Gumbo's Pic of the Day, July 29, 2014. Shira Plateau, Tanzania

Mt. Kilimanjaro's Shira Plateau

Mt. Kilimanjaro was formed by fusion of three extinct volcanoes (Kibo — 19340″; Mawenzi –16896″; and Shira -- 13000').  There are several routes to Mt. Kilimanjaro's summit most of which are very steep, but get you to the summit in a few days.  For all but the most experienced climbers these are not the best options because of problems with altitude sickness and lack of acclimatization.  The best route for most is via the Shira Plateau & Western Breach, a route pioneered by (among others) mountaineering legend, Scott Fischer (who died in the 1990s near the summit of Mt. Everest). 


Buffalo skull on Mt. Kilimanjaro's Shira Plateau

(buffalo skull, Shira Plateau)


The Shira plateau route provides a more gradual ascent to the summit on the southwestern slopes of the mountain allowing time for proper acclimatization to the rarefied air.  And with the extra time you can explore the beautiful plateau itself.  It has mixed vegetation known as "moorland".  Trees don't grow at this altitude anymore but an unusual assortment of shrubs, grasses and plants thrive on this extinct volcanic crater, many of which are unique to the mountain and some even to the Shira plateau.


Shira Plateau viewed from Fischer Camp

 (Shira Plateau viewed from the Fischer Camp.  You can appreciate the imploded volcanic shape of this part of Mt. Kilimanjaro from this photo)


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Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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Was this part of a guided tour DrF. ?

A safari ?

The further I get from civilisation - I get more concerned for safety.

Wild animals, clean water and getting lost !

Was this a family vacation ?

You must be a "hardened traveller"


Hi Garry,


By law, you can not climb or go on Mount Kilimanjaro without hiring a local "crew", which would include guide, cooks, porters.  Most people do this as part of a travel package, as did I, which for me also included a week of wildlife viewing on the Tanzanian savanna.   They take good care of you -- show you the way, warn you of dangers (mostly the altitude and dehydration), carry most of your gear and boil your water and prepare your food.  So while remote, it was not a really tough trip like backpacking in Canada or the US mountain ranges would be.  Wildlife is only a danger on the lower slopes of the mountain, where we had an armed park warden watching our camp.


No, my family was not interested in joining me at that time, but it was a most memorable trip.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

I think I'd go to the Zoo with your family Dr.F.

Cola and some popcorn !

I believe if you join the Army you can run up these mountains for free !

I'm taking an easy seat until my pension starts.

Take my hat off to you for this one !

Garry -- that's like saying stay at home with the kids and play in their kiddy pool instead of taking them to see the ocean.  


It was a hard but most fascinating trip.  Standing on the roof of Africa, watching the sun rise above the clouds (which are thousands of feet below you) is an experience I'll never forget!  But having done it once, I'm not going back anytime soon.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie