Lemosho Trail Itinerary
The Lemosho trail was designed by the famous mountaineer, Scott Fisher, in order to maximize acclimatization.
You have arrived in Arusha two nights in advance and had plenty of time to recover from your jet lag, meet with your guide to check over your gear, and are ready to depart for the mountain. Eat a healthy breakfast at the hotel and start drinking water right away.
After breakfast we will drive to the Londorossi gate to complete the necessary paperwork at the park office. Another hour on a muddy, slippery road, and we reach the starting point at Lemosho where our porters have been since the night before organizing our gear. Here you meet our amazing KiliBound staff members and enjoy your first lunch on the mountain before hitting the trail.
Once we get started the walk is beautiful and our pace is slow to assist with acclimatization. The guides will stop frequently to point out interesting plants and we take our time to stop and admire the flora and fauna this region of Kili presents. Keep your eyes on the trees and watch for the Colobus monkeys that are frequently seen in this section of rainforest.
This section of the trail can be slippery so we walk carefully. Wearing gaiters during this leg of the trail helps keep our pants clean and helps us avoid the stinging nettle plants. Safari ants also cross our path on occasion and we must be careful to avoid them as their bites burn. Today’s climb is mildly strenuous as some of the downhill and uphill stretches are steep, so hiking poles are helpful to prevent us from slipping and sliding. The forest is very beautiful in this region so take lots of pictures. We arrive at Forest Camp a few hours after we start the trail, and camp for the night at 9,220 feet. When you arrive at camp your tents will be set up for you and you will have an hour or so to relax and organize your items in your tent before dinner.
Tonight you must eat well. At higher altitudes you will begin to lose your appetite, so during the first few days it is important to eat well to maintain your energy resources. You must continue to drink water – try to drink at least another liter of water before going to bed. Darkness comes early in the forest so enjoy the sounds of the forest and your first night on the slopes of Kilimanjaro!
A porter wakes you up in the morning with a cheerful good morning and delivers an assortment of hot drinks. Morning time is cold but it heats up quickly with the sunrise. Breakfast is served inside the mess tent or outside when it’s warm enough. Before breakfast you dress for the day (your guide will tell you the night before how to dress for the day’s hike), roll up your sleeping bags, pack your duffel bags, and prepare your day pack. After breakfast and refilling your water bottles, it is time to head on to the next leg of the trail.
The hike from Forest Camp to our lunch stop is easy and offers beautiful views when it is clear out. After lunch, the hike will be uphill for a few long, steep stretches until we arrive at the Shira Ridge. The last hour is an easy stroll across the plateau – at this point you have left the rainforest and entered into the heather zone. The heather zone offers a new array of plants and grasses, and great views of the trail ahead of you and behind you when it is clear. It is important to wear sunscreen here as there is less overhead cover.
Once we arrive at camp you may get to see the peak of Kibo for the first time if it is clear! If not, you are sure to catch a glimpse in the morning. From Shira 1 camp at 11,500 feet we can see the Western Breach from a distance. It’s time to relax and enjoy dinner and good company before settling in for the night.
This morning after our wake up call and breakfast, we set out with our guides while our porters stay behind to pack up our tents and the rest of our gear. Amazingly, within the next hour or so they will catch up to us and pass us, heading on to set up lunch and camp. The guides will educate you about symptoms of altitude sickness, and maintain contact with the porters in the event that a climber needs additional assistance.
Today’s hike is shorter with two steep sections, one before lunch and one after lunch. The Shira Plateau is beautiful and contains many interesting rock formations, streams, and plant life. If the morning is clear we can see the sun rise behind Kibo, and will have a beautiful view of the peak for the rest of the day. Most of the trail today is flat, providing a pleasant walk. We will be hiking at 11,500 feet – most climbers do not have difficulty at this altitude.
This area of the mountain is well known for elephant and buffalo, so your guide will be on the lookout for fresh tracks. Soon we cross into the moorland and lava ridges of Kilimanjaro appear in front of us. We eat lunch at 12,230 feet. After our lunch stop we have another 2-3 hours of hiking in front of us. The after lunch part of our hike is very scenic and features exotic trees and plants, caves, and dramatic rock overhangs.
