It is one of the newer routes that cover the western part of the mountain. Although it is a difficult trail to follow, most Kilimanjaro outfitters enjoy this road because only a few people go here. Plus, it has hidden scenic views and a good acclimatization profile.
Day 1: Mti Mkubwa
Altitude: 6,562 to 8,692 Hike time: 3 hrs
Drive from Hotel to the Londorossi Park Gate located on the western side of Kilimanjaro. Arrive at the trailhead and start trek through the rain forest. In places, the vegetation is so untouched that it grows right across the narrow track. The flora and fauna are richer here than on the other, more popular routes. Our trek today will be along a little used track known as Chamber’s Route. Your rainforest camp at Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) will be reached in 3-4 hrs.
Altitude: 8,692 to 11,841 Hike time: 5-6 hrs
After breakfast, hike across the remaining rainforest towards the giant moorland zone. Today is a full-day trek with an altitude gain of 2,000 ft. Stop for lunch at a beautiful valley just outside the Shira Crater at around 10,000 ft. After lunch, we cross into the Shira Caldera, a high altitude desert plateau that is rarely visited. Shira is the third of Kilimanjaro volcanic cones, and is filled with lava flow from Kibo Peak.
The crater rim has been decimated by weather and volcanic action. Today you will get your first close views of Kibo – the dramatic summit of Kilimanjaro.
Day 3: Shira two camp
Altitude: 11,841 to 12,628 Hike time: 5-6 hrs
After breakfast, continue the hike east across the Shira Plateau past the Shira Cathedral towards Shira Two camp. Elevation gain is only 700 ft – allowing you to acclimatize slowly. The views of the plateau are nothing less than spectacular.
Day 4: Barranco Hut
Altitude: 12,628 to 12,956 Hike time: 5 hrs
Today is the last of the “easy days.” It is about a 7-hour superb hike. We pass the Lava Tower, around the southern flank of Kibo, and slowly descend into the spectacular Barranco Valley, interspersed with giant lobelia and senecia plants. After arriving at our most spectacular campsite, everyone stands in awe at the foot of Kibo Peak, looming high above, on our left.
Our camp is only 465 ft higher than where we were last night, but during the day, we will have climbed to just over 14,000 ft. This is one of our most valuable days for acclimatization.
Day 5: Karanga Valley
Altitude: 12,956 to 13,743 Hike time: 3.5 hrs
On the eastern side of the valley, across the stream is the Barranco Wall – a 950 ft barrier of volcanic rock. Although it is tall and looks steep, it is very easy to climb. This is the first challenge of the day. The views from the wall are nothing less than magnificent. The rest of the day is spent skirting the base of Kibo peak over the left shoulder. Descend down into the Karanga Valley, where we rest up for the night before the tough climb up to Barafu Hut.
Day 6: Barafu Camp
Altitude: 13,743 to 15,088 ; Hike time: 3.5 hrs
Start the day with a steep hike out of the valley. It is a tough, but rewarding uphill to the rocky, craggy slopes at the camp. Barafu means “ice” in Swahili, and it is extremely cold at this altitude. So, go to bed early because we will be waking you at midnight for the final leg to Uhuru Peak.
Day 7: Mweka Camp
Altitude: 15,088 to 19,340 (summit) then down to 9,550; Hiking time: 12-14 hrs
Dress warmly, as climbing starts around midnight, on the steepest and most demanding part of the mountain. The moon, if out, will provide enough light, and we will reach the crater rim by sunrise, after a 7-hour hike, and welcome a new dawn. From the crater rim, the rugged Mawenzi Peak is a thrilling sight, with the Kibo saddle still in darkness beneath you, and the crater’s ice-walls looming ahead. Continue to Uhuru Peak (1-2 hrs), descend back to Barafu camp (4 hrs), and then down the Mweka route to Mweka camp (5 hrs). This is where we spend our last night on the mountain.
Day 8: Arusha
Altitude: 9,550 to 5,997; Hiking time: 4 hrs
Finish your hike down to the trailhead. This takes about 3 – 3.5 hrs. After a welcome lunch, it is time to say goodbye to the porters. Transfer back to your hotel or on to your safari.