Being the tallest mountain in Africa, one of the seven summits, as well as the tallest volcano in the world outside of South America, Mt. Kilimanjaro was first climbed by Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheiler in 1889. The volcano-mountain is located in Tanzania and is an astonishing 5,895 meters above sea level and has several routes leading to the summit.
The two original routes for climbing Kilimanjaro are the Marangu route and Machame route. However, as tourism has increased on the mountain more and more routes have been developed and climbed. Currently, there are seven official trekking routes to climb Kilimanjaro.
The Lemosho route is one of the newer official routes to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although it is new, it is considered one of the best routes to climb Kili. This is because of the vast, panoramic and ethereal views that can be seen during the climb that portray different sides of the mountain. Being that the route is newer, there is also less traffic on the Lemosho route. Also, out of all of the routes Lemosho has the most gradual altitude ascent, which is one of the reasons why Lemosho has a very high summit success rate.
Panoramic views along the Lemosho route. Photo by Mouser
This route begins on the western face of the mountain at Londorossi’s Gate and was originally made as an alternative to the Shira Route, which is more difficult as it starts at a higher altitude and makes acclimatization tougher. One of the positive aspects of starting the climb on the western side of the mountain is that the western side is still quite wild. You may have the chance of seeing some beautiful African wildlife such as antelopes or elephants. You start the walk on a narrow trail just outside of Londorossi Gate where you eventually pass over the famous Shira Plateau before you join the Machame Route on the third day.
When climbing Kilimanjaro via Lemosho, the particular route can be completed in six days (five nights), seven days (six nights), or eight days (seven nights). The amount of time that you choose to make the climb is up to you and your level of physical fitness. However, it is recommended by most guides to do the trek in eight days. This allows you to acclimatize better to the altitude as well as take more time to enjoy the scenery as opposed to simply gunning to the top.
Here is a general summary of what a typical 8-day itinerary to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho trail may look like. Keep in mind that specific distances or times may vary slightly.
Londorossi Gate. Entrance to Kilimanjaro National Park. Photo by David
You will immediately notice that this route is less prone to traffic than other trails. The town is surrounded by a wooden fence where the idea is to keep wildlife out. As you are doing the final registration for your permits to get on the trail, be alert and keep your eyes open as the surrounding trees bear home to famous Colobus monkeys.
Once all of your registration is complete you will walk along a muddy road for 20 minutes before finally arriving at the actual trailhead. As you start hiking the Lemosho Route you enter a luscious rainforest. In the early days of the trail, you had to go with an armed guard because of the concentrated amount of large wildlife in the area. Nowadays, the wildlife population here has reduced because of the constant climbing activity within the area.
Porters on the ridge. Lemosho route Kilimanjaro. Photo by MouserYou may have a couple of steep parts on the first day but all in all the trek takes around three hours. You will rest under a big tree at your first campsite, Big Tree Camp where you have now begun your journey on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The third day takes place exploring much of the Shira plateau that is one of the highest plateaus on earth at (how many) meters. This day is a great day to acclimatize, as you will not be ascending to dramatically the following day.
Shira Camp 1 at Dawn on the Lemosho route to Kilimanjaro. Photo by Mouser
During this day there are many different variations or detours that you can do and you have the option of staying at different campsites which may vary due to weather as well as hiking traffic. However, for the most part, the route continues to follow the path of the Machame trail.Read more about the Shira route and Machame Route.
Sunset over camp on the Lemosho trail.. Photo by Mouser
One of the great things about this third day is that you ascend to over 4,500 meters yet you will be sleeping below 4,000. This provides an excellent opportunity to acclimatize efficiently using the method of climbing high but sleeping low.
For the rest of the Machame Route, you will join up with hikers from Lemosho as well as Shira.
Day four is the day of the Barranco Wall. There are many rumors circulating that the Barranco Wall is the equivalent of climbing a sheer face, perilous and/or life threatening. These are all debunked rumors and may have been made by some that have never seen the mountain before.
The Barranco Wall does have some steeper inclines where you may have to use both your hands and feet to “scramble” up some points. However, rock climbing or previous mountaineering experience is by no means necessary. For the most part, it is a steeper walk with points where you may need your hands to steady yourself.
The climb will take approximately 90 minutes where you will then get absolutely amazing views of the famous Kibo. The remainder of the day will consist of a gradual incline over the volcanic rock before reaching the Karanga Valley Camp.
The fifth day of the Machame Route is a short and sweet one. The day is shorter as to give you a little bit of a rest before the following summit day. You will leave the Karanga Valley where you come across more and more volcanic landscape where there is almost no sign of life.As you see southern glaciers encroaching on your left, you eventually reach Barafu Camp where you can have lunch and spend the rest of the day preparing yourself for the summit attempt.
On summit day you will wake up at 2 am. Your first objective will be to arrive at Stella Point at 5752 meters where you have the opportunity to see an absolutely gorgeous sun-rise. From there you will have a final hour push to the summit where you will finally be on the highest point in Africa.After summiting you have a long descent of almost 2,000 meters to Millennium Camp where you will spend your final night on the mountain.