There are 6 official Kilimanjaro routes for climbing to the summit, and all can be booked through KiliBound; however, KiliBound Adventures specializes in the Lemosho route for its scenic views and KiliBound’s 100% rate of successful summits. We also arrange safaris for any of the national parks in and around Tanzania.
9 Day Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route
One of the least traveled routes, you will have the first few days of the climb almost entirely to yourself! This route is very beautiful, clean from litter, and not overcrowded. The Lemosho route was designed by the famous mountaineer, Scott Fisher, in order to maximize acclimatization and a successful summit. KilliBound has a 100% success rate for clients on this route to the summit. Good luck finding those stats with anyone else.
From the trailhead, you reach the summit on day 7, and this route offers frequent ascents and descents which are very helpful to your acclimatization process. Also unique to this route, you get to camp at the crater just below the summit among the glaciers! This means that in addition to getting to see parts of the mountain and glaciers that others miss out on, your summit day is also shorter. Based on our specialized schedule, most often you are with your group at the summit all to yourself.
Summit day starts at 5 or 6 am, usually resulting in a summit around noon, and arriving to camp at 2 pm – with plenty of daylight left to explore the glaciers! Most other groups leave camp at midnight the evening before to summit at 6 am, then descend back down the mountain that same day. The Lemosho – Crater route allows 2 extra days to descend, thereby enhancing your overall experience.
Lemosho Trail Itinerary on Kilimanjaro
The Lemosho trail was designed by the famous mountaineer, Scott Fisher, in order to maximize acclimatization.
DAY 1 – Hotel to Forest Camp
You will have already been picked up from the airport and transported to your hotel. You have arrived in Arusha two nights in advance and have had plenty of time to recover from your jet lag, meet with your guide to check over your gear, explored the city, and are ready to depart for the mountain. After eating a healthy breakfast at the hotel and drinking plenty of water, you are on your way!
After breakfast, we will drive to the Londorossi gate to complete the necessary paperwork at the park office. Another hour on a muddy, slippery road and we reach the starting point at Lemosho where our porters have been since the night before organizing our gear. Here you meet our amazing KiliBound staff members and enjoy your first lunch on the mountain before hitting the trail.
Once we get started, the walk is beautiful and our pace is slow to assist with acclimatization. The guides will stop frequently to point out interesting plants and animals as we take our time to stop and admire the flora and fauna this region of Kili presents. Keep your eyes on the trees and watch for the Colobus monkeys that are commonly seen in this section of rainforest.
This section of the trail can be slippery so we walk carefully. Wearing gaiters during this leg of the trail helps keep our pants clean and helps us avoid the stinging nettle plants. Safari ants also cross our path on occasion and we must be careful to avoid them as their bites burn. Today’s climb is mildly strenuous as some of the downhill and uphill stretches are steep, so hiking poles are helpful to prevent us from slipping and sliding. The forest is very beautiful in this region so take lots of pictures. We arrive at Forest Camp a few hours after we start the trail, and camp for the night at 9,220 feet. When you arrive at camp your tents will be set up for you, and you will have an hour or so to relax and organize your items in your tent before dinner.
Tonight you must eat well. At higher altitudes you will begin to lose your appetite, so during the first few days, it is important to eat well to maintain your energy resources. You must continue to drink water – try to drink at least another liter of water before going to bed. Darkness comes early in the forest so enjoy the sounds of the forest and your first night on the slopes of Kilimanjaro!
DAY 2 – Forest Camp to Shira 1 Camp
A porter wakes you up in the morning with a cheerful good morning and delivers an assortment of hot drinks. The morning is cold but it heats up quickly with the sunrise. Breakfast is served inside the mess tent or outside when it’s warm enough. Before breakfast, you dress for the day (your guide will tell you the night before how to dress for the day’s hike), roll up your sleeping bags, pack your duffel bags, and prepare your day pack. After breakfast and refilling your water bottles, it is time to head on to the next leg of the trail.
The hike from Forest Camp to our lunch stop is easy and offers beautiful views when it is clear. After lunch, the hike will be uphill for a few long, steep stretches until we arrive at the Shira Ridge. The last hour is an easy stroll across the plateau – at this point, you have left the rainforest and entered into the heather zone. The heather zone offers a new array of plants and grasses, and great views of the trail ahead of you and behind you when it is clear. It is important to wear sunscreen here as there is less cover overhead.
Once we arrive at camp you may see the peak of Kibo for the first time if it is clear! If not, you are sure to catch a glimpse in the morning. From Shira 1 camp at 11,500 feet, we can see the Western Breach from a distance. It’s time to relax and enjoy dinner and good company before settling in for the night.
