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Conquering Kilimanjaro's Lemosho Route: A Comprehensive Guide for First-Timers

Mount Kilimanjaro, the majestic peak that towers over Tanzania, beckons adventurers from around the globe. With its snow-capped summit, diverse ecosystems, and challenging ascent, Kilimanjaro is a true test of physical and mental fortitude. For first-time climbers, the Lemosho Route emerges as a popular choice, offering a gradual ascent, stunning scenery, and a high success rate for reaching the summit.

Embark on a Journey Through Five Climate Zones

The Lemosho Route, spanning six to nine days, winds its way through five distinct climate zones, each revealing a unique aspect of Kilimanjaro's grandeur. From the lush rainforests of the lower slopes to the alpine desert near the summit, the route provides a captivating glimpse into the mountain's diverse biodiversity.

Gradual Ascent for Optimal Acclimatization

The Lemosho Route's gradual ascent is a key factor in its success. By ascending at a moderate pace, climbers allow their bodies to adjust to the increasing altitude, reducing the risk of altitude sickness. This gradual approach is particularly beneficial for first-time climbers who may not be fully acclimated to high altitudes.

Choosing the Right Itinerary for Your Fitness Level

The Lemosho Route offers three main options: a six-day itinerary, a seven-day itinerary, and an eight-day itinerary. The six-day itinerary is the shortest and most challenging, while the eight-day itinerary offers the most time for acclimatization. For first-time climbers, the seven-day itinerary is generally recommended, providing a balance of challenge and enjoyment.

Physical Preparation: The Foundation for Success

Climbing Kilimanjaro is a physically demanding endeavor, and proper preparation is essential. Prior to embarking on the Lemosho Route, it is crucial to engage in regular exercise, focusing on cardiovascular endurance and strength training. Additionally, building a base of experience in hiking at altitude is highly recommended.

Equipment: Gearing Up for the Summit

The right gear is paramount for a safe and comfortable climb. Essential items include sturdy hiking boots, appropriate clothing for the varying weather conditions, a sleeping bag rated for the expected temperatures, and a headlamp for nighttime treks. Experienced climbers may also consider bringing trekking poles for additional support. 

Securing the Expertise of a Reputable Tour Operator

Often neglected is a crucial aspect in planning your Kilimanjaro climb – selecting the right travel company. This decision is arguably more important than choosing the climbing route itself. However, given the multitude of operators available, this can be an intimidating task, as it has the potential to significantly impact the success or failure of your expedition.

Partnering with a reputable tour operator is crucial for a successful Kilimanjaro climb. Experienced tour operators provide expert guidance, logistical support, and access to high-quality equipment and facilities. They also ensure that climbers receive proper training and acclimatization before attempting the summit.

Personal Account: A Climber's Perspective

My personal experience on the Lemosho Route was nothing short of extraordinary. The stunning scenery, the camaraderie among fellow climbers, and the feeling of accomplishment upon reaching the summit were truly unforgettable. However, the climb was not without its challenges. I experienced altitude sickness, which required me to take a day of rest at Shira Camp. Despite these challenges, I persevered, and the summit was the most rewarding experience of my life.


This is just a sample itinerary, and the actual schedule may vary depending on the weather conditions and the fitness level of the climbers.

Day 1: Arrival in Arusha

Arrive at Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) and transfer to your hotel in Arusha.

Relax and familiarize yourself with the city, or enjoy a pre-climb briefing with your guide.

Day 2: Moshi to Big Tree (Mti Mkubwa) Camp  (2,650m/8,700ft)

Your guide will meet you this morning and transfer you by road from Moshi to Londorossi gate.  You’ll begin by walking the rain forest zone with your guide. The forest is thick with diverse flora and fauna.  The short and winding path takes you steadily to Big Tree (Mti Mkubwa) Camp.

Enjoy a hearty dinner and a restful night at camp.

Day 3: Mti Mkubwa to Shira One Camp (3,500m/11,500ft)

Hike through the rainforest and into the moorland zone to Shira One Camp. This is a moderate day, with some steep ascents and descents.

Enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains from camp.

Day 4: Shira One Camp to Shira Hut (3,840m/12,600ft)

Hike through the moorland and into the alpine desert to Shira Hut. This is a relatively short day, allowing you to further acclimatize to the altitude.

Enjoy a restful day at camp and explore the surrounding area.

Day 5: Shira Hut to Lava Tower (4,600m/15,092ft) and Barranco Camp (3,900m/12,800ft)

Hike to Lava Tower, a volcanic remnant with stunning views. Then, descend to Barranco Camp through the Barranco Wall, a steep and narrow gorge. This is a challenging day, but it's essential for acclimatization.

Relax and enjoy the views from Barranco Camp.

Day 6: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp (4,100m/13,451ft)

Hike through the Karanga Valley to Karanga Camp. This is a short day, allowing you to rest and prepare for the summit push.

Enjoy a hearty dinner and a good night's sleep before the big day.

Day 7: Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp (4,673m/15,304ft)

Hike to Barafu Camp, the last camp before the summit attempt. This is a long and challenging day, with a steep ascent to the camp.

Enjoy dinner and rest at Barafu Camp, as you'll be waking up early for the summit push.

