Kilimanjaro Route: The Western Approach

Photo Credit: Penny Lacy


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*
  • 9 days trekking, 11 days in Tanzania
Only on Crater Camp departures
  • A chance to camp in the crater near Kili’s famed glaciers
    • An exclusive opportunity for the most adventurous trekkers
    • Weather and strength of the group permitting for this overnight; your highly experienced guide will make the best decisions based on your safety
    • It can be very cold and windy but our packing list will help keep you comfortable
    • Plenty of acclimatization time is built in to the route to best prepare you
*Personal porter hire available for an additional fee.


Extend your trip with a safari!

Visit the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater on a 5-day or 7-day safari; call us for custom safari options.

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


Arrival Day

Arrive Tanzania

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

Overnight: Planet Lodge

Acclimatization Day

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')

Trek Day 1

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

Trek Day 2

Forest camp to Shira 1 camp

Pass into the heath, where dense rainforest gives way to the wide expanse of the Shira Plateau. This is where you'll catch your first view of the summit towering above the clouds.

Overnight: Shira 1 Camp (11,499')

Hours trekking: 5-6

Trek Day 3

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

Trek Day 4

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

Trek Day 5

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

Trek Day 6

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

Trek Day 7

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: Barafu Camp *optional Crater Camp (15,331')

Hours trekking: 9-12

Trek Day 8

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

Trek Day 9 / Departure Day

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: Planet Lodge

Hours trekking: 4-8


Planet Lodge

Planet Lodge

Enjoy cozy accommodations 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.

Dates & Prices

9 days

International airfare not included

Single accommodations: $680-$700
Personal Porter: $495

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

Please note: We can’t guarantee departures with only one guest. A small group supplement of $680-$700 per person will be applied to departures with two or three participants.

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.

See more of what Tanzania has to offer with a post-trek safari

River crossing on the Crater to Plains safari extension


Crater & Plains Safari

See the Great Migration and hundreds more species in breathtaking locations like the Serengeti and the lush Ngorongoro Crater. It’s the perfect complement to your Kilimanjaro climb!

A pride of lions on the Highlights of Tanzania safari extension


Highlights Safari

Our premiere safari extension features visits to remote Maasai communities, world-class wildlife viewing in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and a stay in an exclusive private nature refuge.