The Shira Plateau area of Kilimanjaro offers a fantastic opportunity to get high on a big mountain and to hike around this impressive World Heritage Site as a day trip – it’s a fantastic area and there are some great day hikes – either a more strenuous day hiking up along the ancient rim of the plateau or something more relaxed sticking to the undulating floor – perhaps going as far as the photogenic ‘cone place’ or Shira Needles’ at the Southern end of the plateau. To the west the Kibo Massif of Kilimanjaro sweeps up to the glaciers near the summit, the rise scarred by deep valleys and eroded lava flows that stand like twisted modern sculptures in the harsh mountain weather. A number of streams tumble down this flank of the mountain, eventually joining together in a gulley that crosses the plateau before plunging down to the plains far below.
There is a fair amount of wildlife on the plateau however most of it is elusive and nocturnal but with care the events of the night can be reconstructed from the footprints around the watering points on the streams. There are herds of buffalo but also smaller gazelles and bushbuck, there is the carcase of eland and elephant higher on the mountain proving that these larger animals are occasional visitors.