THE NORTHERN CIRCUIT

The longest and most remote route with 360 degree views!

HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO CLIMB THE NORTHERN CIRCUIT?

The extended Northern Circuit climb begins on the Lemosho Route and for the first two days, treks through the lush rainforest below the mountain itself, then ascends the Shira Ridge to cross the high Shira Plateau.

When it reaches Lava Tower it leaves the Lemosho Route and turns north to follow the Northern Circuit.

This is the detour which allows the trek to circle around to Kilimanjaro’s northern slopes, joining the Rongai Route on the northern side of Kilimanjaro. The northern side is more remote, and has the benefit of less traffic from other climbers.

 

The result of the detour via Rongai is a unique climbing experience and results in a fantastic 360 degree view of Kilimanjaro, as well as the plains below.

The Northern Circuit is the longest and most remote route.  The longer itinerary means the route has a good acclimatization profile. You can naturally "walk high, sleep low" which helps with acclimatization.

 

This route involves hiking for long periods of time and good level of fitness is recommended.

There are no parts on the route that require any technical climbing skills.

The total trekking distance is approximately 97 kilometers from gate to gate.

NORTHERN CIRCUIT DISTANCE AND ELEVATION 
Northern Circuit Route Distance and Elev
KILIMANJARO CLIMATE ZONES
All Kilimanjaro climbers will pass thru 5 climate zones en-route to Uhuru Peak. Graphic of climate zones on Kilimanjaro.
Blue Monkey Mt. Kilimanjaro
Blue Monkey Mt. Kilimanjaro

Wildlife on the Lemosho Route, a Blue Monkey

Porters preparing for Kilimanjaro
Porters preparing for Kilimanjaro

Porters securing the luggage including items needed for a Lemosho Route climb.

Glaciers on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Glaciers on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Glaciers on top of Kilimanjaro during the final push to Uhuru Peak

Blue Monkey Mt. Kilimanjaro
Blue Monkey Mt. Kilimanjaro

Wildlife on the Lemosho Route, a Blue Monkey

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YOUR CLIMB YOUR CHOICE

We offer customized Kilimanjaro climbs which include a choice of climb only, airport pick up-drop off, one night of backpackers, budget, mid-range and 4-star accomodations before and after the climb, and many more personal preferences.

Climbers experiencing a long flight and major time change also have the option of adding extra nights in the hotel to allow their bodies to recuperate and adjust.

DETAILED ITINERARY:

9 DAY NORTHERN CIRCUIT

NORTHERN CIRCUIT ROUTE

Northern Circuit Route.jpg

9 Day Northern Circuit

DAY 1 - LONDOROSSI GATE TO MTI MKUBWA CAMP

After breakfast, drive to Londorossi Gate, where you will meet your porters and complete registration formalities at the Ranger’s Office. The hike will start in the rainforest along a lovely trail until reaching Mti Mkubwa (which means big tree in Swahili) Camp (2895m), where we will spend the night.

  • Trekking distance: 6 kilometers

  • Trek time: 3 to 4 hours

  • Environment: Montane Forest

  • Elevation: From 2360 meters to 2895 meters

 

DAY 2 - MTI MKUBWA CAMP TO SHIRA ONE CAMP

We soon leave the forest behind and enter the moorland zone. The trail climbs steadily with wide views reaching the rim of the Shira Plateau. With ever decreasing vegetation along the way, Shira One Camp (3600m), your camp for the night is within sight. There is a tangible sense of wilderness, especially if afternoon mists move in.

  • Trekking distance: 9 kilometers

  • Trek time: 6 to 7 hours

  • Environment: Moorland

  • Elevation: From 2895 meters to 3600 meters

 
DAY 3 - SHIRA ONE CAMP TO SHIRA TWO CAMP

On our way to Shira Two we explore the volcanic rock formations of the Shira Plateau. Shira was once Kilimanjaro's third and lowest volcanic peak, but has eroded to a high plateau since it last erupted eons ago. The walk toward Shira Two is a gentle hike east on moorland meadows displaying abundant wildflowers and unique Senecio trees.