We stop for the night at Moir Camp at 13,700 feet. Before dinner you have an opportunity to take a hot shower and relax. You may experience some symptoms of altitude discomfort such as a headache or fatigue at this altitude – no matter what, keep drinking lots of water and eat up at dinner time! You will appreciate changing out of your boots in the afternoon into your camp shoes, and you can hang any wet clothes up in your tent to dry.
This morning we all try to drink a liter of water before we leave camp. Today’s hike is long and we will reach an altitude of almost 15,000 feet. We start with a long steep section, which when combined with the altitude can be a challenge. The climb does get easier during the day and as the sun rises we will have stunning views where we can see the trail ahead of us. After an hour or so, Mount Meru appears in the distance. This part of the trail is especially beautiful, as most trekkers do not take this route, so it is largely unspoiled from tourist traffic.
Just north of camp we cross a small stream before starting the long scramble to the top of the Barranco Wall. From the bottom you can watch hikers make their way up the long scramble, and it looks more intense than it really is. It takes about 75 minutes to reach the top of the wall, and your guides will be there to help you as this section features some large steps up and scrambling over large rocks. We will have plenty of opportunities for rest, and the view from the wall is beautiful for taking pictures of the valley. Soon Barranco Camp will be just a small dot in the distance.
Today we enter into the alpine zone. Plant life here consists mostly of mosses and lichens, as the climate in this area is harsh and it freezes nightly. This part of the trail can be dusty so bandanas and wet wipes are handy. On our way up the next steep stretch of the trail, you can view the Lava Tower through your binoculars along with a long stream of porters and trekkers heading towards the tower. We will reach the Lava Tower around noon and will be at the highest point of today’s walk, 14,850 feet. If you have the energy and the visibility is good, you may try the 30 minute climb up the tower – you will find amazing views from the top!
After our lunch we hike almost entirely downhill to our next camp. It can be steep in areas and your hiking poles will be helpful to steady yourself. Walk carefully and pay attention, this is not the time to hurt an ankle or a knee! We will reach Barranco Camp at 4pm and will be camping at 13,054 feet. Hiking to a high altitude and then hiking back down to a lower altitude helps us with the acclimatization process. This campsite is beautiful, and the dramatic Barranco Wall looms large to the side. Once we start to reach about 14,000 feet it will be quite cold at night time, and you will be happy that you invested in some proper gear!
This morning, as we continue to climb higher and higher, we try again to drink a liter of water before leaving camp. Today’s hike to Karanga Valley is short, but it is crucial in our acclimatization process. Some of the other routes bypass Karanga Valley and head straight for Barafu Camp. Taking this extra day is critical in our acclimatization process, and is a nice day of rest in preparation for our final two days of climbing before the summit.
Just north of camp we cross a small stream before starting the long scramble to the top of the Barranco Wall. From the bottom you can watch hikers make their way up the long scramble, this section is an intense hike but well worth the stunning view! It takes about 75 minutes to reach the top of the wall, and your guides will be there to help you as this section features some large steps up, narrow ledges, and scrambling over large rocks. We will have plenty of opportunities for rest, and the view from the wall is beautiful for taking pictures of the valley. Soon Barranco Camp will be just a small dot in the distance.
Enjoy a breathtaking view from the top of the wall when the weather is clear! After summiting the wall, we cross a series of hills and valleys until we descend sharply into a valley with several water streams. The final hill is very steep. We overnight at Karanga Valley Camp at 13,277 feet. This afternoon we have lots of time to rest, relax, nap, and save our energy for the next two days.
Today is a short hike, but you will be glad that you have been eating all of the carbohydrate packed dinners provided and drinking so much water, as today we camp at over 15,000 feet. Kilimanjaro is not the place to start a diet! We start out steep on our hike today, and climb uphill across a barren landscape with lots of boulders and shattered rocks. It is very quiet and peaceful on this section of the hike, and the Decken Glacier is present to your left.
