9-Day Western Approach
Our Southern Circuit Acclimatization Route
Journey through lush rainforests, trek across barren deserts, and conquer icy glaciers. This challenging Kilimanjaro climb takes you across the Shira Plateau, past Lava Tower, and through the Barranco Valley, all the while offering you amazing views of spectacular scenery.
- 98% summit success rate
- Two options for daytime summit bids
- Extra hikes for better acclimatization
- Some of the best views on the mountain
- Featured in The New York Times, on CBS News, and on MTV
Depart North America / Arrive Arusha, Tanzania
A staff member will greet you at the airport and escort you to your scenic lodge, just a short drive away.
Overnight: KIA Lodge (2,930’)
Acclimatization Day at Ndarakwai Ranch
After breakfast and a trek briefing with your guide, depart for a private conservation area. Spend the day admiring soaring views of open savannah, lush forests, and rolling hills. Catch your first glimpses of local wildlife on leisurely hikes through the grounds as you acclimatize to the higher altitude.
Overnight: Ndarakwai Ranch (4,200’)
Begin Trek to Forest Camp
Accompanied by expert porters, fully outfitted in all-weather uniforms, you’ll make your way to your first mountain camp, located in the rainforest. On the way, see rare black and white Colobus monkeys swing from the canopy … hear vibrant birdcalls among the treetops … marvel at exotic flowers under your feet. Once at camp, enjoy a hot dinner with your fellow trekkers.
Overnight: Forest Camp (9,281’)
Hours trekking: 3-4
Forest Camp to Shira 1 Camp
Out of the rainforest and into the heath, where you’ll journey through tall grass, fragrant heather, and volcanic rock draped in bearded lichen. Trek across the Shira Plateau, catching your first views of the summit from above the clouds.
Overnight: Shira 1 Camp (11,499’)
Hours trekking: 5-6
Shira 1 to Shira 2 Camp
Enjoy an acclimatization day with little altitude gain as you explore the 12,500-foot Shira Plateau, one of the highest plateaus in the world. Look to the west for breathtaking views of Mt. Meru and Mt. Longido.
Overnight: Shira 2 Camp (12,795’)
Hours trekking: 3-4
Shira 2 to Lava Tower Camp
Pole, pole (slowly, slowly). That’s how you’ll move today as you delve deep into the alpine desert. Vegetation thins and colossal boulders reign near our camp, next to the impressive Lava Tower, which is set amidst this striking, lunar-like landscape.
Overnight: Lava Tower Camp (15,213’)
Hours trekking: 4-6
Lava Tower to Karanga Camp
This morning you’ll descend into the Great Barranco Valley. Hike in this spectacular world of gleaming glaciers, towering cliffs, and sloping valleys. After lunch, scramble up the steep Barranco Wall, enjoying gorgeous views of the glaciers of Kibo, the first of Mt. Kili’s volcanic cones.
Overnight: Karanga Camp (13,231’)
Hours trekking: 6-7
Karanga to Barafu Camp
Onward and upward you go. Temperatures decline and landscapes grow sparse as you hike a steady incline to Barafu Camp. Located on an exposed ridge, this dramatic camp is the staging point from which you traverse into the arctic summit zone tomorrow morning.
Overnight: Barafu Camp (15,331’)
Hours trekking: 3-4
Barafu to Crater Camp
Just as dawn breaks, you set out for the glacier zone atop Kilimanjaro. Climbing roughly 3,000 feet today, you’ll have countless opportunities to marvel at Mawenzi, Kili’s second volcanic cone. At Stella Point, continue about an hour on easy terrain for an afternoon summit. Stand at Uhuru Peak—the highest point in Africa – when you may be the only group there. Take time to celebrate with your fellow trekkers, and snap once-in-a-lifetime photos before descending to your next camp, overnighting in the crater’s soft sands.
