Lava Tower

Key information: Lava Tower

    • This peculiar formation sits high on the south-western flanks of Kilimanjaro’s main summit.
    • A long climb climb through lovely, vivid Alpine vegetation softening the harsh outcrops, then an interesting upward traverse alternating between small shrubs and bare Alpine desert.
  • This peculiar formation sits high on the south-western flanks of Kilimanjaro’s main summit.
  • A long climb climb through lovely, vivid Alpine vegetation softening the harsh outcrops, then an interesting upward traverse alternating between small shrubs and bare Alpine desert.
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    Walkopedia rating

    • Walkopedia rating88
    • Beauty33
    • Natural interest18
    • Human interest2
    • Charisma36
    • Negative points1
    • Total rating88
    • Note: Negs: altitude

    Vital Statistics

    • Length: Half day
    • Maximum Altitude: 4,600m
    • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
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    WALK SUMMARY

    This peculiar formation (as if anything on Kili isn’t!) sits high on the south-western flanks of huge and glaciated Kibo, Kilimanjaro’s main summit. It is usually approached by a long climb from the Shira and Shira 2 camps on the east of the Shira Plateau to the junction of the Northern and Southern Circuits, and then an interesting upward traverse to the tower on a route which climbs to the fearsome Western Breach summit route.

    The initial stage is a long slog up in Alpine shrublands: lovely, vivid vegetation softening the harsh outcrops of old lava flows. At the junction where the Northern and Southern circuits meet, you turn east and later branch off uphill to make a gorgeous undulating traverse, just on the vegetation line, so alternating between small shrubs and bare Alpine desert, then a climb towards a long lava cliff, with the Lava Tower dominating the middle horizon. Round beyond the cliff, a final exhausting climb gets you to the busy platform below the chunky but perhaps slightly disappointing tower. The platform is likely to be covered with tents (you can camp here, and it isn’t a bad staging post, albeit high). 

    You should enjoy amazing views out over the Shira plateau towards the looming silhouette of Mt Meru, especially if starting promptly in the morning.

    The altitude is likely to tell, and you will find the ups increasingly laborious.

    Over the years, increasing numbers of people are making a longer trek of Kilimanjaro for better acclimatization, approaching from the west to the Shira Plateau, as Walkopedia did, then swinging round on one of two routes round Kibo (the Northern and Southern Circuits), before attacking the summit.  The circuits’ western junction is above Shira and Shira 2 camps.

    The Lava Tower is a useful acclimatization walk, and a time-filler on an otherwise short day if heading on to the Muir Hut camp on the Northern Circuit  in its deep, harshly beautiful, once-glacial valley. It can also  be a side jaunt if heading east on the Southern Circuit, but it could make a very a long day anyway, so this won’t be for everyone, although you can camp at the tower.

    See William Mackesy’s account (below) of this walk.

    The altitude will be tough, so physical fitness and mental preparation, as well as ample time for proper acclimatisation, will make for a more enjoyable (and safer) day. 

    www.tourdust.com organise an expedition including a Lava Tower walk: we have travelled with Tourdust, and were delighted.

    See our Kilimanjaro Massif page for further walks, photos and general information on Kili.

    WILLIAM MACKESY'S ACCOUNT
    of this walk

    Lava Tower, 3.20

    We're in a good routine now. Tea in our tents at 6.45, pack, the usual huge and bracing breakfast.

    It is a beautiful morning, a clear sky allowing us to gaze across the plateau and the caldera rim to the grand silhouette of Meru in the distance.

    We head straight back up the hill we climbed, past yesterday's vantage point, plodding on up into Alpine shrublands: lovely, vivid vegetation softening the harsh outcrops of old lava flows.

    It is a long climb, but, given we are over 4,000m, it goes reasonable well.

    At the.....

    READ MORE

    Other accounts: share your experiences

    Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

    PRACTICAL INFORMATION

    We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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    Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

    Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

    Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

    Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

    Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

    OTHER ACCOUNTS
    share your experiences

    Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

    Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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