramic views of Kilimanjaro’s majestic peaks. From lush rainforests to alpine deserts, the route showcases the diverse beauty of the mountain.

2. Tranquil Wilderness Experience: Unlike some of the more popular routes on Kilimanjaro, the Shira route offers a less crowded and more serene trekking experience. This allows trekkers to immerse themselves fully in nature and enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

3. Altitude Challenges and Acclimatization: As with any high-altitude trek, climbers on the Shira route may face challenges associated with altitude sickness. However, opting for the Shira Route 7 Days itinerary provides an additional day for acclimatization, helping climbers adjust gradually to the altitude and reducing the risk of altitude-related issues.

Why Choose the Shira Route?

4. Unique Starting Point: The Shira Route begins on the western side of Kilimanjaro, offering trekkers a less-traveled path to the summit. This route provides unparalleled views and a sense of adventure as climbers journey through remote wilderness areas.

5. Favorable Success Rate: With a summit success rate ranging from 75% to 80%, the Shira route is known for its favorable outcomes. Proper acclimatization and pacing contribute to the route’s success, making it a popular choice among climbers.

6. Flexible Itinerary Options: Trekkers can choose between the Shira Route 6 Days and Shira Route 7 Days itineraries, both offering unique advantages. The 7-day itinerary, with its additional day for acclimatization, enhances climbers’ chances of summiting successfully.

Length and Details of the Shira Route

7. Distance Covered: The Shira route spans approximately 56 kilometers from start to finish, offering trekkers a challenging yet rewarding journey through diverse landscapes.

  • Day-wise Distance Breakdown:
    • Day 1: 7 km – Shira Gate to Rainforest
    • Day 2: 16 km – Shira Plateau
    • Day 3: 10 km – Shira Camp to Barranco Camp
    • Day 4: 0 km – Acclimatization Day at Barranco Camp
    • Day 5: 9 km – Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp
    • Day 6: 14 km – Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp
    • Day 7: 10 km – Summit Day: Barafu Camp to Uhuru Peak and descent to Mweka Camp

Success Rate of the Shira Route

8. Summit Success Rate: The Shira Route boasts a summit success rate of approximately 75% to 80%, with proper acclimatization and strategic pacing being key factors in achieving success.

We are committed to providing climbers with the necessary guidance and support for a successful summit on the Shira Route. Join us for an unforgettable adventure on Kilimanjaro’s western slopes and embark on a journey to the Roof of Africa today!

6 Days Shira Route Itinerary

Day 1: Drive to Kilimanjaro National Park Shira Gate, Hike to Shira 2 Camp

Elevation: 1830m/6000ft to 3850m/12,600ft
Distance: 8km/5mi
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
Habitat: Montane Forest

The drive from Moshi to the trailhead takes about 3 hours. We hike through the rain forest on a winding trail up a ridge. At lower elevations the trail can be muddy and slippery. Gaiters and trekking poles are a good idea here. We continue a short distance until we reach the Shira Camp. An overnight at Shira 2 Camp.

Day 2: Hike Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower to Barranco Camp

Elevation: 3850m/12,600ft to 4000m/13,000ft
Distance: 10km/6mi
Walking Time: 5-6 hours
Habitat: Semi-desert

From the Shira Plateau we continue to the east up a ridge, passing the junction towards the peak of Kibo. As we continue, our direction changes to the South East towards the Lava Tower, called the “Shark’s Tooth” (elev 4650m/15,250ft). Shortly after the tower we come to the second junction which goes to the Arrow Glacier. We now continue down to the Barranco Camp. Although you end the day around the same elevation as when you began, this day is very important for acclimatization and will help your body prepare for summit day. An overnight at Barranco Camp.

Day 3: Hike Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Elevation: 4000m/13,000ft to 4050m/13,250ft
Distance: 5km/3mi
Hiking Time: 34 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

After breakfast, we leave Barranco and continue on a steep ridge up the Barranco Wall to the Karanga Valley and the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. An overnight at Karanga Camp.

Day 4: Hike Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp

Elevation: 4050m/13,250ft to 4700m/15,350ft
Distance: 4km/2mi
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Alpine Desert

We continue up to the Barafu Camp. You have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Here we make camp, rest, enjoy dinner, and prepare for the summit day. An overnight at Barafu Camp.

Day 5: Hike Barafu Camp to Summit, down to Mweka Camp

Elevation: 4700m/15,350ft to 5895m/19,340ft
Down to 3090m/10,150ft
Distance: 5km/3mi up / 13km/8mi down
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours up / 5-6 hours down
Habitat: Stone scree and ice-capped summit

Very early in the morning (midnight to 2 am), we continue our way to the summit between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers. You head in a northwesterly direction and ascend through heavy scree towards Stella Point on the crater rim. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. At Stella Point you will stop for a short rest and will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see. Faster hikers may view the sunrise from the summit.

From Stella Point, you may encounter snow all the way on your 1-hour ascent to the summit. Once at Uhuru Peak you have reached the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa!

From the summit we begin our descent by continuing straight down to the Mweka Camp, stopping at Barafu for lunch. You may want gaiters and trekking poles for the loose gravel going down. We arrive at Mweka Camp and enjoy our last evening on the mountain. An overnight at Mweka Camp.

Day 6: Hike Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate, drive to Moshi

Elevation: 3090m/10,150ft to 1680m/5500ft
Distance: 10km/6mi
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
Habitat: Forest

After breakfast we continue the descent down to the Mweka Park Gate to receive your summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. Gaiters and trekking poles will help. Shorts and t-shirts will probably be plenty to wear (keep rain gear and warmer clothing handy).

Mount Kilimanjaro Climbing Guide

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Here, we’ve compiled crucial insights to prepare you for your Kilimanjaro climb. Find valuable hints, tips, tricks, and recommendations in our comprehensive guide, all offered free of charge. Dive in!

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