- Date 2018-12-20
- Departure Kilimanjaro
Does Kilimanjaro hold a special fascination for you? Are you planning to realise your dream through the Shira Route? Take a deep breath and read through! We say a deep breath because the Shira route catapults you to an altitude of 3600 meters on the very first day and leaves you gasping for air. That’s your first clue. If you are an amateur or someone not at the peak of your physical prowess- Stay away! Altitude sickness can claim you even before you begin your trek.
The route has been a favourite of intrepid trekkers who believes in going off the beaten path. Shira takes a western approach to the Kilimanjaro. Scenic and encrusted with beautiful vistas the route will take you through luscious forests, open grassy moorlands, the Shira caldera, the stupendous rock formations of the Shira plateau, lava towers, Senecio forests towards the steep ridges awaiting to lead you to the daunting Barranco Wall. A steep climb up the wall will lead you to the on the south-eastern flank of Kibo, with superb vistas of the Southern Icefields only to descend into the Karanga valley and then a hike to Barafu camp- The final assault to the top begins here, at midnight! It will be extreme and grueling and will put to test all your physical and mental sinews. But at stake is the Stella Point (5,735m) and the magnificent sunrise over Mawenzi. If you have any gas left in your tank then challenge yourself to a two hour round trip from Stella Point along the crater rim to Uhuru Peak (5,896m) to bask in the elevating feeling of achievement atop Africa's highest point.
The descent will be through the Mweka route traversing the tropical rainforests. Make sure to use your trekking poles for rocky scree slide descent. In recent years Shira route has been upstaged by the Lemosho route but it nevertheless continues to attract the adventure seeker who seeks bonhomie with Africa’s tallest in solitude.
Geology- Shira route is an engrossing trek riddled with fascinating geological features. As one-third of the troika of volcanic cones with "Kibo", "Mawenzi", it is mostly composed of basic lavas with some pyroclastics. The Shira cone veers 200 meters above the Shira plateau and has the Shira ridge to the west and Shira needle, Shira cathedral and East Shira Hill to the south.
Not much is known about the provenance of the route. True to its shy, quiet and unassuming character, the route has never been one of the glamour routes of the pack. But it has its die-hard followers who swear by it, simply because of the heady challenges the trails represents. The climate on the trails will be extreme and challenging.
Proximity to the equator ensures no major temperature fluctuations on account of season changes but the climate is heavily affected by the altitude shifts. Shira route starts at 3600 metres, you will soon find yourself in heather and moorland, which is characterised by a rarefied atmosphere and erratic temperatures as nights are freezing a day burning hot. Further up it gets crazy cold in the alpine regions with freezing low temperatures at night. At the summit awaits the arctic glaciers, where nights freeze you and the days are equally unforgiving with a bufferless sun relentlessly bearing down on you.
Not a convincing proposition for you? The route is challenging but not without its merits. The route is bereft of a throng of trekkers allowing you to trek in solitude while soaking in the stunning sights. It’s a longer trek on the western approach which allows time for acclimatization.