Northern Circuit Route
The Northern Circuit route is one of the best routes on Kilimanjaro, offering nearly 360 degrees of beautiful scenery including the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes. As the longest route on Kilimanjaro, the Northern Circuit also has the most acclimatization time and the highest summit success rate. Thus, the Northern Circuit route is highly recommended.
The route approaches Mount Kilimanjaro from the west, beginning with a long drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate. From there, the first two days are spent trekking through the rainforest to Shira Ridge, before crossing the Shira Plateau. The route then heads north and circles clockwise from Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp to School Hut, before summiting from the east. Descend is made via the Mweka route.
Tanzania Horizon Safaris offers the Northern Circuit as a nine day group climb or private climb. A 10 day variation that includes an overnight at Crater Camp is available as a private climb by special request.
8 DAY NORTHERN CIRCUIT ITINERARY
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 Moshi for 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.
Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp
Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft
Distance: 8 km/5 miles
Hiking Time 5-6 hours
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
Shira Camp 1 (3,610 meters) to Moir Camp (4,200 meters)
Distance: 14km / 8 miles
Trekking time: 6-8 hours
Zone: Rainforest / Low Alpine Zone/ High alpine zone
On day three the trek crosses the Shira Plateau from Shira Camp 1 to Shira Camp 2 for lunch. Here nine day trekkers usually spend the night at Shira Camp 2 where they will join trekkers from the Machame Route. But for 8days trekkers will continue with trek heading east which passes through the ‘Garden of the Senecios’ and then enters the high alpine desert zone, then you will join the northern circuit heading down to Moir Camp at 4,200.
Moir Camp (4,200 meters) to Buffalo Camp (4,020 meters)
Distance: 12km / 7 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: High alpine zone
Day four involves a moderately steep climb out of Moir Valley. Trekkers can take a small detour here to climb the summit of Little Lent Hill at 4,375 meters before returning to the Northern Circuit trail. From here the route follows a series of inclines and declines, skirting around the northern slopes of Kibo to Buffalo Camp (4,020 meters).The trek gives great vistas out across the plains that lie north of Kilimanjaro and stretch out to the Kenyan / Tanzanian border. You will arrive at Buffalo Camp just after midday, where you will have lunch and have time to rest after a long day hiking.
Buffalo Camp (4,020 meters) to Rongai Third Cave (3,800 meters)
Distance: 8km / 5 miles
Trekking time: 5-7 hours
Zone: High alpine zone and low alpine zone
Day five starts with a climb up the Buffalo ridge and down into Porfu Camp where lunch is usually served. The route then continues east around the northern slopes to the Rongai Third Cave at 3,800 meters. The trek is shorter than the day before and by now you should be feeling well acclimatised to the altitude. You will arrive at the Third Cave just around mid-afternoon.
3rd Cave (3,800 meters) to School Hut (4,800 meters)
Distance: 15km / 8 miles
Trekking time: 4-5 hours
Zone: High alpine zone and glacial zone
Day six involves a steady incline up and over the Saddle which sits between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi Peak. Trekkers then continue walking south-west up to School Hut (4,800 meters). After arriving at School Hut you will be served an early dinner and then you should get some shut-eye as you will be awoken before midnight to start your summit attempt. Remember to prepare all your gear, including warm clothes, insulated water bottles, snacks, headlamp and camera before going to bed.
School Hut (4,800 meters) to Uhuru Peak (5,895 meters) and then onto Millennium Camp (3,950 meters)
Distance: 6km / 3.5 miles ascent and 10.5km / 6 mile descent
Trekking time: 6-8 hours ascent and then 4-6 hour descent
Zone: Glacial zone and all preceding zones
You will be awoken around 11:30 with hot tea and biscuits and will then begin the steep incline up the slopes of Kibo under the cover of darkness. Your first check-point is Hans Meyer Cave where you will take a short break. The climb steepens as you approach Gilman’s Point (5,681 meters), which will be around 5-6 hours after departing School Hut. Take a moment to enjoy the approaching dawn and incredible view out and across to Mawenzi Peak, but remember you still have 2 hours trekking to reach Uhuru Peak so dig deep for the energy.
The slope flattens as you head west around the crater rim and you should arrive at the summit at or just after sunrise. Your stay here will be brief so get as many pictures as you can of the incredible views and surrounding glaciers. You will then retrace your steps back around the crater rim to Stella Point (5,739 meters) where you will turn south and head down the heavily screed slopes of Kibo to Barafu Camp (4,680 meters). Most trekkers take a short break here before continuing down to Millennium Camp (3,950 meters) for your final night on the mountain. In total you will be trekking for 14-16 hours on day eight so it is important to pace yourself, remain hydrated and keep your blood sugar levels up. Note: some tour operators return via Gilman’s Point to Horombo Hut using the Marangu Route.
Millennium Camp (3,950 meters) to Mweka Gate (1,640 meters)
Distance: 10km / 6.5 miles
Trekking time: 3-4 hours
Zone: Rainforest zone
The final day is a short hike through the dense montane rainforest from Millennium Camp (3,950 meters) to Mweka Gate (1,640 meters). 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. It is customary to give your guide and porter tips before being driven back to your hotel in Moshi.
The prices include
- 2 nights hotel accommodation in Moshi (before & after climb)
- Pick up and drop off at Kilimanjaro Airport
- Group transport to and from Moshi to the trail head
- Kilimanjaro National Park permits, camping/hut fees, rescue fees and Value Added Tax (VAT)
- Expert guide, assistant guides, cook and porters
- Bottled oxygen, for emergency rescue only
- Private toilet
- Four season, 3 person mountain tents, double occupancy
- Sleeping pad, foam, 1.5 inches thick
- Mess tents, tables, chairs, lanterns
- Fresh, nutritious meals on the mountain
- Breakfast at hotel
Not included in price
- Lunch or dinner at hotel
- Beverages at hotel
- Personal gear and equipment