Overnight: Crater Camp (18,802’)
Hours trekking: 8-10
Crater Camp to Summit / Mweka Millennium Camp
After breakfast, explore the glaciers and ash pit in the crater, or summit for a second time! Trek out of the glacier zone and down into the alpine desert before descending to your final camp for your last night on the mountain.
Overnight: Mweka Millennium Camp (12,500’)
Hours trekking: 1-2 to summit / 4-7 to Mweka Millennium Camp
Complete Trek / Return to North America
Enjoy your final day of trekking through thick forests to the park gate, where you’ll bid farewell to your guides and porters. Transfer to a day room to take a well-earned shower and relax before your evening flight home.
Day room: KIA Lodge
Hours trekking: 4-6
Looking to continue your adventure in Tanzania? Add a 5- or 7-day safari extension, starting from Arusha (details below) or add on one of our exciting, trip extensions to exotic Zanzibar, chimpanzee colonies in Mahale, one of Tanzania’s many stunning national parks, and more.
Add a Safari
Learn more about our 5-Day Wildlife Highlights Safari extension.
Learn more about our 7-Day Classic Safari extension.
Located right outside Arusha, Kia Lodge offers the perfect location near Kilimanjaro’s airport. Your cozy bungalow sits among lush gardens. Sip a cocktail on the veranda as a cool breeze whispers by … take an evening dip in the pool … dry off by a crackling fire pit and admire sunset views of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
A trekker’s haven and private conservation refuge, Ndarakwai Ranch offers more than 11,000 acres of open savannah. Hike among giant fig trees, view local wildlife, and sleep under the stars in thatched-roof tents. Ensuite bathrooms with showers and a dining tent offer a comfortable wilderness experience.
A comfortable yet rugged experience on your way to the roof of Africa …
A challenging journey deserves specialized accommodations. Your mountain camps include double-occupancy all-weather tents, with customized fly-sheets, upgraded zippers, and full-ground pads. Camps are set up and broken down each day by your expert porters. Private toilet tents, solar-lit dining tents with tables and chairs, and hot basins of water are all provided daily.
After full trekking days, savor hot meals prepared by the camp’s chef, expertly trained in hygienic food preparation. In the afternoons, piping tea and hearty snacks will be waiting for you. And there’s nothing quite like starting each day with a breath of crisp mountain air.
|Return from Trek|
|Depart||Trek Only||+ 5-Day Safari||+ 7-Day Safari||Notes|
|Dec 14||Dec 26|
|Dec 21||Jan 2|
|Dec 26||Jan 7|
Per Person Double Occupancy Land Packages:
Western Approach Route Trek: $6190
5-Day Wildlife Safari Extension: $3090
7-Day Classic Wildlife Safari Extension: $4090
- Western Approach Route Trek: $430
- 5 or 7-Day Wildlife Safari Extension: $490
Personal Porter: $420
Please call to discuss our competitive Business Class fares.
Thomson did a superb job on so many levels.
When we got to Uhuru Peak I just felt so… exhilarated, hugely proud, and had such a sense of pride and accomplishment.
I really was blown away by the trip.
What an incredible team you have in Tanzania. These people are smart, some of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen, and have a genuine desire to improve their lives and the lives of others. There’s spirit and hope here, and at levels that you can’t fully grasp or describe in words.
First class every step and detail of the way.
We will all carry this experience with us through life’s challenges and be better prepared to handle anything. We chose Thomson Safaris because of a friend’s strong recommendation, Thomson’s stellar reputation and their philosophy toward their porters, Tanzanians and Mt. Kilimanjaro
It was a huge accomplishment…
The porters were amazing – constantly singing and dancing and enjoying themselves as they accompanied us each day, while carrying our heavy gear. We couldn’t have done it without them.
Far more beautiful and rewarding…
I have given you all the highest of praise and recommended Thomson Safaris to many friends and many more patients (they all ask about our trip). I look forward to joining you on more adventures in the future. Thanks again for an experience of a lifetime! My son, Harrison, and I could not have been more pleased with our experience.