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Climbing Kilimanjaro

Northern Circuit

The Kilimanjaro Northern Circuit is a trekking route on Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. It is considered one of the most scenic and less crowded routes to summit the mountain.

The Northern Circuit route starts from the Lemosho Gate, located on Kilimanjaro’s western side. It then follows the Lemosho route for the first few days, which provides a gradual ascent through various ecosystems, including lush rainforests, heathlands, and moorlands. The route offers stunning views of the Shira Plateau and the surrounding landscapes.

After a few days, the Northern Circuit route veers off from the Lemosho route and continues on a more northern trajectory around the mountain. This allows for a longer and more gradual acclimatization period, increasing the chances of summit success. The route also offers more opportunities to experience the diverse wildlife and vegetation on Kilimanjaro.

The Northern Circuit route eventually merges with the popular Machame route near the Lava Tower, and from here, climbers follow the same path to reach the summit at Uhuru Peak. The entire trek takes approximately 9-10 days, including several days for acclimatization.

Due to its longer duration and less crowded nature compared to other routes, the Northern Circuit is often considered a more enjoyable and successful way to climb Kilimanjaro. It offers a unique perspective on the mountain, allowing climbers to explore its less-traveled areas and take in its breathtaking scenery.

The Northern Circuit route is the newest and longest route to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It is known for its stunning scenery, low traffic, and high success rate. Below is a typical itinerary for the Northern Circuit route:

9 Day Northern Circuit Route Itinerary

Day 1: Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa Camp (7,742 ft to 9,498 ft)

Depart Moshi and complete formalities at Londorossi Gate.

Begin hiking through undisturbed rainforest, winding towards the first campsite.

Immerse yourself in the verdant beauty of the forest, listening to the calls of exotic birds.

Day 2: Mti Mkubwa Camp to Shira 1 Camp (9,498 ft to 11,500 ft)

Emerge from the rainforest and enter the savannah, admiring the tall grasses and volcanic rock formations.

Ascend through rolling hills and cross streams, reaching the Shira Ridge with sweeping views.

Descend gently to Shira 1 Camp, catching your first glimpse of Kibo across the majestic plateau.

Day 3: Exploring the Shira Plateau (11,500 ft to 12,500 ft)

Take a moderate walk east across the moorland meadows, enjoying the unique wildflowers and Senecio trees.

Discover the vastness of the Shira Plateau, one of the highest on Earth.

Relax and acclimatize at Shira 2 Camp, nestled amidst the stunning landscape.

Day 4: Lava Tower and Moir Hut (12,500 ft to 15,190 ft, then 15,190 ft to 13,580 ft)

Climb a ridge and head southeast towards the impressive Lava Tower, a 300-foot volcanic landmark.

Divert from the main trail to Moir Hut, a secluded campsite on the base of Lent Hills.

Enjoy optional short hikes on Lent Hills, offering excellent acclimatization opportunities.

Day 5: Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp (13,580 ft to 13,200 ft)

Leave Moir Valley with a moderate climb, then trek to the summit of Lent Hills before returning to the main trail.

Cross a rock field and gently undulate, reaching Buffalo Camp with expansive views across the plains.

Day 6: Buffalo Camp to Third Cave (13,200 ft to 12,700 ft)

Trek out of Buffalo Camp and begin a steeper climb up Buffalo Ridge, entering rarely traveled mountain wilderness.

Navigate remote valleys and ascend the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro, arriving at Third Cave for a memorable campout.

Day 7: Third Cave to School Hut (12,700 ft to 15,600 ft)

Steadily climb up and over the “Saddle” between Kibo and Mawenzi, experiencing magnificent mountain scenery.

Continue to School Hut, your camp for the night, and rest in preparation for the challenging summit day.

Day 8: Summit Day – School Hut to Uhuru Peak and Mweka Camp (15,600 ft to 19,341 ft, then 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft)

Begin the pre-dawn push to the summit – the most demanding part of the trek – in the darkness and cold.

Ascend for several hours with frequent breaks, witnessing the breathtaking sunrise over Mawenzi Peak at Gilman’s Point.

Finally, reach Uhuru Peak, the highest point in Africa, and celebrate your incredible achievement with breathtaking panoramas.

Descend to Mweka Camp, passing through Barafu for lunch, and enjoy a well-deserved rest in the upper forest.

Day 9: Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate and Moshi (10,065 ft to 5,380 ft)

Complete your final descent, receiving your summit certificates at Mweka Gate.

Immerse yourself in the lush rainforest ambiance as you trek to Mweka Village.

Return to Moshi by vehicle, reflecting on your unforgettable Kilimanjaro adventure.

This 9-day itinerary allows for excellent acclimatization and increases the chances of a successful summit.