mountain kilimanjaro sunset view

Northern Circuit Route

  • Reviews 0 Reviews
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
  • Activity Level Challenging
All about the Northern Circuit Route.

The Northern Circuit is not just the newest official route to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, it is also the longest and most beautiful. And remember the longer the route, the higher the chance of overall success.

This extended climb begins with a drive from Moshi to the Londorossi Gate, where you start. From there the Northern Circuit follows the Lemosho route for the first few days, moving through the lush rainforest below the mountain itself, then ascending the Shira Ridge to cross the high Shira Plateau. When you come near Lava Tower you leave the Lemosho route and turn north to follow the Northern Circuit proper.

This detour allows the trek to circle around to Kilimanjaro’s northern slopes, crossing them to the east. The northern side of Kilimanjaro is more remote, and so has the benefits of offering less traffic from other climbers, and much more untouched, untrammelled surroundings. The result is a unique climbing experience and a truly fantastic trek.

There are a few options as to the best route to the summit, depending on the season and local conditions at the time. All routes though converge again at Gilman’s Point to approach the summit itself. Descent is via the Mweka route, where you will likely see other trekkers who went up on either the Lemosho, Shira, Umbwe or Machame routes.

If you have the time and the cost does not deter you then the full Northern Circuit route is a fantastic route and certainly one of the most enjoyable ways to climb Kilimanjaro. You circle most of the mountain at nearly 4000 metres, allowing unequalled 360 degree views of this majestic and highly diverse region. It is the longest route by which to climb the mountain, and provides unequalled acclimatisation opportunities. This also makes it one of the safest and most successful routes.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

All Park entry fees – All Park Camping fees/Hut fees
Pick up from the Airport
Guide/assistant guide/Porters
Overnight at the Hotels/Lodge/Tented Camps/Campsites according to the program
Chef/Meals as per the above itinerary
Park commission fees
Transport to and from the gate
Complimentary bottled drinking water 1.5 litter per person per day during on safari
1 night free Hotel accommodation on your arrival in Arusha with bed & breakfast
Tents/Sleeping mats/Sleeping bags Tents

What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.

International flights & Domestic flight
Fees for passport, visas, immunizations and insurance
Tips for staff such as guides/Chef & porters.
Expenses of personal nature (like souvenirs)
Climbing gears.

  1. Day 1 Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa

    Elevation: 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft
    Distance: 6 km/4 miles
    Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    Habitat: Rain Forest

    We depart from Arusha to Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours, where you will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival at trailhead, we begin hiking through undisturbed forest which winds to the first camp site.

  2. Day 2 Mti Mkubwa Camp - Shira 1 Camp

    Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft
    Distance: 8 km/5 miles
    Hiking Time 5-6 hours
    Habitat: Heath

    We continue on the trail leading out of the rain forest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. As we ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, we reach the Shira Ridge before dropping gently down to Shira 1 Camp. Here we catch our first glimpse of Kibo across the plateau.

  3. Day 3 Mti Mkubwa Camp - Shira 2 Camp

    Elevation: 11,500 ft to 12,500 ft
    Distance: 7 km/4 miles
    Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    Habitat: Heath

    We explore the Shira Plateau. It is a gentle walk east on moorland meadows towards Shira 2 Camp. The heath zone displays abundant wildflowers and unique Senecio trees.

  4. Day 4 From Shira 2 Camp - Moir Hut

    Elevation: From 3810 metres to 4200 metres

    Trekking distance: 14 kilometres

    Trek time: 6 to 7 hours

    Environment: Semi-desert.

    Just after Shira 2 Camp the Lemosho Route joins the Machame Route, and we will follow it for a short time. Expect to see other trekkers there. We will soon leave the main trail to get to the Moir Hut Camp, beneath the scenic Lent Hills.

  5. Day 5 Moir Hut - Buffalo Camp

    Elevation: 13,580 ft to 13,200 ft
    Distance: 12 km/7 miles
    Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
    Habitat: Alpine Desert

    We trek out of Moir Valley with a moderately steep climb, then hike to the summit of Lent Hills before returning to the main trail. The path crosses a rock field and gently undulates before reaching Buffalo Camp. This section of the trail offers great views across the plains that lie north of Kilimanjaro and stretch out to the Kenyan/Tanzanian border.

  6. Day 6 Buffalo Camp - Third Cave

    Elevation: 13,200 ft to 12,700 ft
    Distance: 8 km/5 miles
    Hiking Time: 5-7 hours
    Habitat: Heath

    As we head up Buffalo Ridge, the terrain becomes increasingly sparse. This route is rarely travelled and we will enjoy its mountain wilderness feel. We trek through remote valleys on to the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro until we arrive at Third Cave.

  7. Day 7 Third Cave - School Hut

    Elevation: 12,700 ft to 15,600 ft
    Distance: 5 km/3 miles
    Hiking Time: 4-5 hours
    Habitat: Alpine Desert

    We climb steadily up and over the “Saddle,” which sits between Kibo and Mawenzi. We continue on to our camp, School Hut. Once here we rest, enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

  8. Day 8 School Hut - Uhuru Peak

    Elevation: 15,600 ft to 19,341 ft
    Distance: 6 km/4 miles
    Hiking Time: 6-8 hours

    Very early in the morning (around midnight), we begin our push to the summit. This is the most mentally and physically challenging portion of the trek. The wind and cold at this elevation and time of day can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. At Gilman’s point (18,600 ft), you will be rewarded with the most magnificent sunrise you are ever likely to see coming over Mawenzi Peak. Finally, we arrive at Uhuru Peak- the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro and the continent of Africa.

    Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
    Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065
    Distance: 12 km/7 miles
    Hiking Time: 4-6 hours
    Habitat: Artic

    From the summit, we now make our descent continuing straight down to the Mweka Hut camp site, stopping at Barafu for lunch. The trail is very rocky and can be quite hard on the knees; trekking poles are helpful. Mweka Camp is situated in the upper forest and mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, we enjoy our last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

  9. Day 9 Mweka Camp - Mweka Gate

    Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft
    Distance: 10 km/6 miles
    Hiking Time: 3-4 hours
    Habitat: Rain Forest

    On our last day, we continue the descent to Mweka Gate and collect the summit certificates. At lower elevations, it can be wet and muddy. From the gate, we continue another hour to Mweka Village. A vehicle will meet us at Mweka Village to drive us back to the hotel in Arusha.