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There are seven established routes to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. In this post we explain why our favourite is the Mt Kilimanjaro Lemosho Route.

by Tom Blakey

At a staggering height of 5895m, Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world.

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is undoubtedly a huge challenge which requires strength, stamina, and serious determination; however upon reaching the snow capped Uhuru Peak you’ll be rewarded with awe inspiring views and an overwhelming sense of achievement.

Here at Wayfairer we recommend the Machame and Lemosho Routes, and our preference is the Lemosho which is considered to be the best and most beautiful route on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

It’s possible to trek the Lemosho route in as little as six days, however we highly recommend our longer itinerary which is eight days in total, including summit day and the descent.

On this longer trek we ascend steadily and we allow plenty time to get accustomed to the high altitudes as this maximises your overall enjoyment and your chances of reaching the summit at Uhuru Peak. To date we have a 100% success rate of climbers reaching the summit on our Kilimanjaro treks via the Lemosho Route.

 

Here’s everything you need to know about our eight day Lemosho trek:

The Trek

The trek begins on the lower slopes of the mountain and follows a wilderness trail passing through pristine and remote rainforest up to the Shira Plateau. This trail is less crowded than the other, busier routes and during the first few days of your trek you’re free from large crowds.

We then cross the wild heath and moorlands of the Shira Plateau, before heading to Lava Tower at 4630m. Our steady climb across the Shira Plateau will help with acclimatisation and we enjoy spectacular panoramic views. From Lava Tower we make our way down into Barranco Valley. After the rocky, bleak terrain past the Lava Tower, the landscape in the valley starts to change into a surreal, shrub land with Giant Groundsels. Tonight we stay at Barranco Camp which offers magnificent views of the Western Breach and Breach Wall.

The following day starts with a short steep ascent of the daunting Barranco Wall - this can be quite a challenge, however your effort is rewarded with some wonderful views of the Hiem Glacier and the summit of Kilimanjaro. Then we make a gentle descent into the Karanga Valley followed by a short ascent to our campsite at 4035m. In the afternoon we plan an acclimatisation walk towards Barafu followed by some time to rest and take in the views from camp.

The following morning we set off towards the final camp, Barafu, where we can see two of the three peaks, Mawenzi and Kibo.

Very early the next morning we start our ascent by torchlight to climb to Stella Point at 5685m to see the sun rise from the greatest vantage point in Africa. It is a long and hard climb at high altitude, but experiencing sunrise from Stella Point is a moment that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Those who are still feeling strong enough can then walk around the crater rim to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa at 5895m.

After taking time to enjoy your achievement and of course taking photographs at the famous summit sign, we descend back down to Barafu Camp for a rest and something to eat. We then descend further down the mountain to Mweka Camp for a well-deserved night’s sleep.

Our final day of the trek takes us down through the lush beauty of the rainforest, enjoying the increasing warmth and richness of the mountain air. The upon on arrival at Mweka Gate you’ll receive your certificates - green for reaching Stella Point and gold for reaching Uhuru Peak.

Camping

The trek is camping based and we believe that this offers a more adventurous trekking experience than sleeping in huts which is the option on some of the other routes. Although the camping conditions are simple, the service from our porter team is fantastic. We use two man tents which are put up and taken down by our porter team (Top Tip: if you’re over 6ft tall you might want to consider upgrading to a bigger tent). There’s also a mess tent where we eat breakfast and dinner, as well as tea and refreshments at the end of each days trek. Our porters carry a portable toilet and toilet tent, but please note there are no permanent washing facilities at the camps and a limited amount of water is available for washing (wet wipes come in very handy on the trek!)

Crater Camp

We can offer a variation on the eight day itinerary which includes a unique opportunity to spend the night at Crater Camp – the highest campsite on Mt. Kilimanjaro, located just 103m lower than the summit, Uhuru Peak. This option will add one extra day to the eight day Lemosho Route itinerary making it a nine day Lemosho Crater Route in total.

If you stay at Crater Camp you set off much later on your summit day which means that you get there in plenty of time for sunrise and you aren’t rushed at all or worried about missing sunrise if you’re too slow, plus of course you can climb to the summit without the crowds. It also means that your entire trekking team will get to the summit and celebrate with you, rather than staying at Barafu Camp packing up the tents – this is something that previous clients have felt was a real highlight of their Kilimanjaro experience.