DAY 3 – Shira 1 Camp to Moir Camp
This morning, after our wake up call and breakfast, we set out early with our guides while our porters stay behind to pack up our tents and the rest of our gear. Amazingly, within the next hour or so they will catch up and pass us, heading on to set up lunch and camp. The guides will educate you about symptoms of altitude sickness and maintain contact with the porters in the event a climber needs additional assistance.
Today’s hike is shorter with two steep sections, one before lunch and one after lunch. The Shira Plateau is beautiful and contains many interesting rock formations, streams, and plant life. If the morning is clear, we can see the sunrise behind Kibo and will have a beautiful view of the peak for the rest of the day. Most of the trail today is flat, providing a pleasant walk. We will be hiking at 11,500 feet.
This area of the mountain is well known for elephant and buffalo, so your guide will be on the lookout for fresh tracks. Soon we cross into the moorland zone and lava ridges of Kilimanjaro appear in front of us. We eat lunch at 12,230 feet. After our lunch stop, we have another 2-3 hours of hiking in front of us. After lunch, our hike is very scenic and features exotic trees, plants, caves, and dramatic rock overhangs.
We stop for the night at Moir Camp at 13,700 feet. You may experience some symptoms of altitude discomfort such as a headache or fatigue at this altitude – no matter what, keep drinking lots of water and eat plenty at dinner time!
DAY 4 – Moir Camp to Barranco Camp
This morning we all try to drink a liter of water before we leave camp. Today’s hike is long, and we will reach an altitude of almost 15,000 feet. We start with a long steep section, which when combined with the altitude can be a challenge. The climb does get easier during the day and as the sun rises we will have stunning views where we can see the trail ahead of us. After an hour or so Kilimanjaro’s sister mountain, Mount Meru, appears in the distance. This part of the trail is especially beautiful, as most trekkers do not take this route, so it is largely unspoiled from tourist traffic.
Today we enter into the alpine zone. Plant life here consists mostly of mosses and lichens, as the climate in this area is harsh and it freezes nightly. This part of the trail can be dusty, so bandanas and wet wipes are handy. On our way up the next steep stretch of the trail, you can view the Lava Tower through your binoculars along with a long stream of porters and trekkers heading towards the tower. We will reach the Lava Tower around noon and will be at the highest point of today’s walk, 14,850 feet. If you have the energy and the visibility is good, you may try the 30-minute climb up the tower – you will find amazing views from the top! It is HIGHLY recommended if you can muster the energy.
After our lunch, we hike almost entirely downhill to our next camp. It can be steep in areas and your hiking poles will be helpful to steady yourself. Walk carefully and pay attention. We will reach Barranco Camp around 4 pm and will be camping at 13,054 feet. Hiking to a high altitude and then hiking back down to a lower altitude helps us with the acclimatization process. This campsite is beautiful, and the dramatic Barranco Wall looms large to the side. At this altitude, it will be quite cold at night. You will be happy that you invested in some proper gear!
DAY 5 – Barranco Camp to Karanga Valley Camp
This morning, as we continue to climb higher and higher. We try again to drink a liter of water before leaving camp. Today’s hike to Karanga Valley is short, but it is crucial in our acclimatization process. Some of the other routes bypass Karanga Valley and head straight for Barafu Camp. Taking this extra day is critical in our acclimatization process, and it is a nice day of rest in preparation for our final two days of climbing before the summit.
Just north of camp, we cross a small stream before starting the long scramble to the top of the Barranco Wall. From the bottom you can watch hikers make their way up the long scramble. This section is an intense hike but well worth the stunning view! It takes about 75 minutes to reach the top of the wall, and your guides will be there to help you as this section features some large steps going up, narrow ledges, and scrambling over large rocks. We will have plenty of opportunities for rest, and the view from the wall is beautiful for taking pictures of the valley. Soon Barranco Camp will be just a small dot in the distance.
Enjoy a breathtaking view from the top of the wall when the weather is clear! After summiting the wall, we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into a valley with several water streams. The final hill is very steep. We overnight at Karanga Valley Camp at 13,277 feet. This afternoon we have lots of time to rest, relax, nap, and save our energy for the next two days.
DAY 6 – Karanga Valley Camp to Barafu Camp
Today is a short hike, but you will be glad that you have been eating all of the energizing meals provided and drinking so much water, as today we camp at over 15,000 feet. Kilimanjaro is not the place to start a diet! We begin our climb uphill across a barren landscape with lots of boulders and shattered rocks. It is very quiet and peaceful on this section of the hike, and the Decken Glacier is present to your left.
