A guide to the Lemosho route up Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is probably one of the world’s most famous mountains and because it’s walkable despite its height, it attracts thousands of trekkers every year. There are six official routes to the summit, with each presenting its own challenges, so here’s a guide to just one of them: the Lemosho trail.

The basics

The Lemosho route typically takes around eight days to complete and approaches Kilimanjaro from the west. It is one of the longer trails to the summit of the mountain and allows plenty of time for acclimatisation. As a result, the success rate of climbers tackling this trail is relatively high. It is also less frequented than some of the other paths to the top of the peak, so you can enjoy a quieter climb, especially at the beginning of your trek.

You will meet more fellow hikers in the latter stages of your Mount Kilimanjaro climb, as the Lemosho trail follows the same track as the Machame route to reach Uhuru Peak – the highest point on the mountain.

The scenery

One of the best things about choosing to take the Lemosho trail, rather than one of Kilimajaro’s other five paths, is the scenery, as it is widely regarded to be the most picturesque of all the treks on the Tanzanian mountain. You can take the trail with Explore from £1530 without flights.

Your hike sets off in the Londorossi National Park and on your first day you will walk through the Lemosho glades past lush forest. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the wildlife, as this is the trail with the longest section in the rainforest. From here, you exit the forest and ascend to the Shira Plateau, where you can look forward to a relatively flat walk across the grasslands dotted with heather. Although the animals that live here can be elusive, keep your eyes peeled for buffalos, gazelles and bushbucks as you wander.

The Shira Plateau offers amazing views of the mountain ahead and you can clearly make out the unusual rock formations left by lava flows from the volcanic crater. The first Shira camp is at 3,500 m above sea level, but you will feel very low down in comparison to the towering Uhuru Peak that stands at 5,895 m.

As you continue onwards and upwards, the views of the mountain and the surrounding area get more and more spectacular. A particular highlight is walking over the lava ridges that sit beneath the glaciers on the western side of the peak, while the clearly-defined layers of the Arrow Glacier are impressive to see up close.

Having ascended to well over 4,000 m, you will descend slightly into the Great Barranco Valley and from here follow the trail to the Barafu camp, from where you will make your summit attempt.

On top of the world

Regardless of which route up Kilimanjaro you choose, the end goal is the same – the lofty heights of Uhuru Peak. On the Lemosho trail you will set off at around midnight from the Barafu camp, with the intention of reaching the summit in time for the sunrise. This is the most challenging section of the trek, as you will have to walk up scree slopes, which can be slippery and hard going.

Nothing can describe the immense feeling of satisfaction and happiness you experience when you reach the top, though. Soak up the stunning views on every side and make sure you leave your comments in the special book hidden in a box at the top of the mountain – most people who reach the summit record their thoughts in here.

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