Mt Kilimanjaro Trek - Northern Circuit Route

Overview

The Northern Circuit is the longest and the most remote route. The trek can be completed in 8 days, however additional time on the mountain means that success rates for Northern Circuit trekkers are relatively high. The longer itinerary means that it has a good acclimatization profile. You can naturally “walk high, sleep low” which helps with acclimatization.

Even though you don’t have to climb the Great Barranco Wall on this route, you will still have a tough summit night approaching via Gilman’s Point. You will be trekking for long periods of time, so a good level of fitness and stamina is recommended.

Highlights

  • The Northern Circuit Route is the longest route to the summit of Kilimanjaro, offering a more gradual and extended trekking experience for better acclimatization.
  • Due to its length and gradual ascent, the route has excellent acclimatization opportunities, reducing the risk of altitude-related issues.
  • The route takes you around the entire northern slopes of Kilimanjaro, providing stunning panoramic views and a comprehensive exploration of the mountain.
  • The Northern Circuit is known for its remoteness and lack of crowding, offering a serene and secluded trekking experience.
  • The route encompasses a diverse range of landscapes, including rainforests, heathlands, moorlands, alpine desert, and glaciers, showcasing Kilimanjaro’s ecological diversity.
  • The northern side of the mountain provides opportunities to spot wildlife, including antelopes, elephants, buffalo, and various bird species.
  • The route’s less-traveled nature contributes to a sense of pristine wilderness and natural beauty.
  • The extended duration of the Northern Circuit allows for breathtaking views from multiple angles, offering a unique perspective of Kilimanjaro.
  • This route sees the lowest number of trekkers, contributing to a quieter and more peaceful journey.
Included
Excluded

Day 1: Arrive in Moshi/ Airport Transfer

Arrive in Moshi and you’ll be picked up at the airport by our representative at Moshi Airport (QSI) and taken to your hotel. Moshi is a small and clean town that offers many activities and sceneries to take part in. 

Arrive a few days before your climb and visit the ever-beautiful and tranquil Lak Chala, or take a dip in the Kikuletwa Hot Springs. Take a village trip to Materuni waterfalls and Materuni Village for a local coffee-making tour or take a tour to Olpopongi Village located at West Kilimanjaro. 

INCLUDE: 
— Airport Transfer

Overnight at Moshi Hotel

Day 2: Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa

After breakfast, we depart Moshi for Londorossi Gate, which takes about 4 hours, where we will complete entry formalities. Then drive to the Lemosho trailhead. Upon arrival at the trailhead, we begin hiking through undisturbed forest which winds to the first campsite.

INCLUDED: 
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Elevation: 2,360m/7,742ft to 2,895m/9,498ft
Hiking time:
 
3-5 hours
Distance: 6 km/ 4 miles
Zone: Rainforest

Overnight at Mti Mkubwa

Day 3: Mti Mkubwa to Shira 1 Camp

We continue on the trail leading out of the rainforest and into the 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 Peak across the plateau.

INCLUDED: 
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

Elevation: 2,895m/9,498ft to 3,505m/11,500ft
Hiking time:
 
5-7 hours
Distance: 8 km/ 5 miles
Zone: Heathland

Overnight at Shira 1 Camp

Day 4: Shira 1 Camp to Shira 2 Camp

Today we walk to the summit of Shira Cathedral, a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles. There is a tangible sense of wilderness here, the heath zone displays abundant wildflowers and unique Senecio trees. From our camp near Shira Hut, we appreciate the unforgettable views of Mt Meru.

Elevation: 3,505m/11,500ft to 3,810m/12,500ft
Hiking time:
 
3-5 hours
Distance: 7 km/ 4 miles
Zone: Heathland

INCLUDED: 
— Meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Overnight at Shira 2 Camp

Day 5: Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower to Moir Hut

Today, we continue to the east up a ridge and then head southeast towards the Lava Tower 91m/300ft tall volcanic rock formation. Then we divert from the main trail to Moir Hut, a little used site on the base of Lent Hills. A variety of walks are available on Lent Hills making this an excellent acclimatization opportunity. Shira Plateau is one of the highest plateaus on earth.

INCLUDED:
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower
Elevation:
3,810m/12,500ft to 4,630m/15,190ft
Hiking time:
 
3-5 hours
Distance: 7 km/ 4 miles
Zone: Alpine Desert

Lava Tower to Moir Hut
Elevation:
4,630m/15,190ft to 4,139m/13,580ft
Hiking time:
 
2-4 hours
Distance: 7 km/ 4 miles
Zone: Alpine Desert

Overnight at Moir Hut

Day 6: Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp

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 Kenya/Tanzania border.

INCLUDED:
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Elevation: 4,139m/13,580ft to 4,023m/13,200ft
Hiking time:
 
5-7 hours
Distance: 12 km/ 7 miles
Zone: Alpine Desert

Overnight at Buffalo Camp

Day 7: Buffalo Camp to Third Cave

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

INCLUDED:
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Elevation: 4,023m/13,200ft to 3,871m/12,700ft
Hiking time:
5-7
 hours
Distance: 8 km/ 5 miles
Zone: Heathland

Overnight at Third Cave

Day 8: Third Cave to School Hut

Today, we climb steadily up and over the Saddle, a lunar landscape between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. From here we continue upwards and reach School Hut. Once here we rest and enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

INCLUDED:
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Elevation: 3,871m/12,700ft to 4,755m/15,600ft
Hiking time:
4-6
 hours
Distance: 5 km/ 3 miles
Zone: Alpine Desert

Overnight at School Hut

Day 9: School Hut to Uhuru Peak to Mweka 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 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 5,669m/18,600ft, we 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.

