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Lemosho Route

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By Turtle - Posted on 19 August 2008

The first part of the Lemosho route is a longer and less crowded alternative to the popular Machame route. The Lemosho route climbs through the forest and across the Shira plateau before joining the Machame route at Barranco camp.

Since Lemosho route climbers typically spend an extra day or two climbing the mountain compared to the Machame route, they are better acclimatized for summit day. Some tour operators use this acclimatization to alter the summit day plan by climbing to Uhuru Peak in daylight, then descending to the spectacular Crater Camp just below the summit. This results in a shorter and more manageable summit day, but it can be extremely dangerous without the extra days for acclimatization. Kilimanjaro Crater camp (at 5600 m) is higher than Everest Base Camp (at 5300 m)!

I highly recommend the Lemosho route, having done it myself. Climbing to the summit in daylight meant we could enjoy the views, and we had the summit to ourselves when we arrived around noon.

Camping at Crater Camp was spectacular (but cold), and we also had the opportunity to hike to the rim of the summit crater on Kibo (which very few Kili trekkers ever get to do). However, camping at crater camp is difficult: it's very cold, and hard to sleep because of the altitude. It also adds to the cost of a trip, as porters (who would normally stay at Barafu camp) must carry gear almost to the summit.

Typical Lemosho Route Itinerary

The Lemosho route itinerary described below is a 8 night / 9 day version with a night at Crater camp, just below the summit:

  • Day 1: Drive from Arusha or Moshi to the Lemosho gate (2300 m), then hike up through forest to Forest camp (2800 m).
  • Day 2: Hike from Forest camp (2800 m) to Shira I camp (3500 m) on the edge of the Shira plateau.
  • Day 3: Hike from Shira I camp (3500 m) to Moir camp (4100 m).
  • Day 4: Hike from Moir camp (4100 m) to Barranco camp (3900 m). On this day there is also an optional scramble up Lava Tower (4600 m).
  • Day 5: Hike from Barranco camp (3900 m) to Karanga Camp (4000 m). The Barranco wall rising up from Barranco camp is a major bottleneck here, as the route is steep and requires some minor scrambling up rocks using your hands for balance.
  • Day 6: Hike from Karanga camp (4000 m) to Barafu Camp (4600 m).
  • Day 7: Summit day. Starting around sunrise, hike from Barafu camp (4600 m) up switchbacks to Stella Point (5700 m). The true summit of Uhuru Peak (5896 m) is another hour or so on more gentle slopes. Descend a short slope to Crater camp (5600 m). There is an optional side trip to the edge of the crater rim from crater camp.
  • Day 8: Descend from Crater camp (5600 m) to Mweka camp (3100 m).
  • Day 9: Descend from Mweka camp (3100 m) through the forest to Mweka gate (1600 m), and drive back to Arusha or Moshi.

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