Climbing the last stretch to the Crater Rim will not be easy, but you will continue to hike slowly as your guides have taught you, dig deep, and keep going. Pole Pole (Swahili for slowly slowly – you will never forget this phrase)! Soon we are looking across a valley towards Barafu Camp in the distance. After a slow hike up the final hill, we reach a fork in the trail – the way down to Mweka is to the right, but we follow the trail to the left, climbing up a rocky section. After scrambling for about 20 minutes, we reach our camp amidst large rocks with crazy cliff faces. It is smart to take an acclimatization hike with our guides in the afternoon if energy and weather permits. On some occasions, the group and the head guide may decide to hike on to Kosovo Camp. Kosovo Camp is often less crowded than Barafu, and puts us almost an hour closer to the summit.
Tonight, most other climbers will go to bed early (7 pm) and wake up at 11 pm to start their 12-18 hour summit to the top and back down again to camp. We will use this time to rest and begin our summit in the morning; a much more comfortable way to reach the summit area! This change in scheduling and routes is what separates KiliBound from the other tour companies and will provide you with the best experience and chance of success. KiliBound is committed to their clients’ success and wants everyone going home to brag to their friends that they conquered the highest mountain in Africa (I mean, really, even motivational speakers use this as their theme). Altitude at Barafu Camp is 15,200 feet.
DAY 7 – Barafu Camp to Summit to Crater Camp
Today we hike about 3.5 miles going from an altitude of 15,200 feet to 19,340 feet, then camping for the night at 18,500 feet. Today is the reason you are undertaking this climb, and it will be difficult but well worth the struggle! Dig deep – your porters and fellow climbers are there to help you. The hike is mostly uphill and will take 7-9 hours, including a break for lunch. This climb is no joke!
Climbing the last stretch to the Crater Rim will be challenging. We start early today, between 5- 6 am and start with some light scrambling over rocks. After an hour or so the rocks give way to gravel and scree (loose volcanic rock) and we continue traversing along for 4 hours. Along the way, we stop for pictures and plenty of rest breaks.
Around 1 pm we will find ourselves just below Stella Point, where we will have lunch at 18,472 feet. After lunch, we negotiate the loose scree towards the Stella Point ridge. The scree can present a challenge as the scree may cause you to slide backward slightly with each step. Within 30-45 minutes we reach the boulders of Stella Point and have been hiking 5-7 hours at this point.
By now we have passed many climbers who are on their way back down the mountain after their early morning summit attempts. After lunch, we hike another 2-3 hours on a steady uphill climb to reach the summit. At this time of day, most hikers have already summited and are hiking back down to their camps – leaving us with the summit mostly to ourselves! We rest at the top, enjoy the view, savor the moment, and take lots of pictures. After our summit celebration, we begin the short but steep climb down to the Crater Camp, weather permitting of course. On our way to the camp, we can see the Furtwangler Glacier – we have reached the snows of Kilimanjaro! Hemingway would be proud of you.
After arriving at camp, and you have the energy, it is highly recommended that you check out the glaciers in the distance and walk to the actual crater itself. It’s all downhill from here, so enjoy what you can. #YOLO
DAY 8 – Crater Camp to Mweka Camp
After an exciting previous day, a very cold night, and beautiful scenery, we rise early to head down to Stella Point. We pass hikers who are working their way up to summit and stop for lunch at Barafu Camp. The way back down the mountain is very steep, and you may be quite sore by now from days of hiking – use of hiking poles is recommended. As difficult as the scree is to maneuver up the mountain, it is so much more fun coming down. You may even feel like you’re on the slopes. Dress in layers today as we will descend quickly and will get a nice sweaty workout today.
After lunch, we walk another 3-4 hour downhill to reach Mweka Camp. Tonight we celebrate our success together, but sadly it is our last night camping on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. At dinner, your guide will explain the tipping process to you, and you may go ahead and provide your tip offerings for the staff.
DAY 9 – Mweka Camp to The Park Gate
After breakfast today, we present our staff with any used hiking gear that you have chosen to donate. You may also give a few extra personal tips to staff who served you exceptionally. After our ceremonies, we hike steeply downhill back through the rainforest to the park gate. Again, the trail here can be muddy and slippery. Today we enjoy the beauty of the rainforest and our last few hours on the mountainside. When we arrive at the gate we are greeted with snacks and an opportunity to buy a few souvenirs. We sign the registry and gather for our presentation of certificates by our guides while sipping on Cokes and Kilimanjaro beer.
You will be emotional and so will the KiliBound staff, who have carried you (sometimes physically), and encouraged you all along the way. But they will not have you leave with a hug. There will be singing and dancing and it’s a full party. Here you will see the difference between the KililBound crew and the other tour companies. This is about providing life-changing experiences for people around the world and to provide support for the families of our wonderful guides, porters, cooks, and assorted native Tanzanian staff. KiliBound is a family and you will be too.
Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to our mountain team, climb into our jeeps, and say goodbye to Kilimanjaro… and hello to your next adventure!