The Lemosho route to Kilimanjaro

by Kshaunish Jaini

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

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This route begins on the western face of the mountain at Londorossi’s Gate and was originally made as an alternative to the Shira Route , which is more difficult as it starts at a higher altitude and makes acclimatization tougher.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.

Lemosho Route Itinerary

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.

Trailhead/Starting Point: Londorossi Gate (2,100m)

Day 1 – Londorosi Gate – Big Tree Camp (2,650m)

Hike Distance: 6km
Hike Time: 2-3 hours

Day 2 – Big Tree Camp – Shira I (3,480m)

Hike Distance: 8km
Hike Time: 4-5 hours

Day 3 – Shira I – Shira Huts (3,850m)

Hike Distance: 11km
Hike Time: 6-8 hours

Day 4 – Shira Huts – Barranco Huts (3,985m)

Hike Distance: 9km
Hike Time: 6-8 hours

Day 5 – Barranco Huts – Karanga Camp (4,040m)

Hike Distance: 5.5km
Hike Time: 4-5 hours

Day 6 – Karanga Camp – Barafu Huts (4680m)

Hike Distance: 3.5km
Hike Time: 4-5 hours

Day 7 – Summit attempt to Uhuru Peak (5,895m) and descent to Millennium Camp (3,820m)

Hike distance: 5km ascent + 10km descent
Hike time: Overall with ascent and descent can vary from 10-16 hours

Day 8 – Millennium Camp – Lemosho Gate

Hike Distance: 20km
Hike Time: 5 hours
Descent: 1,990m

Detailed Itinerary for the Lemosho Route

To give you an idea of what Kilimanjaro Trek Lemosho Route will be like, let’s have a slightly more detailed look at the Itinerary for this route.

Lemosho Route Day 1

During the first day, you start by traveling to the trailhead. You will have to drive for around two to three hours to Londorossi gate before you get to the trailhead. Londorossi is the name of the gate that leads access to the trail. it is also the name of the village that you will be visiting.

Londorossi-Gate-Entrance-to-Kilimanjaro-National-Park

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

Porters on the ridge. Lemosho route Kilimanjaro. Photo by Mouser

You 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.

Lemosho Route Day 2

On the second day of the Lemosho trail, you exit the luscious rainforest and begin to enter a range of high savannah grasses amongst volcanic rock. You will find yourself gaining altitude as you ascend some hills and pass by a series of streams before reaching your second camp Shira 1

Lemosho Route Day 3

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-at-Dawn-Kilimanjaro-route

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

Sunset over camp on the Lemosho trail.. Photo by Mouser

Lemosho Route Day 4

During this day you will truly start to feel the altitude as you ascend to Lava Tower just over 4,500 meters. You will be hiking over lava type ridges and almost all of the vegetation has now disappeared.Once you reach Lava Tower you will begin to descend into Barranco Valley where you will camp this evening. Barranco Valley has fantastic views where you get your first glimpses of some of the southern glaciers as well as the Barranco Wall which you will climb tomorrow.

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.

Lemosho Route Day 5

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.

Lemosho Route Day 6

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.

Lemosho Route Day 7

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.

Lemosho Route Day 8 (Final Day)

On this day, you will continue your descent of almost 20 more km until you arrive at Lemosho Gate. Although the distance seems very far the hike is not strenuous since it is all downhill. You will find the vegetation and scenery vary dramatically during your descent and before you know it you will be back at Lemosho Gate.

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