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9-Day Northern Circuit Route

One of the best routes on Kilimanjaro is the Northern Circuit, which offers nearly 360 degrees of breathtaking scenery, including the secluded, infrequently traveled northern slopes. The Northern Circuit, which is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, also requires the most acclimatization time and has the highest summit success rate. The Northern Circuit route is therefore highly advised.

The journey begins with a lengthy drive from Moshi to Londorossi Gate as it makes its way toward Mount Kilimanjaro from the west. The first two days are spent making the trek from there through the rain forest to Shira Ridge and then across the Shira Plateau. The route then turns north and makes a clockwise loop from School Hut to Moir Hut to Buffalo Camp before ascending from the east. The Mweka route is used for the descent.

Day by Day Overview

Elevation: 7,742 ft to 9,498 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 6 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

After traveling for about 4 hours from Moshi, we arrive at the Londorossi Gate, where you must complete the entry procedures. the Lemosho trailhead next by driving there. At the trailhead, we start our hike through untouched forest that leads to the first camp site.

Elevation: 9,498 ft to 11,500 ft

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

Habitat: Health

We keep moving along the trail that exits the rain forest and enters a savannah of tall grasses, heather, and volcanic rock covered in lichen beards. We reach the Shira Ridge before descending gently to Shira 1 Camp as we ascend through the verdant rolling hills and cross several streams. Here, across the plateau, we catch our first glimpse of Kibo.

Elevation: 11,500 ft to 12,500 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 7 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Health

We go hiking on the Shira Plateau. A leisurely stroll through moorland meadows leads to Shira 2 Camp. In the heath zone, there are numerous wildflowers and distinctive Senecio trees.

Shira 2 Camp to Lava Tower

Elevation: 12,500 ft to 15,190 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Lava Tower to Moir Hut

Elevation: 15,190 ft to 13,580 ft

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours

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Distance: 7 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

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Distance: 7 km | 4 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

We continue eastward along a ridge before turning southeastward in the direction of the 300-foot-tall Lava Tower, a volcanic rock formation. Then we leave the main trail and head off to Moir Hut, a remote location at the foot of Lent Hills. Lent Hills offers a wide range of walks, making this a fantastic chance to acclimate. One of the highest plateaus on the planet is the Shira Plateau.

Elevation: 13,580 ft to 13,200 ft

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Distance: 12 km | 7 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

We climb out of Moir Valley before continuing on to the top of Lent Hills and then returning to the main trail. Before arriving at Buffalo Camp, the path passes through a field of rocks and gently sways. Great views of the plains that extend to the Kenyan/Tanzanian border and are located north of Mount Kilimanjaro can be seen from this part of the trail.

Elevation: 13,200 ft to 12,700 ft

Hiking Time: 5-7 hours

Distance: 8 km | 5 miles

Habitat: Health

The terrain becomes more sparse as we climb Buffalo Ridge. We will enjoy the feeling of being in a mountain wilderness along this rarely traveled route. Up until we reach Third Cave, we hike through isolated valleys on the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro.

Elevation: 12,700 ft to 15,600 ft

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

Distance: 5 km | 3 miles

Habitat: Alpine Desert

We climb steadily up and over the “Saddle,” which sits between Kibo and Mawenzi. We continue on to our camp, School Hut. Once here we rest, enjoy an early dinner to prepare for the summit day.

School Hut to Uhuru Peak

Elevation: 15,600 ft to 19,341 ft

Hiking Time: 6-8 hours

Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Elevation: 19,341 ft to 10,065 ft

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours

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Distance: 6 km | 6 miles

Habitat: Arctic

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Distance: 12 km | 7 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

We start the ascent very early in the morning (around midnight). The hardest part of the trek both physically and mentally is this section. At this altitude and time of day, the wind and cold can be very strong. We climb in the dark for several hours, stopping frequently but only briefly. You will be rewarded with the most breathtaking sunrise you are ever likely to see approaching Mawenzi Peak at Gilman’s Point (18,600 feet). Finally, we reach Uhuru Peak, which is both Mount Kilimanjaro’s and Africa’s highest point.

We now begin our descent from the summit, going straight down to the Mweka Hut campsite while stopping at Barafu for lunch. Trekking poles are helpful because the trail is very rocky and can be quite taxing on the knees. Due to its location in the upper forest, Mweka Camp may experience late-afternoon mist or rain. We have our final meal on the mountain later in the evening before a well-earned rest.

Elevation: 10,065 ft to 5,380 ft

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Distance: 10 km | 6 miles

Habitat: Rain Forest

We continue the descent to Mweka Gate on our final day, where we pick up the summit certificates. It might be muddy and wet at lower altitudes. We travel another hour to Mweka Village from the gate. We’ll be picked up by a car at Mweka Village and taken back to our Moshi hotel.

 

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