Trekking companions reach the peak

Kilimanjaro Route: The Western Approach

Photo Credit: Tom Rohrer

Our most popular Kilimanjaro trek combines the Shira and Lemosho routes. Featured in The New York Times and on MTV, the Western Approach has a 98% summit success rating with Thomson!


  • Ample acclimatization time (the number one factor in summit success)
  • Far less crowded than the Machame or Marangu Kilimanjaro routes
  • Daytime summit bid
  • Breathtaking scenery on the trail
  • Visit to Lava Tower
  • Choice campsites in more remote locations
  • 98% summit success overall on this Kilimanjaro route
  • Personal porters available to all trekkers*
Only on Crater Camp departures
  • Two opportunities for a daytime summit bid
  • Camp near Kilimanjaro’s famed glaciers
*Personal porter hire available for an additional fee.


Unsure which Kilimanjaro route best fits your needs?
See how they stack up on our Route Comparison page.

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  • Days 1-2 | Depart North America / Arrive Arusha, Tanzania

    A staff member will greet you at the airport and escort you to your scenic lodge.

    Overnight: KIA Lodge

  • Day 3 | Acclimatization Day at Ndarakwai Ranch

    Acclimatize during a day at this private conservation area. Spot local wildlife and warm up for your climb on hikes through open savannah.

    Overnight: Ndarakwai Ranch (4,200')

  • Day 4 | Begin trek to forest camp

    Your first mountain camp is located in the rainforest. Watch for rare black-and-white Colobus monkeys swinging in the lush canopy overhead.

    Overnight: Forest Camp (9,281')

    Hours trekking: 3-4

  • Day 5 | Forest camp to Shira 1 camp

    Pass into the heath, where dense rainforest gives way to waving grass plains. Trek across the Shira Plateau, catching your first views of the summit towering above the clouds.

    Overnight: Shira 1 Camp (11,499')

    Hours trekking: 5-6

  • Day 6 | Shira 1 to Shira 2 camp

    Explore the Shira Plateau during an acclimatization day that will increase your chances of summit success. Look west for breathtaking views of Mt. Meru.

    Overnight: Shira 2 Camp (12,795')

    Hours trekking: 3-4

  • Day 7 | Shira 2 to Lava Tower camp

    Your camp is set next to the impressive Lava Tower, one of Kilimanjaro's most famous volcanic formations. Staying at this higher altitude, then descending to a lower-altitude camp tomorrow, prepares your body for summit success.

    Overnight: Lava Tower Camp (15,213')

    Hours trekking: 4-6

  • Day 8 | Lava Tower to Karanga camp

    Descend into the Great Barranco Valley, then scramble up the steep Barranco Wall, enjoying gorgeous views of a waterfall below and the imposing glaciers that crown Kilimanjaro above.

    Overnight: Karanga Camp (13,231')

    Hours trekking: 6-7

  • Day 9 | Karanga to Barafu camp

    Temperatures drop and the landscape starts to resemble the surface of the moon as you hike higher up the mountain. Rest up before tomorrow's daytime summit bid.

    Overnight: Barafu Camp (15,331')

    Hours trekking: 3-4

  • Day 10 | Barafu to Summit

    As dawn breaks you'll set out for the summit. Arrive in the afternoon, when weather is generally better and most trekkers from more crowded routes have already descended. Overnight at Barafu or in the soft sands of Reusch Crater (on select departures).

    Overnight: Karanga Camp (13,231')

    Hours trekking: 3-4

  • Day 11 | Barafu or Crater Camp / Mweka Millennium Camp

    After a celebratory breakfast begin your descent. On select departures staying in Crater Camp, hikers can explore the glaciers and the ash pit, or even summit a second time.

    Overnight: Mweka Millennium Camp (12,500')

    Hours trekking: 4-7

  • Days 12-13 | Complete Trek / Return to North America

    Enjoy a farewell ceremony at the park gate with your guides and porters. Transfer to a day room where you can shower and relax before your evening flight home.

    Day room: KIA Lodge

    Hours trekking: 4-8

KIA Lodge

KIA Lodge

Enjoy a cozy bungalow set among lush gardens at this Arusha mainstay. Stunning views of Mt. Kilimanjaro make it a perfect place to start or end a trek.

Ndarakwai Ranch

Ndarakwai Ranch

This 11,000-acre private conservation refuge is a perfect place to acclimatize before your trek. Hike, view local wildlife, and sleep under the stars in thatched-roof huts. Private en suite bathrooms and a dining tent offer a comfortable wilderness experience.

Mountain Camps

Mountain Camps

Camp in comfort in customized all-weather tents with upgraded zippers, flysheets, and closed-cell full-ground pads. Private toilet tents and solar-lit dining tents are provided daily. Hot meals are prepared from fresh ingredients by the camp’s chef. In the afternoons, hot drinks and snacks are provided.




with Crater Camp overnight

13 days door-to-door

International airfare not included
Ask us about our competitive Business Class fares

Single accommodations: $515
Personal Porter: $495

Can’t find a date that works for you? Call us to set up a private trek!

Please note: All prices are subject to change without notice. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.