Day 8: Summit Push to Uhuru Peak (5,895m/19,341ft) and Mweka Camp (3,100m/10,170ft)

Start your summit push at midnight or 1:00 AM. The hike to Stella Point (5,739m/18,862ft) is long and steep, but the views are worth it.

From Stella Point, it's a short walk to Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Kilimanjaro. Take some photos and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment before descending to Mweka Camp.

Enjoy a hot shower and a hearty meal at Mweka Camp.

Day 9: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate (1,830m/6,000ft)

Complete the final descent to Mweka Gate. This is a long and tiring day, but you'll be rewarded with the feeling of accomplishment upon reaching the gate.

Enjoy a celebratory drink and a certificate of completion at the Mweka Gate.

Q&A: Addressing Common Concerns

Q: Is the Lemosho route easier than other routes to Kilimanjaro?

A: The Lemosho route is generally considered to be one of the easier routes to Kilimanjaro. This is because it is longer and has a more gradual ascent, which allows trekkers to acclimatize to the altitude more slowly. However, it is still a challenging hike, and proper preparation is essential.

Q: How long does it take to hike the Lemosho route?

A: The Lemosho route typically takes 7-9 days to complete. This includes two acclimatization days, which are essential for preventing altitude sickness.

Q: What is the elevation gain on the Lemosho route?

A: The Lemosho route has an elevation gain of approximately 19,341 feet (5,896 meters). This is a significant amount of elevation gain, and it is important to be in good physical condition before attempting this hike.

Q: What are the best times to hike the Lemosho route?

A: The best times to hike the Lemosho route are during the spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November). These shoulder seasons offer pleasant weather conditions without the crowds of the peak season.

Q: What are the costs associated with hiking the Lemosho route?

A: The costs of hiking the Lemosho route vary depending on the operator and the level of service. However, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for a guided trek.

Q: What are the challenges of hiking the Lemosho route?

A: The main challenges of hiking the Lemosho route are the altitude, the terrain, and the weather. The altitude can cause altitude sickness, which can be serious if not treated. The terrain is varied, with steep climbs and descents, as well as some sections of loose rock. The weather can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and precipitation.

Q: What are the rewards of hiking the Lemosho route?

A: The rewards of hiking the Lemosho route are many. You will experience stunning scenery, including lush rainforests, alpine meadows, and snow-capped peaks. You will also have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, and monkeys. And, of course, you will have the satisfaction of reaching the summit of Africa's tallest mountain.

Q: What is the average success rate for summiting Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho Route?

A: The success rate for the Lemosho Route is very high, with over 85% of climbers reaching the summit.

Q: What are the potential risks of climbing Kilimanjaro?

A: The most common risks of climbing Kilimanjaro are altitude sickness, sunburn, and hypothermia. It is important to be aware of these risks and to take steps to mitigate them.

Packing guide for Mount Kilimanjaro

Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro is an experience of a lifetime, but it is also a challenging one. At an elevation of 5,895 meters (19,341 feet), it is the highest peak in Africa and requires physical fitness, mental toughness, and the right gear. This guide is designed to suggest what to wear for a hike on Mount Kilimanjaro to help you stay comfortable and safe during your climb.

Layered Clothing

The temperature on Mount Kilimanjaro can vary drastically depending on the altitude, time of day, and weather conditions. Therefore, it is essential to dress in layers to regulate your body temperature. Your base layer should be made of moisture-wicking material that keeps sweat away from your skin. The mid-layer should provide insulation, and the outer layer should be waterproof and wind resistant.

Waterproof and Wind-resistant Jacket

A good quality waterproof and wind-resistant jacket is a must-have when hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. It will protect you from the cold wind and rain, which can be especially harsh at higher elevations.

Hiking Pants

Choose comfortable, lightweight, and breathable hiking pants that allow for free movement. Convertible pants that can be converted into shorts are a good option as they provide versatility.

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are the most critical gear when hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. Choose sturdy, waterproof, and comfortable boots with ankle support. Break-in your boots before your trip to avoid blisters and discomfort on the mountain.

Thermal Underwear

Thermal underwear is another essential item to keep you warm and comfortable during your hike. Choose a thermal base layer made of moisture-wicking material to keep sweat away from your skin.

Hats and Gloves

Hats and gloves are essential for keeping your head, hands, and ears warm. Choose insulated, waterproof gloves and a warm, comfortable hat that covers your ears.


The sun is intense on Mount Kilimanjaro, and sunglasses are crucial to protect your eyes from the sun's glare and harmful UV rays. Choose sunglasses with UV protection and polarized lenses to reduce glare.

In summary, dressing in layers and choosing appropriate clothing, footwear, and accessories is crucial when hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. It is essential to invest in quality gear and break it in before your trip (especially your hiking boots!).

Embarking on an Unforgettable Journey

Climbing Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho Route is an adventure that will challenge you physically and mentally, but it is also an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Embark on your Kilimanjaro odyssey with confidence, armed with the knowledge and expertise provided by Tent with a View. The Lemosho Route awaits, promising an unforgettable journey to Africa's rooftop.

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Kilimanjaro Climb - The Lemosho Route