Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route (8-Day Itinerary: My Experience)

Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route 8 Day Complete Guide With Photos

Disclosure: I hiked the 8-Day Lemosho route in 2020. This post contains the opinions and photos of my experience. I’ve also tried to update the article to include new information such as the new Northern Circuit route. I hope you find it helpful 🙂

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro has been one of my bucket list items for a long time. I finally got the chance to fulfill my dream in August, when I joined a group of 10 other trekkers for an 8-day adventure on the Lemosho route.

The Lemosho Route is one of the newer and more scenic ways to climb Kilimanjaro, approaching from the west and crossing the beautiful Shira Plateau. It’s also one of the longest and most challenging, covering about 70 km (42 miles) and reaching an altitude of 5,895 m (19,340 ft) at the summit. But it appealed to me because it offered a high success rate and a great acclimatization profile. 

In this blog post, I’ll share my experience of climbing Kilimanjaro on the Lemosho route, including the itinerary, difficulty, and considerations to make the most of your trip.

The Difference Between The Lemosho 8 and 9-Day Options 

The Lemosho route can be done in either 8 or 9 days. The main difference between the two options is that the 9-day itinerary adds an extra day at Karanga Camp, which allows for more rest and acclimatization before the summit attempt.

It also splits the long descent from Barafu Camp to Mweka Gate into two shorter days, where trekkers stop at High Camp for the night.

It’s advantageous in that it gives you more time to adjust to the thin air and recover from any fatigue you might experience. This also increases your chances of reaching the summit and enjoying the experience more. The downside is that the extra day costs more money. 

I chose the 8-day option because I felt confident in my fitness and acclimatization level (after extensive training, that is). 

NOTE: You’ll never know when the thin air will take its toll. We’ve witnessed hikers hauled from the hills because it can get really rough. If you’re worried about your fitness to face the mountain’s challenge, I would suggest choosing the 9-day option.

Why Choose The Lemosho Route?

There are about 7 main routes to climb when exploring Mt. Kilimanjaro, but I specifically chose Lemosho for the following reasons:

Cost:

The route is not the cheapest option, but it’s not the most expensive either. The average cost of climbing Kilimanjaro on the Lemosho route is around $1,500-$4,000 per person, sometimes even more depending on the tour operator. I was traveling with a partner and ended up paying around $7,000 between us. The fee included:  

  • Park fees
  • Professional, English-speaking Wilderness First Responder & CPR certified Guides
  • Porters
  • Meals (breakfast, lunch, and supper)
  • Sleeping tents and mattresses
  • Transportation
  • Portable Private Toilet and Porter
  • Transfers to the mountain and my hotel

Distance covered:

The route covers about 70 km (42 miles) in total, which is longer than most other routes. This allowed me to acclimatize gradually and avoid altitude sickness.

Scenery:

The Lemosho route is simply breathtaking. It offers a variety of landscapes and views, and it’s wildlife-rich. You’ll get to experience the lush rainforest, where you can see monkeys, birds, and various other fauna. I also got to take in the panoramic views of Kibo and Mawenzi, the two remaining peaks of Kilimanjaro. The beauty and diversity persist for the rest of the hike, which can make you more grateful for nature.

Success Rate:

Because it has up to 90% success rate (due to the longer duration and better acclimatization profile.), I felt I had a better chance of ticking the experience off of my bucket list. 

Less crowded:

Mount Kili draws in quite a crowd. But I wanted to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse myself in the natural wonders of the mountain. Unlike other routes that start from busy gates, this path starts from a quiet and secluded glade, where you can enjoy the tranquility and beauty of nature.

The Machame route is by far the most popular so with the lemosho you get a few days of tranquility before tracks merge with machame and things get a little more hectic!

Lemosho Route 8 Days Itinerary Overview

Here’s what you’ll expect to cover in your 8 day lemosho trek.

(Spoiler alert: there’s a lot of photos, so maybe skip ahead if you’re not into looking at my camera roll)

Day 1 – Londorosi Gate (2250 m) to Mti Mkubwa Camp (2820 m)

After a 3-hour drive from Moshi to Londorosi Gate, my partner and I registered with the park authorities and met our guides and porters. We then drove another hour to Lemosho Glades, where we started our hike through the rainforest. As mentioned earlier, the scenery is amazing! We made our way to the Mti Mkubwa Camp (Big Forest Camp) after about 3 hours. We were served the tastiest dinner and rested in our tents. Although the camps are not the prettiest, every effort was made to make them comfortable. 

Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route loading=
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route Sign post
Tristan Balme Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route mti mkubwa camp

Day 2 – Mti Mkubwa Camp (2820 m) to Shira Camp 1 (3500 m): 

We woke up early and had a filling breakfast. This was followed by a hike through the rainforest, which gradually turned into moorland. We saw some giant lobelias and heathers along the way and reached Shira Camp 1 after about 6 hours. We had lunch and rested for a while before embarking on a short acclimatization hike to Shira Cathedral, a rocky outcrop with stunning views of the Shira Plateau and Mount Meru. We returned to our camp for dinner and overnight.

Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route flowers
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route porters withkilimanjaro in the distance
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route shira plains
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route shira camp
Tristan Balme shira camp 1
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route crow at shira camp 1

Day 3 – Shira I Camp (3610 m) to Shira II Camp (3850 m)

This was one of the most leisurely days of the entire trip. We hiked across the Shira Plateau and enjoyed views of Kibo and Mawenzi and reached Shira II Camp after about 4 hours. We had lunch and relaxed for the rest of the day. In the evening, we watched the sunset over the plateau and the stars over the mountain.

Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route 8 Day Complete Guide With Photos
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route more flowers
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route Shira II campsite
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route tent site
Tristan Balme Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route water for washing
Tristan Balme shira 2 camp site

Day 4 – Shira II Camp (3850 m) to Lava Tower (4600 m) and then Barranco Camp (3,900 m)

By the end of this hike, I looked forward to my slumber because it was one of the toughest days. We climbed from 3,850 m to 4,600 m and then descended to 3,900 m. I could say the hike through the alpine desert terrain, with little vegetation and harsh weather conditions, intensified the entire experience. We finally reached Lava Tower after about 5 hours. Lunch was served and we then descended to Barranco Camp, passing by the Senecio Forest, where we saw some giant groundsels. After another 2 hours of hiking, we finally reached Barranco Camp. We enjoyed a much-needed dinner and a peaceful rest. 

Tristan Balme Lemosho Route Day 4 2
Tristan Balme Lemosho Route Day 4
Tristan Balme Lemosho Route Day 4 to lava tower camp
Tristan Balme Lemosho Route Lava Tower Camp
Tristan Balme shira II above the clouds

Day 5 – Barranco Camp (3900 m) to Karanga Camp (3995 m)

We started the day by climbing the famous Barranco Wall, a steep rock face that required some scrambling and careful footing. It was not as difficult as it looked, and I enjoyed the challenge. We then descended into the Karanga Valley, where we crossed a stream and climbed up to Karanga Camp. The whole hike took about 4 hours. We had lunch and spent the afternoon resting and preparing for summit day.

Tristan Balme hiking to Karanga Camp
Tristan Balme Karanga Camp
Tristan Balme Karanga Camp at night

Day 6 – Karanga Camp (3995 m) to Barafu Camp (4673m)

Though the hike from Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp was short (about 3 hours), it definitely was the steepest. And it was very cold and windy. Luckily, I wore layers of clothing in preparation for the trip (as recommended by the guides). We arrived around noon and rested for a few hours before waking up at midnight for the summit attempt.

Tristan Balme hiking to barafu camp base camp
Tristan Balme porters trudging up kilimanjaro
Tristan Balme barafu camp base camp

Day 7 – Barafu Camp (4673 m) to Uhuru Peak (5895 m) and then High Camp (3100 m)

This was the longest and by far the most difficult day of the trek. We climbed from 4,673 m to 5,895 m and then descended to 3,100 m. Then, we woke up at midnight, had some snacks, and set off on our way. The trail was steep and rocky, with switchbacks and loose gravel. The cold persisted for the rest of the hike, but we finally reached Stella Point, on the crater rim, after about 6 hours. We continued along the rim for another hour until we reached Uhuru Peak. I was overjoyed and proud of myself and made it a point to admire the views of the glaciers and the clouds below us. We spent a couple of minutes at the summit before starting our descent. We retraced our steps back to Barafu Camp, had lunch, and packed our bags. and headed down to High Camp, where we had dinner and rested for the night.

