Kilimanjaro Shira Route
The Shira route is one of the older Kilimanjaro routes, and is nearly identical to the Lemosho route. The only difference between them is that the starting point of Shira is higher. In fact, the Lemosho route is the ‘new-and-improved’ version of the Shira route.
The Shira route approaches the summit of Kilimanjaro from the west. It starts relatively high above sea level and is therefore a less frequented route as it offers a poorer acclimatization profile. The route requires you to camp.
Shira route overview
Along with the Lemosho route, the Shira route has all the qualities you could ask for in a Kilimanjaro climb, including beautiful views and varied terrain throughout. The only difference between the two is that the Shira route starts at a much higher elevation: 3,600 m (11,811 ft) above sea level compared with Lemosho’s 2,360 m (7,743 ft). That’s a difference of over a kilometer! This means that climbers tackling the Shira route are at a higher risk of developing altitude-related symptoms from the first day. As such we recommend opting for the Lemosho route over Shira. That said, we’re happy to recommend the Shira route to those who are a seasoned hikers or already live at a high altitude.
✓ Beautiful scenery
✓ Panoramic views
✓ Varied terrain
✓ Quieter than other routes
– Poor acclimatization profile at the start
– Not possible in the wet season
The Shira route is for climbers who want a trail that’s scenic and exciting and who are able to adjust quickly to the starting point’s high altitude.
What is the scenery like on the Shira route?
Along with the Lemosho route, the Shira route is known for being one of the most beautiful Kilimanjaro routes. The spectacular western approach offers trekkers the experience of hiking across the Shira Plateau, which is one of the largest high-altitude plateaus in the world. It also offers fantastic views of Shira Cathedral, a dramatic buttress of rock.
The only difference between the Shira and Lemosho routes is the scenery is on the first couple of days, as the Lemosho route has you spend more time hiking in forest. Both routes offer some of the best sunrises and sunsets on Kilimanjaro.
How hard is the Shira route?
No Kilimanjaro climb is easy, but the Shira route is one of the harder climbs given it starts at a much higher altitude. This means that a relatively high number of trekkers fall victim to the effects of altitude right from the start. From Day 3 the route offers opportunities to ‘climb high, sleep low’, which help you to acclimatize. The Shira route is undoubtedly a beautiful climb, and with the right Kilimanjaro preparation it’s definitely achievable. We do however recommend opting for the Lemosho route as it offers a better acclimatization profile while not robbing you of any of the scenery offered along the Shira route.
What is the Shira route’s summit success rate?
The Shira route doesn’t have the best acclimatization profile given it starts at such high altitude. Whilst there are no official statistics, the average success rate across all Kilimanjaro operators for the seven-day Shira route is around 85%.
Shira route landscape The scenery along the Shira route is just gorgeous
How busy is the Shira route?
The Shira route is generally less busy than other Kilimanjaro routes such as the Machame route. You’re free from big crowds during the first couple of days on the Shira route. You then join trekkers hiking the Lemosho route on the evening of Day 2 at Shira 2 Camp, and then those hiking the Machame route near the Lava Tower. This is when the crowds can get a little bigger in peak season.
What is accommodation like on the Shira route?
The Shira route only offers camping accommodation of al your camping equipment is included: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and pillow. All tents are pitched and then taken down by our dedicated mountain crew throughout the trek.
How long does it take to hike the Shira route?
The Shira route can be completed in either seven or eight days. The extra day gives you more time to acclimatize. In our experience, most people who have completed the right Kilimanjaro preparation and are okay with the higher altitude at the start of the climb, manage fine with the seven-day option.
What is the Shira route cost?
. It costs $2,585 per person (based on double occupancy). This includes seven days on the mountain and one day either side at our beautiful parter lodge in Moshi. For more information on inclusions and exclusions, as well as more details about climb Kilimanjaro cost.
7-day Shira Shira route elevation in profile
The trek route starts at Shira Gate. You climb to the summit and then descend to finish at Mweka Gate.
Day Start Altitude (m) Altitude (ft) Finish Altitude (m) Altitude (ft) Time (hr) Distance (km) Distance (miles)
1 Shira Gate 3,600 11,800 Simba Camp 3,600 11,800 1-2 4 2
2 Simba Camp 3,600 11,800 Shira 2 Camp 3,810 12,500 2 6 4
3 Shira 2 Camp 3,810 12,500 Lava Tower 4,630 15,190 4-5 7 4
Lava Tower 4,630 15,190 Barranco Camp 3,976 13,044 2-3 3 2
4 Barranco Camp 3,976 13,044 Karanga Camp 3,995 13,106 4-5 5 3
5 Karanga Camp 3,995 13,106 Barafu Camp 4,673 15,331 4-5 4 2
6 Barafu Camp 4,673 15,331 Uhuru Peak 5,895 19,341 7-8 5 3
Uhuru Peak 5,895 19,341 Mweka Camp 3,068 10,065 4-6 12 7
7 Mweka Camp 3,068 10,065 Mweka Gate 1,640 5,380 3-4 10 6
Total 56 33
The route over the Shira Plateau has several possible variations.
Duration: 6 – 8 days
- Less crowded on the first days.
- Very scenic.
- Higher cost.
- Higher difficulty level.
- Meets the Machame trail, hence very busy on the later days.