Zara Tours leads treks up the Shira route. The Shira Route traverses the large Shira Plateau to join the Machame Route. The Shira Plateau west of Kibo is the remains of Kilimanjaro's first volcano. Mawenzi erupted second, and finally, supported by its neighbors, Kibo rose to its great height between Shira and Mawenzi. Older and more eroded than Mawenzi, the Shira Plateau's ridges and moorland comprise one of Kilimanjaro's most scenic areas. The drive to Shira offers magnificent views of the Great Rift Valley, Mount Meru, and Longido, and the plateau's parasitic cones extend north of the road, rising from from plain to plateau. The vegetation changes along the route are striking. The plateau is grassland, heath, and moor, with senecios up to 10 meters high in valleys near the cone. You can see Elands on the plateau, and you may see signs of buffaloes, leopards, and other animals. The Shira Cone rises 200 meters above the plateau, and west of the cone is Shira Ridge, a steep rough rise reaching almost 400 meters above the plateau. The southern ridge of the Shira Plateau has two dramatic peaks called Cathedral and the Needle. The road to Shira is only accessible by 4-wheel-drive vehicles and can become impassable during wet periods. The Shira Route traverses the plateau to join the Machame Route.
Arrive at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the Springlands Hotel in Moshi for your overnight. You can start your trek any day of the year!
After breakfast and a briefing from your guide, leave Moshi and drive for several hours to the Shira Gate on the western side of Kilimanjaro, register with the national park. Begin hiking, and enter the rainforest immediately. Your walk through the rainforest is on a winding muddy trail up a ridge. At these lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy, so gaiters and trekking poles will help. Stop halfway for lunch, and reach the Shira Camp in the afternoon. Unpack, rest, and have some tea or coffee. Dinner is served during the early evening at 7 PM.
After breakfast, you will hike east up a steepening path above the highest vegetation toward Kilimanjaro’s looming mass. After several hours, you walk through a rocky landscape to reach the prominent landmark called Lava Tower at 4,630 m/15,190 ft. This chunky remnant of Kilimanjaro’s earlier volcanic activity is several hundred feet high, and the trail passes right below it. For extra credit, the sure-footed can scramble to the top of the tower. After a lunch stop near Lava Tower, descend for 2 hours below the lower cliffs of the Western Breach and Breach Wall to Barranco Camp at 3,950 m/12,960 ft. There are numerous photo opportunities on this hike, especially if the walls are festooned with ice. Barranco Camp is in a valley below the Breach and Great Barranco Walls, which should provide you with a memorable sunset while you wait for your dinner. On this day, be careful to notice any signs of altitude sickness.
After breakfast, we continue up a steep ridge to the great Barranco Wall, then you climb this imposing obstacle, which turns out to be easier than it looks. Topping out just below the Heim Glacier, you can now appreciate just how beautiful Kilimanjaro really is. With Kibo’s glaciers soaring overhead, you descend into the lush Karanga Valley to the Karanga Valley campsite. From the camp, you can look east and see the jagged peaks of Mawenzi jutting into the African sky. After a hot lunch in camp, your afternoon is at leisure for resting or exploring. After two long days, this short day is very important for your acclimatization, since your summit push is about to start.
In the morning, you hike east over intervening ridges and valleys to join the Mweka Route, which will be your descent route. Turn left toward the mountain and hike up the ridge through a sparse landscape for another hour to the Barafu Hut where you will receive a hot lunch. The last water on the route is in the Karanga Valley; there is no water at Barafu Camp, even though Barafu is the Swahili word for “ice.” The famous snows of Kilimanjaro are far above Barafu Camp near the summit of the mountain. Your tent will be pitched on a narrow, stony, wind-swept ridge, so make sure that you familiarize yourself with the terrain before dark to avoid any accidents. Prepare your equipment and warm clothing for your summit climb, and drink a lot of fluids. After an early dinner, go to bed for a few hours of precious sleep.
You will rise around 11:30 PM, and after some steaming tea and biscuits, you shuffle off into the night. Your 6-hour climb northwest up through heavy scree between the Rebmann and Ratzel glaciers to Stella Point on the crater rim is the most challenging part of the route for most climbers. At Stella Point (5,685 m/18,650 ft) you stop for a short rest and a chance to see a supremely sanguine sunrise. At Stella Point you join the top part of the Marangu Route, but do not stop here too long, as it will be extremely difficult to start again due to cold and fatigue. Depending on the season and recent storms, you may encounter snow on your remaining hike along the rim to Uhuru Peak. On the summit, you can enjoy your accomplishment and know that you are creating a day that you will remember for the rest of your life. After your 3-hour descent from the summit back to Barafu Camp, you will have a well-earned but short rest, collect your gear, and hike down a rock and scree path into the moorland and eventually into the forest to Mweka Camp (3,100 m/10,170 ft). This camp is in the upper forest, so you can expect mist or rain in the late afternoon. Dinner, and washing water will be prepared, and the camp office sells drinking water, soft drinks, chocolates, and beer!