Tristan Balme Admiring The View From On Top Of Mount Kilimanjaro
Tristan Balme lemosho route to uhuru peak kilimanjaro
Tristan Balme uhuru peak on kilimanjaro
Tristan Balme summiting kilimanjaro in the snow

Day 8 – High Camp (3950 meters) to Mweka Gate (1,640 meters)

This was our last day on the mountain. I have to admit, that though I enjoyed every aspect of the trip, I was relieved to have completed the adventure. We hiked through moorland and rainforest terrain, taking in the sights and sounds of nature for the last time. We reached Mweka Gate, signed out our names, and received our certificates of completion. This was followed by a mini ceremony of tipping the guides and porters and thanking them for their amazing service. We then boarded a bus that took us back to our hotel in Moshi, took a long shower, and celebrated our achievement with a refreshingly cold beer. 

Tip: I highly recommend you tip the porters and guides generously because they do make an effort to ensure you enjoy yourself and are as comfortable as possible. 

Lemosho Compared To The Other Routes?

The Lemosho route is one of the best routes to climb Kilimanjaro, but it’s not the only one. There are 7 other routes that vary in difficulty, duration, scenery, and popularity. Here is a brief comparison of the Lemosho route with two of the most popular routes: Machame and the Northern Circuit.

Lemosho vs. Machame

FeatureLemosho Machame
ItineraryStarts at Lemosho Gate and follows a western approach to the summit, joining the Machame route at Shira Camp II. Starts from the southwest of the summit and follows a circular path around the mountain. 
SteepnessHas some steep sections, but generally less steep than MachameHas more steep sections and requires more scrambling and climbing
Distance70 km /43 miles62 km /38.5 miles
SceneryVery scenic and diverse, with views of the rainforest, moorland, alpine desert, and glacier zones. Greater chance to see wildlife. Offers varied scenery, but limited view of wildlife. 
ElevationStarts at 2,100m /6890 ft and reaches 5,895 m /19341 ftStarts at 1,640m /5380 ft and reaches 5,895 m /19341 ft
AcclimatisationGoodFair
Success rateHigh, around 90%Moderate, around 85%
Duration7, 8 or 9 days6 to 7 days
DifficultyModerate difficultlyModerate difficulty

Lemosho vs. The Northern Circuit

FeatureLemosho Northern Circuit
ItineraryStarts at Lemosho Gate and follows a western approach to the summit, joining the Machame route at Shira Camp II. Starts at Lemosho Gate and follows the western approach to the summit, but branches off at Lava Tower to circle around the northern slopes of the mountain.
SteepnessSlightly steeper than Northern Circuit. Relatively gentle and gradual. 
Distance70 km /43 miles98 km /61 miles
SceneryVery scenic and diverseExtremely scenic and diverse
ElevationHighest point is Uhuru pea at 5,895 m /19341 ftHighest point is Uhuru pea at 5,895 m /19341 ft
AcclimatisationGoodExcellent
Success rateHigh, around 90%Very high, around 95%
Duration7, 8 or 9 days9 days
DifficultyModerately difficultModerate to low

What Is The Distance And Elevation Of The Lemosho Route?

The distance and elevation of the route vary depending on the exact itinerary and campsites used by different tour operators. But here’s the general information on the 8-day itinerary.

DayFromToDistance (km)Elevation Gain (m)Elevation Loss (m)
1Londorossi GateMti Mkubwa Camp65700
2Mti Mkubwa CampShira Camp 186800
3Shira Camp 1Shira Camp 2142400
4Shira Camp 2Barranco Camp7750-700
5Barranco CampKaranga Camp5250-200
6Karanga CampBarafu Camp46780
7aBarafu CampUhuru Peak51222-1222
7bUhuru PeakHigh Camp (Millennium)12-27950
8aHigh Camp (MillenniumMweka Gate10-18500
TotalLondorossi GateUhuru Peak714645-4645

When Is The Best Time To Climb Kilimanjaro?

The best time to climb Kilimanjaro is from January to March and from June to October. During these months, the weather is generally clear and sunny, with low chances of rain or snow. The temperatures are also moderate, ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F) at the lower altitudes and from -10°C to 0°C (14°F to 32°F) at the higher altitudes.

From April to May and from November to December, the weather is unpredictable and cloudy, with high chances of rain or snow. The temperatures are also colder. But, if you’re up for a challenge, you can climb the mountain at any time of the year, given you’re prepared for the weather conditions and have the right equipment and clothing. 

Other Considerations Before Booking Your Kilimanjaro Trip

Climbing Kilimanjaro requires a lot of planning and preparation. And once you’ve got all the essentials taken care of, your trip can be a walk in the park. Here’s the planning I had to do to ensure my trip was as stress-free as possible. 