INCLUDED:
— Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

School Hut to Uhuru Peak
Elevation:
4,755m/15,600ft to 5,895m/19,341ft
Hiking time:
6-8
 hours
Distance: 6 km/ 4 miles
Zone: Arctic

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, mist or rain can be expected in the late afternoon. Later in the evening, enjoy your last dinner on the mountain and a well-earned sleep.

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp
Elevation:
5,895m/19,341ft to 3,068m/10,065ft
Hiking time:
4-6
 hours
Distance: 12 km/ 7 miles
Zone: Rainforest

Overnight at Mweka Camp

Day 10: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate 

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

INCLUDED:
— Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Elevation: 3,068m/10,065ft to 1,640m/5,380ft
Hiking time:
3-5
 hours
Distance: 10 km/ 6 miles
Zone: Rainforest

Overnight at Moshi Hotel

Day 10: Depart Moshi/ Airport Transfer

Today is departure day and there are no scheduled activities. At the appropriate time, a representative will pick you up and take you to the airport for your return home or to your next destination.

INCLUDED:
— Meals: Breakfast 
— Airport Transfer

ITINERARY DISCLAIMER

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However, it is subject to change and does not form a contract between parties. While it is our intention to adhere to the route described, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary, and on occasion, it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. Occasionally, our itineraries change due to weather or other circumstances that are beyond our control. This includes regulations surrounding COVID-19. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and are subject to vary.

  • Our local travel partner for the Mount Kilimanjaro Trek is a Moshi-based, family-owned company whose mission is to not only give you a meaningful and exciting adventure but to also positively contribute to the well-being of local communities by increasing job opportunities to boost the local economy. They also encourage environmental conservation and regeneration practices and participate in mountain clean-up efforts and tree-planting activities in collaboration with the local government and various NGOs. Furthermore, they proudly support the Nguzo Women’s Foundation, a grassroots non-profit in the Hai District of the Kilimanjaro region, whose initiatives include providing menstrual kits and health education to young girls in six government primary schools. In addition, they have taken proactive steps to create opportunities for female guides and porters on their team.
  • All of our guides have at least 10 years of experience on the mountain, and all have extensive training in first-aid, mountain rescue, flora, fauna, and geology, and all have been certified in Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness Emergency Medicine, and Heartsaver CPR. 
  • Our itinerary allows you to spend two nights at Horombo Huts, which helps you to acclimatize and reach the summit without altitude problems. 
  • Although no mountaineering experience is required, a good level of physical fitness is necessary to tackle Mt Kilimanjaro. You’ll need to be comfortable walking 6-8 hours uphill a day. The distances may not be long, but the altitude makes it harder than your average uphill hike. 
  • Sections of this trek take you above 9200 ft (2800 m), where it is common to experience altitude sickness.
  • You will need to limit the weight of your duffel bag and its contents to be carried by the porters on the climb to 15 kg (32 lbs) or less. Extra luggage, including clean clothes to wear after your climb can be left at the hotel in Moshi.
  • Temperatures at night can get very low when you’re above 3500 m, so clothing and a sleeping bag made for this kind of climate are essential. You can rent this at the beginning of your trip if you don’t have your own. 
  • You must be prepared to share the huts along this route with between 3 and 11 other people who may be of a different gender. Guests are supplied with mattresses and pillows, but you must supply your own sleeping bag (available to rent). The huts have communal dining halls and basic washrooms and we also provide a private, portable toilet for our guests. 
  • Daily meals during the hike include breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. Breakfast is generally between 7:30 and 8:00 am, and departure from the huts/camp is at 9 am after a medical checkup. Lunch is mid-day, a hot drink, and a snack are around 4 pm, and dinner is at 7 pm. Summit morning is different: full breakfast at 11:30 pm, start hiking at midnight or sometimes 1 am. 
  • The food on the mountain consists of such staples as pasta, potatoes, meats, and stews. Vegetarian and vegan diets can be accommodated. For more specific requirements, please contact us to discuss. All dietary requirements need to be specified prior to arrival. 
  • Most daily hikes take from 4-7 hours and the pace is slow with a rest at least once every hour and plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the view. When you arrive at the campsite, you will find your tents already set up and your bags ready to collect. 
  • Hiking for several days without a shower can be tough – be prepared for some dust and dirt. A mask, wet wipes, and a face cloth may become your best friends!
  • Hiking insurance is mandatory for this trip. This should cover high-altitude trekking of at least 19,340 ft and should be on a ‘non-reimbursement’ basis so the insurer will pay for the hospital bills immediately, as opposed to claiming when you get home. We strongly recommend purchasing comprehensive travel insurance which provides coverage for trip interruption, flight cancellation, and loss of baggage. 
  • We are aware of the negative impacts of travel and we choose our travel partners based on their commitment to social development and environment preservation. Our guides are responsible for ensuring that the guests understand the nature of the environment that they are in and minimize the impact they may have. 

Level 5: Challenging

Our Challenging Trips are intended for physically fit individuals who are seeking a challenging experience. Previous trekking experience is not required for Mount Kilimanjaro, but you should be able to hike 6-8 hours a day at a moderate pace over hilly terrain with a light day pack. To ensure that you are physically and mentally fit and capable of attempting your Kilimanjaro challenge, we would highly advise you to start training at least 3-4 months before your tour date.

Once we receive your inquiry, we will reach out with a calendar invite in order to schedule a time to talk about your trip. A 25% deposit is required once the itinerary is approved. Payment is due in full 90-days prior to the start date of your trip. 

From $3585

For group size of 2-4 people

Inquire About This Trek

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