  • Trekking distance: 7 kilometers

  • Trek time: 3 to 4 hours

  • Environment: Moorland

  • Elevation: From 3600 meters to 3900 meters

 
DAY 4 - SHIRA TWO TO MOIR HUR

Today is a long trek heading east passing through the ‘Garden of the Senecios’ and then entering the high alpine desert zone. The morning is spent trekking up to Lava Tower (4600m) and the iconic Shark’s Tooth rock, where you will have a hot lunch. After lunch you will join the Northern Circuit heading down to Moir Camp (4,200m). This is an important day in your trek as you will get to experience high altitude and then sleep low, which is good for the acclimatization process.

  • Highest point: 4600 meters (at Lava Tower)

  • Trekking distance: 4 kilometers

  • Trek time: 5 to 7 hours

  • Environment: Alpine desert

  • Elevation: From 3900 meters to 4200 meters

 
DAY 5 - MOIR HUT TO BUFFALO CAMP

We begin with a moderately steep climb out of Moir Valley. If you wish, you can take a small detour here to climb to the summit of Little Lent Hill (4,375m) before returning to the Northern Circuit trail. The route follows a series of inclines and declines, skirting around the northern slopes of Kibo to Buffalo Camp. Spectacular views of plains north of Kilimanjaro which stretch as far as the eye can see to the Kenyan / Tanzanian border. You will arrive at Buffalo Camp (4020m) just after midday, where you will have lunch and have time to rest.

  • Trekking distance: 12 kilometers

  • Trek time: 5 to 7 hours

  • Environment: Alpine desert

  • Elevation: From 4200 meters to 4020 meters

 
DAY 6 - BUFFALO CAMP TO RONGAI THIRD CAVE
Day seven starts with a climb up the Buffalo Ridge and down into Pofu Camp where lunch is served. We continue East around the Northern slopes to the Rongai Third Cave (3936m). Today’s climb is shorter than the day before and you should be feeling better acclimatized to the altitude at this point. You will arrive at the Third Cave just around mid-afternoon. 

  • Trekking distance: 6 kilometers

  • Trek time: 4 to 6 hours

  • Environment: Moorland

  • Elevation: From 4020 meters to 3936 meters

 
DAY 7 - RONGAI THIRD CAVE TO SCHOOL HUT

A steady ascent and over the Saddle which sits between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi Peak. We continue southwest to School Hut (4800m) where you will be served an early dinner and go to rest as you will begin your summit bid just before midnight.

  • Trekking distance: 6 kilometers 

  • Trek time: 4 to 6 hours

  • Environment: Alpine desert

  • Elevation: From 3936 meters to 4800 meters

DAY 8 - SCHOOL HUT TO UHURU PEAK TO MILLENIUM CAMP

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 the cold at this elevation can be extreme. We ascend in the darkness for several hours while taking frequent, but short, breaks. At Gilman’s point, 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 of Africa. Descent via Mweka route to Millenium Camp (3790m)

 
  • Highest point: 5895 meters (Uhuru Peak)

  • Trekking distance: 16 kilometers (6 kilometers ascent / 10 kilometers descent)

  • Trek time: 12 to 15 hours (6 to 7 hours ascent / 6 to 8 hours descent)

  • Environment: Alpine desert to Glacial zone to Moorland

  • Elevation: From 4800 meters to 5895 meters to 3970 meters 

 
DAY 9 - DESCENT FROM MILLENIUM CAMP TO MWEKA GATE

The final day is a short hike through the dense montane rainforest from Millennium Camp (3,790m) to Mweka Gate (1,630m). At the gate you will need to sign-out with the authorities, who will also provide you with your official certificate - a green certificate for those who made it to Gilman's Point and a gold certificate for those who reached Uhuru Peak.

  • Trekking distance: 10 kilometers

  • Trek time: 3 to 4 hours

  • Environment: Moorland to Montane forest

  • Elevation: From 3970 meters to 1630 meters