Northern Circuit Route - 9 Days Trek

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Route Overview

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 allows for the best acclimatization time and the highest summit success rate, therefore this 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.

Route Highlights

Trek Duration

9 Days, 8 Nights





Start & End

Moshi - Kilimanjaro

Trekking Itinerary

DAY 1: Londorossi Gate (7,742ft/2,346) to Mti Mkubwa (9,498 ft/2,878m)

Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 3-4 hours.
Habitat: Rain Forest

Starting in the morning after breakfast, drive to Londrossi gate from the hotel in Moshi. The drive takes about 4 hours. Do all registration at Londrossi gate, and then transfer to the Lemosho starting point where the trek begins through the rain forest until Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) camp for dinner and overnight.

DAY 2: Mti Mkubwa (9,498 ft/2,878) to Shira 1 Camp (11,500 ft/3,485)

Distance: 7 km/4.3miles
Hiking Time 4-5 hours
Habitat: Health

From the Big Tree camp, the trail leads out of the rainforest and into a savannah of tall grasses, heather and volcanic rock draped with lichen beards. Ascend through the lush rolling hills and cross several streams, reach the Shira Ridge before continuing down to Shira 1 Camp.

DAY 3: Shira 1 Camp (11,500 ft/3,485m) to Shira 2 Camp (12,870 ft/3,900m)

Distance: 7 km/4 miles
Hiking Time: 4-5 hours.
Habitat: Heath & Moorland

Today the walk passed the Shira Ridge, which has rocky ground, low grass, and shrubs around it. The hike will seem more leisurely and easy as the terrain is much flatter than the previous day, and in the process, enjoy fantastic views of the Great Rift Valley and Mount Meru. The giant Lobelias which are distinctive in this environment dot the moor landscape. Walking on ground where lava used to flow until reach Shira 2 Camp, for lunch dinner and overnight.

DAY 4: Shira 2 Camp (12,870ft/3,900m) – Moir hut Camp (13,860 ft/4,200m)

Distance: 14km
Environment: Semi-desert
Time: 6 to 8 hours.

After breakfast, start the trek to Moir hut camp. Just after Shira 2 Camp, the Lemosho Route joins the Machame Route; the northern circuit follows it for a short time. Expect to see other trekkers there. From the main trail, the route diverges and gets to Moir Hut Camp, which is located beneath the scenic Lent Hills. Arrive at the camp for dinner and overnight.

DAY 5: Moir hut Camp (13,860 ft/4,200m) – Pofu (Buffalo) Camp (13,265ft/4,020m)

Distance: 12 km
Environment: Semi-desert
Time: 5 to 7 hours.

We will take a short but steep hike from Moir Valley to the top of the Lent Hills.Not only is the view worth the effort, proper acclimatization requires you to ‘walk high, sleep low’. Afterwards we will rejoin the trail and cross several valleys on Kilimanjaro’s north side before reaching Pofu Camp.

DAY 6: Pofu Camp (13,265ft/4,020m) –Third Cave Camp (13,060ft/3,960m)

Distance: 8 km/4 miles
Environment: Alpine desert
Time: 5 to 6 hours

Leaving Pofu (Buffalo) Camp behind, then circling along the mountain’s north side, get magnificent views of Kenya along the way. Get to cross more valleys before turning eastwards where the vegetation decreases and the territory becomes drier. Arrive at the camp for lunch, dinner and overnight.

DAY 7: Third Cave Camp (13,060/3,960m) – School hut Camp (15,800ft/4790m)

Distance: 15 km/9 miles
Environment: Alpine desert
Time: 5-6 hours

A long and steady ascent to the Saddle, and a landscape that can only be referred to as ‘lunar’, with the peaks of Mawenzi and Kibo rising on either side. Reach School Hut and make camp in the early afternoon, getting a chance to rest and prepare for the midnight summit.

DAY 8: School hut camp (/4,790m) – Uhuru Peak (19,4555ft/895m) – Millennium Camp (3,827m)

Distance: 16 km/9.5miles
Environment: Alpine desert/stone scree/ice-capped summit/Montane forest
Time: 12 to 15 hours

At midnight, ascend to Gilman’s Point, which is located at the rim of the Kilimanjaro crater. From here, the sun rises over the peak of Mawenzi, and after a short break, it ascends further to Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa.

Descending from the peak leads to Barafu Camp. Meet with the crew for a branch lunch, then, after the meal and some rest, make  way down to Millennium Camp. This last stretch will be over loose gravel, which makes the trek slightly easier. After dinner, get some well-earned sleep.

DAY 9: Millennium Camp (12,630ft/3,827m) - Mweka Gate (5,340ft/1,630m) – Moshi

Distance: 12k/7 miles
Environment: Montane forest
Time: 5 to 6 hours

On the final day, after breakfast and celebrations at the camp, then continue a gentle 5 to 6 hours’ descent through the rainforest until  Mweka Gate, arrive at the gate and sign out to the national park authority and collect the summit certificates. A vehicle will be waiting at Mweka Gate followed by transfer back to the hotel in Moshi.

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