I am so impressed with Thomson – they were always willing to go above and beyond

What a fantastic experience, I am so impressed with Thomson and our incredible trek and safari. I was not sick at all, we were so well taken care of by all of the guides, who know exactly how slowly to go and how much to eat and drink. The food was fabulous – even a…

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Thanks to Thomson for making our trip so successful and memorable. We chose Thomson for a variety of reasons, including the good presentation of the website and the design of the climbing routes. We appreciated the great and close customer service before the trip. We also liked the way in which our safari and Kilimanjaro…

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My daughter and I shared an experience we’ll never forget!

Years ago, out of the blue, my daughter told me that she wanted to climb Kilimanjaro with me. Last Christmas I surprised her when I said we were going to climb it in 2015, though I had no idea at the time how I was going to make this happen. I called a friend who’s…

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On June 29th, 12 strangers aged 15 – 75 came from all over the U.S. for a Thomson Safaris trek. We quickly bonded as a group as we were all hoping to experience the trip of a lifetime – a Kilimanjaro summit! Some of the group came for high school graduation gifts and some for

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Leah H. and companions pose with a guide on Kilimanjaro

Picking Thomson Safaris was the smartest move I’ve ever made traveling!

I’ve been to five star hotels around the world. The people who work for you are better and work harder than anyone I’ve ever met. They are by far superior and I’m beyond impressed! I really can’t express how much this trip meant to me. After several personal challenges and tragedies over the past few…

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I could never have believed what was possible with simple drive and determination.

Waiting with anticipation and trepidation in a small tent on a wind-swept moonscape at 15200 feet elevation the night before summiting Kilimanjaro leads one to reflect on life and what matters.  I thought I would share a few lessons I learned from this amazing trip. 1) Extend your comfort zone: Despite leading a pretty adventurous…

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Natalie H. and her companions getting silly on Kili

It’s like another world altogether – a collision of the moon, the arctic and a land I’d never known.

On our epic trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro, we took the Western Approach route, which led us to traverse 43 miles in 9 days. We trekked through 5 different climates: rain forest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and the arctic. The hardest part of our journey was overcoming the mind and the limitations it tries to impose.

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Patrick S. and his companion pose in a section of greenery on Kilimanjaro

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I had been looking forward to climbing Kilimanjaro for 13 years. About ten years ago, I started doing web searches and Thomson was consistently rated the best. The awards and testimonials made the difference. After years of dreaming, it all finally came true on summit day. Absolutely awesome experience. As climbing Kilimanjaro had been on

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Laurel W. poses with a guide on the snowy trail

A wonderful culture and the kindest of people.

You were a gem in helping me through the arrangements and ALL the details. You were always available to answer my questions and allay any worries. The packing list was perfect and all the gear was great! The climb is amazing. Our guide, Onest Mtui, is terrific and has to be one of, if not,

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Brad S. against a scenic backdrop of Kilimanjaro's glaciers

I had security, safety, care and camaraderie with Thomson. It was all fantastic.

My guides, Bwenje, George, Sam, Respicious, Godlove, Ema (head waiter), Ibrahim, (our chef), Zach (my personal porter), Damas (who carried my night bag/tent, etc.) were all great! I posted the video online of me receiving my Kilimanjaro certificate…. 600+ views! I only know about 30 people! One guy said “I didn’t get that when I

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A small waterfall on the trail

I can see why the workers on this mountain all aspire to work for Thomson.

My Thomson experience was first class all the way, and I can see why the workers on this mountain all aspire to work for Thomson. I would like to point out just how great some of the members of the staff were. The Head Guide, Gabriel, was a wizened, well-experienced leader. His wisdom and experience

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Tom O. poses with a glacier

The Thomson experience was exactly what I was looking for.

I am a lifelong hiker who got started in my mid-teens. The first mountain I climbed was Mount Washington via the glen Boulder trail. I was hooked. I spent most of my college years climbing throughout New Hampshire and Maine and completed all the 4000 footers in New Hampshire except one! Back then climbing was

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Mary and companion in front of the Lenosho Route gate

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Thomson gave us guidance before, during and after the trip. We appreciated the staff’s professionalism and organization, the guides’ warmth, kindness, laughter and leadership, and the porters and camp staff’s enthusiasm and hard work. The outcome of this collaboration was a 100% success rate to the summit of Kili, and a great safari. The trip

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John and Mary W. eagerly await their summit

We loved every minute, even the hard parts.

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The trip was worth every single penny.

We love each other and the friendships will last a lifetime. We absolutely loved our guides and porters as well. It was a well matched group. So many stories…I’ll be talking about this trip for a year!

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Matt and Heather with guides and friends on Kilimanjaro

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.

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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

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Tom R. and his son at Uhuru peak.

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.

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A porter stands near a large glacier

Our guide was in good spirits 100% of the time.

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Andrew Liu and Brenda Baker with their children

We all had a great time on our respective trips.

We all had a wonderful time and appreciated how Thomson Safaris ran a largely flawless trip so we could just focus on enjoying what Tanzania had to offer.

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Theresa and Brett pose in an area of vegetation

Thomson Safaris treats their staff well.

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