The Shira Route
Unless specifically requested by climbers who are already acclimatised to 4,000m from the ascent of Meru or another mountain, and wanting vehicle support to the Shira Plateau, we only use the Shira Route for mountain safety work as a fast way of reaching the summit or Western Breach when short on time. It is possible for an acclimatised member of our staff to leave Arusha early in the morning and be on the summit the same day by driving up to around 3,760m.
The route functions as a rescue track. If a sick climber is evacuated west of the Breach Wall he will usually walk or be carried on a stretcher to an ambulance that will have ascended to a point only 15 minutes below Shira Hut. From here it is only 1 hour and 15 minutes by vehicle to Londorossi Gate where a reasonably good main dirt road (except in wet weather when conditions can be treacherous) takes us to Arusha in around 2.5 hours.
We are frequently asked which is Kilimanjaro's best route, but this question does not have an answer that applies to all climbers at all times of year. The volume of misleading information elsewhere on the Internet requires that we offer quite a comprehensive, and clarifying perspective on how to ensure you're enabled to choose the best Kilimanjaro route.
The Lemosho Route is a very beautiful and unspoilt route that still enjoys sighting of wild game along the forest section. For those seeking a quiet route away from the crowds it clearly a superior option for the first two days of movement. Thereafter however, the route is precisely the same as the Machame Route.
Traditionally, the Rongai Route’s premier advantage has been that it is the quietest route on the mountain, however one of the reasons that it is so quiet is that the likelihood of summiting on this route on the conventional six and seven day schedules is the second worst of all the six official routes because there are no topographical features that allow the ‘climb high / sleep low’ principle to be exploited, even if one incorporates a rest day that features a modest acclimatisation excursion (such as on Martina Navratilova’s unsuccessful attempt). Typically, crew members that we speak to that work with operations that use this route report a failure rate of around half the climbing group.