After a well-deserved breakfast, it is a short, scenic, 3-hour hike back to the park gate. Don’t give your porters any tips until you and all your gear have reached the gate safely, but do remember to tip your staff at the gate. At Mweka Gate, you can sign your name and add details in a register. This is also where successful climbers receive their summit certificates. Climbers who reached Stella Point are issued green certificates and those who reached Uhuru Peak receive gold certificates. From the Mweka Gate, you will continue down to the Mweka Village, possibly a muddy, 3 km, 1 hour hike if the road is too muddy for vehicles. In the Mweka Village you will be served a delicious hot lunch after which you are driven back to Moshi for an overdue hot shower and comfortable night in our Springlands Hotel..
Depart for the airport or other destinations in Tanzania or Kenya. A trip to the beaches at Zanzibar is a good way to recuperate. We can arrange many reasonably priced trips and safaris around Moshi and the Kilimanjaro region.
If you arrive at the Kilimanjaro Airport, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Moshi or Arusha. We recommend at least one rest day before starting your trek. If you are transferring from Nairobi, this can act as your rest day. If you have time, enjoy a guided walk through the local rice fields and rainforest, do a little shopping in the town of Moshi, relax at the swimming pool, or get a massage.
Your guide will provide a briefing the evening before your trek, and you must separate one bag for the trek from your other luggage. Rental equipment is available. Extra luggage can be stored in a locked storage room at your Moshi hotel at no charge.
The next morning, enjoy a hearty breakfast before last-minute trip preparations at the trekking office. Depending on the route you take, the drive to the trailhead can take up to one hour and can be very bumpy.
Once you reach the park gate, climbers are requested to make their final preparations for the climb and sign the national park registration book. Porters will be seen arranging their packs containing the food, water, and other equipment. Make sure that you have all your day pack items with you as the porters travel very quickly. Your guide will be pleased to assist with any additional information.
The average hiking day begins between 8-9am and is about 5 to 6 hours, walking very, very slowly. The distances you will hike each day are very moderate so as to acclimate a little at a time. Your guides will repeat over and over, "pole pole" (po-ly, po-ly), which means "go slowly" in Swahili.
The terrain lower down is absolutely gorgeous and fascinating. Higher up, the views are vast. There is little to do at the camps themselves, so take advantage of the slow pace to absorb the scenery and take every photo opportunity.
The hike to the summit starts around midnight depending on your route and speed of your group. You will go as high as you feel fit. Some people stop at the crater rim, and others continue to the very highest point on the mountain. Your guides will then take you down as quickly as possible to minimize any altitude problems. You will continue past your last campsite to the next one for overnight.
You can add an extra day at the Horombo Huts (3,690 m/12,100 ft). You can spend a full day and a second night at Horombo. On this day, you can either rest at the huts or take a stroll up to the Mawenzi basecamp then return to the Horombo Huts. This extra day will help your acclimatization, and further your understanding of the mountain’s weather and altitude. After your pause, you will continue up to the Kibo Huts on your fourth day for your midnight start to the summit.
The local currency is Tanzanian shillings. U.S. dollars, Euros, and credit cards may be accepted by larger stores and hotels, but the exchange rate is better with shillings. ATM's are only available in larger towns like Moshi and Arusha. Most people bring the bulk of their money in travellers cheques, but will also bring some cash including smaller bills. For travellers cheques, there is often a $1/cheque fee, and the exchange rate is better for $100 cheques. When you exchange money, be sure to get some smaller bills as change is not always available. Yahoo Currency Converter
Mount Kilimanjaro is located three degrees south of the equator in Northeastern Tanzania. It is the tallest mountain in Africa and is the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Of the famous highest seven peaks in the world, this is the easiest to get to and the easiest to climb. It requires no technical climbing experience, and any moderately fit person can summit the mountain.
Groups are limited to 5-7 people. We will combine groups up to this limit if they are starting the same route on the same day. However, we can also arrange for private groups at no extra cost. We will try to add single travelers to a group if at all possible, but we cannot guarantee it. We can accommodate large groups of any size.
A local guide is required to hike Kilimanjaro. We have guides that speak English, Spanish, French and German. Porters will also go on the trip to carry your luggage, food, and other equipment. You will only have to carry a day pack with your daily essentials.
Tips for guides and porters on Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru:
With the exception of airfare, all Zara trips include all transportation costs and arrangements within the destination country. This includes all transfers and the equipment for all activities listed.
Kilimanjaro Climber’s Packing List Notes
Clothing You want your inner layer to be wicking – no cottonYour next layer should be insulating and warm, and your top layer should be water proof but breathable.You will need clothes for hiking during the day, lounging in the evening, and for sleeping.Layers are important as temperatures vary greatly.Kilimanjaro may be near the equator, but it gets cold up there!
Cold Weather Accessories
Gifts for Guides, Porters, Locals
Packing for your flight to Africa
Critical climbing gear (in case baggage is delayed)
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