Please note that spending a night at Crater Camp can run a risk of getting altitude sickness and therefore it is only suitable for people who are confident that they acclimatise well and have successfully been to high altitude before. If you’re interested in the Crater Camp option please speak to Tom, our Africa Fair Travel Specialist and Co-Founder of Wayfairer, and he can advise further.

Trekking Conditions

Most of the trails on the Lemosho Route are well defined and good quality, but some forest sections are often slippery and moorland paths can be very wet in poor weather conditions. The final ascent to Uhuru Peak is on scree and loose rock without permanent footpaths, but no technical skills are required.

However, there is no denying that this is a challenging trek. You will have long days trekking at high altitude and a great deal of physical effort is required. You need complete confidence in your physical ability to attempt this trek, and even if you have an excellent level of fitness, you might still find it tough depending on how well you acclimatise.

As mentioned above, we prefer the eight day Lemosho route as it includes strategic acclimatisation days which will help your body to acclimatise to the high altitude. Throughout the trek our guides will ensure that you walk at a slow and steady pace and they will constantly remind you of the importance of adequate hydration, however it is likely that you will feel the effects of altitude.

Many trekkers experience mild altitude sickness and most recover quickly, however if you’re affected by a serious altitude problem you will need to descend to a lower altitude with a member of our local team and it may be necessary to abandon the trek in the interests of your safety. If you’re feeling any symptoms of altitude sickness, please tell your guide immediately and follow their advice.

Equipment

All communal equipment such as tents, food, cooking items, etc. is provided. Once you’ve booked your trek we’ll send you a comprehensive list with details of all the personal gear you’ll need for the trek and we’ll let you know what items are available to rent. To avoid buying new items and carry bulky luggage, we recommend that you rent sleeping bags and walking poles.

Porters carry all the communal equipment plus they will carry your duffel bag or a large backpack up to a maximum of 15kg (your additional luggage can be left at our office in Arusha). You will climb with a small backpack of approximately 25 Litres capacity for your water, clothing layers, snacks, camera etc.

Your Trekking Team

Included in your trekking team you’ll have a Senior Guide with at least 5 years experience leading Kilimanjaro trek, a Junior Guide who is less experienced and is learning from the Senior Guide, four porters per climber and a cook.

At Wayfairer we've built our company on the ethos of delivering fair travel holidays. This is particularly important on Kilimanjaro treks, given the conditions and wages which are prevalent on the mountain. The most important example of this is the porters who will carry all of the group's equipment. With an abundant supply of labour in Tanzania, porters will often carry more than the legal maximum of 15kg per porter, in order to reduce the number of local staff requiring payment by other operators. We strictly enforce the 15kg limit and each trekker will have 4 porters allocated to them. Many porters go unpaid by the budget trekking operators and will rely solely on your tips for their livelihoods.

The average porter salary on Kilimanjaro today is less than $5/day. We pay our porters the highest wages in the history of Kilimanjaro trekking at $18 per person per day. The rest of your team (Senior Guides $35/day, Junior Guides $25/day and Cooks $20/day) also receive some of the highest salaries on the mountain today and well above the industry average.

Thanks to these fair wages we’ve also been able to remove the awkward, unfair, tipping ceremony from our treks entirely. Other operators will tell you to budget about $300 per person to cover tips/payment for your team. You should therefore view your Wayfairer holiday price as already including tips for your local team.

We’re proud to be one of only 11 UK members of the Kilimanjaro Porters Association Project which is dedicated to porter welfare on Kilimanjaro.

Extensions

If you’re considering climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in the near future we’d love to help you with your plans.

As well as the trek itself, we will take care of all your Tanzania arrangements including international flights, transfers, and pre and post trek accommodation.

If you’d like to experience a Tanzanian Safari before your trek or enjoy a well-deserved break on the paradise island of Zanzibar afterwards, we can help with that too.

When to climb Mt Kilimanjaro

Whilst it is possible to trek Kilimanjaro year round, there are certain months are which are characterised by colder weather, more rain and potentially lots of snow on the summit.

We generally advise that the best time to climb Kilimanjaro is during the warmest and driest times of year – from December to mid-March and mid-June to end of October.

However, although these are considered to be the best times to climb the mountain in terms of weather, they are also the busiest months. Click here to read our month-by-month guide to Kilimanjaro's weather.

if you'd like to climb Mt Kilimanjara, call our Luxury Travel Specialists on 0203 143 4293 or send an online enquiry to start your journey.

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