On this trekking adventure with National Geographic, you will climb Africa's highest mountain, approaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, by the remote Shira Route. This is an exhilarating option for walkers keen to explore less trodden trails and who are comfortable in variable mountain conditions. From the forest and moorland to the caldera of Shira volcano, we explore the fascinating rock formations on the Shira plateau before traversing beneath the southern ice fields of Kibo. We enjoy stunning early morning views of Kibo and our day spent in the rarely visited Lent Hills will be a highlight before we join the main route to the summit of Uhuru Peak (5895m) on the crater rim. With a full day walk included on the slopes of Mt Meru in Arusha National Park, this 11-day itinerary gives maximum possible acclimatisation and flexibility to enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery that extends from the volcanic summit to the vast African plains. We hope you can join us.
Today is an arrival day. You will be met and transferred to your accommodation. We stay at the Rivertrees Lodge. This evening you will meet the rest of the group and your guide for a trip briefing at around 1600hrs at the hotel. Overnight Rivertrees Country Inn (Garden Room).
Arusha National Park is one of Tanzania’s most beautiful and topographically varied protected areas. The park is dominated by Mt Meru, an almost perfect volcanic cone with a spectacular crater. It also shelters Ngurdoto Crater (often dubbed Little Ngorongoro), with its swamp-filled floor and lost-world feel. Today we will enjoy a walk on teh lowers lopes of Mt Meru. It is a perfect opportunity to stretch our legs and begin our acclimatisation in preparation for our climb. Walking approximately 4-6 hours. Overnight Rivertress Country Inn (Garden Room).
After completing the necessary registration formalities at Londorossi National Park gate, we drive a short distance on a steep track through farmland and plantations (2800m) and continue climbing steadily on foot through shrub forest and giant heather to reach the rim of Shira Plateau (3350m). The views across the surrounding plains open out as we climb to our first camp in the centre of the plateau at "Shira One" (3550m)
We have an easy day to help acclimatisation and to explore the grassy moorland and the volcanic rock formations of the plateau. We walk to the summit of Shira Cathedral (3750m), a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles. There is a tangible sense of wilderness especially when the afternoon mists come in! The views from our camp near Shira Hut (3840m) of Mt Meru floating on the clouds are simply unforgettable.
We explore beneath the Northern Ice fields, an area almost totally unvisited by tourists and with unusual views of Kibo. The morning walk is a steady climb away from the moorland of Shira Plateau to reach the broad upland desert beneath the Lent Hills. After lunch in our camp close to Moir Hut (4200m), there is the option of a more strenuous afternoon walk to reach the summit of the Lent Hills (4700m) or enjoy our peaceful campsite. We are privileged as few visitors get to this remote corner of Kilimanjaro.
This morning we enjoy a gentle ascent and panoramic views, walking on lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the Western Breach. After lunch at our Lava Tower campsite (4,550 m), there is a steep and spectacular afternoon walk on the rocky lower slopes of the Western Breach to reach the ruins of the old hut at Arrow Glacier (4,800 m). This afternoon excursion is highly recommended both for acclimatisation purposes and for the superb views of hanging glaciers on both sides of the Breach.
A steep descent into the bottom of the Great Barranco valley (3900m), sheltered by towering cliffs and with extensive views of the plains far below. A short climb up the famed Barranco Wall leads us to an undulating trail on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Ice fields. The terrain is volcanic scree, with pockets of lush vegetation in sheltered hollows, with a powerful sense of mountain wilderness. Our next camp is at Karanga (4000m), the last water point on the approach to Barafu. There is plenty of time to rest, or for an acclimatisation walk in the afternoon up the valley above the camp towards the glaciers of the Southern Ice fields.
A short but steep climb out of Karanga valley, following an easy path on compacted scree that gains altitude unrelentingly to reach the Barafu campsite (4600m) for lunch. During the afternoon, other walkers will begin to fill the campsite for the first time in our trip. There is a short acclimatisation walk to the plateau at the bottom of the South-East valley (4,800 m.). The remainder of the day is spent resting in preparation for the final ascent before a very early night.
We will start our ascent by torchlight at midnight so that we can be up on the Crater rim for sunrise. The steep climb over loose volcanic scree has some well-graded zig-zags and a slow, but steady pace will take us to Stella Point (5,735 m), in about five or six hours. We will rest there for a short time to enjoy the sunrise over Mawenzi. Those who are still feeling strong can make the two hour round trip from here along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,895 m), passing close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. The descent to Barafu is surprisingly fast, and after some refreshment, we continue to descent to reach our final campsite (3,800 m) Millenium.
We have a sustained descent on a well-constructed path through lovely tropical forests alive with birdsong and boasting lush undergrowth with considerable botanical interest. Our route winds down to the National Park gate at Mweka (1650m) and on through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village. We are met by our vehicle and transferred to Rivertrees Country Inn (Garden Room). A well-earned shower is tantalisingly close, and a final celebratory meal awaits.
After breakfast at your hotel, the trip arrangements end. You will be transferred to the airport for your onward arrangements.
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