Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho Route

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Added by Rachel Miller

Hike and enjoy beautiful views from the highest point in Africa while you achieve one of the seven summits (without technical climbing). You'll hike through six distinct ecological zones, from rainforests to glaciers and camp for six nights under the stars. At the summit, you'll see the moon shine on the snow before it's gone!

The Lemosho Route is one of the longest routes up Kilimanjaro (7 days) and is considered a little more difficult but very scenic, with ample time for acclimatization. You will need to hike with a tour guide - there are many great companies to choose from.

The Lemosho Route begins at Lemosho Gate, which has an altitude of about 6,900 ft. You are in the rainforest here, so it's hot and muggy but there are beautiful trees and flowers. Keep an eye out for monkeys! The trail is a wide dirt path with a gradual ascent. The first day you will only hike for about three hours before camping at Mkubwa (Big Tree) at 9,500 ft. It will already be chilly at night, even in the rainforest. Each campsite has at least one small wooden enclosure with a hole in the ground for a bathroom, and that's it!

On Day 2, you will either hike from Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp and stop, or you will continue on across the Shira Plateau and up to Shira 2 at 12,500 ft. If you choose to stop, you will have a longer climbing day before summit night. If you push on to Shira 2, it will be a long but doable day. The hike to Shira 1 has a few steep sections and takes several hours as you leave the rainforest behind and enter the heath and moorlands, but the journey on to Shira 2 is fairly easy.

From Shira 2, you can see the summit for the first time. When the clouds clear at sunset and you see the moon rise over the snow, it will be a sight you never forget!

If you camp at Shira 2 on the second day, your Day 3 will be a hike around the mountain, up to the Lava Tower at 15,000 ft and then down to Barranco Camp at 13,000 ft. The path is quire remote and wild, and Barranco Camp is absolutely gorgeous – it is surrounded by peaks, and the fog rolling in and out gives it a very dream-like quality. You will feel like you are discovering a place that no one has ever seen before.

Day 4 will likely be the hardest day physically (and mentally) - you will climb the infamous Barranco Wall, which is as close to a "real" climb as you will get on Kili and requires strong legs! There is a bit of scrambling, and the path is very steep and narrow. Make sure to kiss the Kissing Rock when you pass it! Celebrate on top before you walk downhill for an hour or so and then back uphill to Karanga Camp at 13,100 ft. You may start to experience symptoms from the altitude today, so pay close attention to any breathing/headache/nausea issues. People die from altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro every year, so it's critically important that you listen to your body and drink a LOT of water.

Day 5 is a very short, not overly difficult hike up to Barafu Camp at 15,300 ft. It will appear that you can reach out and touch the summit from camp, even though it's still 4,000 feet up! This site feels like another world, perched defiantly on the very edge of the mountain and susceptible to cold, snow and wind that will cut right through you. You will rest here for a few hours, TRY to sleep, and wake at midnight for the summit attempt.

The hike to Stella Point takes about six hours, so you should reach it right around sunrise. Climbing by moonlight and the light of your headlamp in the bitter (0 degree) cold on little to no sleep at high altitude will test everything you have, but if you are in reasonable shape and don't succumb to altitude sickness, you WILL make it. The path is almost completely switchbacks, and you will stop frequently to rest, eat and drink. If the porters offer you ginger tea, DRINK IT! I don't like ginger at all, but it gave me an instant energy boost and got me through the last few hours.

Once at Stella Point, it's only another 45 minutes to the summit with minimal elevation gain (about 700 ft). I've heard that many people stop here, but trust me that the remaining distance is nothing compared to what you've already done. When you arrive at the summit, enjoy some of the most incredible views you may ever see and a sense of accomplishment that nothing will ever shake!!

The awful truth is that the descent from the summit is truly awful. You are exhausted and cold, but you still have about 7 hours to hike before you can camp for the night. The initial descent back to Barafu is almost all scree, so either do the slide/skate thing, or be prepared to take a fall or two. Trekking poles help a lot - I would not do this climb without them. After a quick rest at Barafu, you'll continue on to Mweka Camp in the upper rain forest for your last night on the mountain. This downhill hike is very difficult - the trail is entirely rock in some places and can be very slippery from streams and rainfall.

On Day 7, you will wake up and hike just 3-4 hours through the rainforest to Mweka Gate. The trail moves from rock to a wide dirt path, and you'll start to see wildlife again as well as beautiful trees and flowers. You may get a peek or two of Kibo through the trees, if the sky is clear enough. Once you make it to the Gate, sign the ledger and read what people from all over the world have said about their experience on the mountain. Breathe in the mountain one last time, then catch a bus to your hotel so you can TAKE A SHOWER!!! :)

Pack List

  • Gaiters
  • Trekking poles
  • The best boots you can buy, preferably leather for the cold
  • Wool hiking socks (you'll need a double layer on summit night)
  • Sleeping pad - don't think you can do without, the ground is FREEZING
  • Warm sleeping bag - Marmot Ouray 4 degree works fine
  • Rain jacket
  • Down jacket for summit night
  • Headlamp
  • Several liters of water, either bottle or Camelbak (your guide will likely boil water for you each morning, but it won't be available during the day so you'll need to carry 3-4 liters with you)
  • Cup-a-soup or instant soup (I WISH I had brought this - there is always boiling water available at camp, and it would have been delicious)
  • Polarized sunglasses
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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



39 Miles

Elev. Gain:

12924 Feet



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Added by Rachel Miller

hiker, camper, runner, traveler, adventurer and lover of all things outside :)

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