Climbing the last stretch to the Crater Rim will not be easy, but continue to hike slowly as your guides have taught you, dig deep, and keep going! Soon we are looking across a valley towards Barafu Camp in the distance. After a slow hike up the final hill we reach a fork in the trail – the way down to Mweka is to the right, but we follow the trail to the left, climbing up a rocky section for some more scrambling. 20 minutes later we reach our camp amidst large rocks with dangerous cliff faces. It is smart to take an acclimatization hike with our guides in the afternoon, if energy and weather permits it. On some occasions, the group along with the head guide may decide to hike on for another short while to Kosovo Camp. Kosovo Camp is often less crowded than Barafu, and puts us almost an hour closer to the summit.
Tonight most other climbers will go to bed early (7pm) and wake up at 11pm to start their 12-18 hour summit to the top and back down again to camp. We will use this time to rest, and begin our summit in the morning, a much more comfortable way to reach the summit area! Altitude at Barafu Camp is 15,200 feet.
Today we hike about 3.5 miles going from an altitude of 15,200 feet to 19,340 feet, then camping for the night at 18,500 feet. Today is the reason you are undertaking this climb, and it will be difficult but well worth the struggle! Dig deep – your porters and fellow climbers are there to help you. The hike is mostly uphill and will take 7-9 hours, including a break for lunch.
Climbing the last stretch to the Crater Rim will not be easy, but continue to hike slowly as your guides have taught you, dig deep, and keep going! We start early today, between 5- 6 am, and start with some light scrambling over rocks. After an hour or so the rocks give way to gravel and scree and we continue traversing along for 4 hours. Along the way we stop for pictures and plenty of rest breaks.
Around 1pm we will find ourselves just below Stella Point, where we will have lunch at 18,472 feet. After lunch we negotiate the loose scree towards the Stella Point ridge. The scree (loose volcanic rock) can present a challenge as the scree may causes you to slide backwards slightly with each step. Within 30-45 minutes we reach the boulders of Stella Point, and have been hiking 5-7 hours at this point.
By now we have passed many climbers who are on their way back down the mountain after their early morning summit attempts. After lunch we hike another 2-3 hours on a steady uphill climb to reach the summit. At this time of day most hikers have already summited and are hiking back down to their camps – leaving us with the summit mostly to ourselves! We rest at the top, enjoy the view, savor the moment, and take lots of pictures. After our summit celebration, we begin the short but steep climb down to the Crater Camp. On our way to the camp we can see the Furtwangler Glacier – we have reached the snows of Kilimanjaro!
When we arrive at camp, you may want to head to your tent to relax before dinner or you may also take a short walk over to check out the glacier. After some rest, a few people may choose to walk to the actual crater and back, a 90 minute hike. Most people will be too tired and need to rest. We camp overnight at 18,500 feet.
After an exciting previous day, a cold, cold night, and beautiful scenery, we rise early to head down to Stella Point. We pass hikers who are working their way up to summit, and stop for lunch at Barafu Camp. The way back down the mountain is very steep, and you may be quite sore by now from days of hiking – use of hiking poles is recommended. Dress in layers today as we will descend quickly and will get a nice sweaty workout today.
After lunch we walk another 3-4 hours downhill to reach Mweka Camp. You will be thankful for the luxury of a hot shower tonight! Tonight we celebrate our success together, but sadly it is our last night camping on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. At dinner your guide will explain the tipping process to you, and you may go ahead and provide your tip offerings for the staff.
After breakfast today, we present our staff with any used hiking gear that you have chosen to donate and you may also give a few extra personal tips to staff who served you exceptionally. After our ceremonies, we hike steeply downhill back through the rainforest to the park gate. Again, the trail here can be muddy and slippery. Today we enjoy the beauty of the rainforest and our last few hours on the mountainside. When we arrive at the gate we are greeted with snacks and an opportunity to buy a few souvenirs. We sign the registry and gather for our presentation of certificates by our guides, while sipping on Cokes and Kilimanjaro beer.
Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to our mountain team, climb into our jeeps, and say goodbye to Kilimanjaro… and hello to your next adventure!
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