11 Day Northern Circuit Route
he Northern Circuit Route is the most amazing journey on Kilimanjaro. This is a relatively new route. Become one of the first to enjoy the Northern Circuit’s tranquility and stunning panoramic scenery. Starting from the west, this is the only route that travels north around Mt. Kilimanjaro. It traverses nearly the entire mountain before the summit push. This is absolutely the most scenic path available and has almost no traffic on its northern face. The total time on the mountain is 9 days.
Our trips begin and end at our lodge in Moshi, Tanzania.
Try to arrive at your lodge in Moshi before 3 PM the day before your climb. With prior arrangement, an airport pick-up to your lodge is available from Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), or simply make your own way by taxi. We will gather in the afternoon for a pre-climb briefing and an equipment check. We will also confirm you have the appropriate mandatory medical coverage and travel insurance.
Drive: 45 minutes
After completing the necessary registration formalities at Londorossi National Park gate, we drive through varied farmland with open views over the plains to reach the Lemosho trailhead. We often have our lunch in the glades before starting to walk. It is an easy day of walking up a small path through a beautiful and lush forest. This area has a variety of game, including buffalo. We camp at Lemosho Forest camp (8,600 ft).
2-3 hours · 2.9 miles elevation: +1,700 ft.
We soon leave the forest behind and enter the moorland zone of giant heather. The trail climbs steadily with wide views to reach the rim of the Shira Plateau. There is a tangible sense of wilderness, especially if afternoon mists come in! We camp in the center of the plateau at Shira One (11,600 ft).
6-7 hours · 4.9 miles · elevation: +3,000 ft.
Today we explore the grassy moorland and volcanic rock formations of the plateau. We walk to the summit of Shira Cathedral (12,800 ft), a huge buttress of rock surrounded by steep spires and pinnacles. There is a tangible sense of wilderness here, especially when the afternoon mists roll in. From our camp near Shira Hut (12,600 ft), we take in the unforgettable views of Mt. Meru as she floats among the clouds.
4-5 hours · 9.9 miles · elevation: +1,000 ft.
In the morning we follow the main trail up to Lava Tower(15,150 ft), and for those feeling strong, there is a possibility to climb up to the ruined hut at Arrow Glacier (15,700 ft). We then continue from Lava Tower to reach our campsite at Moir Hut (13,800 ft).
5-7 hours · 7.2 miles · elevation: +1,000 ft.
We climb out of the Moir Valley and take a short detour to reach the summit of Lent Hills (15,400 ft). After admiring the views we return to the trail and head eastwards around the northern circuit trail. Here the trail passes through a field of rock slabs that clink as they are walked on. The final section of today’s walk undulates until reaching the location of Buffalo Camp (13,600 ft). At the camp, there is a huge feeling of space as the Kenyan plains stretch out far below to the north.
4-7 hours · 4.4 miles · elevation: +1,800 ft. gain · -1800 ft. loss
From Buffalo Camp, we climb to the top of ‘Buffalo Ridge’ and cross numerous ridges and gullies. The trail continues eastwards through a landscape that has increasingly sparse vegetation to eventually reach Third Cave Camp (12,800 ft).
5-7 hours · 5.1 miles · elevation: -800 ft.
There is a steady ascent to reach the saddle, a lunar landscape between the peaks of Kibo and Mawenzi. From here we continue upwards and reach School Hut (15,500 ft) in the early afternoon. The remainder of the afternoon is spent resting and preparing for the summit day.
4-5 hours · 3.0 miles · elevation: +2,700 ft.
Around 1 a.m, we start the final and most demanding part of the climb by headlamp. We start by plodding very slowly in the darkness on a switchback trail, This will be on loose volcanic scree to reach the crater rim at Gilman’s Point (18,600 ft). We rest here for a short time to enjoy the spectacular sunrise over Mawenzi.
Those who are still feeling strong can make the three-hour round trip to Uhuru Peak (19,341 ft). Along the way, you’ll pass close to the spectacular glaciers and ice cliffs that still occupy most of the summit area. After the summit, we will retrace our steps along the crater rim to Stella Point and then descend down to Barafu Camp for a short break. From there we will continue to Millenium Camp (12,500 ft).
7-10 hours · 4.6 miles · elevation: +3,845 ft. gain · -445 ft. loss
A sustained descent on a well-constructed path takes us through a lovely tropical forest alive with birdsong and boasting lush undergrowth with considerable botanical interest. Our route winds down to the Kilimanjaro National Park gate at Mweka (5,400 ft); and on through coffee and banana farms to Mweka village, where we are transferred to your lodge in Moshi.
4-6 hours · 7.6 miles · elevation: -7,100 ft. gain
After breakfast, we can arrange for a private transfer or taxi to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO).
Drive: 45 minutes