Choosing a trekking company

There are hundreds of trekking companies that offer Kilimanjaro climbs, but not all of them are reliable, ethical, or professional. While comparing different companies, here are some of the aspects I kept top of mind. 

Reputation

I checked online reviews, testimonials, and ratings from previous clients. Look for positive feedback on the quality of service, safety standards, success rate, and customer satisfaction.

Experience

I wanted to book with a company that has been operating for a long time and has a lot of experience in organizing Kilimanjaro climbs. This means I would be well taken care of and they might even make suggestions and recommendations that I might overlook or fail to consider. A few factors I took into account were evidence of their expertise, like certifications, awards, or memberships in professional associations.

Responsibility

I’m all for supporting companies that respect the environment and the local community. I looked for an operator that showed signs of their commitment to sustainability and fair trade. The best way to do this is to seek one that’s compliant with the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project (KPAP), an organization that sets minimum standards for porter welfare, like wages, tips, equipment, food, and accommodation. You can check out a list of tour operators who work in partnership with KPAP here

Fitness and training

Climbing Kilimanjaro is physically demanding and requires a good level of fitness and stamina. I started training about 4 months before my trip by focusing on a lot of incline and decline walking. I also hiked on local trails and hills for about 6 hours a week–while carrying a backpack and any other equipment I might bring along–to help simulate the conditions on Kilimanjaro. 

My friends at Kilimanjaro Sunrise share their thoughts in this article on how hard it is to climb Kili in this article

Vaccinations

You should consult your doctor or travel clinic before traveling to Tanzania. Though some of these are optional (and will obviously depend on your discussion with your practitioner), you should get vaccinated against yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, and typhoid. You should also take Diamox, anti-malaria pills, and insect repellent with you.

Insurance

I got travel insurance that covered medical expenses, evacuation costs, cancellation fees, lost baggage, theft, or any other unforeseen events that could have occurred during my trip. I also checked the fine print to make sure I was covered for high-altitude activities.

Equipment to bring

I packed light but smart for the climb. The key is to bring only the essential items you’ll need on the mountain, which isn’t always easy to do. Here’s a comprehensive list of equipment to get you started.

Read the full article on what to pack for climbing kili here.

Clothing

Headgear
  • Balaclava
  • Sunhat or hat with neck cover 
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp with long battery life and extra batteries, just in case
  • Scarf, bandana, neckband, or buff
  • Beanie
Upper body
  • 3 short + 3 long sleeve shirts. They should be breathable, lightweight, and quick drying
  • Fleece or wool jacket
  • Down jacket
  • Waterproof and warm inner and outer gloves
Lower body/Legs
  • 4-5 breathable underwear, preferably sports underwear.
  • Ski pants
  • 3 pairs of trekking pants
  • Insulated trousers
  • Gaiters
  • Hiking boots
  • 4 hiking socks
  • 2 Liner socks
  • A pair of summit socks
  • Camp shoes (sandals or trainers)

Sleeping

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow

Hygiene

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Wet wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Personal medication
  • Moisturizer
  • Bug spray
  • Painkillers
  • Hydration tablets

Accessories/Extras

  • Backpack with a rain cover
  • Day pack
  • Water bottle or bladder
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Solar charger
  • Power bank
  • Trekking poles 
  • Duffel bag
  • Daypack
  • Shoe bag
  • Hydration pack
  • Water Bottle
  • Dry bags
  • Packing cubes

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Lemosho route? 

The Lemosho route is about 70 km (42 miles) long and takes 7 to 9 days to complete.

How Much Does it Cost to Climb Kilimanjaro Using the Lemosho Route? 

The cost of climbing Kilimanjaro on the Lemosho route is around $1,500 to $4,000 per person, depending on the tour operator.

What is the hardest route on Kilimanjaro? 

The hardest route on Kilimanjaro is the Umbwe route. It’s very steep and short and offers little time for acclimatization. 

What is the most beautiful route to climb Kilimanjaro? 

The route known for its scenic beauty is the Lemosho route.

How hard is Lemosho route? 

The Lemosho route is moderately hard. It requires a good level of fitness, stamina, and determination. 

What is the success rate of Lemosho route Kilimanjaro? 

The success rate of Lemosho route is around 90%.

Kilimanjaro Travel Planning Cheatsheet

 

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance for Tanzania?

100% YES! — Tanzania has now introduceed “free” healthcare but it’s only for citizens! Tourists need travel insurance in case anything happens on your visit. Also be aware many policies won't cover high altitude hiking as it's a high risk activity!

(that's right, check the t&c's on your complimentary credit card insurance

I highly recommend World Nomads as you can get specific add-ons for high altitude hiking UP TO 6000m (Which most travel insurance companies don't offer!)

🎫 Do I need a visa for Tanzania?

Probably not — Tanzania now provide a visa on arrival (VoA) for most western countires which allows you stay for up to 90 days. However, some other countries do need a pre-approved eVisa (check here!). VoAs cost $50 USD for a single entry - Note, US Citizens are required to get a Multi-Entry visa which costs $100 USD. (View visa prices here)

If transiting through Kenya (a lot of people fly via Nairobi), you'll need a Kenyan visa too. Visa's cost $20 for a 3 day transit visa and $50 for a toursit visa

(By the way, on both my interactions with the imigration officers in kenya they tried to scam me, so know what your obliged to pay and BRING THE EXACT CASH for the visa!)

💉Do I need any vaccinations for Tanzania?

YES! Make sure you are up-to-date with all your vaccines. Common travel vaccines include Hep A/B + Typhoid, and Diphtheria + Tetanus.

A yellow fever vaccination isn't a requirment to visit Kilimanjaro but is for neighbouring areas in East Africa. In reality, you will might not be allowed back into your home country on your return (I was asked for proof of vaccination upon returning to Australia) so getting this jab prior made for good peace of mind. 

Rabies is an issue in Tanzania but the vaccine is expensive and ineffective as a preventative measure (it only lasts a few years and you'll need to get them again if you require treatment). If bitten by a stray dog seek immediate medical attention!

As always, talk to your GP or specialised travel doctor a few weeks BEFORE you leave.

🏩 What’s the best Kilimanjaro Tour operators?

Your only realy two options here are Kumano Travel and Booking.com. Its a complicated process so I wrote this guide here on the best kumano kodo accomodation options

If you don't want to figure it all out (it's meant to be a holiday after all) you can book a package tour. Here are my recommendations for both guided and self-guided.

💸How do you pay for things in Tanzania?

Cash is king in Tanzania, so you'll want to get some folding tender out from an ATM when you land. Larger businesses and hotels will take Debit / Credit Card but most resturants, and street vendors want cash. I even had to pay for my Kili trip in cash!

I personally use a Wise debit card for all my international money needs as they only convert the funds when you make payment, plus they offer a much better spread (margin on the true exhange rate) than the banks do. They work in all the Tanzanian ATMs I tried. 

🚌 What's the public transport like in Tanzania?

There is a good basic network of local and inter-city busses in Tanzania and travel this way is very cheap. Domestic flight are also very affordable and a far more comfortable option. Checkout Busbora for booking bus tickets online.

📲 How do I get internet/data/wifi in Tanzania and on the mountain?

This one needs a whole nother article, but the short version is prepaid SIM cards are cheap and availible to tourists and locals alike (You don't need a pricey tourst SIM!)

Your cheapest option is buying a physical sim card on the street corner once landed and getting the shop assistant to help you set it up. I went with Vodacom and had generally good coverage, even up on Kili!

Another option if you're visiting other African countries is the Airalo eSIM. This is a little more expensive but gives you connectivity across 14 neighbouring African Countries and connectivity the moment you step off the plane!

✈️ What’s the best site to buy flights to Tanzania?

For finding cheap flights, I recommend Skyscanner. Once you find the flight you're looking for, I'd then suggest booking directly with the carrier (even if it costs a few $$ more than with one of the agreggators/agencies).

💧Can you drink the water in Tanzania?

Safest not to — tap water in Tanzania may be OK (the locals drink it) but is generally untreated and not reccommended for tourists. Purchase bottled water for drinking and teeth brushing.

🏔️💧Can you drink the water on Mount Kilimanjaro?

Yes — Your tour company with ensure the water provided to you is safe to drink by either carrying in bottled water, or by treating stream water with purification tablets or by boiling it. If you want to drink water from the rivers and streams you generally can but should do so at your own risk. ALWAYS follow best practice and drink from fast flowing water as far up stream as possible. I'd also recommend a Brita Water Bottle for rehydrating on the trail safely. 

 

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